Gucci and me

Gucci, the first dog to write for us,  pushed up the daisies this morning. This ball of fur saw Runa ji all through her school days to her proudest moment of being a mother. Far atop the rainbow bridge, Gucci shall always oversee the clan with love and blessings for dogs never quite go away, they remain enshrined in all nooks and corners where like bookmarks in old hardbound books, we stumble into their fur and in flashback and figment, they are there. Never gone, forever there. Gucci would never quite fade from the memories; he might be gone from the scene, but he is still there. He remains in that occasional discovery of his fur tucked at sofa, the chewed soft toy or slippers waiting to be found and most of all in our hearts! Omnipresent like the air on earth, Gucci and his love is forever.

Here’s what Runa ji posted today on her facebook wall:

He came in because we lost Silky, our first pet. He came and realized I was broken and decided to repair me. He made me new again. Waited in the balcony till I got back from college each day. He then came to a different city with me, as the only link to my previous life, a dowry unlike any. He changed avatars from fish eating dog to a khakra / khandvi loving dog. In days of sorrow, joblessness or frolic, that tail wagged right below. Winters spent in cozy blankets full of white fur to summers spent with a dog shamelessly lying in all the coolest places of the house. Getting lost in Haridwar, visits to the vet where you barked enough to not seem sick at all, to telling street dog bullies their place, you have done it all. Finally, you cocked your head up each night the baby cried..brought a full circle to my life.

Today, God will be cutting a watermelon in much stress as Gucci has arrived.

Rest in peace or in playful chaos, my dearly departed.

RIP Gucci.

Guardian Angel Dog, Dog with new born
My Salvation lies in your love…

When it comes to canines, inter-species altruism takes an altitudinal elevation. Countless tales which have become part of glistening anecdotes pave the relic road of archives which sometimes moisten the eyes or draw a smile. Uncannily there are even times when both the emotions are in a symphony, ever seen it rain while the Sun is out?

Runa & Gucci, the celebrated couplet grace the pages of Dog with the blog again!

Gucci dog
Saint Incarnate, Gucci Mukherjee

It had been a heavy day for me as my mother was leaving for Kolkata for an entire month. Generally, me and my dad would be leading a bachelor life with a joy unseen, but this time it was different. She had just recovered from a major illness and letting her out of sight for so long was a worry I just couldn’t pacify. It was important for her to go, so we let her anyway. From evening, I kept myself preoccupied with Star movies and a very furry Gucci besides me. We shared some foreign chocolates between the two of us and the evening was pleasant enough, minus any bad thoughts about how mom would take care of herself.

At night, I couldn’t get sleep so went and hugged my father tightly and slipped into an uneasy sleep. I did not know what time it was, but I was gradually realizing that this couldn’t be real. The train my mother had gone in had gone off track and some coaches couldn’t be located. People were calling up other people, trying to find out where the missing relatives went. I was crying to my dad not knowing what to do. And suddenly, before I could howl anymore, a warm wet tongue licked across my face furiously and with urgency I hadn’t felt before in my life. It was so sudden that I opened my eyes and could see nothing but a flash of thick white in front of me, almost smothering my face. I heard my dad saying, ‘Gucci let me reach her, go away!’ and then I gained consciousness.

I was having a nightmare and had totally lost it in my sleep. I was crying and sweating so badly, that I woke both my dad and Gucci up, who then tried to wake me up and calm me. When I regained a bit of normalcy, I asked my dad how come Gucci had come up on the bed and helped me before my dad could, to which my dad gave me a half jealous and half exasperated look and said, ‘He heard you first, leapt up on the bed, literally stood on my head and licked you awake! I tried to put my hand on your head to pat you, but he didn’t let me near. He covered your face and blocked me completely. It was like he trusted no one with your safety, not even your father!’

I could feel the frustration in his voice, but I still broke into a smile, a big wide one. I am blessed to have Gucci in my life, this little fur ball who thinks my happiness is the only thing in the world. At 3 or so in the night, he was alert enough to wake up and come to my rescue with whatever he could manage and boy, did it work! I was out of my bad dream and smiling in no time, imagining this cute little canine working his way around human fears, creepy hours and most importantly, his own sleep. How little he understood this ugly, scary world and yet, how much he understood.

Have a story to share featuring your pet or an animal that left an undying impression on your mind? Tell the dog!

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No country For Elephants?

elephant ivory blog

Mighty, mythical and magnificent, Elephants have long been the stuff of folk lore and popular culture alike. Blessed with highly matured sensibility and long-term memory,  elephants sadly aren’t being as revered in modern times as in the past history. Despite being worshiped in some societies, the grim reality remains that these great creatures are killed for ivory. Decades of poaching and loss of natural habitat has so distressed this otherwise gentle societal animal that cases of elephant turning aggressive are being heard so often these days.  But is it really their fault or a by-product of human greed? Are we staring at the possbility where there’s indeed no country for elephants?

Have a look at these numbers:

  1. 96 Elephants are killed in Africa every day. Every Day.  In recent history,  Africa’s elephants underwent a dramatic and devastating decline, human greed and rising prices of ivory leading to the appalling slaughter.
  2. More than 1,100 elephants deaths were reported in India between 1999 and 2009. These include 434 deaths to electrocution (either due to sagging power lines or traps set by poachers or farmers anxious about elephants raiding their crops) and 106 in train accidents. Completely avoidable. (Source: Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) statistics)
  3. Elephant ivory has been used to make billiards balls, piano keys, jewelry, show pieces etc. Increasing demand for ivory, especially in China, is speculated to be at the heart of the elephant poaching epidemic.
  4. Marauding elephants kill about 300 people every year as they march into villages in search of food.

As the elephants move out of their habitat to human habitations, it leads to eventual conflict between man and animal. Elephants are not aggressive animals. But increasing conflict with humans is making them more and more aggressive. Recent research by animal behaviorists has found that the elephant orphans who’ve watched the death of their parents and elders from poaching and culling, exhibit behavior typically associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related disorders in humans: abnormal startle response, unpredictable asocial behavior, inattentive mothering and hyper aggression.

Lawrence Anthony in The Elephant Whisperer makes this philosophic observation, “But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those that we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.”

Decorated elephant, colourful elephant, Elephant India's national heritage animalAll that colored might, BUT did the Elephant asked for it? Image courtesy: Faraz

India offers some of the most bizarre juxtapositions when it comes to wildlife. With animals being an integral part of the celebrated cultural and religious ethos, it comes as no surprise when one comes across temples where milk is offered to snakes or abodes where monkeys and langurs are as much a part of the milieu as devotees. In the heartland of India, one can see ladies offering the ‘rotis'(chapati) to cows and stray dogs. It is the land where animals are embedded so deep in the religion that half the deities have an animal as their preferred mode of transportation.

And yet, one can see animal abuse without trying too hard.

“There is a mystery behind that masked gray visage, an ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.” — Peter Matthiessen

Elephant, the largest mammal on land is worshiped yet has to slog it out in labour camps; he is as much a part of our history as he is an icon of the modern India(No, I am not referring to the political party). In a bid to give elephant conservation the same momentum of national pride that ‘Save the Tiger’ campaigns evoke, the government has decided to declare the jumbo as a national heritage animal. Last year, the Indian government declared Gangetic dolphin as the national aquatic animal, as it symbolizes the health of the country’s rivers.

Elephant India's national heritage animal

The government in the past amended the Wildlife Protection Act and set up a National Elephant Conservation Authority (NECA), similar to the existing National Tiger Conservation Authority. NECA aims for long-term planning and a coordinated effort to conserve the elephant – with its current population of over 25,000 animals – well before its numbers dwindle to panic levels like the 1,000 tigers left in India.

NECA has envisioned the following measures:

  • Increasing the number of elephant reserves in the country
  • Monitoring elephant populations
  • Curbing poaching,man-animal conflicts and protecting elephant corridors by regulating development activities and relocating local populations.
  • Apart from wild jumbos, the 3,500 captive elephants – many at temples and zoos – must also be protected, says the report. In some areas, the problem of poaching has become so serious that there’s only one male for 100 females.

“Having elephant corridors means nothing if the same have highways, roads and railway tracks running through them.”  — Ranjit Patnaik, wildlife expert

It makes sense to make efforts while we still can. Riding on the media lights and aggregated buzz of Save Tiger campaign would be futile if the purpose that it intends, limits itself to only advertising. Having said that, I agree that awareness is indeed necessary but what we do with that collective conscience is another grave situation which needs to be catered to. The elephant who dies at railway crossings or in road accidents highlights how humans have encroached on the land meant for the wild.

Let’s hope that the protagonists of countless stories of grand ma’…the patrons of Indian forests- the tigers and the elephants survive these harsh times.

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