Cover pic for this post, featuring a young healthy Beagle on the left and an old sick one on the right

Irfanimals | New Dog, Old Thinking

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I was about to cross the road yesterday, on the way to one of the places from where I begin my morning walk / jog, when I spotted a morning walk-jog (I start with a walk and end with a jog; should I just call it ‘wog’?) regular cross over from the other side. However, something, or rather, someone was missing. His doggie companion, a Lhasa Apso by the name of Fido.

Pic of Lhasa Apso

Representative pic only. Fido was shaggier and greyer.

As we started approaching each other, I gestured about Fido’s whereabouts. He gestured back the reply. The reply indicated that… Fido had passed away. However, I wasn’t sure, or I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear that. So, I waited until we came up to each other and asked again. He confirmed it. He told me Fido got sick some days back, started throwing up, and then passed away some hours later. He had appeared silent for sometime before (I nodded at this, as I had observed one young streetie too pass away with this indication a couple of years ago). The man’s wife was at home, and she took Fido to the vet (after some resistance from the auto-guy who wouldn’t take in a dog, that too, a sick one). The vet though had made his announcement.

Hope Fido is in a happy place, right up there with Rai, Tiger and Ginger (some of my streeties who have passed away, though I’m not sure about Ginger – she might just have got swept away in the floods and landed up in Chengalpet).

The man went on for some time, talking of how Fido was like his son, and how he had hoped Fido would outlast him. The man isn’t particularly old, at least doesn’t look it, and I told him so. He smiled and continued about Fido: Fido had been around for quite a while, at least 10 years or so.

Graphic of a cute-looking dog "humping" a man's legI have had some sweet moments with Fido too. He would recognize me through this shaggy drooping hair, lick me, and the last time, did the old doggie chestnut of humping my leg. Guess that was his way of saying goodbye: leaving me with his, and every doggie’s, favourite action.

I know what folk who’ve had doggie companions for a long time typically do, so I asked him, “So, do you plan to bring home another dog?” His response was pat – faster than you could say say, ‘RIP, Fido.’Yes. In fact, I’ve even paid the money.”

Pic with text of a female beagle with enlarged mamaries thanks to breeding for commerceI have bumped into this man quite a few times in the morning now, have spoken about doggie love and my work, and believe we are at least cordial with each other, so I felt I could take the opportunity to educate him. Starting with a disclaimer (“If you don’t mind, may I say something…”), I ventured what educated animal lovers know: the cruelty of puppy farm-bred dogs, the scores of dogs (puppies and adults alike) up for adoption at animal shelters, the shelters specifically offering breed dogs for adoption if you are looking only for one such…

He does tend to look surprised at most things about me, I guess (my wog attire, my conversation, my views; but then, most people do), and this time too, his eyes opened wide: like I was giving him breaking news, or that I had said that I was the one who had poisoned Fido.

Female adult BeagleThe invisible-cruelty angle didn’t seem to be cutting much ice with him (as with most people, even vegetarian – he is), so I asked him a conversation-continuer, “So, which breed are you planning to get?” Again, pat: “Beagle.” I jumped at this too. I told him about how Beagles especially are put through the greatest cruelty for lab experiments, but added that recently, many have been rescued and are up for adoption – though after stringent checks of the human companions, mercifully – through Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) of Bangalore, via a cutely named programme, Freagles (Free Beagles). I reiterated it to him, and he did check a few things with me.

However, I’m not sure I may have succeeded. I’m fairly certain the next time we meet on a morning wog, there will be a small little Beagle with him. He might even appear embarrassed or uncomfortable at not having taken my suggestion (and thus not helped get one shelter dog out of the overworked shelter). But that’s ok: there’s only so much you can do. The biggest piss though: Don’t say your dog companion is like your son after having paid for him. That’s way crueler than bringing home a puppy-farm-bred dog not suited for a certain climate.

I may not have been able to help this man see better. Hopefully, I’ll do better with the folk reading this piece. Find out more about puppy farm cruelty here. And if in India and interested in adopting a Freagle, know more through the CUPA site here.

Cover pic for this post: a close-up of a German Shepherd's eye with the overlaid text 'A Dog with No Name'

Wags in a Name | All Chain, No Name

Cover pic for this post, also the logo for the series, with a cartoon dog wagging its tale fervently with the name broken into two parts and written on each of his sides

“What’s her name?”

“Er…”

“She has no name?”

“Er…”

This has happened twice when I’ve asked the human tending to the doggie outside their house about the name of their doggie companion. The only thing different was the gender of the dog, a female in the first instance and a male in the second. Oh, there was another thing different too: in the second instance, the lady thought I was asking her name, or even the house’s name.

Both sets of folk have looked at me baffled, like either they didn’t know that naming the dog at home is a (nice) thing to do, or that I was asking them if I could come in and poop all over their house.

Forlorn-looking chained dogIt was only after the second instance that I seemed to notice a trend. In both cases, the dog was chained and kept outside the main house premises, for almost the whole day (and night), getting breathers I hope for ablutions and perambulations. It seemed obvious: if you keep the dog chained, you obviously don’t care for them. So, why would you bother about an even smaller thing as a name?

So, tip no. 1 for naming your doggie friend has nothing to do with your intellect, but with your attitude. If you’re bringing home a dog to only keep it chained most of the time, they’re better off at the shelter. (And hopefully, you’re bringing them from there and not a puppy-farm-fuelled pet shop.)

Oh wait, there seems to be a name after all. Watch-dog. And that’s worse than the Tommys, Rockys, Jimmys, Johnnys, Lakshmis and Manis.

What’s Wags in a Name about? Check it out in the intro post here.

Update: Thanks to my frequent questioning, doggie 1 (female, mixed breed, mixed brown fur) has a name now: Brownie. Yes, standard old Brownie. I feel like I both won and lost that battle.

Cover pic for this post, also the logo for the series, with a cartoon dog wagging its tale fervently with the name broken into two parts and written on each of his sides

Irfanimals | Wags in a Name | Here’s Wagging…

Irfanimals LogoChaining them. Caging them. Thrashing them. Training them (for the circus, where this practice still goes on, or training them beyond limits if at home). However, something equally “criminal” we can do with a dog is… giving them a commonplace name.

Pic of one of my street dog friends with some meme text of sorts

One of my many street dog friends, Johnny, who I’d love to rename, but who’s stuck with this name since he was a tot

I won’t go into home-dog territory (as I’m more of a street-dog lover), but I’ve lost count of the Tigers, Leos, Brunos and Caesars I’ve heard). Even among the streeties, the few that some folk deign to name, they show equally lazy thinking. Moti, Raja, Sheru, among the Hindi vernacular; Tommy, Rocky, Johnny, among those who know English; and down South, Lakshmi, Mani, and well, Mani. (Coming to this in just a bit.) Lakshmi (the Hindu goddess of wealth / prosperity) is such a popular name for street dogs in Chennai / Tamil Nadu that almost every second dog I come across that I haven’t named seems to be called so, including… the male ones. Arrey, at least check properly and then call him Lakshman, no? But no, a goddess has higher standing than a god’s brother, right? As for that double Mani thing, it’s a prime example of the height of laziness (and that’s why the double hyperbole). Two dogs who hang around together are both called Mani. How does which Mani know which Mani is being called? And with the equal number of men who seem to be called that, how mani, sorry, many men will also turn when I shout that name?

Well, I’m here to correct this anomaly. An ad guy, especially a branding aficionado, and a (street) dog lover, I’ve decided to put these two powers together to put together a primer of sorts on how to name a dog you come across (on the street, who you decide to become friendly with) or one you decide to bring home (if doing so, do bring one from the shelter; there’s too much cruelty in buying a breed dog, but more of that some other time).

Cover pic for this post, also the logo for the series, with a cartoon dog wagging its tale fervently with the name broken into two parts and written on each of his sidesSo, dog-loving ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Wags in a Name. A short sub-series within my animal series, Irfanimals, on how to name a dog, so that, as the name suggests, you’ll see their tail wagging. Another way of looking at it is, the name should sit well on the dog, just like their wagging tail. I’m so clever, no? That’s why I’m in advertising, I guess.

Anyway, wag, er, watch this space. Woof!

Composite graphic of a dog seeming romantic

Irfanimals: The Heart Is Still Young

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There’s a saying in Hindi: Rassi jal gayi, par bal nahi gaya. Translation: The rope has burnt, but not lost its strength.

I get proof of this once every few mornings, when I stop by Zuzu, this weather-beaten street dog around this bank where I pause to tighten my laces before starting off on my morning walk. Zuzu is a mix of white and light brown, though the white is more like light grey due to the dust and his age. He looks like he’s seen many winters, and perhaps lost his tail in one of them – all he has now is a stump. Which he nevertheless wags like a swing when he spots me from his morning haze. Much like that rope, he may not have his tail, but wags the vestige nevertheless.

By the way, I’ve given him that name (like almost all my street dog friends). Because the first few days I came to know of him, I would always found him either fast asleep or looking quite dazed (after waking up from his haze). Even now, when I approach the bank steps, I find him often still in La-La-land, his tongue drooping through his mouth and canines. Zzzu-zzu.

But Zuzu loses much of that droopiness when we reconnaise and I variously pat, pet, tease him. And then, when I part for my walk, he parks himself on his behind, looking a mix of haplessness and hopefulness: perhaps the best part of his day is over (who would want to touch an old, dirty-looking, street dog?), but hey, it’s coming again in a few days.

Zuzu is not always the first street dog I meet and greet on my morning walk, though. Depending on which route I take and which of my street besties has woken up by then and not yet gone on their marking/foraging spree, there are at least two-three others. Zuzu of course senses their scents on my hand and then gets even more excited, his mind wagging as much as his tail. ‘Oh, there are others before me?’ ‘How many others?’ ‘Who are they?’ ‘Any one I know?’ ‘Is this guy an ichchadhaari dog?’ (A human able to take the form of a dog)

It’s only in the past few days that I’ve noticed Zuzu getting super-excited some days (rather than merely excited) on smelling my hand with its streetie scents. So super-excited that he first bounds around, jumping back and forth on his fore and hind paws, and then bounds away, unable to control that steroidish excitement. Should I change his name to… Kuku (cuckoo)?

And I got it today. As he rolled over, baring his belly to me, I spotted his teeny reddish weeny emerge out of its casing. Zuzu was horny. Neutered Zuzu was horny. (Have checked for the clipped ear.) And then it descended on me. I had been touching a young she-dog (Velli) just before approaching Zuzu all those times.

Time to make up my own saying. He may have lost the surge, but not the urge.