We also had all kinds of attitude towards animals at home. My dad, having grown up in a farm, thought of animals as integral part of life, but never got used to the idea that keeping animals in urban settings was different from keeping animals on a farm. My mother hated them and could only think of all the fur and dirt and flees and the smell. My sister adored animals so much that she would sneak in the dogs at night, after my parents were asleep and hide them under her sheets. And me…I am still not sure what I thought of them then. I know I loved our pets dearly. But, being just a child, I had no philosophy on how they should be kept at home.
One would think that with all these animals around, we would be experts at rearing them. But that cannot be further from the truth. All our pets, like most animals, had enormous hearts and we adored them. But they were badly trained. So badly trained that our doberman actually dislocated my fathers shoulder on one walk. Our German Shepard actually ran away from home to grab rubbish to eat. Running away from home was such a common thing among our pets that our gates had double and triple locking mechanisms – kalapani (or Alcatraz) for our pets!
That was all in the past. Then I moved out, got married and started living in an apartment. Having seen the circus that these pets turned our house into, I did not think I was ready for a pet, when I was starting a new life with my partner. But, the thing is, you are either a pet person or you are not. And if you are a pet person, you will get one…sooner or later. So, I promptly got my adorable, reverse brindle, dark boxer puppy – Nishi. She changed our lives and I will be ever grateful for her being in our lives.
But, more importantly, she taught me that having a pet does not end with just buying a fancy collar or finding a groomer who will make your pet smell like a meadow. It is about having a conscious philosophy on pets. Nishi is neither the first pet I have had nor will she be the last one I will. But I know that she is the one who got me thinking about various aspects of owning a pet and for that reason, this blog is “Nishi Diaries”.
After getting Nishi home, I have read more, watched more, heard more and learned more about dog training. Experts from the US, Canada, Europe and “experts” from India who have “foreign training”. I have come across several fascinating insights into canine behaviour and even human behaviour around canines. I have covered books that are old classics to cult classics like Monks of New Skete. From the controversial Culture Clash to the hugely popular Clicker Training books by Karen Pryor. I am also hugely inspired by Turid Ragaas, the European trainer who thinks that Americans expect too much of their doggies and seems to have a tolerant approach towards training. And not to omit the latest trend – Ceaser Milan. At one point, I even considered going to Cambridge to get some formal training. But it soon dawned on me that to be a good dog training, I need to train, not as much the dogs, but their owners. At this point I abandoned any notion of being a dog trainer and returned to software 🙂
Going through all of these, I realized that, while there is some sound advice here, none of them look at the special needs of India. Training suggestions that work like a charm in other parts of the world fall flat on their face when in India. For example, not one of them talks about handling stray dogs. In fact, I even got in touch with these trainers to help me. They find it hard to even comprehend the Indian scene, let along give you solutions.
So…it is no doubt going to be one long learning process. One in which, I hope to minimize my mistakes for Nishi’s sake. And I realize that all of my dog owning friends are in the exact same boat. So why not share our learning? Perhaps some critical mistakes can be avoided? In this blog I will try to focus on my experience, my learning, the advice I have got and highlight the bad advice, the interesting advice and the good ones and some tips and tricks I picked up along the way. I am on a wonderful journey with my Nishi and I would not trade it for anything else in the world. I hope your journey is just as beautiful.