The Dog days….
Hope the conflict with canines is amicably settled
On that cold winter evening we bid a tearful adieu to Shadow, our black puppy Labrador and buried him in a deep wet pit inside our lawn. A great persuasion convinced my 3 years old daughter to have some dinner that night. Loosing Shadow to a brief illness left us bereaved with a feeling of having lost a loved one. His kennel and leash were kept as memoirs in the attic of our house. We have always had pets at home but not after Shadow. Lately my dog days returned haunting my conscience since so much has been spoken and written about and against the man’s best friend, the dog. I could not muster courage to speak or write about my love for this canine mammalian lest the opinions declare me a heretic.
Since times immemorial dogs have been domesticated for reasons of companionship that often evolved into deep emotional bonding. No species of animals understand humans anyway closer to the canines. Kashmir traditionally has been tolerant towards stray canines. I vividly remember getting amused by my orthodox grandfather who loathed dogs as much as I did rats insisting my father to feed dogs to ward off the evil eye. The human and dog relationship is a matter of selective affection and despise, an eternal affair of love and hatred. For most an absolute moral barrier exists between our species and the canines. With focus now shifting on newly installed traffic lights in the city I am tempted to steal an opportunity to pen down my passionate feelings on this unprecedented human canine conflict in the streets of Srinagar. At the outset I don’t believe it’s entirely the dogs fault. There are estimated 400 million dogs in the world. Dog ownership in U.S is estimated to be around 57.6 million, with more than $ 5.6 billion spent on their food and $ 7 billion spent to keep them healthy. We live in a part of the world where attitudes towards animals are shaped by deep rooted cultural and civilizational influences. The canine population in Kashmir is essentially the stray non pet dogs. Lately the relationship between the canines and humans in Kashmir seems to have hit the rock bottom. Primarily, to me it seems that this disturbing behavioral transition among canines has resulted from environmental, social and genetic influences. The average life span of a dog is 10-13 years. Dogs (female and male) attain sexual maturity between ages of 6-12 months with pregnancy possible in a female dog by first monthly cycle. Gestation (period of pregnancy) in a dog is about 60 days and a female dog on an average produces 6 puppies. It is presumed that the dog population in Kashmir has seen an exponential growth. Are the dogs breeding faster and better, are more puppies surviving after birth? How much of environmental, social and genetic factors are influencing this change? Two decades of political turmoil in Kashmir has created a peculiar ground situation that is conducive to growth in the canine population. Today an average dog in Kashmir is far healthier and more robust than its canine cousins in rest of the country. Staggering volumes of nutritive waste food from urban neighborhoods and kitchens of one million security personnel is more than the wildest canine satiety dreams. An improvement in canine health standards has resulted in their faster breeding and more puppy survival. A good nutrition always translates into favorable genetic influences in any species of animals resulting in longer survival and better reproductive abilities. The abandoned houses and bunkers provide comfortable breeding homes for the canines of Kashmir. Poisoning dogs to death is simply impractical and ethically controversial. Amidst present social, political, and civic scenario in Kashmir the dogs are unlikely to move into extinction for a long time. The difficult task of controlling the population of stray dogs needs a long term strategy aimed at addressing the core socio-political and civic issues. For short term strategy sterilizing the male dogs which the Srinagar municipality seems to have envisaged is a viable option. Till the time our strategies are functional some basic precautions and attitudinal adjustments may reduce the number of unfortunate dog bites. Dogs usually do not bite “out of blue”. Sometimes dogs have been subjected to stresses and the result is a bite. Possible reasons that a dog may bite are, the dog is protecting food or puppies, the dog is injured or sick or simply in deep sleep, the dog is hurt or startled by stepping on its tail, dogs is provoked by stones thrown at them, the dog is protecting its owner or his property, the dog sees a running child or screaming child, if the dog suddenly starts scratching, biting or licking itself, frightening the dog or moving into the dogs space. People particularly children need education to avoid these provocative situations. Before the conflict with canines is amicably settled remember the good old proverb, “barking dogs seldom bite” and take care.
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Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 16 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 17 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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