‘Happiness is a warm puppy’. Charles M. Schulz
Being an animal lover and also having been around a German Shepherd at my granny’s home, I always had a soft corner for dogs. My hubby too had a dog as a pet. My daughters were not to be left behind and since the past two years they have been demanding a pet puppy. After lot of melodrama and blackmailing by the girls, the doting dad gave in and brought home a Labrador.
Having recently become puppy owners, we were saddled with the responsibility of taking Sparkle – our new family member for daily walks. The potty training of puppies can be a daunting task. After raising two girls, this little puppy was literally challenging my skills as a care-taker. I had to devote all my time watching her, so that an ‘accident’ and thereafter, the thorough cleaning chore (to eliminate odours) could be avoided. The moment I shifted my attention to any other chore, she would punish me by doing the ‘good deed’ in the house, or so I thought.
As they say, every incident in life teaches a lesson. My kids and I took turns at taking Sparkle for her walks so that she would be toilet trained and do her job outside the house. Every time Sparkle obliged we were thrilled to the core! No cleaning poop at home!Every Puppy in India Needs A Park and we don't deserve their Poop around us Click To Tweet
Gradually, I started noticing other dog walkers, something that had never really caught my attention before. There were many, many of them, atleast five from my own housing society. One day while observing a hired dog walker having two grown up dogs, a reality hit me really hard. One of the dogs had pooped right in the centre of the newly constructed road. It was really disgusting. Just then I realized that we, the educated class, animal lovers, proud dog owners, were literally littering the streets of our very own area. Ever since school times, I would bring back chocolate wrappers home, for disposing in a dustbin. But what the hell was I doing now? I was taking my pet on a clean street to be littered with poop, so that she would let my home be clean as usual. I didn’t feel like taking Sparkle on the streets after this incident.
A new park was constructed by the BMC (Mumbai Municipal Corporation), in the vicinity of our society, which had been opened to the public for a few hours every day, in the morning and evening. I decided to take Sparkle there try and train her to use a corner in the shrubs for her job.
One more lesson was in the offing. As humans, we just fear animals, irrespective of size, and look at them with contempt; and ofcourse, maintain a safe distance from them. I took Sparkle in that park for two days avoiding the walkers and aunties who gather for their daily dose of gossip, to train her for her job. On the third day, the watchman of the park asked me to desist from bringing my pet to the park, as many people had raised objections. I was extremely heart broken, but not really surprised. I had seen people’s reaction in the lift, in the park and on the street. Most people were terrified of a little puppy!! I tried reasoning with him that I was getting my pet late in the evening when very few people were present in the park, to which he replied that he had no problem, but the aunties’ had objected because they were scared!
I looked up the internet to search dog parks and came across exactly THREE in Mumbai. Priyadarshini Park at Napeansea Road, one at Carter road and another at Yari Road, that’s it! Here we were, at the extremity of the western suburbs, what alternative was I left with other than the streets. I chided myself for not taking into consideration this aspect, before getting home a pet puppy.
I have a really strong case to make against littering our city with pet excreta. Abroad, each pet owner cleans up after his pet, a rule that is followed religiously. In our country except for some pet owners, nobody bothers. It’s appalling to see our roads and footpaths getting filthy all the time. With the government having launched the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ isn’t it our duty to keep our areas, city and country clean. Not in support of the ruling party but for the sake of cleanliness. Would’nt that be astounding if we do achieve that? Doesn’t cleanliness mean lesser diseases? Not to forget the stench emanating from animal faeces, which gets worse during the rains? The poor are most affected by a dirty environment. Therefore, a cleaner environment means a better life for the poor, who can seldom afford medical care. Ofcourse, there are several other benefits of living in a clean environment.
As far as pets are concerned we need more pet parks in the city in order to keep it clean. The requirement is only for adequate space, with a designated area for eliminating and another for playing. The pet parks need not be very big in size.
Is that asking for a lot? In a city which is already facing a space crunch with its ever increasing population, I do understand that such a demand would raise eyebrows, invite immense criticism, and may even anger a section of the public. What we cannot afford to forget is that pets are an inseparable part of our lives. Some more parks even if designated for pets, will also increase the green cover of the city. I urge the intelligentsia to support and advance this cause in order to create a clean environment for humans, and more happiness for our loved pets!
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