I am a researcher for an international organisation and we work with cities to improve liveability across various spheres including waste management, energy efficiency, climate adaptation and nature-based solutions. I live in Hyderabad with my mum, her two dogs- Chandini and Wally and my partner and his two dogs- Shrishti and Sakshi. So basically, I am a pawrent to four dogs.
My mother has always been an animal lover and throughout our childhood, my brother and I have been pet owners. Our first pet (when we were 2 and 5 years respectively) was a stray cat, named Katy, who would unfortunately antagonise my grandmother (father's mother) with whom we lived, by eating her food and pooing in her bed ☹️ Unfortunately, that meant that Katy couldn't become a more permanent member of the family. All in all, we've had 6 pets (dogs) since Katy, up until Shrishti, Sakshi, Chandini and Wally.
I've always wanted to foster animals but it became difficult to do with one cranky pet in the house, one cranky grandmother in the house and an overwhelmed mother, so I'd volunteer for Blue cross when I was in College, with a close friend. Together the two of us tried our best to get Indie pups that we'd come across, adopted. Sometimes we were lucky, other times, not so much. I moved abroad to do my Masters and for five years went without the comfort of an animal. During this time, the landlords were very strict and wouldn't allow pets in their houses, so I made do by volunteering with a local animal shelter on the weekends which wasn't enough, but tided me over until I returned to India. I worked in Hyderabad for about a year and a half after which I moved to Delhi, where my partner and I befriended three street dogs who lived in our locality- Mahabir, Jenny and Uday. My partner, Rohan, prides himself on naming dogs for their personalities, the geographic location (such as Champak, Nasreen etc.) in which we find them while my mother is more of a traditionalist, aiming for Tommies, Brownies, Blackies, Queenies etc. So, Mahabir and Uday were named by Rohan and Jenny, was bequeathed her name by my mother who managed to get it in before Rohan did. Suffice to say, there is a lot of bickering about dog names and Rohan always wins.
..warm fuzzy snuggles, smelly kisses, someone to come home to, but it's also hard work, it's pushing on, even when you want to give up.
Chandini (Indie, female), who my mother wanted to name Zoey but lost out to Rohan, has been living with us for 2.5 years. She was adopted in November 2020. Chandini was formerly known as Prince. She was apparently picked up off the streets by some Telugu actress and taken to a vet clinic where our family pet, Fifi (11 years, female, dachshund) was being treated for tick fever. Chandini was mischievous and in the depths of our misery (Fifi was on the verge of dying) she was this tiny, feisty sliver of joy. She would nip at my feet, grab Fifi's leash, run around the clinic and try to befriend all of the dogs that visited. When Fifi died, it seemed like fate dictated that we adopt her, a month and a half later. She was almost like a bridge to Fifi. At the time she was adopted, my mother was living in the house I grew up in, and I was in a rented house with Shrishti, Sakshi and Rohan. Eventually, when that house was being redeveloped, she came to live with us along with my mother, brother and another dog, Wally, that my brother decided to adopt a month after Chandini. Chaos ensued. While we were well versed with looking after one dog for most of our lives, and small dachshunds at that, managing four dogs, three of which were indies, was immensely challenging. Chandini, who we assume had been abused quite a bit before she came to us, was proving to be a wild card.
I'd love to say that it has been fulfilling and joyous and wonderful, but the fact is that it has been quite a rollercoaster with Chandini. When my brother left for the US, she began to lash out at Wally initially, and later at Sakshi. We still arent quite sure what triggered all of this, but since then I have been working extremely hard to make her feel safe. She's kind of a special needs dog. I think she would have thrived if she was in a single dog household, but given our circumstances at the time, we couldn't provide that for her. I worked with trainers, switching doggie leads, walking her for long periods, trying CBD options. In the end, Rohan ended up moving with Shrishti and Sakshi to his house in Nagpur while I stayed in Hyderabad with Chandini and Wally. It seemed to help, the reduction in the number of dogs. I also tried homeopathy (which I never believed in) and it seems to have worked for her. She isn't as stressed and reactive. I've had to fight really hard to keep Chandini in our lives, sometimes at the cost of our mental health and temporary separation from my partner, but I think she was worth fighting for. Chandini is extremely loving, dependable and an excellent guard dog.
Her likes: squeaky toys, chewing on bones, watching birds and moths
Her dislikes: tempo trucks, jhadoos, other dogs
Chandini waits for me to get home by waiting on the balcony around 6pm. When I arrive she calls out to me in a rawrrruurruuurruuu and comes running down the stairs to say hi. When she wants attention from my mum, her whole body sways like a snake as she wags her tail and advances towards her with flicks of her tongue and her ears softened.
Message: There are no bad dogs. Having a pet is challenging yet rewarding at the same time. I'll just say, adopt an animal knowing full well that there will be tough times ahead, understanding the commitment you have to give this being. The payoff is worth it though.