Median Longevity of Cane Corso Italiano Dog Breed and Its Relationship with Hair Colour
The Cane Corso Italiano (see the photo below) is a direct descendant of Canis Pugnax, molossian dog breed known since ancient Rome and used in guarding and warfare. The breed didn’t disappear after the decline of the Roman Empire but it began to be used for hunting and guarding properties.
Ancestors of today´s Cane Corso dogs guarded fields and homes of medieval farmers. After transformation and modernization of agriculture, the number of Cane Corso dogs was constantly decreasing and the breed almost became extinct. Few dogs survived in Apulia (a southern province of Italy). A rescue of this breed began in the 70’s of the last century. Professor Francesco Ballotta and doctor Antonio Morsiani found 19 Cane Corso dogs and started with crossbreeding. The first breed standard was created in 1987, when about 100 dogs of Cane Corso Italiano breed were registered.
The Cane Corso breed was claimed as an Italian national dog breed by ENCI (organization overarching Italian kennel clubs) in 1994. The International Cynological Federation (FCI), which unites most of developed countries (except USA and UK), officially recognized this breed in 2007. This decision made the Cane Corso dog breed one of the youngest breeds. Cane Corso breed is becoming more popular every year and number of breeders is increasing. This breed is the most represented molosser breed at international dog shows and belongs to 10 most represented breeds of all breeds.
A median lifespan has been determined for most of the recognized dog breeds. A median age at death of Cane Corso breed was determined for the first time by our research group in 2017 and published in the international journal Open Veterinary Journal (Korec, E., Chalupa, O., Hančl, M., Korcová, J., Bydžovská, M. 2017. Longevity of Cane Corso Italiano dog breed and its relationship with hair colour. Open Vet. J. 7(2), 170-173).
In a cooperation with 25 kennels from all over the world the median lifespan of Cane Corso dogs we determined for the first time on a statistically significant group of 232 deceased dogs. The median age at death of Cane Corso dogs is 9.29 years. The research showed a surprising result after determining the median age of different colour groups. Our research group determined that the longest living group are black brindle dogs (10.30 years), followed by brindle dogs (10.13 years), grey brindle dogs (9.84 years), fawn dogs (9.01 years), black dogs (9.00 years), grey dogs (9.00 years) and other colour dogs (8.09 years). You can find a summary of determined data in the figure below. The relationship between median lifespan and hair colour was published for the first time in a scientific literature by our research group.
This finding has not only a significant theoretical relevance for a possible identification of genes responsible for longevity, but it is also very important for breeders who want to achieve a life prolongation of their dogs.
Median Longevity of Cane Corso Dog Breed and Its Relationship with Hair Colour
Evžen Korec, MSc., Ph.D. Owner of Korec Corso kennel Director of ZOO Tábor firstname.lastname@example.org, www.koreccorso.cz
Some prominent pet insurance players in India include ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, New India Assurance and United India Insurance
Pet insurance has recently gained ground in India as more pet owners understand the benefits of protecting their furry companions with insurance coverage. There are many companies in India which offer pet insurance policies to cater to the growing demand.
Some prominent pet insurance players in India include ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, New India Assurance and United India Insurance. These companies offer severa plans and coverage options and allow pet parents to choose the plans that suit their budget.
Pet insurance offers several advantages. First of all, it offers financial security by covering unexpected veterinary treatments, medications, surgeries and hospitalizations. This can considerably reduce the financial burden and make sure that the pets get necessary care without the parents worrying about the expenses.
Pet insurance also encourages responsible pet ownership. If there is insurance then pet owners are more likely to seek prompt medical attention and treatment. Vaccinations and general check-ups are often included in insurance plans, promoting the well-being and overall health of pets.
Pet insurance is very useful for the availability of a wide range of veterinary services. With insurance coverage, pet owners may have access to advanced treatments, specialized surgeries, and even alternative therapies, which may not prove affordable otherwise.
There are also some disadvantages to pet insurance that pet owners should be aware of. The foremost being, not all pre-existing conditions are covered. Most insurance policies have no option of coverage for any pre-existing illnesses or conditions that were present before the insurance policy was purchased. Moreover, some policies have waiting periods, during which some treatments are not covered.
One has to keep in mind, pet insurance premiums can be expensive if someone is going for comprehensive coverage. Pet owners need to evaluate the expense of premiums with the potential benefits and consider their pet’s special needs.
To sum it up, pet insurance in India has some major benefits which include financial security, access to a wide range of veterinary services, and promoting responsible pet ownership. However, it is important for pet parents to review the coverage, waiting periods and costs associated with policies to make the right choice.
During the hot summers, it’s essential to keep our furry babies cool and happy. Dogs like humans can enjoy a variety of fresh fruits to beat the heat. There are three popular summer fruits for dogs: watermelons, mangoes and lychees.
Watermelons are a wonderful choice for keeping the pooch hydrated during the sweltering summer days. This fruit is composed of over 90% water and makes a lovely thirst-quencher. Also, watermelons are rich in vitamins A and C and very low in calories. They are a good source of antioxidants. But one has to remember to remove the seeds and rind before offering small, bite-sized pieces to your fur baby. It’s an excellent way to keep them hydrated and happy while providing essential nutrients.
Mangoes are a tasty and refreshing tropical fruit that many dogs enjoy. They are full of vitamins A, C, and E, which are beneficial for their immune system, skin health, and eye health. However, it’s important to remember that mangoes should be given to dogs in moderation. The high sugar content can lead to gastrointestinal issues or even diarrhea if consumed in large quantities. Remember to remove the skin and pit before giving your fur ball a small quantity of mango as a tasty treat.
Lychees, a tropical fruit native to Southeast Asia, can also be enjoyed by dogs in moderation. They are rich in vitamins C and B-complex, as well as dietary fiber. However, dogs should consume only the fleshy part of the lychee fruit . But remember to remove the skin to prevent any potential digestive issues in your pooch. Offer only small pieces of lychees as an occasional treat, but observe your dog for any adverse reactions.
India’s leading homegrown pet care brand stays committed to building a pet and animal-inclusive ecosystem.
India’s leading homegrown pet care brand, Wiggles stays committed to building a pet and animal-inclusive ecosystem. The company has announced key leadership changes; elevating Prashant Kohli to the position of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Pushkaraj Vartak as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
Prashant Kohli joined Wiggles as Vice President, Brand Strategy in 2022. In his new role as CMO, he will lead the company’s overall marketing initiatives and drive consumer engagement. It is under his guidance that Wiggles underwent a rebranding and took on its ‘Lovemark’ identity. Prashant brings over 13 years of experience to Wiggles and has a sharp skill set spanning across brand and customer experience, community building, integrated media communications and design thinking. Prior to Wiggles, Prashant served at Glitch where he was a part of the leadership team. He has also helped brands like Apple Inc., LinkedIn, HUL, Facebook, Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar and Uber amongst others in solving a variety of business challenges.
Pushkaraj Vartak joined Wiggles as Vice President, Accounts & Finance in 2022 and has been instrumental in driving financial performance. Pushkaraj will lead the financial strategy and oversee the financial operations of the company. He has over two decades of experience in finance across sectors including Mumbai-based Infra, FMCG and Media Industry, with expertise and specialisations including FP&A, Treasury Management and Taxation etc. Prior to Wiggles, Pushkaraj was with Glitch Media.
Speaking on the development, Anushka Iyer, Founder and CEO, Wiggles said, “We founded Wiggles with love, empathy and deep understanding. The last few years have been a testament to our commitment towards pets and animals. At this stage, we are looking at progressive, compassionate & result-oriented leaders to drive growth for the organisation. Prashant & Pushkaraj have been key pillars over the last year for us, and I am confident that they will help chart the best course for the next growth phase for Wiggles. Their experience, passion and dedication towards both animals & people make them excellent leaders for our brand.”
Speaking on the promotion, Prashant Kohli, Chief Marketing Officer, Wiggles said, “As a challenger brand in the pet care industry, Wiggles has achieved significant milestones and has successfully created a space for itself in a market that was dominated by legacy players. Over the last one year, we have expanded our product portfolio, entered strategic categories, and have set the foundations for solving some of the most wicked problems in pet-care. I look forward to driving meaningful innovations, and industry defining strategies to cement the brand position, and more importantly to create an ecosystem that genuinely impacts the lives of pets & community animals, positively.”
“Our top priority is to ensure the company’s long-term financial growth by maintaining high levels of transparency and integrity. Our journey so far has been full of learnings and we’ve defined ways of operations geared towards sustainable growth & value creation for our shareholders. I look forward to driving the company’s financial operations with fine experience and take pride in the core values.” said, Pushkaraj Vartak, Chief Financial Officer, Wiggles.
Prashant and Pushkaraj will continue to report to the founder’s office. Their promotions are with immediate effect.
The WSAVA Awards recognize veterinary excellence and achievement globally and are a source of constant inspiration to our global community.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is currently accepting nominations for its 2023 Awards. These prestigious Awards acknowledge veterinary professionals from all backgrounds, regions, and generations who are making a positive impact on companion animals and people. Representing over 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 114 member associations, WSAVA strives to enhance clinical care standards for companion animals. Its key activities include developing WSAVA Global Guidelines on pain management, nutrition, and vaccination, as well as lobbying for important issues that affect companion animal care worldwide.
Nominations are open in the following categories:
WSAVA Award for Companion Animal Welfare: Recognizes a veterinarian or veterinary team member who has contributed to the welfare of companion animals at a local, regional, or global level.
WSAVA Future Leader Award: Acknowledges a veterinarian who graduated in the last ten years and has made significant contributions to the betterment of companion animals, the veterinary profession, and society as a whole.
WSAVA Award for Global Meritorious Service: Recognizes a veterinarian who has provided meritorious service to the veterinary profession in the broadest sense. WSAVA Award for Global Scientific Achievement: Presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of small animal medicine.
WSAVA One Health Award: Recognizes an individual who has promoted the global One Health concept, particularly in relation to the importance of small companion animals. The WSAVA One Health Committee selects the recipient. All WSAVA Award recipients receive free registration for the WSAVA World Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, from September 27-29, 2023, and support with travel and accommodation. They will be presented with an engraved plaque during the Congress and will also be invited to give an Award Winner Lecture.
Commenting on the 2023 WSAVA Awards launch, Dr Ellen van Nierop, the association’s President, stated, “It is a great privilege for WSAVA to acknowledge some of the most outstanding professionals working in companion animal veterinary medicine today. We hope to receive a record number of nominations this year and look forward to welcoming the award winners to our Congress in Lisbon to hear about their incredible work.”
Goofy Tails, a premium pet supplies and pet products brand with online and retail outlets, raises USD $500,000 seed funding from BeyondSeed, The Chennai Angels, and other overseas Angel Investors.
Direct-to-consumer start-up Goofy Tails, a nutrition focussed pet products company, has secured seed funding of $500,000 led by BeyondSeed, a Singapore-based investor group, and The Chennai Angels, with participation from other overseas angel investors. The home-grown, fast-growing petcare D2C company plans to use the funding to expand its portfolio of healthy pet foods and pet accessories. Goofy Tails will step up customer acquisition efforts and expand the team and warehouse presence across India for a better customer experience and faster delivery. Goofy Tails would also use the funds for extensive research, feedback, and new product development to expand its pet food and treats category. Goofy Tails is headquartered in New Delhi and is one of the leading petcare brands that started its operations in 2019 by co-founders Karan Gupta, Kartik Gupta, Kunal Gupta, and Ashish Kaushal. The company has seen 200% growth across all categories of its product line and has served over 1.2 lakh-plus+ customers across Amazon, its own website, and other channels. The current Goofy Tails petcare product range consists of fresh and healthy food, interactive toys, accessories, and grooming products. Goofy Tails plans to enter other South Asian and European markets by the middle of next year. Kartik Gupta- Co-Founder and CEO of Goofy Tails, said, “We would like to thank our partners who have trusted us and helped us raise this amount. We will be using the funds to acquire customers for a lifetime, engage pet parents with good quality content, provide a seamless platform experience for shoppers, and expand our product development to solve challenges that Indian pet parents are facing. “Co-Founder of Goofy Tails, Karan Gupta, a pet coach and nutritionist who has been a part of the petcare world for over a decade, said, “Unbalanced home food and kibble are one of the prime causes of obesity, diabetes, and poor gut health in our pets. Goofy Tails aims to solve this problem with a complete and proprietary range of preservative-free food and treats.” Speaking on the investment, Kuldeep Mirani, Co-founder & CEO of BeyondSeed Venture Solutions, Singapore said, “We are very excited to be foraying into the “pet category” with our investment in Goofy Tails as we see huge potential and promise in this sector. The Goofy Tails team is passionate and hyper-focused on offering high-quality, vet-approved, nutritious pet food that improves the overall health of pets, a welcome change for all concerned pet parents. We believe that Goofy Tails is well-positioned to be a market leader in the “nutrition-focused pet food” category.” Lead Investor from The Chennai Angels, Murugan N, CEO-Southern Health Foods Pvt. Ltd., said, “The founders, being pet parents themselves, have strong expertise in pet foods and nutrition.” The company has recently expanded across borders, helping thousands of pet parents access affordable, high-quality pet products. We are extremely happy to take Goofy Tails on as a TCA portfolio company and are eager to see them grow and reach great heights in the coming years.” Mumbai-based Pareto Capital, a consumer-focused and research-driven investment banking firm, acted as the financial and strategic advisor to the company.
Few things make dogs happier than hitting the beach! But there
are some precautions you should consider so a day of fun
doesn’t end in disaster for your dog, says Rita Shukla
We live near the beach in Goa and it is a significant part of our everyday life. The sea is a draw for people not just for fun, but for a walk, yoga, meditation and rejuvenation too. Increasingly, dog owners take their dogs to the beach – to chase, splash, lounge, chase some more, splash some more, lounge some more, surf… the works! We see streetiest frolicking along the waterline so we assume they are enjoying themselves as much as the pets.
After all, for millennia, humans have flocked to the seaside to breathe in the salt air, long purported to offer significant health benefits. Today, researchers can actually back up a lot of these claims with studies: there’s known evidence that salt air can effectively alleviate some common respiratory issues in people, and presumably in dogs as well! Bear with us while we get sciency for a moment. A French study found that seawater composition includes almost all the elements of the periodic table, as well as a wide variety of additional beneficial nutrients. Salt air actually contains negatively charged hydrogen ions which more readily absorb oxygen. Breathing in these ions for a few hours can do wonders to reduce mucus, relieve sinus pressure, alleviate coughing, and even help asthma sufferers. So, we started frequenting the beach and it’s there that we met several dogs and their human companions. One of the senior dogs has breathing problems and his human is sure salt air at the beach might really make a big difference. Though we are not sure how far this is true, presumably salt water actually has a lot of beneficial properties for animal skin just like it does for human skin; you really only need to be vigilant if your dog rolicks in the waves every single weekend. A man with his pitbull at Miramar beach told us natural sea salt includes many common minerals your dog’s skin can actually benefit from.
Apparently, his dog had skin ailments and the vet suggested giving her a sea bath every now and then. “This is because seawater is packed with minerals like sodium, magnesium, and calcium, which will have positive effects on her skin,” said the veterinarian. “It will help wash away toxins and dead cells to reveal clearer and smoother skin. Also, sea salt can naturally improve hydration and strengthen the skin.” Even the French study revealed that seawater has important antiseptic healing properties, so that when the damaged skin comes into contact with this liquid, the process of regeneration is activated. Of course, for the results to be as expected, it is necessary that the seawater is not contaminated. We believe there are a number of brands of bottled sea water on the market. Some are hypertonic (undiluted, or pure) and some are isotonic (diluted in fresh water). There are also some which are designed to be used as condiments. However, it should be noted that seawater should never act as the only used treatment for conditions, like atopic dermatitis, scabies, psoriasis, dandruff etc. It should be a complement to veterinary treatment, aiding to speed up the recovery process. On the flip side, too much salt water can actually dry the skin, causing it to become flaky and tight over time. So, dogs that spend a lot of time in the sea might even develop a dullness to their coats. It’s worthwhile to know that breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Irish Water Spaniels and others were bred for saltwater swimming, so their coats are naturally oily and can resist absorbing the saltwater as much. However, double-coated dogs such as the Husky, Shiba Inu, Pomeranians etc. tend to trap saltwater between their dense inner-coat and softer outer-coat, which can irritate the skin and even promote bacterial growth. The same is true for dogs with silky or fine hair such as the Yorkshire Terrier. When their fur becomes wet, it exposes their skin to the sun and salt in the sea. So washing saltwater off your dog with clean, fresh water and ensuring you have dried it properly is recommended every time. Also, the beach is a special – and vulnerable – place for your dog. You need to be aware, of course, of the power of the sea where you are; dogs who aren’t intimately familiar with the sea can easily be caught off guard by big waves or rip tides. Waves, current, and rip tides can quickly exhaust your dog, and that can be deadly. If your dog likes to swim in the ocean, the best time of day is after low tide when the water is coming back in. Tide charts can easily be found online. Also consider getting your dog a life vest. When choosing which life vest will work best, look for one that fastens at three points and has a handle on the back, making it easy for you to lift your dog out of the water. Yep, dogs can get sun burns — their noses, bellies, and areas with particularly thin fur are susceptible to the sun’s hot rays so it’s important to keep them protected.
Provide shade with a beach umbrella, and consider dog-friendly sunscreen. Sunscreens made for humans can be toxic to dogs so be sure to avoid them, especially those made with zinc oxide. You may also want to look into dog sun goggles to protect your pup’s eyes from harmful rays. When you arrive at the beach, take a walk in the water and note any sharp rocks, shells, or jellyfish to help your dog avoid. Of course, you can’t protect your pup from everything, so always have your first aid kit handy.
Remember that dogs often don’t show it when they’re in pain. So watch his body language and carefully check him for cuts and scrapes if you notice him acting differently. You should also keep a close eye on your dog while on shore; ingesting driftwood, litter, or anything else he finds on the beach could actually make your dog sick. It’s not uncommon for dogs to suffer from diarrhoea after a day at the sea, especially if it was a one-off trip to the beach. This is usually due to the high levels of sodium inadvertently ingested through seawater and should pass after a few hours. To reduce the risks during your beach visits, keep an eye on your dog. Make sure they do not try to quench their thirst with sea water! Instead, always carry a bottle of fresh water with you. After a dip in the sea, it’s a decent idea to bathe your dog, or at least rinse him down with fresh, clean water to remove residual salt.
Greater Kailash-II centre boasts top-notch pet grooming services in addition to specialised pet care and diagnostic
The multi-specialty state-of-the-art petcare chain DCC (Dogs Cats & Companions) Animal Hospital, has reopened its Greater Kailash II branch in New Delhi, located on the main Savitri Road. With its primary centre at Gurugram, it was earlier operational in Greater Kailash (E-556, Block E, part-II) as a hospital. But now, the centre has been revamped into a holistic pet care facility that has end-to-end services like grooming, consultation, and The centre, which is now bigger and better, houses two consultation rooms, two grooming rooms, and a host of pet diagnostic and therapeutic services. This centre has been revamped and reopened after a lot of feedback from clients and users who sought a one-stop-shop for pet care in this area of Delhi-NCR. After listening to their loyal customers, DCC decided to relaunch the GK centre with an even wider array of services to meet all their needs. The facility also has two experienced veterinary doctors available – Dr Chetan Sharma and Dr Shivam under the guidance of Head of Veterinary Services at DCC, Dr Vinod Sharma.
The staff is trained specifically to address all the needs of animals, and offer care that is at par with that of humans. Certain breeds also need frequent grooming, and in summers, the demand goes up even further as pet parents wish to get their pets groomed regularly, so they can feel as comfortable as possible. But what sets the centre apart is the extra care and focus that is put on how the pets are handled and treated, and also in selecting the grooming products used to ensure all skin and fur types can be treated well. While regular checkups, treatments, and grooming are critical for our furry companions, their experience during the processes and their feelings are just as important and valid. Hence, DCC’s veterinarians and staff take special care to make sure the animals feel as comfortable and at ease as possible, instead of being scared or anxious. Furthermore, each product that is used on the animals is also chosen by veterinarians, after careful consideration of the skin type, fur type, and medical conditions of the pets.
Furthermore, DCC has introduced a number of bundle packages for both medical and grooming services, giving Dr Sharma said, “We think from the perspective of pets, therefore for us the views and thoughts of pet parents are very important and we believe that our insights lie right there. Medically, we have an experienced robust team, and we’re committed to the cause of pets, they are a part of us. We think as one, treat as one. Be it grooming or any other service, care has to be taken that only the best techniques, products and services are provided. We are growing rapidly, and GK II has been around for over a year, we revamped as we understood the need gap. We need to grow and include more offerings for our furry ones.” Dr Sharma is known as one of India’s foremost veterinary practitioners. After graduating from HAU Hisar, he headed a leading Animal Welfare Organisation from 1994-2013 as the chief officer in charge. During this period, the organisation achieved a place in ‘Limca Book of Records as he organised the first blood bank in India for animals. He has also received his training in Animal Welfare from the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, UK, and advanced Clinical Training from Zurich Veterinary College, Switzerland. He has presented and written papers on animal welfare and veterinary services both in India and abroad. Over the last 30 years, he has collected a wealth of experience understanding animals.
DCC offers state-of-the-art boarding, day-care, and grooming services at its Gurgaon facility, offering temperature-controlled rooms, trained handlers, flexible meal plans, and more. In addition, the company is also planning to expand its services with the launch of multiple new outlets in Delhi very soon.
Humbled and proud, says Dr Faouzi Kechrid of the recognition and the Global Meritorious Award
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has announced that Dr Faouzi Kechrid, a veterinarian in Tunisia and WSAVA member representative for the country, is to be awarded the WSAVA’ s prestigious Award for Global Meritorious Service. He is to receive the Award in recognition of his contribution to the One Health movement and to the veterinary profession in Tunisia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
During a long and distinguished career, Dr Kechrid has worked in many fields of veterinary medicine, including animal and public health, animal welfare and food security. He has also worked as a consultant and advisor to the World Bank; the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH – formerly known as OIE) on projects including an assessment of avian influenza and transboundary animal diseases in the Middle East and North Africa and the co-ordination of several high-profile veterinary conferences.
Dr Kechrid is a past president of the World Veterinary Association and current president of the Association Vétérinaire Euro-Arabe and the African Veterinary Association. He is a founder and vice president of the Fédération des Associations Francophones des Vétérinaires (FAFVAC). In addition to being WSAVA member representative for Tunisia, he is a member of its Translation Access Taskforce, helping to make its educational resources accessible to Arabic speakers.
The WSAVA’s Award for Global Meritorious Service is presented annually to a veterinarian who, in the opinion of the judges, has contributed meritorious service to the veterinary profession in the broadest sense. Dr Kechrid will receive his Award during this year’s WSAVA World Congress which takes place in Lima, Peru, from 29-31 October.
Commenting on the award to Dr Kechrid, WSAVA President Dr Siraya Chunekamrai said: “It is a privilege simply to know Dr Kechrid so the opportunity to honor such an altruistic, generous and brave leader of the veterinary profession is a real honor for our community. I am so happy to be able to express our gratitude to Dr Kechrid for all that he has done – and continues to do – for our profession.”
Dr Kechrid said: “I am very humbled and proud of this recognition by the WSAVA and I want to express to all of its members my deepest gratitude. Thanks to your recognition and the Global Meritorious Award you have honored me with, I feel even more energized to continue to serve my profession and to encourage the development of our new active veterinary generation.”
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.