*** Written by production manager, Jane Mellema ***
As a dog lover I became sad after living in India two short months. Street dogs run rampant. Often there are injuries on their bodies from being hit by vehicles or defects from other maladies. Their food is typically garbage from the street or tidbits from the hand of some generous person. I got depressed seeing their condition.
Somewhere along the line, I reached a turning point in my perspective. I began to observe street dog culture.
I remember the day it began. I was visiting a friend in a different city and noticed a dog running along briskly. It seemed to have a hop to its step and a sense of purpose. Where was he going? And what was he so excited about?
In another situation, I was walking along the platform at a train station, and I was tickled to see one lone dog standing regal and barking proudly. His head was lifted high, and he seemed to be trying to assert himself to everyone AND no one in particular as the masses of people walked by and paid him no attention.
After living in India about two years, I went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal for the first time. It was June, one of the hottest and most miserable months to be outside. Yet we went, sweating along. While walking along the road, my eyes were drawn across the street to a group of about ten street dogs trotting in tandem. Each dog was “clean” on the upper half of the body, and the bottom half was dark and caked with mud :-) These guys were smart on a miserably hot day and had found a place to take a dip in cool mud. Now they seemed excited to set off to their next adventure. Where were they going?
Sometimes I walk by familiar and known dogs - guarding their little corner of the neighborhood. Or dogs may be burrowed into sand-piles for coolness or warmth, depending on the season, sitting on the tops of cars or vendor’s carts, or a variety of other interesting places.
Most recently, I was impressed by a litter of puppies that lives by and guards a garbage dumpster near my home. They rummage for morsels in the trash piles that accumulate on the ground. They will share their spot with cows, but not all animals. One day, there was an unusual occurrence. Approaching their corner, I heard little high-pitched barks, a failed attempt to be intimidating. I saw an unexpected sight; two large pigs and several piglets had invaded! Pigs are never in our neighborhood! The puppies had confronted them head on and continued to bark obnoxiously. I waited around to see what would happen. These persistent puppies herded away the pigs that were over twice their size. What in the world made those pigs think they could eat from that dumpster? And what were they doing in OUR neighborhood?
My change in perspective on street dogs was pivotal. It symbolized something bigger. Something that initially brought discouragement and sadness, after close attention and observation, became something that brought amusement and joy! As silly as it sounds, when I am having a difficult day, sometimes seeing a street dog with purpose and a skip in its step lifts my spirit and reminds me of the little things in life, little things that are often forgotten but make up a significant part of our lives.
Photo credit: Sylvia King