strays

Every square inch of Delhi is claimed by gangs of stray dogs who viciously and vociferously defend their turf. We humans go about our business, ignoring them or avoiding them or kicking at them, not knowing that there is a whole political structure to their world. The Hauz Khas Howlers guard the main market against territory incursions by the Gulmohar Growlers, while the Aurbindo Maulers and the Green Park Greyhounds maintaining a dumpster-sharing agreement in which the former is allowed access to the discarded chapatis on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and alternating Saturdays, during which time the latter stands guard to ensure no passing autorickshaw goes un-barked at.

The stray dogs live, love, and lie on the street; but their docile daytime trotting gives way to snarls and warfare at night, and the evening streets echo with their perennial power struggle.

Most stray dogs are ragged and haggard, with patchy fur and the vacant look of the perennially hunted. But outside our flat live three dogs who are stray in name only. Bruno, Signal, and Snoopy are strays who have been adopted by Amba, the Japanese translator who lives on the second floor of our building. What, you ask, is the difference between adopted and owned? The answer is where they sleep: Bruno, Signal, and Snoopy are fussed over and fed too much, but they aren’t allowed inside.

Fat from their lavish life, they spend their days napping, waddling from one nap to another, and biting the tires of passing cars. At night, though, the envy of strays who actually have to work for a living means their territory is constantly encroached, and that their vocal cords get the workout their muscles never do, usually right below our window.

Advertisements

14 responses to “strays

  1. Oh, they are very cultured & pure. I like dogs & quite used to getting stares (or smirk/grin/fill-your-not-so-favorite expression) when I pat & rub them by roadside. Some of them know me, so they come right by when they see me, then there are some whom I’ve not been able to ‘connect’ with but they acknowledge my existence by not barkin’ at me.

    Its the human forms that I quite detest.

  2. We adopted two stray cats and they could not be more loving. They live at our home and we take them out from time to time. There are quite a few very nice looking stray dogs on our street that seem to be chill and pretty friendly.

  3. Siddharth Agrawal

    At my ancestral home in Kota, RJ, there is a pair of stray-dogs who live inside the cul-de-sac to which our home is attached. Lucky boys, they get food from everyone on the street!

    The dynamic really speaks to the closeness that Hinduism and Indian society foster between ourselves and nature.

  4. I’m really terrified of the packs of stray dogs that roam around Indian towns and cities. They can be as dangerous to kids as packs of wolves. I remember a doctor’s waiting room where a girl came in, who had been mauled savagely by a pack of stray dogs. She had blood-soaked cotton wool balls all over her body. Luckily, someone noticed her and rushed her off – to get the dreaded anti-rabies shots among other things. In those days, it was the fourteen shots in the tummy, no less. Poor little thing. What’s the humane solution to the problem? I don’t know. I don’t know if I like the sterilization thing-y. Seems to be very cruel in its own way. Maybe less litter and garbage thrown on the streets – but…er, pigs might fly before that happens.

  5. Very nicely written. Seems like you like dogs, but like most others hounded by barking dogs @night, have reached the end of your tether in the territory wars 🙂

    PS – Ahmedabad is the only city Ive seen where dogs follow your bikes in an attempt to attack humans. Terrifying. At least in other places its just bark and no bite.

  6. Seeing strays, at first one’s heart reaches out to them. Later, seeing so many, it hardens, and stops caring as much.
    I remember the Delhi winters, and wondering how these animals manage through the cold! But seeing so many dogs, I stopped caring.
    Coming to the US, after a couple of years, I once saw a stray trying to make his way into a starbucks. Again, since it was a rare occasion to see a stray, my heart melted.
    I do wish they’d spay stray doggies in India – so they naturally reduce in numbers.

  7. I *hate* people who tend to feed and fuss over dogs but do not actually adopt them. If you love them so much, why not just bring them into your own homes?

    The result is that other residents have to live with strange ill-looking dogs hanging about their place of living. And when these dogs bark at you in packs, it is scary.
    I secretly hope that one day, one of these dogs bites one of these people in my colony and they finally do something about banishing these dogs from the colony.

  8. Loved this post!

    Especially this line…

    “The Hauz Khas Howlers guard the main market against territory incursions by the Gulmohar Growlers, while the Aurbindo Maulers and the Green Park Greyhounds maintaining a dumpster-sharing agreement in…”

  9. Hello NewYorkers,

    I’m not going to write on the emotional subject of strays; much has been said (but not done!!) about them; just wanted to say that your description was great.

    Loved it, esp this part..

    “The stray dogs live, love, and lie on the street; but their docile daytime trotting gives way to snarls and warfare at night, and the evening streets echo with their perennial power struggle.”

    lolzzzz…

    vaibhav

  10. Nice one, true. I live in safdarjung and have been here all my life and the dogs are known to be better guards than the guards who sleep and play cards all day. They know our scent now and also are taken care of well by the neighborhood. Great insight and article, capturing a Delhi moment.

  11. Amazing read..
    Just one curiosity though.. did you research all this or is it somewhat fictional?

  12. I roared with laughter with reference to Delhi/Stray dogs

    The Hauz Khas Howlers guard the main market against territory incursions by the Gulmohar Growlers, while the Aurbindo Maulers and the Green Park Greyhounds . . . .

    I lived in Green Park myself before moving to US for grad school (like most Indians do). Despite living all my life in South Delhi, I am petrified of these dogs. I was bitten by one stray and one pet German Shepard right before I came to US, so am no fan of these dogs. I love ur posts, keep up the good job!

  13. Hey…that sounds familiar…overfed ‘adopted’ dogs with bellies sagging to the road itself!

    A tip. If you are on a motorcycle navigating inner roads post 2100 hrs and you find a bunch of mongrels snapping to get a piece of you running alongside the mo’cycle … just stop the bike instead of accelerating it. Speeding up encourages them to do accordingly and actually attempt snaps … hehe …

  14. … stop the bike and they’ll chicken out and run away 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s