Voice of the Streets: Desi Dogs and Coexistence
Author: Prakarsha Pilla
The voice we neglected the most, we took for granted and got irritated with, is the voice of our streets. The barks of our street dogs. Street dogs have always been an integral part of Indian societies, despite the fact that there is hardly any permanent place for them. They can be found lounging on the steps of a provision store, running enthusiastically behind another stray from another territory or wagging their tails behind the milkman. They built their homes and lives around us. And so did we, isn’t it?
In the past, numerous people relied on these dogs for their security. They were fed the leftovers as a price of staying awake at night and being a strict vigil on the streets. They were the kids' best friends, fetching sticks and balls.
Things have changed drastically (let me take the freedom to say 'horribly') today. Cities are now concrete jungles and these dogs hardly find a place to live. With more and more societies and residential complexes making stringent rules against them, their existence faces a threat. For varied reasons, people have developed a certain stigma towards them. They are considered to be downcast and dangerous.
Awareness is the need of the hour. We need to be aware that dogs react to situations - they are never biased. They respond the way you treat them. It's all in your hands. The more you develop hatred,fear or negativity towards them, the more their aggression develops. We've known their loyalty for ages, why not accept it? They aren't problems, they are here to coexist with us. They are highly domesticated animals, irrespective of their breeds. Together with them, we can create coexistence in our communities where we are not desperate to kill them and vice versa. We must make ourselves aware of basic details about their behaviour and probably try to create a better world for them.
Why should we know all of this, you'll ask. Because, they have the right to live in your street as much as you do.
We complained about the never ending increase in their population, and how did we cut it? By poisoning their food? Apparently, calling the dog catchers and paying them to get rid of the dogs forever is not the solution. Killing them isn't ethical. The solution would be their vaccination and sterilisation.
Why should we spend on vaccinating some random dog on the street, you'll ask. I'll say don't. The government is here to do that. You just have to follow simple procedures, take minimal care and also spread word.
The harshness and hostility meted to our desi pariahs is only because of our presumptions about them. With the population numbers soaring into the skies, our disparity and insensitivity towards desi dogs is increasing alarmingly. And this is not at all advisable. People believed that stray dogs are born only to bite and every dog bite kills. Before concluding on the same, we must have knowledge on the subject. Killing dogs will fetch us absolutely no benefit while putting the guilt of murder on our shoulders. Before saying that we want a dog out of our street, we must tell ourselves that we bought houses, not streets. The street belongs to them so much as it does to us. We don't have the power to decide which stray dog should live in what area.
Street dogs barking continuously is not noise, it's their response to any suspicious activity. Street dogs entering your house is not invasion, it is a search for a square of land to sleep on. Street dogs following you is not an indication of bite, it is their hope of you offering them some food or love.
Let me explain that they don't enter your apartment to bite your child. They don't run behind you to be your death. They aren't born to make your life difficult by a tad bit even.
The next time you see a street dog, I wish you stop by and smile, instead of hurling a stone. The next time you are driving, please check if some tiny pooch is sleeping in the middle of the road, since they can't construct luxury villas for themselves. You are their guardian.
And the next time you see a dog with a new litter of pups, you know what to do.
For when you give them a tiny part of your heart, they'll keep it safely for all their years on your street.