Canine Calling

Canines Calling

A tale of furry friends that has no end…yet

I can’t remember how many dogs I have tried to adopt in my short life. Hmph…Six? Ten? I remember going out to play, every summer, and returning home with the pups I found in the sand of a half-constructed building which, by some weird coincidence, both dog and child had marked as play territory. My mother would send me back to leave them where I had found them. The mother of the pups, too, would whine and cry till I returned them back to her safe custody.

Truth be told, though, I was a dog-owner for a fairly short period of time. On a bright school day in 2008, one of my mom’s students offered to gift his pet dog’s newly born pup as a thank you for her help and guidance. After the words were uttered, my mom knew that there was no denying me. My eyes were wide in anticipation of a new canine friend. In 2013, the year I entered campus, my dog, Brownie, passed away when I was not home. Some of my biggest life lessons have been from taking responsibility for that undisciplined, adventurous, crazy dog of mine. Soon, I was also taking responsibility for two of her pups: some of the most boisterous creatures I have seen, yet, for whom I set out finding safe homes. Soon they were gone, but not before sending me off to the doc for TT shots…twice.

On campus, I have seen a lot of dogs. Few of which had become online celebrities – Jabbar Bhowbhow and Cindy Bhowbhow might sound familiar. Boy, the number of followers they had! They made me feel quite inadequate, I must say!Then there was Frodo who, thankfully, found a safe-house at a farm- thanks to the efforts of a 2010 batch senior. And then there was the pup I met on a cold rainy day when I was the only one waiting at the bus stop. She shyly crept up to me and snuggled up beside me to keep herself warm. Honestly, though, I think it made me feel very warm on the inside.

The following excerpt was my first entry for a project that I started.I had tried to write about everyday inspirations- things that make us feel happy, sad, lonely, angry, or make us feel anything at all, really:

December 12th, 2014.

“She looked like the brightest hue of summer, in a yellow dress, wearing a much sought-after smile. We were walking home together, just two friends conversing after a long time. Placidly, she talks to me about sickness and health in her family. A moment of honesty.

Her footsteps slowed. We had a little guest. She paused in indecision, can I can I can I?

I said, Yes. See? I walked over to our neighborly canine friend and brushed him softly over his pink nose.

She came closer, and touched him with the hard edges of her fingertips, and smiled, so vast a smile, so happy a being. I sighed. The dog had a deep gash along the length of his back. But they had each found a friend in the other. The answers that she wants, the change that she needs can be fought for on another day. Here was one rare happy moment, and she was living it.”

The one common thing about Jabbar, Cindy, Frodo, the shy dog from the bus stop, the dog from the excerpt? They’re not here anymore. Every year, when the students are out on their summer vacation, the dogs from our campus are cleared out to meet with unclear, mostly unfortunate fates. These dogs, I think, have filled important roles in my life- as an inspiration, a support, a friend, a playmate. It is a common event for universities to opt for pet therapy to reduce stress and improve the mental health of an individual. Dogs can increase levels of oxytocin in humans, a hormone that reduces anxiety and blood pressure, studies show. In an age where universities are paying for time to play with friendly dogs, here we’re sending them out to god knows where for being too friendly.

As college students from a deemed university who are setting out to change the world, we must understand the role we play and the stakes we hold in deciding the fate of those meeker than us and the fate of our own community.

The Mission: To ensure that by next year, this practice of dog catchers clearing out the dogs on our premises does not take place.

Here are some important things to note:

Understand that opinions on social media die out

Typing out tons and tons of comments out on a post or discussion on facebook is well and good. But these posts or comments do not make anybody accountable for a task, are not written out in hard ink in any list of priorities or action plans to appear out of thin air. Social media has the power to mobilize but not the power deliver. Only we do.

All animal lovers who want to help this cause can call me up on 8185915338. We’ll make sure that this issue is solved to fruition.

Seek out the experts.

Handing out ethical advice, debating moral stances, and deliberating on philosphies is easy. The right thing to do is to read up about the legalities, all available alternatives and research pertinent to an issue. Sounds difficult? It really is not! Call up the right organization and they will explain all aspects of their stance and about the nature of their work. Most issues have been ailing society for far longer than we’ve been alive. Understand that, and pick up from where it has been left off so you can bring change to your doorstep.

We’ll be working with Humane Society International and Blue Cross. The Humane Education Officer, Ms. Pravallika, will be guiding us with the process.

Speak out.

In voicing our opinions– not just on social forums but through discussions, dialogue, and debates- we map out the progress we seek. In acting (and acting fast!) we prove that we are not feeding pre-existing notions that seem to be hardwired into our society, our culture and our own behavior. An atmosphere that encourages discourse on important issues facilitates growth more than raw knowledge does.

***

Any university, today, should aim to make global citizens out of us who are trying to make the world a better place. Make the world a better place than it was before you happened. When you leave your alma mater- BITS Pilani, Hyderabad campus- tomorrow, ask yourself: Are you leaving it behind better than it was before? Or are you letting it be for worse?

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