Cleaning up after your dog

Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Oct 26, 2015, 11.46 PM IST

Clean up after your dog

I recently shared a story on my social network that raked up a laugh riot. I think it’s only fair that I share it with you too. Festive times call for sharing of love and laughter, don’t they?

This is a conversation I had with my dad’s housekeeper after walking my dad’s dog for the first time.
Me: Puma pooped and I did not have a poop bag with me. I had to clean it up with a leaf. So I’ll take my poop bags now.

She: Erm…well…would you like me to come with you to pick up the poop?

Me: Absolutely not. I am used to this. I pick up poop all the time with my dogs.

She: Oh! (Followed by a look that clearly conveyed she did not understand what I was telling her)

The next day, we had a conversation after the walk.

Me: Puma found a bottle of water on the street. He has brought it back. Once he is done playing we should throw it.

She: He brought it back? I thought you brought it back.

Me: Now why would I do that?

She: I DON’T KNOW! Yesterday you bought back poop. So I thought today you brought back pee in the bottle. I don’t understand you!

I am yet to stop laughing about it. But there is a message in there for us. Picking up poop is a cultural change. It is something our minds don’t wrap around yet – we do come from a place of absolutely not understanding the concept. But as our cities get more westernised in the amenities we come to expect of it, as citizens of a city in a state of rapid internationalisation, we need to catch up to international standards on civic sense too. For us dog owners, that would mean poop picking and good use of leashes on busy roads.

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me how after watching her pick up her dog’s poop, two more people in her neighbourhood have started doing the same. There are people drawing inspiration from your efforts and the wheels are turning in people’s minds.

Just keep doing what you know to be right, not for others, but for your own dog. On the face of it, it may seem incredibly futile to pick up poop when the environment around is so dirty. The way I look at it, my dogs (like most dogs), pick familiar poop spots. It’s their poop area and I am keeping it clean for them.

My dog once pooped in front of a house with the house owner watching. I reassured him, “Don’t worry, I will clean it up”. He smiled and said, “I know you clean up. I have seen that. So I’m not worried.” It’s not an everyday occurrence, but every once in a while we get a comment that shows us that people do notice and appreciate our efforts.

These days public and private spaces are opening up to dogs. I am sure most of us dog owners would like to see more such spaces. However, that is heavily dependent on how we maintain these spaces offered to us. Cleaning up after our dog is not an option anymore. We have enough pets in this city to make this a necessary part of city dwelling. So be prepared to be the laughing stock of onlookers who don’t get it. But catch up. You are now an international citizen. Act like one.


Pet friendly establishments

Published: Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Mar 30, 2015, 08.03 PM IST

Bengaluru has been and still is a lovely city for dogs. It’s getting more dog friendly by the day. Several pet-friendly restaurants and resorts are cropping up in and around Bengaluru. Other establishments are also opening their doors to dogs. But do we know how to use these effectively to the advantage of our dogs? Yes, it can be done and if done right, it can be a good source of mental stimulation for dogs. But it can also be stressful and taxing on dogs if not done well. Let’s examine this.

To visit a restaurant or coffee shop, your dog needs to be socially suave. A non-social dog cannot be put in socially taxing situations without having unexpected outcomes. If your dog is not socially adept, it could be because he just is not a social dog or it could be because he has not been socialised well with people. If it’s the former, then there is nothing much one can do other than respect his need for space and give it to him. If it’s the latter, then first start with a socialisation program and then consider restaurants.

Plan your outing for a time that is least likely to be crowded. Needless to say, you avoid Friday and Saturday evenings. It’s almost always too crowded and invariably someone is bound to get irked by the mere presence of your pet. Establishments find themselves drawn into this conflict between patrons and more often than not, pets lose. So it’s best to avoid such confrontations and go when it’s relatively empty and relaxed. Keep it nice and easy.

Well-socialised dogs too can find restaurants a bit too exciting or stressful. When that happens, dogs are likely to pee or poop. Be prepared. Before entering any establishment, make sure you have walked your dog and given him a chance to relieve himself. Take further precautions by carrying poop bags, in case of accidents.

The best thing for a dog to do in a restaurant is to relax under the table. So it’s a good idea to carry a cotton blanket to lay out under the table for your dog to relax on. Carry the dog’s water bowl and put that down next to the dog with water. Your lunch may last a while. In this scorching summer, dehydration is a real risk all our dogs face when they step out. An uncomfortable dog is a restless dog, resulting in undesirable behaviours. Focus on keeping the dog comfortable when he is out with you.

Keep these visits short and sweet. Don’t drag it out. And don’t combine it with socialisation. Restaurants are NOT places to socialise dogs with other dogs. That has to happen in a calmer environment. I find it best to avoid restaurants when there are other dogs around and return when it’s calmer. The mix of yummy smelling food, new place, other dogs, new people etc. can be far too much for a dog.

And last but not the least, we as the lucky pet parents who have access to these facilities need to shoulder the responsibility of keeping them pet friendly. That means recognising and respecting the establishments for the courtesy they are extending to our furry friends. They understand how much our dogs mean to us, and for that we need to thank them. Their establishments do reserve the right of entry, which they have been very generous to extend to our dogs. So let’s give them a little cheer and aid them in any way possible. 

Introspection Time

Sep 30 2014 : Mirror (Bangalore)

Today, I want to touch a sensitive topic ­ Our responsibility as pet parents. The first question to address is, do we have responsibilities at all? Yes, we do. We do legal ly and ethically. Legally, we are required to treat our animals well. That means give ample food, provide easy access to toilet, protection from the elements and at least some level of social interaction either with people or with other dogs. If not, by law, we can be fined and the dog can be taken away from us.

The more interesting question is our ethical responsibility.
Today, the mood in India is of “Clean India“. Socially, as pet parents, we take up responsibility by cleaning up after our dogs. Carry a plastic bag or newspaper and when our dogs poop, clean it up. Yes, we still need the social infrastructure of sufficient dustbins in public places. But we don’t need to wait for that to happen to start building a habit of cleaning up after ourselves.
In India, while we believe in living in harmony with our environment and the animals around us, we have an explosion in the number of dogs. This balance needs to return. There are several organisations breaking their backs at spaying and neutering street dogs, not to add more dogs into the scene. We can do our bit by adding no more dogs of our own.
By learning as much as possible about dogs before getting a dog, we are less likely to be taken by surprise with how much of a responsibility a dog is. Seek out help of dog lover friends and behaviourists to know what you are in for. Pick your dog based on realistic estimations of what you are capable of doing. This way you are less likely to feel completely in over your head and less likely to abandon your dog.
To further reduce the likelihood of abandonment is to not create more dogs. So not breeding dogs that you have and spayingneutering your dog at the right age will show your solidarity with pet parents and the animal lovers community.
Adopting a dog is also a very nice gesture of responsible pet parenting. It helps take one more dog off the streets and gives a home to a dog that needs one, instead of adding more to an already unmanageable population.
Part of our diversity is that while some people love dogs, some others just can’t stand them. Figuring out a way to live and let live is the only way to live in peace in such diversity. So it’s critical to keep dogs leashed in public places where people who don’t like dogs are going to be around.Work with local communities to see if there can be a time or space sharing arrangement in a local area for off-leash play for the dog. But not on streets. This is as much a responsibility towards our dogs as it’s towards our fellow citizens around us.
Our streets are not safe for our dogs. They are full of manmade machines called cars that our dogs don’t entirely understand. So it’s important for us to protect them from the perils of speeding cars and not expect them to understand the “norms“ of this world.
Introspection is difficult. One that requires us to put away our sense of entitlement, put ourselves in others’ shoes, in those of our dogs even and ask, “Are we doing right by them?“ It’s a tough question to ask. But I promise you that if we all did it, it will help our own little community of animal lovers. It’s introspection time.

Thinking of being a pet parent? Be prepared!

Publication: Bangalore Mirror; Date: Mar 11, 2014; Section: City; Page:4

When adding a new dog to your family, a big part of the plan has to be to give space and time to the dog. While some dogs may take it all in their stride, others might take time. If your new dog is stressed, it will show through a host of symptoms— indigestion, lack of appetite and/or enthusiasm. Don’t be surprised if your new dog is having trouble trusting you. When Tigger, our second dog, entered our lives, she refused to enter the house for two days, not even to sleep at night. Today she cuddles on my lap. All they need of you is understanding and patience.

Your plan for the first few days may vary based on the age of the dog and his little quirks. A puppy may need to be fed four times a day. A dog or pup with no toilet training may need 24×7 supervision for a week or so. The dog may need to be taught to be home alone, starting with a few minutes at a time. Accordingly you will need to plan to have someone at home at all times. In our case, we saved our annual leave, so we could take turns to be with our new dog.

Apart from all the time planning, there is the budget planning. Visit a good pet store to get an idea of how

much different pet products cost. Factor in pet food, toys, treats, shampoos, conditioners, towels and other grooming products. Buy few products like age-appropriate foods, few toys of different textures and sizes, a good absorbent towel, a couple of chews and treats, at least two non-slip bowls for water and food, and a good coat-friendly brush. Don’t forget to pick up poop bags. Responsible pet-parents clean up after their pets.

Find a vet closest to your home (you might have to meet a couple of vets to find one that you are comfortable with), and while you are at it, also find out the consultation cost. Talk to the vet about the dog you are getting and ask about the kind of care he/she will need. Put your vet’s number on speed dial. You might want a behaviourist, family coach, trainer, dog walker and/or a groomer too. Factor all that into your budget as well.

Back home, plan your boundaries. Keep them simple and clear. Where can the dog go. What’s not OK? Where does the dog sleep, eat, poop, pee etc. Is sofa, bed, kitchen off limits or not…. These are all questions to which there are no right or wrong answers. It depends on your household. But it’s important that there is consensus and consistency.

When we got our first dog Nishi home, it was turbulent to say the least. We had given up our vacation, worked odd hours, killed our social lives, had constant fights about rules and so on.But the love she brought into my life is indescribable. That’s why I call it pet parenting and not pet ownership.