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Indian dogs are as adorable as most expensive breeds, says Mansi Jaysal of The Great Indian Dog Project. Adopt a dog today!
Interview by Anne John
Mansi Jaysal is a dentist, specialised in Public Health Dentistry and she works as a lecturer in a dental college. Being an animal lover, she was stung by society’s attitude towards Indian dogs. Moved by their plight, she launched the Great Indian Dog Project – a cause that works for the betterment of Indian dogs.
Anne John (AJ): What does the Great Indian Dog Project involve? Tell us a little about it.
Mansi Jaysal: The Great Indian Dog Project is an effort to elevate the Indian dog to the status it deserves, the status that any other breed of dog commands as a companion animal, rather than terming it as stray.
The Great Indian Dog Show is one of our attempts to bring together families that own an Indian dog, to instil pride in them for making the kind choice of adopting a dog, to showcase them to the world, hoping that more families come forward to adopt the Indian dog.
We also bring out Indian pups that are found in shelters, or found without a mother, fending for themselves on the street. They are moved to a foster home, where they are taken care of, vaccinated and then put up for adoption.
Further, we rescue injured and abandoned dogs regardless of breed that are found so often on the street.
AJ: What was the motivation behind the Great Indian Dog Project?
Mansi Jaysal: Sam, my Indian dog, 12 years old and the apple of my eye, is a spoilt pet. Yet, every time we go for a vet visit, I heard people refer to her breed as ‘stray’. The meaning of the word ‘stray’ is ownerless or homeless. How could my brat be called a stray?
Another incident involves one of my rescues, Jerry. Jerry was a 2 month old pup with a severed spine, paralysis of the hind legs and urinary incontinence. The 20 days that he stayed with me, I took care of him like an infant. Just to make him more comfortable and keep him dry, he even wore diapers.
When I took him to the vet, a woman questioned me about his breed. When I said, Indian, she laughed. She said, you mean stray. Jerry did not make it, but the incident stayed on in my head.
Dog shows had no entry for the Indian breeds. I thought, to hell with that, we’ll have our own exclusive show for the Indian dogs. And that’s where the show planted its seed in my head.
AJ: How difficult is it to find homes for Indian dogs?
Mansi Jaysal: Sometimes, we are lucky to find people who cannot wait to take home an Indian pup. Sometimes we have to run insistent poster campaigns to get them homes. It is more difficult to find homes for female pups. I have 2 female dogs myself and although I love all my pawed children equally, I can’t help but notice that the females are the ones who are more giving and gentle. The gender bias extends to animals too, which is quite unfortunate.
AJ: Could you tell our readers about the uniqueness of Indian dogs? Why should one consider adopting an Indian dog?
Mansi Jaysal: Based on my experience with Indian dogs over the last 10 years, I can say that they are friendly, affectionate with children, intelligent, emotionally alert and intuitive. They are not inherently aggressive and don’t confront unless the situation demands – thus making them safe guard dogs for the family.
They generally need fewer vet visits compared to other breeds, owing to their natural genetic makeup, not messed up by inbreeding by humans. Their coat is short and easy to maintain. They have longer life spans and with good care can easily live upto 15 years and beyond. The oldest participant in our show was 17. And the most important of all, they are so unique. You see one Indian dog, you have so not seen them all! They are so varied with their colours and personalities – each one comes in his/her own interesting package.
Why consider adopting an Indian dog? Well, why not? We see so many pure breeds abandoned on the streets. We see them holed up in shelters because their owners had a baby, or had to move, or developed an allergy, or couldn’t manage the responsibility. Do we really need more dogs bred by the thousands when there are so many who we can take in and change their life for good?
I wouldn’t just say adopt an Indian dog. Adopt any dog. Just adopt, Don’t Buy.
AJ: Do you have a favourite? Could we know more about him/her?
Mansi Jaysal: Any baby that has come and gone or stayed with me is my favourite. I can never choose. But Sam will always be my first child.
AJ: There is always a conflict between dog lovers and those who believe that stray dogs are a menace; what is your take on this?
Mansi Jaysal: The term ‘menace’ is a perceived notion by people who haven’t had the opportunity to understand a dog. Dog bites are extremely unfortunate incidents that can be avoided in most cases. A stray dog is himself bewildered, hungry and fending for himself. Most of them will be terrified of humans, and would gladly stay as far away from conflict as possible. Those who come close are only looking for some food so they can stay in peace before they go foraging for their next meal.
Having said so, I too would like the number of stray dogs to reduce. But I’d like to see this happen through more humane measures like adoption and sterilizations. More people must come forward and adopt strays regardless of their breed.
AJ: Do you have any tips for dog lovers to look after their pets?
Mansi Jaysal: My biggest tip is: never abandon your pet; regardless of age, breed, circumstances or allergies. He is not trained to fend for himself and will die a slow, agonizing and lonely death.
Don’t allow your dog to take a walk on his /her own unattended. This not just endangers your pet’s life, it also would mean your dog would go sniffing around other females. Since dogs don’t discriminate based on breed, they will easily fall in love with the neighbourhood beautiful stray and before we know it, there will be puppies on the street while your dog happily sashays back home!.
First-time owners: be patient with your pup, he’s like a human baby. Give him some time and he will learn to live with you while you also learn to live with him.
Always tag your dogs with your phone number. In case he wanders off, there’s atleast a chance, he can come back safe.
AJ: How has the response to your initiative been so far? What are your future plans?
Mansi Jaysal: When we started off, we were 3 of us. My husband Jaysal, my friend Karthik Srikant and myself. Now we have grown to be a close knit team of eleven. We have a network of foster mommies who help us rehome pups immediately before we find a permanent place for them.
The response has been better than expected, we see the term ‘Indian’ being slowly accepted in relation to our lovely dogs. We hope to continue to generate pride for the Indian dog, through our annual ‘The Great Indian Dog Show’, save more lives, rehome more abandoned pets, and build a space where we can make a temporary haven for injured dogs before they can be reintroduced back into society.
What to help?
If you want to adopt, foster or volunteer in Bangalore, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.