i shopped for Z. he is my brindle boxer and the love of my life. i went through a really bad patch a few years ago. we were set on getting a puppy to change our lives for the better. i had my heart set on a boxer, because the first dog i ever fell in love with was a fawn boxer named steffi at my grandfather’s place. we searched high and low and even turned down offers for “free labradors”. finally we found a place. a puppy mill if you will. a lady who could sell you ice on the himalayas but we bought Z from her.
i dont regret it one tiny bit. though i do advocate adopting rather than shopping, that was my mind space then, rotten as it was. but i play mommy to as many dogs on the street as possible and against popular opinion. i feed them, give them water, name them, give them belly rubs and even call the Blue Cross on them, if they fall sick.
i am in no way against anyone shopping for a puppy. what i am against is buying st.bernards and huskies because they look exotic. what i am against is dog shows and pedigree pups that are as redundant and utter nonsense as beauty pageants.
here’s my quick run-down on what it takes to be dog parent.
1. puppy proofing and being ready
i went CRAZY a week before Z was to come home. i taped up all electrical outlets. i moped the floor with puppy friendly cleaners, got him toys, bedding, food, bowls and what not.
you dont have to go mad-hatter like me. however you do need to be ready with the following.
* puppy proof – make sure keep waterbodies covered up, make sure your garden has pet-safe plants and most importantly keep all shoes and dear articles above puppy level
* puppy basics – get yourself puppy bowls (food and water), interactive but safe toys. keep ready old tees/saree/dhothis to clean up after the little guy.
*puppy food – typically feed a puppy baby food (the cerelac kind) or go the indian way and make ragi porridge with milk that is both tummy safe and gives him all the right nutrients. most puppies are not tolerant to milk of any sort so refrain.
*READ UP – be ready. go through the millions of youtube videos and guides on the internet that will help you. know what to expect, read up on anticipated puppy problems, nutrition, training, grooming etc.
*keep your vet ready typically chose a vet before you bring your puppy home. this is key.
2. basic costs
*sterilisation – let me be frank. i dint get Z nicked. he’s fine. most doggies will be. it is generally advocated and so do i. costs an average of INR.3000.
* vaccination –yearly vaccinations are compulsory and cost an average of INR.1500 per year.
*deworming – you need to deworm the doggy every 3 months (humans need deworming every 6 months). schedule the dewormings to match. each deworming tablet costs INR.22
*collar, leash and the works – you can start at an average of INR.1500 for all three or go soooper fancy and drop your moolah.
* food bowls – you will need to get bigger bowls as your dog grows. typically you will know your dog’s adult size by age 1-1.5years. so get bigger bowls then. get one food bowl, so your puppy knows which food is his, but water bowls can be aplently. at a multilevel home like ours, Z has a bowl in every room.
word of advice – get stainless steel bowls. they are stain free, easier to wash and hence less germy.
* doggy food and treats – expect an average expense of INR. 1000-1500 for food, chewies and treat.
* misc – costs of shampoo, supplements, brushes (hair and tooth), occasional vet treatments all cost less than an average McD meal.
* dog hotels – most places have dog hotels and hostels that care for your babies when you have to leave town. just please make sure that the dog hostel is caring, non-commercial and puts the doggies first. highly recommend THE ARK in Chennai
3. grooming and training
training is mandatory. please DO NOT go by how cute or how intelligent your puppy seems in the first few months. i fell for how cute my Z looked and focused only on taking pictures. today, years later all he does is sit, shake and high-five.
learning to stay, drop, understanding no is important, mainly for the dog. KIKOPUP is AMAZING! do check out her Youtube channel for home dog/puppy training!
read up and talk to your vet about grooming. tick infestation is just like lice on kids. irritating but easily manageable. understand basics of what you can feed a doggy and not.
foods like chocolates, coffee, tea, raisins, grapes are a BIG no. same goes for common medicines like paracetamol or aspirin. so always talk to your vet.
4. love at its best
a doggy in your home WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. stress will be at an all time low. these guys somehow bring about a sense of harmony even in the most dysfunctional families.
Z doesnt allow anyone to raise our voices. he will immediately break it up or run away with one of our shoes forcing us to go behind him. i cant even fake cry without Z licking the epidermis on my face off!!
remember the rough patch? Z was all of 2 months then. i was crying and he quietly curled up on my lap and fell asleep. the sheer warmth and love that a four legged buddy brings is unparalleled.
5. what can you do
Blue Cross in Chennai and AMTM in Mumbai are just few places that genuinely focus on adoption of indies (indian native breeds). bring a buddy home.
adopt. i know, i did not practice what i am preaching. i dont regret it simply because Z is all of my love and life. but do adopt. help the indies. they are also much more resistant to diseases and more intelligent. KOMBAN, MORADAN, BLACKIE are proof.
if for any reason, you are unable to adopt, atleast feed the indies on your street. a INR.20 Parle G biscuit packet will feed 3-5 hungry bellies at a time. believe me when i say doggies eat less than crows. i know about 5 semi-domesticated crows that eat their way through one large biscuit packet in less than a week from my balcony!!
place water bowls in openly accessible areas during summers for your friends on the street. donate generously to animal NGO that work tirelessly for such buddies.
disclaimer – i am not a vet. i just speak from the experience of being a doggy-mom for the past 8 years. also nothing against cats. i am allergic and we have always had dogs at my grandpa’s home and hence Z.