A dream city for pets anyone?

A dream city for pets anyone?

More than dog parks and pet cafes, an ideal city for pets would have 'hoomans' who are empathetic and compassionate.

Elon Musk, the world’s richest (or, at times, second richest) man recently shared on Twitter his desire to build a new city in Texas, USA. When he said that it would also be dog-friendly, pet parents across the world jumped with joy, “hearting” his words. I don’t know what Musk’s version of a dog-friendly city is — perhaps it has broad sidewalks, huge dog parks, pet cafés and neighbourhood pet parties. Having grown up with dogs in Bengaluru, I could not stop thinking how a future ‘dog friendly’ Bengaluru (well, why not?) would transform life for the thousands of dogs and pet parents in the city. Here’s what I imagine...

At about seven in the morning, Pippi’s bladder wakes us up — a natural alarm clock for all pet parents. When he gotta go, we gotta go, and the daily shenanigans begin with a morning walk. I imagine Pippi and I walking on the paved footpath, instead of tip-toeing and squeezing ourselves between parked cars. Pippi is happily sniffing everything on the way; I do not have to pull him away from the car tyres or the compound walls as him sniffing them seems to offend people these days. In my head, the Grumpy Uncle down the street is sipping his coffee when he smiles at us as we walk. It is a relief to see him not chide and remind us that the footpath, the road and the tree facing his gate are all his, and we have no business walking there! 

We happily trot towards the park across the street. It is the same park that we go around every day; only this time, we go inside. Except for Cubbon Park, no other public parks in the city let pets inside. But, in my head, every park makes it to the list! As we cross the road, Paper Anna sees us from a distance and stops his motorbike. Pippi is disappointed as he cannot bark at him — his usual routine — as Anna would zip past us like a bullet.

Today, we don’t do the daily Bharatanatyam of me trying to hold on to Pippi’s leash, while he pulls and lunges, right in the middle of the road.

In the park, we see Biggie walking on the leash and his dad picking after him! This isn’t the reality, but I am free to imagine anyway! Biggie’s dad believes it is abhorrent to walk his dog on a leash, no matter how unsafe Bengaluru’s roads are. He argues that Biggie comes back as soon as he is called, even when he is attacking other dogs.

The dad also has a “reason” for not picking up the poop — “Who picks up after street dogs? Why should I do this disgusting thing?” Little does he know that most street dogs are very discreet about their bathroom habits and that leaving poop on the road is not just inconsiderate, but unhealthy too.  Our next stop on the walk is Pippi’s preferred poop stop — an empty plot next to Cranky Amma’s house. Every day, Amma peeps through the window, ready to yell at us. Her peeve — since Pippi is an Indie, his poop is “dangerous” and “inferior” to her terriers. Oh, did I tell you that this is despite me picking up after him? Today, I imagine a version of Amma who offers me old newspapers in case I forgot my poop bag!

More understanding, less stress

After an endorphin-inducing walk, we return to our gate and the Owner Aunty is nowhere to be seen. On most days, she would stand at the gate with her long list of grievances about Pippi, despite the house being pet-friendly. It is beyond her to understand why dogs bark or play on her terrace. Why can’t they sit in a corner like a toy, she wonders. But in my head, she comes to us with a few treats for Pippi today. As we go inside the house, Pippi, goes to sleep. I, on the other hand, wake up to reality and all my endorphins are replaced with cortisols, thinking of an actual walk! 

What struck me was that, maybe, we don’t need Musk’s billion-dollar-plan of a pet-friendly city! Instead, all we need is perhaps a generous dose of understanding, a dash of compassion and a bit of empathy from all of us.

A constructive conversation airing everyone’s concerns around pets without dismissing any of them can make life with pets a lot less stressful, right?

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. She tweets at @RamanSpoorthy