Today, in the local paper, The Age, there was a piece about the fact that dog ownership has become a status symbol in some parts of India. I guess if I have any impression of dogs in India it would be of ownerless dogs roaming city streets. I apologise to any Indian readers if this is a stereotyped idea but I haven't visited India and that's the picture that comes to mind.
So I was quite interested to read that the fad for owning 'trophy dogs' is growing amongst the middle class in India. The article in the paper is accompanied by a picture of actress June Malia with her pug. It is eerily reminiscent of Paris Hilton clutching any one of her bevy of pups as she poses for the cameras. I guess some things are a world-wide phenomenon.
I surfed the Net and found an article in The Times of India about dog ownership in Calcutta (Kolkata). I think it was written in 2004, but it relates to the same discussion about people buying breeds that are currently popular and looks at what people had been choosing over recent years. However, the following excerpt struck me:
But is keeping a pet all about making a style-statement? Actress Nelajana doesn't think so." Going by our climatic conditions, a pariah or a street dog is the most suitable pet breed here. Instead of taking a dog as pet for the sake of status symbol or a fashion statement, I feel compassion should be the sole reason for doing so," says she.
That reminded me of a mention recently on Bark Blog of a report that officials in Srinagar City, in Bangalore plan to poison 100,000 dogs and this cruel plan is opposed by local animal welfare groups, who say the plan should be to sterilise the dogs instead. But these groups admit they have only been able to sterilise 400 dogs in the last two years.
What a terrible situation - all those dogs roaming the streets, apparently spreading rabies, and with no-one to care for them. In a related article a journalist points out that these are the indigenous dogs of India. There's also an fascinating page about the Indian Pariah Dog Club - the blog owner defines the pariah dog as:
A free-roaming, indigenous and ancient race of dogs who evolved a distinct appearance and character without human intervention. Named after the Pariah tribe of Tamil Nadu which was considered outcast. While the original usage of the term is derogatory, it has been commonly used by cynologists for many years and has no negative connotation in the canine context. Pariah dogs across continents have the same basic physical characteristics. In biological terms, the pariah dogs of Asia and Africa are of the highest value for study of genetics and origin of the dog