Indies are an ubiquitous presence in our country. Every street hosts these fashionistas donning their coats in every colour and pattern imaginable. Some view them as companions with grit and determination, others view them as a nuisance.
While there’s still a lot to be done in terms of how society views them, more and more people are opening up to the idea of adopting Indies.

To celebrate this trend, we decided to interview someone who’s lived and travelled with her Indie pets.
Our guest today is a mom to 3 little musketeers and like every pet parent, she can’t imagine her life without them.
I would like to welcome Divya Dugar!

Rishi : Hello Divya, it’s really nice to talk to you.

Divya : Same here, Rishi.

Rishi : To begin with, could you tell us more about how you found your pets?

Divya : So I have had 3 Indie pets. One of them unfortunately passed away last year. So Tigress, she’s almost 8 and a half years old. She was a stray dog in Nizamuddin West and she used to come to my office every day just to eat or to spend some time with me. After some time, the office closed yet she continued to visit and knock on the door. So when I found her one day when I was visiting the office, I did not have the heart to leave her there. So I decided to adopt her. That’s the story behing Tigress, my first pet. She’s the oldest, and I am very happy that she came into my life.
The second was Pondi who unfortunately passed away last year. We found her in a garbage bin. Surprisingly, she was a really fat puppy and she also ended up following me to my workplace. She was also in Nizamuddin West. She also stayed in the office, and when this office closed down the same situation arose again – She had nowhere to go. So I took her in as well. I suppose a sense of deja vu took over.

Marco Polo, my youngest dog – he’s 5 years old – He is the son of Pondi.
They are the best companions one could ever have!

Rishi : What do you love the most about Tigress, Pondi and Marco Polo?

Divya : That’s a hard question.
I think each dog has their own personality. It’s like every child has a different personality.
Tigress is like a wise old lady who loves her walks and likes being punctual and she’s always there for me.
It’s very reassuring.
I never feel lonely with Marco Polo and Tigress around. I was living alone for so long. Most people don’t adopt when they are alone because of the long working hours and so on. But for me, I had this sense of responsibility with my pets that I decided to embrace. I think of Marco Polo as my baby. He’s always following me, he’s always cuddling me. There’s just this immense sense of love and security when I am with them.

Now, I live with my husband, but when I was living alone, no one used to visit my house. But with my dogs, it’s just been this non stop barrage of cuddles and licks and they make me laugh even when I was depressed. They would do silly things like roll on the grass, roll on the floor.

Because they are Indies, they are very sturdy, they can adapt to any weather. They have faced very harsh summers, through monsoons and cold winters – I feel that they are very fuss free dogs. They eat everything I make. For Indies, all that they need is our presence and love, and they give us so much more in return.

 

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Rishi : You know, this is something I really relate to, because I also had an Indie as a pet. All Indie parents share this bond of love with their pets. But one issue I also faced as an Indie parent was that Society discriminated against my pet a lot. It’s already hard owning a dog in India, but people have a lot of prejudice against Indies in particular. They were just not as acceptive to them as they were with purebreeds.
Did you have any experiences like this of your own?

Divya : Oh yeah! I had a lot of them in particular.
When I moved away from Nizammudin West, I rented a house in Hauz Khas. Luckily, my landlord – he doesn’t live here – he loves dogs. He gave me this house. There are certainly good people out there.

Although I got lucky with my Landlord since he loved dogs, my neighbours made my life very difficult. They went on and on about how this is a “peaceful colony” and that the dogs were “disturbing them a lot”. They went as far to say that if this was a purebred dog, it wouldn’t bark so much. They kept taunting me. If I even went on the street and my dog peed, they would fuss about that. It was very challenging for me. I put my foot down and told them that they were being ridiculous.

Any pet parent will know that change of space is not easy on the dog, especially if they are territorial.

I had a lot of fights on this matter, but I stuck to my ground. Now when they look at me, they keep their opinions to themselves because they already know what my reply is going to be.
It was also a bit funny. Some people asked me casually about the breed of the dog. They don’t understand that they are Indies because we feed them so well. Sometimes, I just make up a rare breed just for the heck of it! (Laughs)

Sometimes, it’s just about standing up for what you believe in.

Having said that, I do feel the attitude is changing a lot. However a lot of people are still ignorant about adopting. There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.

Rishi : Yes, that is really true. Another attitude that we are trying to change at Collarfolk is the idea of travelling with your pets. I know that you have travelled extensively with your pets. Would you care to share a few stories about this?

Divya : Let’s see –

We started to travel with our pets last year after Pondi passed away.
What I realized after travelling with my pets was that Indian or Desi dogs are incredible travellers. They were sturdy and adaptive. This was really fun. One of the best experiences we had was with travelling on the Indian Railways. We took a train from Delhi to Goa-Madgaon, the Rajdhani and it was very nice travelling in first class with them. It was a really nice train journey. Now I want to take them along with me wherever I can. We are leaving for the mountains for 5 weeks. We are going to take them to Nepal in October.

Rishi : What are the things you would recommend everyone do when travelling with their pets?

Divya : First and foremost, I will have my vets check my dogs. I deworm them very often, because I am a bit worried as they love sniffing and they love playing with new things. I always carry my basic set of medicines, in the event that we can’t find a vet to the place we are travelling to. There was this one instance in Goa where people threw a lot of trash. We were able to treat him on the spot because we had antiseptic sprays ready.

In terms of food, I try and maintain a constant diet for them because changing to a new diet can sometimes affect them. Basic food like Chicken and Rice. I search for a lot of pet friendly properties and restaurants before I leave.

Additionally, I would advise pet parents to never leave their pets in a car, even for a period of 5 minutes, no matter how good the weather is.
Since they are in a new environment, they panic very quickly.

 

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Finally, I would advise pet parents to keep a lot of treats ready. On very long journeys, you have to keep your pet entertained. This is important, especially for dogs with motion sickness. I was trvelling with my pet in the Indian Railways and they were able to endure the 30 hour journey only because of the treats.
Rishi : Excellent points, Divya! As my final question, what would you say to people considering adopting a pet?

Divya : They should have a lot of patience. It doesn’t matter which dog you adopt, you have to make them feel welcome. You have to make them feel at home, you have to be like a family to them and you need to be responsible. Sooner or later, they will adapt to wherever you are living, they will play with your kids, they will want to travel with you wherever you take them.

Indies demand very little of you, and they give you a lot of love in return. The best gift we can give them is just that little bit of time at the start, and understand that each dog has their own personality. People love generalizing dogs, but each one has their own personality.
Make an effort to understand their personality and try working around it.

Rishi : Alright Divya, I have really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you very much for taking the time out for this interview!

Divya : My pleasure!

So there you have it, folks. Big shout out to Divya for taking the time out to do this interview.

Do follow her Instagram handle : dugardd