Although they had discussed adopting a dog at length, Shobitha Mani and Gautam John’s dogs, Ella and Sparky, came into their lives serendipitously. “Sparky was brought in by my sister-in-law, Shonali, as a puppy, asking if we could foster him while a permanent home was found," says John. The decision to keep him was easy because they had planned to adopt anyway. “We knew we wanted to adopt and not buy a dog. We hadn’t discussed the breed, it just turned out that he was an Indian puppy," says John, a Bangalore-based lawyer.

Within a few months, Ella was rescued by Shonali, having been spayed too young, with her stitches opening up and infected by the parvovirus. She was nursed back to health by Shonali and Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (Cupa), a public charitable trust that works for the welfare of all animals. While fostering her during her recovery, the couple fell in love with her and knew that most people would hesitate to adopt her, so she stayed as well. For the first-time dog parents, the first year was taxing. “It is a huge responsibility and we were dealing with two new personalities in our home," says John, who believes dogs should not be bought.

“We live in a country that has been obsessed with all things ‘foreign’ for too long now. Even when it comes to the animals we choose to live with," says Anoopa Anand, founder of Animal Aid Alliance, a trust that works for the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of injured, abandoned animals. Anand points out that the local breed is best suited to Indian conditions and exotic as a Siberian Husky or the Saint Bernard might seem, they come from extremely cold places and, however beautiful, will always be grossly overdressed for our balmy tropics.

Canine behaviour counsellor Natasha Chandy says Indian dogs tend to be more resilient. “Because breeding processes, especially in India, are conducted in such a haphazard way, the pure breeds often have genetic health issues. This is almost nil for Indian dogs, since the ones that are on the street are the fittest that survived," says Chandy.

The rules of adoption apply. One has to make sure that the personality of the puppy matches that of the family. “Indian dogs are also highly energetic. Are you set to take them on multiple walks? You can’t pick up a dog from the street and expect him to be happy in the confines of your home. They are used to the freedom," says Chandy.

FIELD SEARCH

ØIf you’d like to adopt an Indian dog, get in touch with Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (Cupa) in your city, Let’s Live Together —an organization that works for the adoption of Indian puppies—or Animal Aid Alliance .

Ø Each of these organizations will ensure that the vaccinations are already done or will tell you how and where you can take care of the basic healthcare.

Ø Andy (pictured here) is a four-and-a-half months old Indian cross. He has been vaccinated and neutered, and he is looking for a family. To adopt him or other Indian puppies like him, contact Animal Aid Alliance on 9845430054.

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