You had me at woof!

You had me at woof!

In our new column on pet parenting,we tell you why you will love loving dogs.

Pippi, the rescued Indie

Every story of a dog walking into one’s life is endearing and mush-inducing. For some, this story lasts just a few seconds — the eyes meet and the duo instantly click! For others, it is filled with numerous meet-and-greets, deep contemplations, resistance, rebellion and an emotional roller-coaster ride! The fairy-tale ending is almost always the same — slowly, but surely, the dog finds a way into your heart and an adventure begins.

I grew up with three dogs as pets and numerous community dogs around at different stages of my childhood. Our first pet dog, named Ramanamurthy (inspired by a Kannada movie), was an Indian pariah dog (aka Indie), who was dumped as a tiny puppy in a drain across our house. Instinctively, my brother and I brought him home, and after a thorough bath and some persuading of our parents, he became ours — a typical story of ‘having a dog’ back in the day.

Rinky, an eight-month-old Mudhol hound, severely malnourished and neglected, came in as a ‘stopover’ before joining my uncle’s family on a farm. Destiny had other plans! Within a month of her staying at our house, she weaved her magic and we firmly refused to part with her. Poor uncle had no choice but to give up! After a year, Belli, our Indian Spitz, joined the pack. Dad went for a haircut and came back with a teeny-weeny pup on his shoulder. Her previous ‘family’ were moving and could not take her along! Duh! 

Over the years, as time and tide change, letting go of these furry companions is inevitable, but never easy! For us, their absence was compensated by feeding dogs on our street, our community dogs, who kept us entertained with their goofiness. With education, work and life taking me places, the wish to have another dog remained unfulfilled until two years ago.

Ruler of house and hearts

Today, our house is ruled by Pippi, then a two-year-old former street dog, who adopted us. While all my previous furries were adopted by us as pets, Pippi was different. When we moved to Bengaluru, he befriended me and my husband (who was never ever a dog person, but is the exact opposite today) and chose to come and go out of our house as he wished. Soon, the duration of visits increased — he would love to sleep overnight and just go out for his usual business. Thanks to his abusive past, he was, and is, edgy with vehicles, and that got him into trouble. Soon, we were pushed to formally adopt him in a jiffy and our lives changed for the better! 

One can fall in deep love with any dog — young or old, fancy breed or a stray, male or female— nothing but love matters. The adorable ‘puppy eyes’, which science now shows evolved just to appease mortal humans, is all you need to look at! Once you do, you receive a bonus of wagging tail, wet kisses and a shower of fur — all of which you would want to die for. 

It is also not too difficult to understand why we go ‘dog-crazy’! Interacting with dogs produces oxytocin — the ‘love hormone’ that is produced when you see your loved ones. That should explain the deep emotional bonds that form between humans and dogs. Having co-evolved with humans for thousands of years, dogs are today adept at not just living their lives with us, but also communicating with us, transcending the species’ barriers. How fascinating is that! 

While we will explore more in future columns, for now, I can vouch for one thing — you will never regret falling in love with a wagging tail! Give it a try.  

Tailspin is your monthly column on everything that’s heartwarming and annoying about pet parenting.

The writer is a science communicator and mom to Pippi, a four-year-old rescued Indie, who is behind her drive to understand dogs better.