It's a good time for humans but not for animals

It's a good time for humans but not for animals

The festival of lights is around the corner. Kids are already bursting crackers on the streets of the capital. “These are difficult times for dogs,” says Varuna Sandha, an avid dog lover. She plans to buy a warm furry earmuff for her pet Sheenu this weekend. On her dog’s aversion to high frequency sound, Mayur Vihar resident Varuna says, “Noise from crackers and even the sight of fire can scare dogs. Sheenu dares not venture out.

She hides in the cupboard or could be seen crawling under the bed. It’s quite a scene.”
She says she has gained notoriety in her neighbourhood for being a self-styled dog rights activist. Every morning or sometimes evenings, she feeds at least over a dozen stray dogs in her housing society, besides ensuring that they stay healthy and vaccinated.

But her major challenge is in the offing. “I have to give them food before evening sets in. It’s because when crackers burst they go hiding. On Diwali, you would usually find them crouched under cars for shelter. However you try, they will not listen to you,” Varuna says. She adds, “It’s dangerous for them. This is how they get run down sometimes.”
Anoop Pandey, a veterinary physician, echoes her concerns. “Celebrations are for us, not for them,” he says.

Every Diwali, Pandey caters to a surge in clients, especially concerned pet keepers. He claims that the demand for anxiety medicines for dogs is growing. “We give herbal medicines that have a calming effect on dogs who can’t withstand high decibel celebrations. Many people use cotton to plug their dog’s ears,” he says.

“The irate dogs may even bite,” he says, explaining how dogs sometimes suffer panic attacks related to noise. 

But some veterinarians like Pramod Kumar hold a rather radical view on the impact of Diwali on dogs. “They behave like their owners. Mera pet toh chakri k saath gol-gol ghumta hai (My pet circles as the chakri spins),” he says.

“Dogs by nature are carnivores but they also drink milk, eat roti. They adapt quickly. Like their food habits, the way they behave can also be changed,” the New Delhi Municipal Council vet doctor says.

Varuna told DH that she and Sheenu keep away from crackers. “There are two-three dogs in my locality who are not scared at all. They remain unperturbed while others freak out,” she says.

On whether she would play firecrackers this Diwali, she says, “Ab kya patakey khelungi, Sheenu barah saal ki ho gayi hai (I got no point playing with crackers, Sheenu is 12-year-old now).” Varuna teaches BSc Computer Science students at a college in Ghaziabad.

Despite believing that city dogs have adapted themselves to loud Diwali celebrations, Kumar throws in a hint of caution. He says stray dogs who are bereft of human touch can’t be predicted. “They’re the ones who bite,” he says.

According to veterinarians, cases of dog bites increase during loud festivities. Meanwhile, Varuna’s concern for dogs remains. “I can’t tell people in my locality to not burst crackers. They will not listen; they’re already against me feeding dogs,” she says.

“They’ve not learned to live with humans, how will they ever learn to live with dogs?”


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