The Faithful Furrend
From Japan’s earliest recorded history to a most beloved tale of animal loyalty, the Akita is truly unlike any other dog breed, with a stoic personality, webbed toes and tail curled over his back.
From Japan’s earliest recorded history to a most beloved tale of animal loyalty, the Akita is truly unlike any other dog breed, with a stoic personality, webbed toes and tail curled over his back.
Pet-traits was born out of a passion for drawing and a love for animals, says Meghna Amonkar, who works with you to capture your pet’s personality to deliver a completely bespoke work of art!
TEXT: TEAM BUDDY LIFE
Pet lovers everywhere know that paying tribute to your furry friends can be the ultimate way to show how much you love your four-legged companions. No wonder some of Instagram and Facebook’s most followed accounts actually belong to animals. Meet Mumbaikar Meghna Amonkar, who helps you take your love for your four-legged to a different level altogether. She works with you to capture your pet’s personality to deliver a completely bespoke work of art! The pet-traits, as she prefers to call her work, start at Rs 8,000 and come in three sizes (8×11 in, 16×24 in, and 25×36 in). They are based on photographs of your pet and lovingly created into stunning artworks. “Pet-traits was born out of a passion for drawing and a love for animals,” says Meghna. “I’ve grown up in a family of dog lovers and got my first dog, a small Lhasa (who I believed was a lion) when I was 8.” When it was time to choose a career, however, she took up the science stream because she wanted to become a vet. “When I was in Class XI, I visited the animal hospital and could not bear to see the plight of so many sick animals. I cried for days and felt that I was not strong enough to handle it as a career. I completed my 12th, but decided to switch to Fine Arts as nothing else interested me. In 1996, I graduated from Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, after completing a Diploma in Applied Art.” Talking of her professional journey, she says right after college, she landed her first job with Tata Interactive Systems (an e- Learning company that was a part of the Tata group) as a visualiser. “I found the idea of working in a digital medium very exciting. My journey in the corporate world began there and continued for 22 years till I reached the position of VP Communication Design,” she informs, adding, “I loved every minute of my long and satisfying career, but felt that I needed a new challenge. By then Taco, a rescued Indie, had entered into my life. We adopted Taco when he was five months old. He has challenged me and taught me so much; not just how to be a pet parent, but also how to slow down and be more patient in general.” She says Taco does not trust humans easily (with good reason) but gets along extremely well with other dogs, especially other Indies. “Because of him I started spending a lot of time with the community dogs around our place, observing them, understanding their unique personalities, their pack dynamics, their body language and just how much they communicate without saying a word,” Meghna tells us. “My love for animals had grown greatly because of him. I took a week off from work to figure out what to do next. My family was not in town so I had a lot of time to analyse and reflect. With some SWOT analysis techniques and a lot of soul searching, I decided that I had to do something that combined my two passions and that’s how Pet-traits was born.” She credits her husband, Nikhil, for always standing rock solid behind her for everything she decided to do. She says, “He supported me completely even when I was having second thoughts. I was going to give up a well-paying job to go into a completely uncharted territory with no real preparation. I had graduated with illustration as my major subject in college, but that was decades ago and I had never worked as an illustrator in my professional life.” Meghna submitted her resignation with nothing other than an idea and the domain name ‘pet-traits online’. “One week after my resignation, while I was serving my notice period, I spent a Saturday afternoon painting a watercolour of my muse Taco. That was my first pet portrait and it gave me the assurance that I still had it in me,” she informs. Now, she’s close to the half-century mark. “Each one is unique and close to my heart,” she says. “Each portrait, or pet-trait as I like to call them, has given me the opportunity to get to know a new animal… look deep into their soul. I don’t feel satisfied till I capture its personality, that special look in the eyes that is unique only to that animal. I feel privileged.” Her claim to fame, however, remains the pet-raits of the Bombay House dogs. “In August 2018, when I read an article about the kennel especially created for the dogs sheltered at Bombay House, I did something impulsive and wrote a heartfelt letter, to Mr Ratan Tata thanking him for everything he did for the streetiest. I had also heard about the animal care hospital that the Tata Group was building and expressed my desire to be associated with the initiative if they felt that my skills could be of any use,” she recollects.
“I never expected a reply, but got one saying that they would reach out to me if there was an opportunity. A few months after I launched Pet-traits, I reached out to them again and got a chance to meet with Shantanu Naidu, who was managing the animal care hospital project. That’s when the idea of the Dogs of Bombay House series came up.” Meghna says she felt that the Bombay House dogs, especially Goa (who was already a poster boy in his own right) would be perfect to spread the message of ‘adopt, don’t shop’. “I spent a few hours taking pictures of and getting to know the Bombay House pack. Shantanu and his colleagues also spent time patiently answering my questions about each of the dogs which helped me decide on how to compose the portraits,” she says. “The highlight of this was when Mr Tata agreed to visit Starbucks to see my series! That was a dream come true and a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my life. He even signed my portrait of Goa. Someday, I hope to auction it and donate all the proceeds to an animal NGO.”
“The highlight of my Dog od Bombay House series was when Mr Tata agreed to visit Starbucks to see it! That was a dreamcome true and a memory that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
She says one interesting aspect of being a pet portrait artist is to get to see the amazing bond that people have with their fur babies. Meghna says, “I feel like I’ve found my tribe. I love hearing stories that people share about their pets: how they came into their lives, things they do, their pet’s favourite people, activities, spots in the house, things like that. In terms of demands, I’ve never really had any unreasonable ones. I make it quite clear that my portraits have to be about the pet.” She prefers not to paint humans and on the rare occasions when she has agreed, it was only if she felt that there was a strong sentiment behind it. “I always want the animal to be the hero of my portrait,” she reasons. “I also make the process of picking the right pose very collaborative, so people know and understand what would make a good portrait. I think I’ve been very lucky to meet some really nice people in the form of my clients (maybe people who like animals are nicer by default).” She says she would absolutely love to meet every pet that she gets to paint but it isn’t always practically possible and even more so with the current situation. “I ask a lot of questions…I ask people to share as many photographs, videos, and stories that they would like to about their pets, and most people oblige,” she says. “If I feel that the photographs don’t do justice to the pet, I have on some occasions clicked pictures myself or given specific instructions on how to take pictures. Meghna says she likes to add a lot of detailing in her portraits, so she asks for close-up pictures to make sure that she captures details accurately. “If I, for instance, have to get the eye colour right, or if there is a specific pigmentation on the nose or paws that I want to show, I have to sometimes refer to multiple pictures,” she says. Most of her work is created digitally, using a professional stylus and tablet, and printed on canvas. “A digital painting is still completely hand-drawn; the only difference is that you are holding a stylus in place of a brush and you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry. I work with brushes that I’ve customized in Photoshop.
Most of these are for oils,” she explains.
“Digital art gives you the freedom to mix media quite easily, so I use some watercolours too in the background. Some people mistakenly think that digital art is about the software doing all the work for you, but that could not be further from the truth. Each silky strand of hair in my portraits is hand-drawn.” Meghna says she’s often deeply engrossed in painting a whorl of fur with her head tilted in the direction of the part, completely oblivious to the world around. “If this happens for too long, I get a wet nose reminder from Taco under my desk, telling me to give my eyes a break,” she laughs.
But does she restrict herself to simple portraits, or draws creative ones, like adding elements of the pet’s personality and likes into the work? “I don’t really agree with the classification of simple and creative based on the addition of external elements,” she avers. “To me every portrait is about bringing out the pet’s personality. I feel all animals are absolutely stunning just the way they are naturally.” Their coats have so many colours, she says, and even within the same breed, no two animals look exactly the same. “I have seen some work where artists paint animal heads on human bodies to give them different personalities. But personally, I dislike the idea of trying to humanise them. I never pick images of dogs wearing outfits because I feel my portraits should be about celebrating their natural beauty,” she reasons. Meghna says it’s mostly been word of mouth publicity for her except for the first time when she launched Pet-traits by putting up a stall at the adoption event organised by World For All in 2018. “This was to get a sense of what people thought of the concept and I was very happy to see the response,” she informs. “Also, Taco was adopted from World For All, so it always holds a special place in my heart. After that event, I have not marketed my work anywhere. My display of the Dogs of Bombay House series at Starbucks got a lot of attention and really helped in those initial days. Now all my leads come from word-of-mouth or through my social media pages,” she adds.
An intelligent and dependable companion that forms close human bonds, a Bulldog is a social and cheerful addition to any family with early socialisation and consistent leadership TEXT: TEAM BUDDY LIFE
The very name ‘Bulldog’ conjures up images of a large dog with a grumpy face and a tough persona. However, it is not so, for the Bulldog is a big ‘softy’ and behind all those wrinkles and gruff appearance is a gentle dog waiting to shower its love on its humans. In other words, the English\ Bulldog is one of the most amiable of all breeds. Despite his gloomy mug. But before you decide to adopt a Bulldog, you should know what living with a British Bulldog would be like. Not to be mistaken, this one is nothing like other breeds.
All kinds of Bulldogs need special care and are slight variations of one another in many ways. In short, having a Bulldog requires the utmost time, patience, and care. Our desire for cuteness and the popularity of shorter, flatter faces – known as brachycephaly – has resulted in dogs who struggle to breathe? In our pursuit for extreme body shapes and dogs with shorter, flatter faces, we’ve created generations of dogs who struggle to breathe, struggle with heat regulation, are chronically tired and can’t exercise without collapsing, and dogs who have to sleep with their head propped up on a pillow or with a toy in their mouth, just to help them breathe. Excessive soft tissue causes obstruction in their airways and their abnormally narrowed nostrils and windpipes leave them gasping for air. And it’s not just breathing difficulties that affect flat-faced dogs. Eye problems are common due to the shape of their heads as well as skin problems from excessive wrinkles and painful back conditions caused by very short corkscrew tails. Recently a landmark ruling in Norway found the breeding of British bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles spaniels breached their animal protection laws. If upheld, this will have a significant impact on the way in which these dogs can be bred in the future, and will worry those in the UK who breed these dogs. So instead of buying a puppy, we’d suggest adopting an adult dog from the shelter. The good news is Bulldogs are super cute at any age! Plus, if you adopt a young or adult Bully instead of a puppy, you’ll be more likely to know what kind of personality and health issues you’re getting, which you can’t see fully or at all in a puppy. Also, you won’t have to worry about puppy messes, puppy training, and puppy chewed up shoes!
Back to the breed profile, an intelligent and dependable companion that forms close human bonds, a Bulldog is a social and cheerful addition to any family with early socialisation and consistent leadership. But Bulldogs weren’t always “softies” and their rich history shows them as stocky, sturdy dogs with a solid, foursquare stance and a face that says: Bring it On! Bulldogs are one of those breeds humans were pretty nasty to before we came to our senses. Initially bred for bull baiting in the 1300s, these dogs were developed specifically to be brave and muscular. The breed transitioned from bull-baiting to the sweet, household companion that it is known for today. As its name indicates: bull-baiting means fighting a bull in the ring. The early English dogs were bred to have a certain height, weight, and even a specific temperament to help them fight aggressively and breeders carefully selected the dogs to fit this mould. Bulldog breeders wanted these fighter dogs to have a short height so it would be difficult for the bull to spot them in the ring. After all, the bull could easily lift and toss the Bulldog in the ring. As a result, the Old English Bulldogs were shorter than the ones we see today. Fighter bullies also had shorter noses compared to the modern Bulldogs. This could help them get a convenient grip on the bull’s face without their nose getting in the way. Often, the nose had to be set back from the muzzle and also turned up so the dog could breathe while it maintained a grip on the bull. The wrinkles were also a distinctly necessary feature for the bull-baiters; they directed the flow of the bull’s blood away from the dog’s nose and eyes.
With a heavy, thickset, low body and massive head, the modern Bulldog originated in England after the elimination of bull baiting in 1835. The Old English Bulldog was crossed with the Pug to create a more docile and affectionate family pet. The Bulldog retained its protective and fearless nature, but aggressive and ferocious tendencies were removed from the breed. Moving on, Bulldogs are famous for their gentle nature, fondness of children, and clownish antics. They are cool, brave, and polite, opposite to their ancestors. They are trustworthy dogs who are obedient to their families and are quite playful. In basic nature, they are amicable and caring. A pet Bulldog is going to be an enthusiastic, playful puppy to have around the home. But living with an English Bulldog will be quite a babysitting as they are not athletic by nature anymore. Since they weigh about 40 lbs for females and around 50 lbs for males, they need constant exercise not to get obese. All over the world, these are considered to be lazy and, basically, couch potatoes. Bulldog puppies are frisky, rambunctious and rowdy, but adults are quiet and rather phlegmatic, spending much of the day snoring on the sofa. But the reality as we told you is different. Due to their face and nasal area structure, the English Bulldogs face certain issues in breathing. While doing heavy physical tasks, they may get heated very quickly due to constriction in breathing. It may tire him or her earlier than other dogs. They are thus misconstrued as lazy. Since the build of an English Bulldog is bulky, you need to keep a check on its dietary intake and an exercise regime must be followed. All brachycephalic breeds gulp air when they eat, and that air has to go somewhere, after all. However, commercial diets make flatulence worse by including fibrous or hard-to-digest ingredients. Bulldogs who are fed a homemade diet of real meat and vegetables have much less trouble with gassiness.
Though not a barking watchdog, his blocky build and his rolling, shuffling gait give intruders pause. It takes a tremendous amount of serious teasing or threatening to provoke this sweet-natured breed, but once aroused, he can be a force to reckon with. His tenacity and resolve mean that it’s difficult to change his mind once he decides to do something. Usually peaceful with other pets, some male Bulldogs may engage in a battle of wills (or jaws) with other males. Despite their sweetness, most English Bulldogs are very stubborn. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. On the plus side, once Bulldogs mature, they seldom get into real trouble.
Because of the shape of their face, they go through life snorting, snuffling, wheezing, grunting, and snoring loudly. Some people find these sounds nerve-wracking; others find them endearing. Also, most people are not prepared for how much English Bulldogs slobber and drool, especially after eating or drinking.
As for their health issues, it’s been said that if you feel like supporting your vet with great chunks of money, get an English Bulldog. They suffer from hip problems, heart problems, and skin problems. Their respiratory system is compromised, so it’s even risky to anaesthetise them for dental cleanings. In hot weather they should be kept in an air-conditioned environment and supervised during outside activity so they don’t over-exert themselves and become overheated. Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch her diet, make sure she gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush her teeth and coat, and take her to the vet at the first sign of an emergency. Be sure to adhereto the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that the vet has recommended for her. Build her routine care into your schedule to help your English Bulldog live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime.
WSAVA supports breeding that promotes traits providing robust animals with good function and health
TEXT: TEAM BUDDY LIFE
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA ) shares the concerns recently expressed by a Norwegian court regarding the breeding of English Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It confirms its support for the efforts of Animal Protection Norway and the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act, which states that “breeding should promote traits that provide robust animals with good function and health.” In a new position paper, WSAVA has called for a much greater focus on health screening of breeding animals and educating the public. This should include encouraging them to ask breeders for veterinary documentation of pre-breeding health screening results on the parents of puppies and kittens before they buy them. It urges that the selection of breeding dogs and cats should avoid extreme conformation that predisposes to disease and poor welfare.
The WSAVA ’s response to the Court ruling has been led by its Hereditary Disease Committee (HDC), whose members include world-leading veterinary geneticists, with the support of the WSAVA ’s Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee (AWWC). The Chair of the HDC, Dr Jerold Bell DVM , a practising veterinarian and Adjunct Professor of Genetics at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Massachusetts, USA, explains: “We recognise the serious welfare issues that exist in relation to brachycephaly, as well as other extreme anatomy and hereditary diseases in dogs and all purposefully-bred animals. We believe that health focused breeding and husbandry practices are the means to improve the health and welfare of these animals. This is effectively ‘health quality control.’
“The public’s affection for these popular breeds demands a greater focus on education around healthy breeding and welfare because altered public demand will encourage the breeding practices that produce healthier pets and, over time, create real change.”
Dr Bell added: “The WSAVA HDC and AWWC are already working on a number of educational initiatives for rollout later this year and we are keen to engage with other veterinary stakeholders on this issue to increase momentum and the pace of change.”
The new Position Paper supports an earlier WSAVA Position Paper, calling on veterinarians and breeders to ensure that criteria used for the selection of breeding animals include the ability to reproduce naturally and exclude anatomical characteristics that predispose to hereditary disease and poor welfare. This Paper also urges breeders to utilise pre-breeding health screening to select animals that are likely to produce healthy offspring.
There’s growing need to focuse on animal healthcare and one such organisation wich has been working to ensure the best care for animals with its medicines and vaccines in Zoetis
Humans, wildlife, pets and livestock depend on each other and on the global environment. Today, every species is threatened by climate change. Diseases that were once found in tropical regions have migrated in northern areas. In Africa, the outbreak of Ebola in humans has been linked to the large numbers of deaths among gorillas in nearby areas. Even the Arctic-dwelling species are facing new threats every day. All these stories hint toward the growing need to focus on animal healthcare. And one such organization which has been working to ensure the best care for animals with its medicines and vaccines is Zoetis. The company was a subsidiary of Pfizer but with Pfizer’s spinoff in 2013, the firm it is now a completely independent company.
Zoetis is a global animal health company dedicated to supporting customers and their businesses in ever better ways. “Our name, Zoetis (zO-EH-tis), has its root in zo, familiar in words such as zoo and zoology and derived from zoetic, meaning “pertaining to life.” It signals our company’s dedication to supporting the veterinarians and livestock producers everywhere who raise and care for the farm and companion animals on which we all depend,” says
Mr. Y. Hari Prasad, Managing Director – India and BNS (Distributor Markets) at Zoetis India.
The company develops and manufactures animal-health medicines and vaccines for companion animals, dairy and poultry. For companion animals, Zoetis products cover therapeutic areas of Anti-Infective, Ectoparasiticides, Endoparasiticides, Nutritional and Vaccines. In the dairy sector, the company has products for Anti Infective, Hormone, Parasiticide and Vaccine. Thirdly, Zoetis also works for Poultry with its products such as Anticoccidials, Anti-Infectives, Disinfectants, MFA, Toxin Binder and Vaccines. Today, the company has over 300 product lines globally, operating in more than 100 countries.
In addition to producing vaccines, parasiticides, anti-infectives, medicinal feed additives and other pharmaceuticals, the company’s complementary businesses include diagnostics and genetics, as well as services such as dairy data management, e-learning and professional consulting. Zoetis experts also provide customer service, technical education and business support to help those who raise and care for animals manage their businesses more effectively.
As the world’s leading animal health company, Zoetis is driven by a singular purpose: to nurture our world and humankind by advancing care for animals. We believe that our products and services should be the most valued by all and our core belief is that our colleagues make a difference and we are customer obsessed, so at every step, we are dedicated to produce quality, result-oriented products.” says Mr Hari.
Going forward, the company plans to develop more preventative vaccines and aims to continuously work for the betterment of animal healthcare across India. “We are driven by a mission that our products and services should be the most valued by all and our core belief is that our colleagues make a difference and we are customer obsessed, so at every step, we are dedicated to produce quality, result-oriented products,” concludes Mr. Hari.
Mr Yethirajyam Hari Prasad is the Managing Director – India and BNS Markets, Zoetis, for the past one year and three months. He started his professional career from Glaxo Animal Health in 1988 and joined Pfizer Animal Health in December 1989. He started as veterinary Service officer, and worked as Key Accounts Executive, District Manager, Product Manager, Manager – Field Force Effectiveness & New Products Development, Zonal Sales Manager, Sales Manager, Marketing Director APAC Region based at Shanghai , BUD Poultry, BUD Poultry & CA Business, Interim GM & Managing Director – India and BNS (Distributor Markets) from May 1, 2020, in a career journey of over 31 years at Pfizer/ Zoetis.
Career’s highlight & achievements: In his journey from frontline to MD, he has worked in 15 APAC countries in his regional marketing role at Shanghai (2010 to 2012 Aug). He is a well-known animal health colleague in the Indian Animal Health Industry.
Family members: His wife Sumana, M. Sc (Physics), is a homemaker and has two daughters Manjushree (MS Business Analytics & B. Tech Computers) and she works at Thermo Fishers, Boston; while Deepthishree is pursuing her M. Sc Digital Marketing at Kings’ College, London.
Hobbies: Travelling & meeting different people
Extracurricular activities: Watching Movies
Career goals: To Take Zoetis to next level in IndiaWebsite: www.zoetis.in