When I was planning the launch of To Forgive Is Canine I looked around to see how many Indian pet blogs are out there. I only saw a couple – that’s right. In my mind, this was a big niche with lots of competition. Not in India it seems. No dedicated Indian dog accounts even on Instagram. The reason I wanted to start this blog is of course because I love animals – and I started to feel sad everytime I thought about my dogs’ short lifespans – so I wanted a living memorial for them. Who am I kidding – my dogs are my two soulmates and this is for them.
Why is it called To Forgive Is Canine? For one, dogs truly do love unconditionally and they hold no grudges at all. Alexander Pope knew that back in the 18th century.
Thanks to the internet there is now a wealth of information on dog care but there are still none catering to pets in India. For example, which are the pet friendly places in Bangalore, what are the best rated pet stores, or who is the most reliable vet in my area, or how do I relocate with my pet, why is there a no pets allowed rule in almost every apartment? What can I do to help a stray dog? How do I register my dog with the Indian Kennel Club or with the municipality? What are some good Indian made pet products?
We’ve always had dogs at home and I’ve seen how the pet industry has evolved over the years in India. It is only in the past few years that pet stores have started mushrooming in big cities. Otherwise people just went to the government veterinary hospitals and fed their dogs bread and milk or rice/roti and milk along with meat and leftovers.
With young, working, busy indian professionals moving to big cities for their jobs, being away from their family has become the norm. They eventually form their own nuclear families and feel the need for a pet to offer companionship in the big, lonely city. These busy urban folk don’t have time to cook meals and are aware that a dog’s nutritional needs cannot be met with roti and milk. Ergo the Indian pet food industry. I wasn’t entirely surprised when I heard that the Indian pet industry is still nascent and underdeveloped. Mars International which owns both the Royal Canin and Pedigree brands dominates with a 70% market share in pet food. Compared to the innumerable choices pet owners have elsewhere in the world, this is just sad.
Most big dogs in India end up being tied because most Indias live in small houses or apartments with no yard space. There is very little awareness about dog care, exercise, diet or training. There seems to be an unfettered craze too for newer imported dog breeds but very little effort to learn about special care required to own one. It is not entirely crazy to hear about pet dogs being disowned everyday or tied to a tree somewhere. Most first time Indian pet owners are just ignorant about the time and commitment required to raise a pet. The common Indian perception of all dogs being guard dogs or toys that can be discarded anytime needs to change and owners have to start treating them more like members of their family.
My dad still says I do too much for my dogs while countless poor malnourished Indians die everyday. That according to me is not a sound argument but it says a lot. And Mahatma Gandhi summed it up beautifully when he said ‘The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated.’ Not just moral progress, I’d say economic progress too.
No wonder then that the Indian attitude towards animals is changing albeit at a very slow pace when compared to the anthropomorphic care offered to pets in countries like US and the UK. With this blog I hope to be that change that I wish to see in India.