Why do we have pets ? I have been pondering over this for over a month now. I have seen many of my friends share breathtaking relationships with their cats and dogs, heard heart warming stories, seen the Japanese film about a dog and bawled out my eyes.. but yet I can’t but wonder why we have the compulsion to have pets, to tie them up, to train them, to prevent them from breeding and take control of their lives.
It has been two months since I have moved to Bangalore, and I live in an apartment that overlooks a very ugly yellow house. The house is actually several houses belonging to the same family in one building, with a few shops, an ATM and a beauty parlour to boot. Though the urban designer in me marvels at how literally they have exploited the mixed use high density residential principle, the ‘me’ me wants to demolish the house and leave them homeless.
The thing is they had a puppy, a tiny adorable black thing. They kept him chained to the gate all day, all night, in the sun and rain. He was given a bath, fed and taken for walks on that short leash. To them he was a lower being, a derogatory creature, they would walk past an aim a kick at him, unthinkingly,just like that, chuckling at his yelp, threaten him with sticks and laugh while he cowered.
The women of the house were supremely unconcerned, and never came down near the gate. The children often played next to him, ignoring him as he struggled against his leash to be able to join them, to be able to run after the colourful ball, to be able to just run. Not once did one of them play with him, or cuddle him. I once saw the teen aged son, hold a plate of food just out of the puppy’s reach and laugh as it struggled in vain. He would move the plate an inch closer to the puppy and snatch it away before he could reach it, laughing the whole time.
Where did this boy learn to be this cruel ? what is he going to grow up to be ? Why does he want a dog ?
One night the air was filled with the puppy’s tortured cries, I ran out to the balcony, and was aghast to see the father of the boy beating the puppy mercilessly, with well aimed kicks. I got dressed and was in the process of running downstairs when my neighbour aunty stopped me and warned me against getting involved. According to her, the family spells trouble, and the men are prone to taking to the bottle and then beating their wives, and as I live alone, fear prevailed and retreated to my bed and covered my head with a pillow to drown out the agonizing cries of the puppy. I spoke to the watchman, and several women employed as maids in the building, and they all asked me to stay far away from the yellow building.
Over the next week, I constantly heard and saw the puppy being ill treated, and I began contacting various organizations. VM and her sister, who were outraged at this treatment did all the research and sent me names and numbers. Finally, Nanny Woof (https://www.facebook.com/nannywoof), put me in touch with CUPA (compassion unlimited plus action).
CUPA was everything and more I hoped they would be. They promised me anonymity, and sent a field officer to the house immediately. Unfortunately like most laws in India, the Acts concerned with animal protection and prevention of cruelty has not been updated since the 1960’s. Since the time India got her Independence her laws remain stagnant and outdated, in the same time England has changed and revised her laws many many times. So sadly CUPA had no power to storm in and rescue the puppy, but had to make contact with the owners and provide counselling and monitor the progress and if nothing improves coerce them to sell/give away the puppy. I asked them if I should offer money in exchange for the puppy, which we could then put up for adoption. I was told firmly to do no such thing as it would encourage people to buy and torture animals in exchange for money. PHEW !!!!
This is where the story begins to get curiouser and curiouser, the field officer from CUPA reached the building, and was unable to locate the dog. Boys playing cricket on the street informed him that the little fellow had been stolen that morning !! Maybe he ran away, maybe they gave him away, but I would like to believe that my neighbourhood has a vigilante. A silent observer, who just could not take the injustice of it all, who had more courage than me, and has given the puppy to a lovely family with a house, garden and children.
I was elated, I treated myself to an ice cream, and enjoyed a week of peace. A week where my ears didn’t sub consciously strain to hear the puppy, a week where I didn’t run to the balcony every now and then to check on him.
Then again, one night the silence was broken, my peace shattered, a dog’s cries filled the air. I ran to the balcony and in the dark it looked like the little fellow was back ! A tiny black puppy was tied to the steps on a short tight leash. Morning revealed that they had got a new fella, a tinier version of the old one. They seem to be nicer to this one, but are still not close to any definition of kind. I called CUPA again, and they told me in a very resigned manner that this is what always happens. Right now, I am watching, waiting, on the edge, hoping the vigilante will strike again.
ps. I was upset when I wrote the first paragraph, I get why people want to share their lives with animals, I spent a large portion of my childhood longing for a dog of my own. I guess I want to know why these people want a dog, and have gone through the trouble of getting another one. They have not even named their dog and just call it aaeeeeeeeeeeeiiiii in various threatening tones.