My love for dogs is inherited
Viren Sharma, an honorary canine expert, talks about his ardent love for pooches
Dogs are truly man’s best friends. The faithfulness of a dog cannot be matched with any other animal. My love for dogs was inherited. It is in my blood as my father used to keep dogs, also as a part of our profession. I used to get the stray puppies I found on the streets and for that I used to get a bashing from my mother, but I never discontinued with it. Dogs remained my passion and turned into my profession.
I have attended more than 300 dog shows across the globe and travelled across four continents to study and observe the latest trends in the canine Industry. I am closely associated with the world’s leading Agrani Kennels. I also own more than three pet boutique stores and a pet hotel in the Pink City. With unique marketing strategies, dog-owning families in Rajasthan have increased from 300 to over 1 lakh. My esteemed client base extends from the President of India to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan and many more.
I am also a pet behaviourist with 20 years of experience. My organization, Mad about dogs (M.A.D), is basically for those people who love dogs like mad, like us. We are planning 100 stores of M.A.D and a chain of ultra luxury experiences of pet keeping, pet spas. Also, anyone can come even if they don’t have a pet and have a cup of coffee while playing with the dogs to de-stress. We are also looking at franchises of M.A.D. Dog Bazar, a separate platform to get maximum dogs raised and adopted to families.
I truly believe dogs are wonderful, intelligent creatures. Some dogs belong to a certain area ‘a hot or cold region’ and though in the beginning it is a bit difficult to adapt, they are so smart they can manage. I am referring to the trend of people importing dogs from Switzerland and getting them to India, even when there is a 50 degrees difference. It is also about the coat or the fur of the dog. Indian dogs have learnt to adapt to conditions by shedding their coat during the summers and keeping it on during the winters when it is heavier and denser. It is a natural process. People who don’t take proper care of dogs don’t deserve to keep them. The desired age to separate the puppies from their mother should be six to eight weeks. Puppies start becoming self-dependent and the mother of the dogs also start avoiding them as they keep pouncing on her to be fed.
However, the Indian mentality is changing when it comes to fitness and that is mostly because people have started keeping dogs. Today, you can see people running with their dogs beside them. P.A.W.S (pet animal welfare society) is the NGO part of our organisation in which we do all the charitable activities whether it’s free dog adoption, free dog food, vaccinations or rehabilitation of the stray dogs.
Shorty taught me to connect with animals
Homemaker Vandana Williams recounts her journey from being a reluctant pet owner to an extremely fond one and she now boasts of dogs, cats & a CROW!
I was never in favour of having pets as I lived in Bangalore in a duplex house which did not have open space except for a terrace, though I fed the stray dogs each evening. But, one day an acquaintance handed over a big faced blue eyed pup which was a mix between a Doberman and a lab to my husband insisting that we adopt him. The same evening our neighbours also gave us a Dachshund puppy that their bitch had given birth to. The big blue eyed guy was very notorious and was named Naughty and the little lad of course was Shorty. Within a few days, there was utter chaos in the house. Shorty was quiet and never worried about food while Naughty was everywhere— urinating in every corner of the house and always hungry. He would urinate and poop on their beds, our sofas and was high in energy while Shorty loved the family time and was extremely cute with big black eyes and a strong built. Seeing Naughty's need for space we decided to give him to our friends who lived on the outskirts of the city and had a lot of open space. Naughty is well settled with the family today and is named Ginger. A few days after giving away Naughty, one of our friends insisted that their relative who were in Chennai loved pets and had recently lost a dachshund so we give Shorty away to the family. They arrived to take Shorty away. Shorty was in my arms and he was so tiny, even then seeing a stranger sitting right next to me he growled. As they picked him up and put him in the car ready for the journey to Chennai the very thought of letting him go brought tears to my eyes and I refused to let him go. The car door was opened and Shorty ran like a bullet into the house and right into my lap. That was the day I felt that Shorty had made his way to my heart. It was the day I felt the connection which needed no words and thank God that I did not let him go! We have a park next to my house where I take my pet for walks. It was a rainy day and wind was blowing at a terrific speed bringing down branches from the huge trees. In this park, raven and many other species of birds abound. I was in the kitchen one day when I saw a large number of crows through the window overlooking the park. They were in an agitated state, flying over a baby crow. I rushed out and picked it up in a cloth and brought it home. Shorty was thrilled. He's the most compassionate dog I’ve ever witnessed. This baby crow I named Don. He was slightly wounded. The other crows surrounded our house knowing that Don was with us. Don was the best thing that happened to us. I never thought that a bird would have such high intelligence and understanding. It was easy to feed him. He loved cooked chicken liver and rice and when I made the sound ‘kaaa’ Don would open its mouth and gulp down the food making weird noises. I started leaving him on the terrace with Shorty around so that other crows were kept away from him. We would keep a bucket of water on the terrace and this little guy Don would take a bath each morning and comb its feathers with its beak. Soon Shorty and he were best of friends. Don soon grew up and started sitting on tree branches. He would come whenever I called out to him though. The people around our house were conservative and against the idea of us having a crow as pet or a crow sitting on our shoulders or even touching it as they felt it would bring bad luck and misery. I wonder what's a bigger sin— letting a living being die out in the cold or touching a crow! There were others who were fascinated by the idea of a pet crow and they approached us, eager to find out more about our connection. Don soon became very independent and would only visit for food or when we called out to him. He found a family of his kind and the visits became scarce. A month later my husband’s close friend was getting married and was gifted a golden petite female Dachshund pup with really long ears. I was told he didn't intend keeping her and so adopted her. Because she had a long snout I named her Snooty. Snooty came from a breeder and feared humans. She would hide under the sofas when we tried to pick her up. She was shivering most of the time and was infested with worms. She required medication and double attention compared to Shorty. Shorty was unhappy about Snooty being a part of the family initially. It took them a while to get familiar and surprisingly Snooty made the first move towards being friends. She was difficult to toilet train and when scolded for something usually ended up urinating. In my home we don't allow the dogs on the beds and sofas. The pets have their own beds and beddings. There are mats and rugs in every room for them to sit comfortably. Now Shorty and Snooty is a beautiful couple. They also had a litter—six beautiful pups consisting of three male and three female pups. The pups were delivered at our place by my husband and me. We gave them to compassionate, responsible families. Snooty is now sterilized. A few months back my son got me a small ball of white fur he picked up from the road. It was a tiny kitten. His eyes were infected and his fur was filled with hundreds of fleas. Not being a cat person, I was in two minds about keeping this little guy. I got him medication and started looking for a family to adopt him but found no one so I had no choice but to keep him. I had to search on Google on how to determine the sex of a cat. I read a lot about cats. This little guy was named Monkey. Monkey is the best pet ever in the sense that he never has dirtied the house. He has a litter box and he uses it religiously like an educated human being. Shorty and Snooty get along with Monkey like a house on fire and three of them sleep together. Monkey is learning to climb trees and goes out for a walk with Shorty and Snooty. There are some 8-10 pet dogs in my colony and all are friends with the cat. My day starts with my pets pushing open my room’s door, standing next to my bed and pulling my quilt. As I say the golden words “let's go out”, they are thrilled. Though my husband takes them out early morning, I take them out again. We ensure that they are not left stranded at home for long period. The intelligence of these animals amazes me each day. They teach us brotherhood, compassion, love beyond words, understanding and acceptance. Each is different yet lives in harmony with the other. So true is the saying: Love needs no language.