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Sugar & Spice

Sugar & Spice
With the sweet boy Oreo keeping her company at
home, everyone’s favourite Rashmi Desai will never run
out of bear hugs and wet kisses all day
Text: Team Buddy Life

Whether she’s lighting up top television shows like Uttaran portraying grey characters, performing at sold-out concerts, or setting the dance floor on fire, super-talented Rashmi Desai juggles the busy life of an actress and a ‘paw-rent’ of an eight-year-old Pekingese pup, Oreo. With the cutiepie keeping her company, she will never run out of bear hugs and wet kisses all day! Originally from China, a Pekingese could only be owned by monarchs. They took a small pet with them everywhere, hired personal servants to care for it, whose duties included walking the dog on a leash of precious stones and small bells. Since the Pekingese had a complex character, it was difficult to call it a companion, but it served as a real decoration of the imperial palace. Their short statured, long flowing coats, and flat faces make them the beloved pets of people all across the world. Originally the favourite breed of the Chinese Imperial Family, they were bred exclusively to be pets and have enjoyed the lap of luxury for centuries. Pekingese are lap dogs. They don’t need a lot of exercise, and they don’t need a lot of space—they only need a lap or a couch. They are exceptionally friendly and loving little dogs who want nothing more than to curl up next to their owners. Just like Desai, international hotties have all flaunted the company of a Pekingese. To name a few, Merilyn Monroe had one, so did Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Cartland, Richard Burton and our own Shilpa Shetty. Even Donald Trump!

Even with their busy schedules, our favourite celebs always make sure to give their furry family members the love and attention they deserve, especially on social media. Frankly, even we can’t get enough of Oreo’s charms! He has that little extra something, that sparkle, that sets a dog apart. A trained Bharatnatyam and Kathak dancer, she shares a sweet tooth in common with her adorable pet, who looks oh-so edible himself. “Once you start living with them, you count them as your family members and the moment you have them in your life, your life is changed,” she says about pets. Oreo, she says, is sensitive, caring and doesn’t like Santa-Banta jokes!

Were you always attached to dogs? When did you get your first pet and tell us about him/her.

Of course, yes I always loved dogs and I was a child and I would play with whatever stray dog or even anyone’s pet I just loved to cuddle them and feed them.

How many dogs do you have? Which breeds do you have and what are their names?

I have a dog named Oreo and its cutest little thing. It’s of the Pekingese breed.

Any particular reason for their names?

Not as such, but Oreo is a very cute name and I found it really apt for my dog so I just went with it.

If you could share their daily routine with our readers…

Oreo loves to play and I take him for a walk daily and I make sure that he gets a proper routine of taking a

bath, eating and sleeping. I also make sure that he gets timely visits to the vet. He is the one who keeps my

family together.

You are an actor and keep quite a busy schedule between travelling and shooting. Do you find enough time to look after your canine companion?

Of course, the first thing that I do after the shoot is to go back home and meet my pet. I make sure to feed him and to spend quality time with him…I make him run around the house so that he is always active. But in my absence my mom is the one who takes care of everything for Oreo.

Do you take your pet out of town or to the studio sometimes?

It depends where I am going and how long the shoot is going to be. But yes, sometimes I do take Oreo along

with me. Other times I keep him with my family or friends whoever is available.

If yes, then do they enjoy the dance, music and the routine stuff happening at the studio while you’re at work?

Whenever Oreo has been on a shoot he has become the centre of attraction because he’s so cute and everyone just wants to play with him and he loves the music and dance and everything and being a part of the shoot even from a distance.

Who is a better company: a man, woman, or a dog and why?

Anytime a dog because they are so innocent and they don’t judge you or have any tantrums or any complications.

A relationship with your pet is the simplest and purest relationship and I think they are the best companions for

everyone. And on top of it, you can share anything with them and be rest assured that those secrets won’t go anywhere. They are the best secret keepers.

Your pet must’ve given you some anxious moments. Please share some interesting happenings with our readers.

I remember when he would get sick and it was the longest night that I have spent.

Have you ever taken your pet to the dog park? What was his reaction seeing so many other dogs?

He is a very social dog and loves to play with other dogs and other children as well and yes I have taken him to a dog park and it was a very great day for him.

Do you send your dog(s) to the groomer, or do you prefer grooming yourself?

I take him to the groomer myself or sometimes send him if I am busy. I cannot groom him myself all the time but I do give him baths and take care of him whenever I can and that is the most special time that we spend together.

Where do you take Oreo when he falls sick? Do you recommend your vet to other pet lovers?

I have a designated wet and I always take him to the doctor and of course I do recommend my vet to other pet lovers.

How do you feel about homeless dogs? What do you think should be done for their plight?

Homeless dogs should be looked after and provided a shelter, especially in these rains when they get wet and don’t get enough food. I have seen some pretty injured pets on the road and it breaks my heart to see them in such a condition.

Have you ever lost a furry friend? If yes, then how did you cope with the loss?

It’s the hardest thing in the world to lose a pet but you tell yourself that maybe they are in a better place right now then suffer in this world so it becomes easier to cope with the fact that they are not around you anymore.

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Here’s to cute economy – for better, or for worse

The cute economy is not only a network of cute content that people participate in making, sharing and circulating but also a multibillion-dollar business

Was one of the last DMs you received on Instagram a video of ducklings wearing flowers for hats, or floating in a sink full of water? An overly zealous cockapoo dancing on the couch with his human? A husky throwing a temper tantrum because he couldn’t come indoors?

If sharing cute animal content is your love language, you’re not alone — you are part of a bigger cultural phenomenon called the cute economy. From Buddy Mercury the beagle, who stands on his hind legs while howling and playing the piano, to fat cats that are embracing their curves, there’s no shortage of animal accounts on the social media platform. How widespread are these sorts of accounts, for people who perhaps don’t understand what we’re talking about? They are extremely widespread. If you search on Instagram #catsofinstagram or #dogsofinstagram, with cats and dogs obviously being the most prominent, you’ll get millions and millions of hits.

The cute economy is not only a network of cute content that people participate in making, sharing and circulating but also a multibillion-dollar business due to creators’ ability to monetize their content.

What is the cute economy?

Media researcher James Meese defines the cute economy as the creation and circulation of user-generated content depicting entities (animals, babies, plants, objects, etc.) that are perceived to be cute. Still not clear enough? Well, let’s give the term a proper definition: the cute economy refers to revenue being generated off of content that features cute and adorable things – typically cats, dogs, or babies; not to imply that we consider any of these three categories as “things”, but let’s keep moving on. With cat videos having more or less made over half of YouTube’s lifeblood back in the early-to-mid 2010’s, and Instagram full to the brim with dog accounts, there’s a lot of love to go around. Of course, where there’s attention being paid, there’s an investor looking to cash in.

While researchers and journalists have shed light on this social media phenomenon, sharing cute animal photos is not new. Over 100 years ago, photographer Harry Whittier Frees was creating novelty postcards of anthropomorphic animals.

The cute economy truly formed after ad revenue became a more accessible and mainstream form of monetary gain. With nearly all social media platforms nowadays being venues via which users can make a living, Instagram accounts suddenly had more worth to them. With profiles focusing on cute entities rolling in followers and engagement, the ad revenue they raked in was amazing, and now everyone’s looking to get their pet celebrity famous. Our research focuses on the specific but sizable segment of the cute economy that circulates pet content. We find the cuteness of pet content is depicted through the following archetypes: goofy or silly animals, small (aka “smol”) or young animals, inter-species content, child-animal pairs, extreme sizes and ratios (very small or very big), unusual looks and animal behaviours that we construe as human-like. While some pet accounts have more followers than politicians and celebrities to generate their own virality — like Jiff Pom at 9.9 million, Nala at 4.3 million, Doug the Pug at 3.9 million and Juniper at three million — another catalyst for the circulation of cute pet content is meme or feature accounts that display curated reused content like Matt Nelson’s omni-platform enterprise WeRateDogs.

Much like mom influencers who create social media accounts for their human babies, pet parents have also been creating social media accounts to show off their domesticated companions. Given that people have been humanising their pets since before the dawn of the internet, a pet’s social media presence is a form of pretend play. Pet account managers humanise their fur babies visually by using clothing, accessories or props. They also humanise their pets textually, by providing them with a human-like voice.

The content creator will even add species-specific lexicon like cat speak, also known as meowlogisms, or infantilized speech such as lolspeak — the Internet slang originating from lolcat memes.

Still, cuteness has a threshold. Several participants we spoke to for our research explained that while anthropomorphism can be cute, if it appears forced or inauthentic, it becomes perceived as the opposite of cute.

And many content creators have caught on to this curation of cute and ensure their content doesn’t deteriorate into cringe. One of our interviewees (who manages an account for her tortoise) expressed her discomfort and uncertainty over creating captions. She says it’s hard finding “the balance there between, it being cringey and entertaining.”

What does consume and sharing cute content do?

Nurturing relationships: cute content is shared because it depicts a relatable experience to its appreciators. It also serves as a gift of care and a sign of closeness in a relationship. One of our interviewees knows her stepdaughter is a fan of horses, and specifically sends horse content to her. We find that this gesture signals that the sender truly knows what warms the receiver’s heart.

Aspiring for a future: Consuming cute content can also be aspirational. For instance, one of our interviewees hopes to adopt a dog when she moves to a pet-friendly building. She is dedicated to following accounts that portray her aspirational lifestyle like The Golden Ratio.

Vicarious interspecies connection: Cute content fulfils its consumers because it allows them to interact with animals from a distance, without the need to allocate any resources for taking care of them. One of our interviewees, an otter lover, insatiably consumes online otter content but does not wish or have the skills to domesticate one.

For a cause: Cute content can also serve as a medium of change. A creator or appreciator may share content to increase awareness about a cause or to change the opinion of others. For example, one of our interviewees manages her domesticated duck’s account which depicts her duck being friendly, loving and having a unique personality, much like any traditional domestic animal. Through her duck account, this pet parent aims to teach her followers about the harms of speciesism, and advocates for a cruelty free coexistence with all animals.

Cute for good: Research has shown that watching cute animal videos is good for our own mental health. Whether you are a creator, appreciator or both, cute content is a conversation starter and relationship facilitator: it breaks ice when people lack topics to discuss, or when they wish to let others know that they care.

Given people’s inability to get together as frequently and intimately due to the pandemic, we’ve been able to share our love from a distance using these small tokens of care. Society is fortunate that technology enables people to strengthen connections. But, because we can’t have nice things, there exists a dark side of the cute economy so be mindful of sharing content of animals who might have been exploited.

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Pandemic drives growth in pet industry

The Covid Era has affected many aspects of life, one of which has been the growth in the pet industry, which grew handsomely as compared to most of the other sectors, write Dr A.K.Wankar & Sakshi Kashikar

Yes, it appears, we will survive the COVID -19 pandemic, but the world shall never be the same again. We saw what a virus (SARC-COV ) can do to mankind on a global scale. All the world superpowers, developed and developing nations were impacted drastically in the year 2020, when nobody had a clue how to resolve the COVID -19 problem. The year was marked by stringent lockdowns, quarantines, curfews, restrictions, social distancing, work from home and total containment etc. In the following year, i.e., 2021, we gathered up in a wave of new viral strains and there were mass vaccination, less stringent restrictions and lockdowns.

ArticleThe COVID era led to the emergence of some exclusive snags like stress, social isolation, boredom, anxiety, emotional and psychological disturbances, when we were forced to live at home, work from home and survive at home . This gave a new opportunity and forced humans for the first time, to retrospect deeply, about their lives, relationships, lifestyles, health and emotional well-being. We rediscovered the joy, love and pleasure with our kin and animal companions, which was and will always be essential for human physical, psychological and emotional well-being.

The well-known fact “loving animals makes humans more human”, was again strengthened during the pandemic.

Association with companion animals improves and enhances love, trust, respect, compassion, empathy, social relationships, physical activity, health, emotional support, self-efficacy, psychological well-being, positive emotions and reduces mental loneliness, stress levels and also post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) in humans . The bonding with our pets is extended further, when they become our family members, leading to a dramatic increase in the pet adoptions, caretaking and companionship during the testing times and finally the concept of One-Health: One-Welfare was evident.

Mankind has seen some downturns in the past, like global recessions in the years 2001, 2008 and now the recent viral outbreak. It is very interesting to note that during these events there has been a corresponding increase not

only for dogs and cats, but also for herbivores, birds, fishes and exotic pets. All over the world, we observed an inverse relationship between recession and increase in pet numbers. In America, more than 75% pet owners ascertained positive improvement in their mental well-being and health during the COVID -19 pandemic, attributed to their bonding with their pets (source: American Pet Product Association). Similar benefits were also confirmed by the European and Asian contemporaries indicating that bonding with animals improves human response to handle stress, emotions and loneliness in a much better manner .

Collectively, all these factors contributed a significant boom to the global pet enterprise, and despite the pandemic it grew handsomely as compared to most of the other sectors. During the last two years, both animal adoption and fostering skyrocketed, especially in the developed nations, although this might be temporary, and

after the COVID -19 is over, we once again might see a slight drop in this trend . But currently, the global market is roughly at $190 billion, with an expected growth rate of 5% by the year 2023 i.e., $ 281 billion. Similar to America, European nations like Germany, United Kingdom, France and Asian countries like China and India, show a positive growth trend for the pet sector by the year 2025 (for China the estimated growth rate is 14%) .

The emergence of the pet sector, has also led to surfacing of specific sub-sectors and speciality services like online and offline delivery of pet food and meals, toys, accessories, apps, pet hospitality, veterinary services, pet behaviourists, nutritionists, consultants, trainers, pet communicators, breeders, dog walkers, groomers, handlers, animal shelters, foster homes, digital pet care platforms etc. Some of these current micro-businesses have outperformed the mainstream giants and delivered a 300% turnover during the pandemic period.

The Indian context

In India also the pet market is growing and blooming with a compounded projected growth rate at 13.5% during the years 2021-2026 respectively. The coming of pets as family members, rapid humanisation, modernisation and growing awareness among the masses concerning health, peace and mental wellbeing has led to a flourishing pet sector in India, which seems on an upward trend, in the coming times.

The COVID -19 educated us how vulnerable and unprepared we all are despite our technological advances. It also taught us the value of love, support and companionship, especially from our pets who gave us their unconditional love, when needed most. We as humans have the ability to change and see what’s good for our welfare. This pandemic revealed that kinship and our animal friends are the pillars of our physical and emotional health. In the future, the pet industry will emerge as a $billion industries performing outstandingly, as the growth of our companion animals will be parallel to the human population.

References: On request to the author: wankaralok@gmail.com

Dr A. K. Wankar is Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Physiology, and Sakshi Kashikar is a DVM / BVS c & AH Student, College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences , Parbhani.

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The dog who says yes to everything

Mishka has become a happy, confident dog not only because of writer Rosie Tilley’s persistence and commitment, but her own personality, intelligence and willingness

I’m not much of an advocate when it comes to dogs doing tricks…Or, at least, I never used to be. Some dogs love learning tricks, pleasing their owners with a paw shake, a ‘beg’, or a woof on command. My Romanian rescue dog, Mishka, is one of those dogs, that’s for sure.

I have worked closely with this dog, my companion, my best friend, for the past four years now, and using trick training she has proved a successful aide throughout! Much due to, not only, my persistence and commitment, but her personality, intelligence and willingness, has helped her come on in leaps and bounds. She has become a happy, confident dog. A dog who, at the start of our journey together, was a bundle of nerves, left me concerned that this lovely girl would be too much of a challenge to work with. I didn’t want to give up, and persistence paid off. She’s worth every step it took, every difficult day, of which there have been many!

The first thing I found was that giving a paw to her, already meant “accept me, love me”, a ‘trick’ I suppose you’d call it, that she must have already picked up as a stray. As afraid as she was and as tough as it proved, my first few days with Mishka shined a light on her talents, her agility, and her eagerness to learn. She astounds me even now when learning something new so quickly.

Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, must not have heard of Mishka. Day one, after I took her into my life, we progressed further than I could have dreamed. We tackled lead walking first, which was a challenge with Mishka dragging us along trying to get away. Then we took on more challenges…frightening big staircases, the dark narrow hallway of my home at the time, and the dreaded slippery wooden floor!

Me: You’ll be fine Mishka.

Mishka: Nope!

Me: It’s ok.

Mishka: No! I can’t! You’ll have to carry me!

A fear she still harbours which, though to us seems like no big deal, causes her great distress and so, I work with her to solve this daily.

Still on day one, I presented her with another big challenge…The Bus! Looking back, this much desensitisation training all at once so early on may have been a mistake. The day would have been extremely overwhelming and I do often feel a pang of guilt for the challenges she faced on our first day together. A part of me thinks it may have been good, as it built our bond quicker and stronger than ever. It also built Mishka’s confidence in a way I didn’t deem possible. She was a new dog, besides a few long-term difficulties of which we’re still working with now to resolve.

Encouragement through food and attention is what this anxious dog needed. She needed reassurance that the world was fun and safe, not always dangerous as she had previously assumed after her traumatic past. The first weeks, months even, were taxing on us both. As I worked intensively with her, my late friend Luke spent endless hours patiently helping. My grandfather, mother, stepdad and sister all contributed too, trying so hard to show Mishka she didn’t have to be afraid anymore. She herself also played a huge part. Without her gentle, forgiving nature and willingness to change, I don’t think we’d have come half as far.

I realised her charm quickly and saw how excited she became when doing tricks. As previously mentioned, I’m not much of an advocate of dogs being made to do tricks. I saw, however, a way that tricks would be of good use in the rehabilitation of such a troubled dog. If only I could find useful tricks which would benefit her life and help me change her fearfulness into happiness.

I began with the easy ones…sit, lie down and wait. Then I focused on having her walk beside me nicely, staying at a distance, and recall. Then we discovered ‘Touch’, referring to when your dog returns to you, wherever they may be to ‘touch’ your hand with their muzzle. When rewarded with a treat, Mishka quickly learnt that it was well worth returning for! Not only has this been useful for recall, but has been a lifesaver at times. If Mishka runs away, I soon learnt that shouting back was no good. She associated shouting with being told off. She sensed negativity in my voice, however sounding excited and bubbly when your dog has run off, is easier said than done. Simply and calmly saying ‘Touch’, or later I found using a whistle, to deter any hints of negativity in my voice, worked well. After quite a few leash escapades, this was something we seriously had to knuckle down on and work out. Touch is a fun one for her, we do it on a daily basis on all our walks, Mishka jumping high, sometimes ducking low to touch wherever my hand may be. This is one I’d totally recommend to try with your dog! Tricks may not suit every dog, but if they do, and you have a dog presenting behavioural difficulties such as fears, I’d say give it a go. Find things to fit in with your training regime and you could see a different dog shine through!

After seeing how much she enjoyed jumping things and how agile she was, I taught Mishka up, down, round, anything that was useful when we were out on urban walks. Wow, can that dog jump to a great height!

More recently I taught her to crawl and last week, she learnt to roll over. She’s picked these up in such a short amount of time that I’m left shocked at the intelligence of a dog who was once so afraid. She’s a delight to own…the dog who says yes to everything.

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The One And Only Gopi

Sudha Murty’s love for her furry companion Gopi proves that she has gone over the line of puppy love and she clearly can’t get enough of the adorable pooch. Really though, who can blame her?
TEXT: TEAM BUDDY LIFE

Life without dogs, we don’t think so. You can have a terrible day but the minute you walk into your home and see that bundle of joy run up to you with his tail wagging, you can’t help but smile. Dogs give happiness without even trying and thank God for that. For Ms Sudha Murty, ex- chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, Gopi the Golden Retriever is that four-legged pupper who’s family. Her love for Gopi is well-known and has been documented time and time again to the extent that her fans know him just as well too. Dogs might be known as “man’s best friend,” but in the case of the adorable Gopi, you might want to add “bodyguard” to the list. “If somebody wants to touch my feet as a mark of respect, Gopi does not permit it,” she says in an exclusive interview to Buddy Life. Like all puppers, Gopi is unsure of anyone coming close to his human parents and Ms Murty loves every bit of it. The Golden Retriever is a staple in her social media presence and she enjoys showing off her furbaby. In fact, when it comes to posting pictures of Gopi online, Ms Murty is the best. Her short video of performing ‘aarti’ on Gopi’s birthday with a ghee lamp, haldi-kumkum and rice went viral in no time. She also sang the Happy Birthday song for the lucky doggo. Ms Murty, 72, who’s a qualified engineer, author and social worker, and her sister begin the two-minute clip by approaching Gopi with a ‘puja ki thali’ and wishing the dog a happy birthday while he looks at them with interest. She then applies the ‘teeka’ on the dog’s forehead, which he dislikes, and immediately wipes it off on the sofa while everyone in the background laughs. She finishes the puja and places her palm on the dog’s forehead to console him before wishing him a happy birthday once more. Ms Murty then sits alongside him and begins lavishing affection on her pet. Gopi is the companion every dog lover is acquainted with. Affectionate and playful, Gopi holds Ms Murty’s heartstrings. “His total loyalty, affection and unconditional love make Gopi so very special. When I am stressed, I play with him. He is a great stress-buster and a bundle of joy for me,” gushes the Chairperson, Murty Foundation. “But then every dog is special for the pet parent,” she says. Gopi follows his indulgent Ajji to her office as well. “Gopi comes to the office every day. Now also, he is sitting next to me. He has come to the office and is cooling it. Lazy that he is, he has his lunch here and then he goes off to sleep,” laughs the pet parent lovingly.

Hailing from a farming background, Ms Murty grew up with animals all around. “We had dogs, cats, parrots and rabbits. After I got married, my husband (NR Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys) did not want to have a dog. He was once bitten by a dog so he was afraid of dogs. For 41 years, we did not have a dog. But one day my son decided to get a dog and he adopted Gopi, a naughty golden retriever who is three-years old now,” laughs Ms Murty adding, “Right after Gopi landed in our household, my son had to travel for work. He thought he would return in a week’s time but work kept him away for three weeks. Thus, Gopi was brought by my son but he became my dog.”

Her love for animals is evident from the fact that she has adopted two strays as well. She recalls, “When my son was getting married, I asked the couple what they would like as a gift. They said they want a dog. So, I brought Nandi, who is two-legged and Hari, who is three-legged, from the shelter and gave them to my son and daughter-in-law.”

Having a canine in the house isn’t something new for Ms Murty. “The first dog we had as children was in 1968. We had Moti, who was a stray. One day we picked him up from the streets and brought him home. Then, there was Raja who was a spaniel with very silky hair followed by Julie who was a Pomeranian. We also had cats. Once our cat had given four kittens. We were four siblings, so each of us adopted one kitten,” she laughs. However, she makes no bones about the fact that dogs are loyal but the cats are not so. “The cats are very independent. They would go anywhere and have milk and food,” she observes. Despite a packed schedule, Ms Murty takes out time for bathing Gopi. “Bathing him is a sheer joy. I love to bathe him. We put coconut oil before his bath and if it is cold, we use warm water, otherwise we use cold water when it is hot here,” raves Ms Murty adding, “But, I do not trim his hair. For that he has to go to the salon.” One thing that she would have loved immensely was if Gopi slept on her bed but Bangalore is too hot for Gopi and Ms Murty’s bed is small for her fur baby. “In fact, he needs a large bed to sprawl all over. Quite often, he heads to the garden to roll and sleep in the cold mud there,” she exclaims Murty. An animal activist at heart, Ms Murty would send water and rice to various shelters during Covid lockdown. “I would love to advocate for the voiceless animals. In fact, when I go to various schools, I tell the children to adopt street dogs and take care of animals. Since, keeping a pet in flats is difficult, I tell the parents to take the children to visit animal shelters at least once a week so that they learn to take care of animals.” One of the most loved Indian writers. Ms Murty has even signed a contract to write a series of three books titled Gopi Diaries. Narrated in Gopi’s voice, it begins with his going to the new home in the first book, Coming Home. The way Gopi sees the world around him and what he makes of people in his life give the story a unique POV .

Now there are so many books about dogs that a dog-loving reader could spend years engrossed in them, but this one is extra sweet, because it’s written by Ms Murty, a compelling narrator, in her own inimitable style, showing us just why pets are so precious – for their love, devotion and boundless affection. Although often considered a book for kids, it has depth and scope all readers can appreciate. It’s got it all: humour, drama, and beautiful prose.

Told in Gopi’s words, a pup with deep thoughts and insight, this is a book about the truest of true love, between a human and his dog. It’s for Ms Murty’s fans of all ages as Gopi paws himself into the hearts of children and adults alike. It will blow your mind and melt your heart all at once. And let us warn you, if you don’t already have a dog, Gopi’s story will make you want to adopt one asap.

The second book in the bestselling Gopi Diaries series, Gopi is stronger, bigger, more confident than the little pup he was in the first book, but he is also cheekier and more mischievous! He faces new situations, new challenges, even new dog companions with endless energy and spirit. “I did not really want to be an author. However, in my school days, I was good at writing essays and always nurtured it as a hobby,” says Ms Murty, admitting that engineering was her first love but her love for writing was forever there. She has written novels, travelogues, technical books, collections of short stories and non-fictional pieces, and of course, books for children. She received the Padma Shri in 2006 and has also received the R.K. Narayan award for literature. “All the royalty of my books goes to Gopi. And then it is donated to the animal shelters,” gushes Ms Murty. And not to miss the limelight that star Gopi enjoys. “Most of the times when I have virtual sessions with the school kids, Gopi comes and sits next to me. The children are thrilled at the sight,” that’s a proud pet parent. We can almost see the twinkle in her eyes.

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All About Distemper

All About Distemper

I have heard the term “distemper,” but I’m not sure of its meaning when it comes to dogs. Please help clear up the confusion. _ Prakash Joshi, Dehradun

Distemper is a viral disease that can cause severe illness and be deadly for pets. It often attacks the most vulnerable; unvaccinated puppies are at the highest risk of developing the most severe forms of the disease. Since the virus that infects dogs with distemper is different from the one that sickens cats and these viruses affect dogs and cats differently, it is regarded as two different diseases. The classic symptoms of canine distemper most commonly involve the respiratory tract and also include nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, cough and fever. These signs may progress to a viral or secondary bacterial pneumonia. Other signs such as decreased appetite, vomiting or diarrhea may occur. Hard thickening of the nose and footpads may also be seen in affected dogs. After the initial infection, signs of neurologic disease may occur for many weeks or longer. They typically include seizures, stiff twitching of the muscles, and a motion of the jaw that makes the pet look as if he is chewing gum. Puppies born to an unvaccinated mother are at the highest risk. Being sneezed on by an infected dog or having direct contact through licking are the most common ways for a healthy, adult dog to contract distemper. A veterinarian has many tests available to determine if the virus is present, such as testing of the blood or urine. Vaccination with the Canine Distemper Virus is the best weapon against infection. Along with Canine Parvovirus, Canine Adenovirus, and Rabies, it is considered to be a core vaccine for dogs. It’s recommended to administer the first dose of vaccine to puppies as early as 6-8 weeks of age with booster vaccines given every 2-4 weeks until the pup reaches at least 14-16 weeks. Since the last vaccine is the most critical, it’s essential to make sure your pet doesn’t miss a shot. Typically puppies need a booster one year later. The requirements for additional vaccines should be determined through risk assessment by the owner and the dog’s veterinarian. Thanks to widespread vaccination in the canine population, distemper is not seen as often as it used to be. Treatment of an infected dog is based on how severe the symptoms are. Some dogs may be able to receive supportive outpatient care but dogs with more severe signs may need hospitalization and intensive treatment (and should be kept in an isolation ward so they don’t infect other dogs).

The classic symptoms of canine distemper most commonly involve the respiratory tract and also include nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, cough and fever. These signs may progress to a viral or secondary bacterial pneumonia. Other signs such as decreased appetite, vomiting or diarrhea may occur.

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Love-A-Bull

Originally bred to “bait” bulls, the breed later moved into the house to become “nanny dogs” because they were so gentle around children

Almost everyone has an opinion on how to train, feed, and care for a dog. But no dogs provoke as many opinions, emotions, and misunderstandings as the dogs we place in the category of pitbull. In fact, identifying a pitbull is just the first complicated part of our relationship with these dogs. Unlike Labrador retrievers and dachshunds, pitbulls aren’t considered a distinct dog breed. The term ‘Pitbull’ is not a dog as such, but a general label given to a few dog breeds with similar origins, appearance and temperaments. The four Pitbull type breeds are the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Bully. However, often other similar looking breeds will also be chucked under the Pitbull label because of some of their physical characteristics—they’re often stocky, with wide mouths, square-ish heads, and short, smooth coats. They vary in size but tend to fall between 30 and 85 pounds. But even taken together, these traits are not unique to pitbulls. So, “pitbull” is really a loose term that can refer to dogs of various sizes, shapes, and genetic mixtures. The American Pitbull Terrier is the main dog breed that is associated with the term Pitbull. Often when someone is talking about a Pitbull, they will more than likely be referring to an American Pitbull Terrier. Terriers, who are known for their agility and feistiness, and Bulldogs, who are known for their brute strength, were bred together to create the perfect fighting dog. This breed was meant to be tenacious and powerful.

Breed History: Most dogs commonly identified as pitbulls originated in the United Kingdom when breeders were looking to combine “the gameness of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog,” according to the United Kennel Club. The Olde English bulldog (which looked similar to the modern American bulldog) was used in the cruel but popular sport of bull-baiting, in which dogs were directed to attack a chained bull or bear. This sport put a premium on certain traits: muscularity, strong jaws, and being compact and close to the ground. After the British Parliament banned the baiting of bulls and bears in 1835, other cruel sports involving dogs developed in their place, like “ratting” pitting dogs against rats in which they were timed to see whose dog would kill the most rats in the least amount of time. The “pit” in pitbull comes from ratting as the rats were placed into a pit so that they could not escape. Ultimately, the public turned their eyes upon dog fighting as it was more easily hidden from view and thus the law. Ratting and dogfighting both required more agility and speed on the part of the dog, so Bulldogs were crossed with Terriers. All of these sports required humans to be able to handle the dogs safely, so while aggression towards other animals may have been a trait selected for by breeders and instilled through training, aggression towards humans would often cause a dog to be killed. British immigrants brought pitbulls to the US, where they were seen as dogs of the working class, and then, dogs for everyone. Pitbulls occupied the role of “regular” dog for many years. In fact, for a long time, the pitbull was both a particularly popular family dog and something of an American canine hero. Pitbulls became the US military mascot during WWI and featured prominently on propaganda posters from that era. In one Navy poster, a white dog with a jaunty cap appears above the caption, “We’re not looking for trouble, but we’re ready for it.” A pitbull named Sergeant Stubby, who delivered messages during the war, was decorated for bravery. The pitbull was also a favourite among politicians, scholars, and celebrities. Helen Keller, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Fred Astaire and Humphrey Bogart, just to name a few, all had pitbulls as companions. However, the pitbull’s “tough” look and brave, irrepressible nature which made it such an apt mascot for America during the war, became the breed’s biggest liability in the early 80s. Over the last 20 years or so, the pitbull has fallen victim to the careless deeds of unethical breeders, irresponsible and even shady owners. This bad combination, along with the handiwork of sensationalistic media, has created a terrible thing for the breed. As a result, myths, misdeeds, misunderstanding and hysteria abound! Despite ample research, though, there’s nothing to suggest that pitbulls are more innately aggressive than other breeds, regardless of which breeds you lump under the pitbull banner. A 2017 study from the American Temperament Test Society, which tests breeds for aggressiveness, found that both the American pitbull terrier and the American Staffordshire bull terrier are among the most tolerant dog breeds, less prone to aggression than breeds like the fearsome chihuahua, the mighty Pomeranian, or the dread toy poodle (None of those breeds are particularly aggressive, though, which proves something most of us understand intuitively: all dogs are inherently good dogs).

Living with a pitbull: What is it actually like to live with a pitbull? Each breed has their own identifying characteristics that people associate them with, but, unless you have personally had a pitbull in your home, you have no idea. Many owners agree, though, that pitbulls are people-oriented, affectionate, and playful. While they’ll adapt their energy levels to their living situation, they’re athletic dogs who do well with ample daily exercise and mental stimulation, and a close eye on diet to avoid weight gain. Says Parminder Dhindsa, who has an American Staffordshire bull terrier at her Amristsar home: “When you first welcome a pitbull into your home, especially puppies, the adjustment period may seem strange to you. They will always look confused, but oddly happy about it, and they will start to do really strange things. Then you will realise that they are doing strange things because that’s just who they are, and you are stuck with them forever. Everything pitbulls do is an act of comedic genius, and you will forget all about what regular dogs are like.” She says, “He is down for whatever I’m in the mood for—naps, hikes, snuggles on the couch. He can sleep all day or go on long hikes.”

Training and exercise: While pit bulls are full of affection, it’s important to remember their strength and determination. They pack the tenacity of a terrier into a body that’s bigger, stronger, and heavier than a Jack Russell or a fox terrier. Because of their size and strength, early socialisation is important along with intensive training for puppies, and ongoing adult training. While the pitbull is an excellent companion, they are not right for everyone. They need a confident, decisive leader that will give them consistent structure and boundaries. The couch-friendly attitude, and food motivation mean that pitbulls require significant daily exercise, ideally with companions undaunted by their strength during playtime (small children, other animals, and people not up for vigorous play may find their strength too overwhelming, depending on the specific dog). Lots of brisk walking is called for. Games of tug can be a great energy burner, and give dogs something to sink their teeth into.

But be sure to play tug on your terms. Say when the game begins, and ends, and reward for good manners. When raised with the proper training and socialization, a pitbull makes an excellent companion for children. He is loving and gentle with people and often makes a lousy guard dog because of his tail-wagging eagerness to greet the person at the door. Pitbull Terriers are devoted and loyal to their family and will, if necessary, defend them to the death.

Coat Colour & Grooming: The short coat is shiny and stiff to the touch, and comes in all colours — red, blue, brown, grey, black and white, and brindle, among them. They require little grooming, and have a coat that’s easy to keep clean with the occasional bath. Brushing with a stiff brush and wiping down with a cloth will maintain the coat’s shine. Brush your dog’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you’re not experienced with trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers. His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odour, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

Is it the right dog for you?: Due to the pitbull’s great strength and fearless nature, it’s important to spend sufficient time socialising and training young dogs. The ideal owner is very responsible and dedicated to making sure this dog receives training. If you have a rather laid-back personality, this is probably not the breed for you. But if you’ve done all your homework and know this is the breed for you, make sure you find a quality, responsible breeder and avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills.Respect the leash laws: When out with your dog, pay attention to your surroundings and balance the needs of the public with your dog’s needs. This means picking up dog messes, not letting your dog jump on or annoy others, and avoid off-leash dogs that may run up and instigate a fight. Leash laws are a dog owner’s best friend. They help you navigate situations where another dog may provoke your dog into a fight. Know your rights as a dog owner. Become a dedicated student of ‘dog body language’ and get to know your dog like the back of your hand. This will help you be able to anticipate and prevent potential dog to dog conflicts. Learn about behaviours that indicate a dog is raising the stakes during a play session. Be ready to intervene and watch for other triggers that could excite your dog into conflict. Pay careful attention to the behavioural changes that develop as your dog moves through the changes in its life. Particularly any anticipated ‘shift’ from a social dog to a dog that has less tolerance. This is common and normal in the terrier

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MAMMA MIJA

Anushka Ranjan has a weakness for pooches and she’s smitten with her cuddly fuzzball Mija. Can you blame her?
TEXT: TEAM BUDDY LIFE

If you think celebrities only buy purebreds, think again: Actor Anushka Ranjan is one such celebrity who shunned “buying” a pup so she could rescue and adopt! She is head-overheels for Mija, who was instantly a hit with the whole family, and makes a compelling case for rescuing rather than buying a pet: “Finding Mija was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. If you are looking for a pet, first make sure you’ve thought it through and that you have the means to care for them properly, Then please please please consider adopting. There are so many NGOs helping out with adopting animals just waiting for a better life.” Don’t believe us? Go watch her gush about her fuzzball on youtube! Anushka also often takes to social media to post pictures of her and Mija together. She adds, “The love a person feels once they welcome a pet in their home cannot be expressed in words and Mija has changed me so much. I always urge people to be kind to animals and if you can adopt that is the best thing you can do for these voiceless angels. I adopted her and it was one of my best decisions ever! If you can help by sponsoring NGOs who help in animal welfare that is also more than enough.” She says, “I don’t think people know enough that you don’t have to buy your pet animals, you can adopt them. They are the ones who are homeless, desperate in need of a home. When you buy an animal, they are not even acclimated to the city. You buy dogs that are meant for colder climates etc.” She goes on to say, “A painful life is not the best thing. Save a life, adopt a puppy at home and you will be the happiest person in the world like I am.” Her happiness can be gauged from the fact that even during the pandemic, she tries to make sure Mija has a good time, like celebrating her birthday. Anushka made sure her pet had a fun-filled birthday, recently. She called in for a few special pet gourmet foods for her to mark the day. Talking about this, the ‘Wedding Pullav’ actress says, “My idea was to just have a small celebration at home owing to the pandemic. I called for a cake and other doggie treats, which she loved. Mija also seemed to know what was going on. She woke up with so much happiness and was frolicking around the house as if she knew it’s her birthday.” Anushka, who married her long-time beau Aditya Seal on November 22, after four years of being in a relationship, says he adores Mija. “He keeps troubling her but she loves it. They have a very childlike relationship,” she says.

Tell us about Mija and where did you find her?

She’s adopted through a friend of ours who helps rescue strays and rehabilitate them.

What’s her age and who named her?

She’s almost two-and-a-half years old. When we got her, I did a Q&A on Instagram and asked for suggestions and someone suggested Mija, which means my daughter in Spanish. I’ve always been a fan of Spanish and have tried to learn the language briefly so it instantly connected with me.

Have you always had a pup at home?

Were you raised in a family of animal lovers? I’ve only had one pet baby before Mija, Busta. He was a cocker spaniel. I haven’t been raised around dogs as my mother was very scared but after we got Busta and now Mija, my mother’s become the biggest animal lover. She keeps kissing Mija and hand feeding her.

What are your earliest memories of having a dog around?

I had a lot of strays in my father’s home and I don’t remember this but I used to love playing with them so I’m guessing I’ve always had a liking for dogs. Looking at any puppy makes my heart melt.

What is it that makes Mija special?

Does Aditya love her as much? Mija is extremely playful and loving. We assume she has been through trauma as she doesn’t like meeting new people immediately. But once she sniffs them she’s the most loving. She’s constantly wanting a belly rub. And she’s stunning to look at. And we feel like she tries to communicate with us sometimes. She’s very intuitive and just knows when one of us is down and out and comes and licks us and starts playing with us. Aditya adores her. He keeps troubling her but she loves it. They have a very childlike relationship.

You must’ve spent a lot of time with her at home because of the lockdowns. What have you learned most about life from having her?

Unconditional love!

It’s all getting normal now. But you’re married recently. How has life changed for you two, if it has?

 It hasn’t changed much as I’ve moved very close to my mother’s house. So, I have two homes now. I simply feel like my home ‘got expanded’. We all hang out together. My dog also goes back and forth. So Mija sleeps with me then after her morning walk goes back home to mom’s. Then in the afternoon she’s back with me. It couldn’t have been a more ideal and happier situation for me.

Do you groom/ bathe your furbaby?

What part do you play in his grooming? I do bathe her. But as she’s an indie, she’s very low maintenance. I’ve taken her for a haircut just twice since she’s been with us.

How far would you go, or where do you draw the line when it comes to pampering her?

I give her a ridiculous amount of attention and love. We all do. We over pamper her is what I feel.

Is she allowed on the couch and most importantly, the bed?

She sleeps on the bed only! If I get her own bed, she manages to rip it apart. Couch she doesn’t sit on.

Do you see yourself as an animal advocate? Have you ever spoken up for animals that needed to be adopted, or in support of animal rights?

Always! I’m very vocal for women and animal rights on social media. I try donating as much as I can towards the cause of animals. I had recently gone to rescue a mother and her pups who were abandoned by their owners.

What’s that one quality that makes a dog so endearing to you?

There’s not one. Just their faces make my heart melt.

Do you believe a dog is a human’s best friend?

Most definitely and the only friend we need.

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PET INSURANCE FIND NEW TAKERS INDIA

As pet parents become aware about the advances in pet care, nutrition and medical services, there’s a growing need to prioritise and get your furry family member insured today, say Dr A.K.Wankar and Mili Sharma

A animal’s are known to accompany mankind since time immemorial as providers, entertainers and for companionship. However, animals continue to maintain their long-established utility around the globe, the role of pets and all has significantly changed, as in recent times, the ownership of pets has immensely increased purely for comradeship and gratification. This trend in pet keeping and perceiving pets as family members has led the owners to become concerned as well as aware about their unheard needs, thus leading to explosive growth in the pet industry. This led to the emergence of specialised fresh or frozen pet food, prompt veterinary services, pet hotels and day care centers, especially in developed nations like the United States, Europe and Australia etc. For humans, health insurance is considered essential, since they cover the cost of medications, surgeries and other unprecedented health events. Same trend is now catching up in recent years for the pet industry. The first pet insurance policy was written in 1890’s by Claes Virgin. With time, it became so widespread that now approximately 50% of all dogs in Sweden are fully or partly insured. The Indian pet market is also slowly becoming a multimillion-dollar industry and people, especially in metro cities are becoming aware about the advances in pet care, nutrition, medical services and pet insurance. In fact, a vast majority of Bollywood superstars have pets which are very valuable and insured accordingly. Some of the factors contributing to the

a- rise of pet insurance in India are,
b- Rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and globalisation
c- Increase in per capita income and spending capacity
d- Pets emergence as family members or lifestyle companions
e- Increased awareness among people and health benefits of pet keeping 
f- Introduction of new pet products, special niche markets and insurance policies
g- Specialised veterinary services and hospitality
h- Steady growth of pet lovers and animal enthusiast and pet adoptions

The concept of humanisation and the growing preference towards the pet industry are  vital drivers for the market. Increase in pet adoption and awareness amongst the pet owners are key contributors for rapid growth of the pet industry and pet insurance sector as well. Currently, the pet insurance market holds at 6.8 $ billion and is expected to grow more than 11.6 $ billion by 2027 (Ugalmugle and Swain, 2020). The pet insurance segment is largely dominated by dog insurance (> 80 %), followed by the insurance for the cats (>12.5%), respectively.  On a global scale, the European Union (EU) has the largest share, covering over 53% share in 2019 (Europe will have over 102 million cats, 85 million dogs, and around 50 million birds as pets, respectively). In the future EU and USA will be contributing significantly to growth and development of the pet insurance market, other nations will soon follow the trend. From Figure 1, we can see the current growth of the pet insurance sector, which is already an $ billion industries in Europe and America. It can also be appreciated that the share of Asiatic, and other Nations is increasing steadily (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Current trends in global pet insurance market Looking at the Indian scenario, the insurance sector was earlier dedicated, solely to cattle or livestock insurances. In India, this sector is still in budding stages with an annual turnover, little over Rs. 400 crores. In recent times, urbanisation and growing awareness among people has made this nascent sector amongst one of the most rapidly evolving enterprises. And both the government and private organisations are now promoting and providing pet insurances. Indian markets are still mostly untouched (as compared to EU and USA), so the potentials are unlimited here. The emergence and recent advances in veterinary sciences and animal husbandry have imbibed the pet and livestock owners about the growing importance and need for cattle or pet insurances. The cost of medicines, treatment and surgeries is substantial, which led to growth of the pet insurance sector in India, helping the pet owners to cover the treatment cost and unplanned expenditures. Also, the internet age has made the owners more aware of the treatment, cost and other services provided by the veterinarian. Still, only the cream or the rich people opt for pet insurance in India. The expenditure for pets starts very early from the vaccination, followed by regular checkups, deworming, growth supplements, treatments and surgeries, which can account from a couple of thousands to even a few lakhs (example cancer treatment, organ transplantation etc.) Now, pet insurance policies for dogs, cats, horses etc., are offered by both Public and Private Firms in India. The entire procedure is similar to human insurance and starts with filling basic information form, submission of health certificate and allotment of unique identification code to the pet. Different policies provide coverage on following aspects:

1- Illness
2- Surgeries
3- Permanent disability
4- Poisoning
5- Accidental death
6- Terminal disease cover
7- Liability for 3rd Party Injury
8- Mortality benefit cover 

Figure 2. Current preferences and trends of coverage policies

Other than normal coverage, some policies also offer insurance for lost or stolen pets, therefore it becomes pertinent to carefully select the best policy accordingly to avail complete benefits. Normally, the insurance companies customarily reimburse around 80% of the sum insured, which needs to be certified first by a veterinarian, while the remaining 20% has to be borne by the owner. In future, the growth of pet insurance and other related sectors will be tremendous and will become a profitable and sustainable enterprise. Already, the European and American markets are recording booming growth, and the trend seems to be expanding in developing nations like Asia and Latin America, Africa and other nations. In times the companies might even provide veterinarians visits, pet hospitality etc., to capture new business. The role of veterinarian and collaboration with public or private companies will help percolate the significance and much needed pet or cattle insurance to the owners (on cost benefits), ensuring growth of the sector in India and world alike.

So, avoid a sudden burn in your pocket, prioritise and get your furry family member insured today. 

Dr A. K.Wankar is Assistant Professor, Veterinary Physiology, College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences , Parbnahi.

Mili Sharma is BV Sc & AH Final Year Student, College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences , Parbnahi.
References 1. Ugalmugle, S. and Swain, R. (2020). Pet Insurance Market Size by Policy Coverage (Accident Only, Accident & Illness), By Animal (Cat, Dog), By Provider (Public Private), Industry Analysis Report, Regional Outlook, Application Potential, Price Trends, Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 

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But I’m A Good Boy!

The ruggedly handsome actor Namashi Chakraborty, who makes his Bollywood debut with Bad Boy, says he loves being part of a big, fat fluffy family and treats his fur babies as his siblings
TEXT: TEAM BUDDY LIFE

The Chakraborty’s’ love for dogs is well-known. There was a time when a proud Mithunda would gladly rattle off their names, which wasn’t an easy task. Reason: the pack comprised as many as 76 fur babies, who lived mainly at their Ooty home. “I vividly remember all of them,” says Namashi, the ruggedly handsome Chakraborty Jr, who’s all set for his debut, Bad Boy. “We had two Chow- Chows, a Golden Retriever, a Siberian Husky, a St. Bernard and many more.” Namashi, who loves being part of a big, fat fluffy family and treats the four-legged as his siblings, has even spoken about the love for dogs at length in many interviews. His Instagram @namashi_chakraborty is full of heart-warming pictures of the actor with his canine buddies that have been going viral. Unsurprisingly, these pictures are absolutely adorable and will surely brighten your day. He spoke to us at length about his furry family. Here are the excerpts:

The Chakrabortys’ love for dogs is well known. When were you first introduced to a canine pal?

That’s right. We have been a dog loving family for many years. I’ve grown up with dogs all around me. They are our family. I was born in Mumbai, but raised in Ooty. There we had many dogs, and I vividly remember all of them. We had two Chow-Chows, a Golden Retriever, a Siberian Husky, a St. Bernard and many more. I have always loved dogs, and as you can see, we still have them all over us. Dogs are great companions but usually the people have little time for these fur babies who crave and wait for their pet parents. How much time do you spend with the pack of canine companions?
Yes, that’s absolutely true. The love, loyalty and genuineness of dogs are unmatched. I truly treat them as my siblings, not animals. And whenever I am not shooting or caught up with work, I am home and I spend most of my time with them. My entire family is like that. Also, I sleep with my dogs every night, there isn’t a separate room for them, they stay with me.

You have over 76 dogs with you in Mumbai and Ooty. How do you name them and manage them?

Haha! Yes, we did at one point. And you’ll be surprised to know, but we knew each of their names and loved them all equally. We are a big fat fluffy family.

How many in the pack are adopted and are there gifts as well?

We have breeds and also rescue dogs. It’s a mix of both. I feel people should also adopt dogs in need of a home and take care of them. They are as loving as any other animal.

It’s a lesser-known fact that you are a family of great animal lovers and you take avid interest in studying animal behaviour. Which are those animals, other than dogs, who catch your interest?

We love birds too! And cats as well. In my dad’s resort down south (The Monarch Safari Park), we had various birds and dogs. What a joy it was.

Namashi, Bad Boy is your debut film. Is there canine companion in the movie? If not do you intend to make/act in a movie with lots of dogs in it? Like Entertainment?

Yes, Bad Boy is my debut film. It’s a nice and cute romantic comedy film and yes, there are some animals in the film. And they all were taken care of very well. My character in the film, Raghu, loves animals and just like me in real life, the animals stay in the house with him. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for you all, so I’d let you all experience the madness on the big-screen.

Which is your favourite Hollywood/ Bollywood movie with dogs?

I enjoyed my dad’s films, namely Dost and Jodidar, which had animals and they played an integral part in the film. I also equally enjoyed the old Tarzan with Christopher Lambert and the Late Sir Ralph Richardson, Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks, Dr Dolittle with Eddie Murphy and of course, Ace Ventura (1 and 2) with Jim Carrey.

Do you like to walk, brush or treat your fur babies?

Yes, I do. And my pals get too excited when they go for a shower, so it’s a funny sight. As for walking them around, since we live in a bungalow here in Mumbai, there is enough space for them to walk around and play.

How obedient is the pack? What do you when you are ready for a shoot and the fur balls are all over you? Or do you just sneak out of the place without letting them know?

They aren’t really obedient when I’m around, they’re always ready to play and get going. When I step out for a shoot, I usually sneak out quietly, so they don’t wake up and start barking. But I miss them as soon as I step out.

Though a tricky thing, who is the hot favourite and why? The one with a mind of his/her own?

They all are my favourites. They are all unique and adorable. And as you being a dog lover yourself will know, every pet has his/her own personality and that’s what makes me them so different from one another.

Any favourite breed?

All. And I am not being partial.

What is the change you would like to see in Indian dog lovers?

I would love it if people adopted dogs that needed a shelter. Of course, breeds are as adorable, but the dogs who are homeless and hungry and have no place to go, must be taken care of. We must help and love the ones that need forever homes. And not just dogs, any domesticated animals, deserve it. Also, I absolutely detest seeing animal cruelty for world over. It’s the most awful action a human can take. Not just for doggies, but every animal, violence against them should result in punishment. Their lives matter as much as ours do.

Since you have so many of the four-legged furries, how do you guys deal with the final goodbye?

It’s the most heart-breaking moment, when they pass away. I am still not over the loss of many of them. We all miss them deeply, but they are alive in our hearts forever. That’s life.

One word of advice for all dog lovers…

Love them and take out time for them! It’s rare to find such love from those who can’t speak to you, and yet understand you in every mood of yours. They say an Apple a day keeps the doctor away, I’d say, a companion in the form of a loving dog, can keep any kind of stress away! Cherish every moment with them.