Attention Indian dog-owners: leave these furry creatures alone

(Published in Times of India: )

The ‘don’t buy it if you can’t flaunt it’ motto that some of our big city elite live by has many an aam aadmi gasping in disbelief at the things being flaunted and paraded around the streets of cities like Delhi. Cars may take the cake but then bags, accessories, houses – the list is always long and more often than not, ludicrous.
But sadly there are some innocent, undeserving casualties of this lifestyle that bear the unfortunate brunt and are getting added to the list. Dogs. We love them, we want them, we must have them. But in our exuberant efforts to quench our animal loving thirst, some of us are ironically making choices that are doing nothing but harming certain breeds of this magnificent species – the ST. Bernard, Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute. As the names themselves suggest, these beautiful creatures whose ancestors hail from extremely cold climes and snow-clad environs possess skin and fur that acclimatizes only with such extremes of weather. So, it is very unfair that those humans who themselves take layers of clothing along on their trips to say Switzerland from Delhi and freeze without quilted jackets are subjecting these furry animals to the harsh extremes of the Indian summer heat. These humans who call themselves ‘dog-lovers’ are in fact not. They are elite members of the ‘own- it- to- flaunt-it’ club.
If one is a dog lover, it becomes quite ingrained that one would want the best for their pet. To give them warm, wholesome meals, protect them from harm, treat them with love and affection just like their own children. And yet the biggest harm being done to them are by these owners themselves. Multiple articles and pleas have come out in the public domain in all forms to curb the unfair practice of flying these dogs that belong in other lands and not uproot them from their natural habitats that they can not survive without and yet these poor creatures continue to be the coveted exotic breeds to show off at many a social gathering.
Experts and veterinarians have cited many examples of how such dogs that are being kept in Indian houses almost like fashion items today are developing all kinds of ailments, disorders and chronic diseases that the owners are paying little or no heed to and eventually many are mercilessly abandoned.
The St. Bernard is a working dog from the Swiss Alps that was originally bred for rescue operations. Today the same dogs need us to rescue them. I have been to a few peoples homes where I have been left appalled by the sheer dispassion with which the dog is being kept in a tiny room or backyard in the peak of summer. There are also reports of people cutting or removing the fur of these dogs altogether as a quick-fix solution the the heat. This is only harming the animal more as they need the fur to protect them from harmful ultraviolet sun rays.
The alarming rate at which wealthy dog owners are shelling out between 25 to 60 thousand rupees (or higher) to buy these dogs is beyond belief. Instead of this number starting to take a nosedive due to efforts to increase awareness about their deterirating conditions in our Indian climes, this growth rate and the figures are only rising and this is cause for concern for the ‘real’ dog lovers like us.
I have one question for those who indulge in such unfair indulgence – Would you keep your children cooped up in a room with nearly 50 degrees temperature and a thick quilted winter jacket tied firmly around them?
If you are a true dog lover you wouldn’t torture these animals either. There are plenty of other breeds to adopt or even the over-flowing stray dog shelters that are in dire need of our attention. Start there and leave the showing off for the next Merc you buy.

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