Pet lovers are themselves a special breed and their entire world revolves around their dogs and vice versa. Dogs are their companions, sharing strong bonds, physical and emotional connect. Both are secure with each other’s company and any external threat will be resisted literally tooth and nail. This Weekend Star Supplement features a couple of pet parents who have devoted a part of their lives to pets. Their emotional bonding cannot be described, but only experienced.
Inputs and Photos: M.N. Lakshminarayana Yadav
Bonding with Furry Friends
Eye contact between a mother and her baby strengthens their attachment by activating the so-called love hormone – oxytocin – in the mother’s brain (secreted by posterior lobe of the pituitary gland that reduces anxiety, stress, and depression). This drives emotional bonding between parent and the offspring.
Studies have shown that stroking or making eye contact with a dog can trigger a similar release of oxytocin in a human’s brain. Dogs successfully cohabit with humans because they have been successful in adapting the bonding mechanism.
Dog lovers are a special breed and not everyone can handle their love for all things canine. Dogs have been with human beings for tens of thousands of years. The beautiful friendship between Homo sapiens and Canis lupus familiaris has had some surprising effects on both the species.
Once the pet parent and the pet bond is established, there is nothing in the world to separate them. People no longer see dogs as their pets. They consider them their children and treat them as one too. From food to grooming, they want the best for their furry babies. For pet parents, participation in activities with their dogs is the best way to spend time. It can be as simple as a walk, a game, or a training session.
Apart from taking care of pets at home and kennels, these pet lovers like to show off their pets and for this purpose they take them to different competitions. Transporting pets from one place to another is itself a task as they need to be kept cool. They are carried in specially designed compartments in vehicles where iceboxes are kept. Fans are then blown on the ice boxes so that cool air permeates the air.
One such National-level Dog Show competition was held at Chamundi Vihar Stadium in Mysuru recently where over 250 dogs of over 35 breeds including Korean Dosa Mastiff, Lion Head Tibetan Terrier Mastiff, Miniature Pinscher, Saint Bernard, Great Dane, Doberman, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Pug, Lhasa Apso and Mudhol Hound participated.
Star of Mysore spoke to a couple of participants in the show and they spoke on a wide range of issues concerning their pets like good and bad behaviour, the relationship with the pet, motivation to have an animal, dealing with medical emergencies and what would they do if they have to leave the pets for any reason. Here is what they have to say.
World revolves around his dogs
For Shiva, who is a pet lover/ parent since the last 10 years, all things revolve around his dogs. He cares for them 24/7 and looks after their every need. “I have been with them since years and even after I get married I don’t think that my relationship with dogs will change,” he says. Shiva has a task of finding a life partner who shares the same love for pets.
Shiva owns many breeds including Flat Coated Black Retriever, Beagle, Great Dane, Shi Tzu, and German shepherd. “Whenever I am under stress or pressure, my pets immediately sense it and comfort me. They come and hug me and make me forget all my troubles,” he says.
For Shiva, a good dog is always playful and a bad dog always barks and nags at times. “A bad-behaved dog can be converted into a good dog out of human love and attention,” he says. Shiva has not faced any medical emergency so far and he has a personal veterinarian who visits his kennel once or twice a month.
Her training enables her to care
Naina Gowda, a resident of Siddarthanagar in Mysuru owns over 28 dogs including Siberian Husky, Beagle, Shi Tzu, Miniature Pinscher and Saint Bernard. “They are a family for me and I am dedicated to them 24/7.” This love for pets has prompted to develop a kennel in a one-and-a-half acre land. Her Siberian Husky has won many prizes in dog competitions.
“Some of the breeds need special climatic condition and they cannot be exposed to hot, humid and even cold condition. I have customised sections at the kennel to house such pets and special attention is given to them,” she explains. Travelling with the pets is always in air-conditioned vehicles. “I take the competing dogs in my AC car so that temperatures do not harm them.
Regarding medical emergencies, Naina says that she herself is a trained medical professional. “I have enough medical and nursing experience and I have worked in medical care industry. This experience allows me to take care of my pets in a professional manner,” she reacts.
Best friends who always stay loyal
Pets have been Tanya’s world for 16 years. They include dogs and cats. “Having children and having pets around you is similar as they need attention, love and caring. They are like best friends who always stay loyal and love us from all their heart,” she says. If for any reason she has to leave her pets, Tanya will ensure that she hands them over to safe hands.
Separate cages to prevent dogfights
Ashok Maurya has been a pet owner since the last 10 years. “I always wanted to have a pet or two since a very early age. I had the love and affection towards pets and this motivated me. I have a White Retriever and I have got it for this competition,” he says.
Describing the activities of his dogs, Ashok says that soft toys and honking toys are the favourite toys for the pets. On dealing with bad behaviour, Ashok says that he will keep them in separate cages to prevent fights from going out of hands. He has a personal veterinarian to attend to the health needs of his pets and any medical emergencies.
Pets are good, enjoyable company
Kaushik Gupta has been a pet parent since the last one year. He is 20 and an MBBS student. “My tight schedule was a bit of a burden and at the end of the day there is no time to unwind and there are no means too. This is where I decided to have a pet for a good and enjoyable company,” he says.
“I call my Snoofy as a great stress-buster and a pain killer. As an animal, even my dog has normal behaviour which changes as per her age factor and due to hormones. Many times she has bitten my clothes during her teeth development period. She showed bad signs during her puberty but as a pet owner I understand the reason behind her behaviour. I trained her in such a way that she does not repeat those mistakes,” he says.
“Snoofy is a very friendly dog and she likes to play and get drenched in rain and adores playing around with a soft ball which has spikes and makes noise as it bounces on the ground,” he adds.
Kaushik is very attached to Snoofy and even in his hectic schedules dominated by lecture sessions and practicals, he makes it a point to play with Snoofy in the evening. “I have a pet consultant for her. The bond between me and Snoofy is strong. I can’t even leave her for a single day. And there is no question of leaving her and going out of station,” he says.
Dog’s love is unconditional
Chandrakanth has been a pet lover since the last eight years. A bachelor, he treats pets as his children. “I cherish every move of my pets and they make me smile every time. Their love is unconditional and they love you more than they love themselves.” For Chandrakanth, life is unimaginable without pets. “They are the world and they are its beautiful part,” he says.
Fur bond can never change over blood bond
Madhuri Bhat works as a Cyber Security Engineer and has been a pet parent since 25 years. She is newly married and she thinks that her fur bond can never change over blood bond.
“Pets are often non-judgemental and interacting with pets has a range of positive effects which makes our life better every day. We must be our pets’ best friend and spend some quality time every day. Dogs have adapted to live with humans and like to please us. But we still have to train them to avoid some of their more destructive behaviours,” she says.
“Dogs give us endless, unconditional love and there are so many ways that dogs show their appreciation to us. They are huge part of a family and no one would have it any other way,” she says.
On dog behaviour, Madhuri says that aggression and scavenging are the two most common problems. There are many pet habits that owners also consider harmful or annoying. “Yet, these two are the most dangerous for your pooch and people and animals around them. We should understand their threshold and keep them in right track,” she explains.
On medical emergency, she says, “An emergency involving dog is every dog owner’s fear. The best place to treat a pet medical emergency is at a veterinary clinic. Also we should take basic training to handle these situations. Using common sense during emergency situations is very important,” she says.
Leaving pets for any reason is no option for her. “Once we start parenting a pet, for them we are the world. How can they live without us,” she asks.
Both children and dogs throw tantrums
For Ganu Muddappa and Pruthvi, pets are inseparable from their lives and they have been attached to dogs since the last 13 years.
Children and pets are same in many respects as both need ardent love, attention, caring and of course, both throw tantrums many times. “We need to shape their growth with love and also at the same time be strict to make them understand that bad behaviour cannot be tolerated,” they say and add that pets are loyal, loveable, adorable and very protective towards good owners.
While Ganu Muthappa owns a Belgian Malinois that is used mainly in the US Army, Pruthvi has four dogs — Labrador, Dogo Argentino and two Rottweilers. Pruthvi is into wildlife conservation and photography as well.
“Dogs are always stress-busters. We train our dogs very well and when they misbehave sometimes, just a tap on the nose does the job,” says Pruthvi.
Last week, Pruthvi’s Dogo Argentino won a couple of prizes at Silicon City Kennel Club Dog Show in Bengaluru.
Children can talk and study, dogs can’t – that’s the only difference
T. Yashas has had pets since he was 10 and he took up breeding dogs since engineering. “It has been nearly 11 years since I have been breeding Beagles, Huskies, Shi Tzu, Belgian Malinois and Yorkshire Terriers. If I have children, my relationship with pets won’t change. It would rather be an additional member to the same family. The only difference will be that my own children will talk and study,” he says.
On bad behaviour, he says that is because of owners. “No dog can have a bad behaviour unless the owner is bad. Aggression, excessive barking, anxiety, restlessness, untimely potty practices and not listening to your commands are all based on how a pet is raised. It takes lots of efforts from owners to correct them. Patience is the key here and I would treat and train my dog as a positive reinforcement technique which works most of the times,” he quips.
“Medical emergencies are quite rare in pets if monitored carefully. In case of an emergency, it’s always good to not panic. It is better to be constantly in touch with a regular veterinarian,” he adds.