Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I like pets.

I prefer dogs. I am okay with cats. I can accept rabbits, parrots, budgies, goldfish etc. I'll reserve #sneeze# my comments on #cough#sneeze#... pigs. Having worms, mouse, snakes, other members of the cat family as pets always draw a blank look from me. I guess it all boils down to (weird) personal liking/preference.

My friend has two dogs - a German shepherd (Bruno) and a Fox terrier (Pinto). Of the two, Bruno is my fav. He is, to put in typical Aussie way, a "naughty bastard". My friend tells me having pet(s) is not cheap. From vaccinations, flea powders, tick preventatives, supplements, electrolytes(!), leashes, collars, brushes, combs, and yeah pet food...it makes a dent in the purse. Some people would consider pet related expenses a waste of money, whereas some wouldn't mind. I believe with pets, it's horses for courses (echoos me for the pun!). It boils down to a matter of priority.

One fine day, my friend woke up to find Pinto limping. The vet pronounced Pinto needs surgery on two of his legs, followed by few weeks (if not months) of physiotherapy. Even though Pinto is not my fav pet, it's still a dog. A pet. It's not mine, but no one is/will be happy to see him suffer and limp for rest of his life. The medical costs rack up to a gruesome four figure amount. My mate was in a real predicament.

Medical costs could easily spiral if Pinto doesn't respond well to surgery or after care. But, it was an easy decision to make. The constant wailing and sheer tear power from his little daughters made him put his hand up and say "DO IT". The kids absolutely love Pinto. There is no choice but to see Pinto right. If not for Pinto, atleast for his daughters. In the end, all went well. Pinto is back. Pinto still hobbles a bit. We are told he'll be normal in time. It's funny the way he runs. He runs like chappaani from the Tamil movie 'at the age of 16'. The daughters are happy. So my friend is happy.

The Pinto episode was an eye-opener into how big a business the Pet industry was. Pinto had a MRI scan, a specialist vet examined Pinto, an extensive physiotherapy...the saying "naai paadu patten (like a dog, I struggled)" sounded ironic. My friend exclaimed even he hadnt had a MRI scan yet. Ofcourse, he touched wood straightaway! It's a world of dog whispereres and horse whisperers. As Bill Lawry often says, "its all happening out there". By the end of it, he and Pinto had had enough!

Prior to Pinto episode, my perception of a vet was not entirely correct. To me, a Vet was a random-hard-to-find doctor who usually attends to cows, horses...basically all farm animals. For a change, he treats cats, dogs of rich people. The more accomplished vet is in the zoo treating an injured Gibbon, or monitoring the birth of a Giraffe or shooting at a sleeping lion from a distance with an anaesthetising gun. By listing out my prior perception of vets, I obviously don't mean any disrespect. I admire these people for their career choice. Not everyone can do their job or can have the undying passion for animals. They are doctors for animals.

The Pinto saga reminded me of the good old days. My grandparents had a dog - Johnny. I cant recall what breed it was. She was black scrawny little thing. Please don't ask me why she was given a male name - I don't know! :) Johnny had a proud history being the most harmless dog in our colony. Johnny never bite anyone. She never really showed much aggression. The sight of a stranger scared her. You can see it in her eyes. The tail would between her rear legs. She'd run to the corner and bark. And bark she did. She compensated the lack of aggression by barking her lungs out. This managed to keep burglers' at bay. Johhny's world was circumscribed by the boundaries of our house. She wasn't really brave to venture out. She slept in the veranda, milled around in the big backyard, ate from the black plate near the small corner beside the well. As simple as that.

I don't think Johnny cost my grandparents anything. She wasn't fed anything special. Johhny ate the food that was cooked in the house. There was one difference though. In a big household like ours, there's always leftovers (pazham pathu) from the previous day. Johhny always had pazham pathu. Johhny may have Dosa with Rasam today; the next day it'll be Adai or Idli with sambhar; on a good day, rice with hot milk. Johhny had good dining habits too. She'll lick the plate clean till she sees her reflection on the black plate. Being a TamBram family, we were - still are - strict vegetarians. Johhny, I believe, was one too.

Comparing Johnny and Pinto, I don't think back in the days a dog could survive or have hope for a free feed without making itself useful - let alone a surgery on its legs. Pets had a utility value. If it's no use, it'll be gotten rid off. There was no secret or shame in it because it was the common approach. Does this mean people didn't love pets? Probably not. They did love their pets. But, there seemed to a weird detachment in love which made this approach a fact of life.

Pinto can thank his lucky stars now!


  1. Nice Sriramble! :) Actually the fact that the pets industry is thriving so much has a good underlying concept. It's our love for animals and to treat them as equals and worthy of love. Without that, most veterans would be out of jobs! :)

  2. Sorry to say this but I HATE pets! (Animals lovers please don't stone me). I find them a big nuisance, though there's a German Shepherd in my house (my parents own it).

  3. Hey, Pinto is really, really lucky:-). I am happy for Pinto:-)!

    I have a cat in Chennai, (though i dont like cats much, this one kind off lives in our backyard), muches on snacks...It is not even fond of milk....It will come running, on the first sight/ smell of papads:-)

  4. Definitely happy for Pinto! What you say is true, about dogs having a lot more value these days. At my office,one of my coworkers has a sign on her desk that says "I have 1 well behaved dog, and 3 not-so-well behaved kids"

    But in a way im with Dot

    I like pets from afar, but actually having one is SO much effort. One of my best friends got a dog, and she couldn't go ANYWHERE until the dog was trained. Plus, dogs live shorter than humans, and people get too attached.

    I prefer human love

  5. Ya Pinto is lucky !!
    after all the " Nai paadu " .. :D

    Johnny is a typical TamBram dog, i must say.

    Cheers :)

  6. The point you make in the last paragraph is valid - thanks to the nuclearization of the family unit, pets are now treated as a member of the family, whereas, earlier, they had jobs to perform as sheepdogs or hunting dogs or guard dogs.

  7. Johny was lucky...why...those days during evening tea time, we will not get fruit bun to nibble..johny will and should get. We kids have to buy and we cannot eat, we need to feed her...yeah right..and if we don't...I would like to say this with love (that bitch would growl at us) and my grandfather would hear her and yell out "johnyku bun podu...ne sapidathe di"...she used to understand and make more noise. We will not keep quiet either, in low tone we used to tell her to shutup otherwise we will not give her..she will obey..that was a great pleasure for us...

  8. Somehow I never liked pets!! :(
    but i loved them at zoo!!

    Sometimes they are pain at flats....or homes when you enter!!

    Some home owners are so careless!!they let their dogs untied and create panic for others!!

  9. yeah you touched a chord there for us pet lovers who love a pet for what it is and not to humanise it.I have friends for whom their pet is a child.Thank God for the pet will not become a nuisance to the society like their kids !!! Yep I remember johnny and we kids who were lucky to buy the bun for johnny's afternoon tea used to eat the raisins in the bun and feed only the dough to her .She was def looked after.Hopefully my pet will not cause me any trouble as she will become a horse food .You didnt read this animal lovers

  10. kokonad, welcome! hehe. well said.

    dot, some dogs/pets can be very annoying. they can easily become pests...its a fine line.

    viji, thank you.

    fd, yes. sometimes pets are great when they are in other person's house. no maintanance. they kinda appear extra cute when they are across the fence. lol at the sign.

    witsnnuts, hehe... i think she was more TamBram than some TamBram's i know.

    sujatha, yep.

  11. anon, poor johnny!

    nirmal, dogs in flats isnt a good idea at all. the dog needs its space.

    chithi, :)

  12. Pinto and Johnny are really lucky! Pinto for being taken care of like a child and Johnny for receiving the Raja Ubhasarippu! I like the "naai paadu patten". Again, rombha nalla ezhuthirukeengha!! :)