Well if rag pickers and morning walkers are around, neighborhood dogs cannot be far behind. Who can know this better than myself, the victim? I have been barked at. It is somehow not fair to call these dogs ‘stray dogs’. Stray dogs are one who are lost/abandoned and are not in a position to find their way back to their homes or dogs having no owners at all. With this definition in mind, there are very few stray dogs in Delhi and for that matter in India and we are not talking about them.
Neighborhood dogs in Delhi as in any other city or town or village in India belong to the locality or neighborhood they live and therefore their loyalty is for that particular locality. We Indians are a very religious race and see God in every living being. As per our religious scriptures there is birth after death. According to our Karmas (deeds) on this earth during our lifetime our fate is decided for the next birth. There are some 84,00,000 Yonies(living forms) and we may be any one of these in our next birth depending on our good or bad Karmas. Thus a saintly person may get Nirvana(freedom from the cycle of birth and death) and a non believer may take birth as a, should I say neighborhood dog? After the Pandavas had enjoyed the fruits of their conquest over the Kauravas, the day came for their final journey from this earth. Because of the pious life they had lived, they were entitled to walk directly into Heaven. Lord Indra however wanted to have one more test of their sincerity and followed them disguised as a dog. At the entrance of the Heaven, they were told that dogs were not allowed in Heaven. Yudhistra, the eldest and purist among Pandavas refused to enter Heaven without the dog that had followed them all the way from the earth. Indra appeared in his true form and blessed them for their compassion for the lowly dog. I think I have made the point clear that we love all living beings. It is too complicated and more over it is not the subject we talking about. So I will return to the subject.
As I was saying, dogs belong to the locality they live in. There is one more reason though. The residents of the locality take it upon themselves to feed these dogs. The left over is offered to these dogs and the loyalty quotient increases or decreases according to the quality of food they get from each household. Those who offer non –veg items get preferential treatment i.e. the dog sleeps in front of their house during the night. This however does not mean that their loyalty for other residents of the locality is any way less. They will chase away any intruder during the night and alert the residents by continuous barking. These dogs are God’s gift to the neighborhood.
The dogs close to the temple are more professional. They will ensure that the intruder is chased right up to the boundary of the temple. I think the sweets they regularly eat there do the trick. These poor fellows however do not know that their lives are being shortened by eating too much of sweets. One can easily recognize a dog fed on temple sweets by its receding hair. But then humans also not much cautious when it comes to sweets and become diabetic.
Chasing the intruder is moral obligation on neighborhood dogs. The intruder could be a fellow dog from other neighborhood, a rag picker or a morning walker. There is total socialism here. No difference between the rich and the poor. No difference between the humans and non-humans. It is the moral duty of the neighborhood dogs to act in unionism and not to leave the responsibility to someone in particular. Dogs of the neighborhood remain united all the times.
Another interesting trait is the clear demarcation of area. Dogs of one lane are responsible for that lane only. Responsibility of providing security to other lanes is that of the dogs of that lane. Dogs of one lane are not welcome in another lane. Dogs of other lanes are also treated as intruders and chased away.
Neighborhood dogs have the strange habit of chasing cars and scooters on the roads. If they cannot drive they at least can run side by side with the cars. Some scooterist kids as learners get scared, fall down and get hurt. This is bad.
There are anti social dogs among dogs too. They at times exceed their brief and bite the intruder particularly when he or she tries to run. Once bitten by dog makes one twice cautious. Who wants those 12 or 16 injections? For this reason the whole dog community is branded as menace and health hazard. Sometimes the Municipal Authorities employ dogcatchers to take them away. Some even suggest exporting them to some Asian countries where dog meat is not taboo. There is the scheme to sterile them to stop the uncontrolled growth. Some efforts have been made in this direction but it looks the mobility and migration factor among dogs is quite high and even dogs from neighboring states are also entering the Capital of India. So far it has not become an issue between Delhi and neighboring states but may be one day it becomes an election issue. Dogs will be happy that Governments can fall because of them.
There are some kind-hearted people who have sheltered these dogs. They provide them with food and Medicare also but then there are neighbors who object to it and complain that these dogs are a threat to their kids and guests. There are some court cases going on. Life is not easy any way.
There is no community structure in dogs’ world. Might is the right. Nor there seems to be any family bonds or ties. The mother dog nourishes the puppies for a month or two and thereafter they are left to fend for themselves. Father dog does not have any role except fathering them.
In common parlance ‘living a dog’s life’ or ‘dying like a dog’ are derogatory remarks. There are however some lucky breeds that get proper living, health care and even funeral provided by their owners. In case of neighborhood dogs, they are common property and like any other common property the taking care is of no body’s business.