Puppy Handbook

Hey there you guys !

A long pending post from our archives for new puppy parents.  Put together so nicely by Sonya Balasubramaniam and Ashita Mathew. Thank you lovely ladies  !

Many of you on the group might have already seen it, and for the new members, please read on or download it here : http://bit.ly/1c6SsSw


CUPA cal 2014 (560 of 581)photo © ramya reddy


You are about to embark on one of life’s most joyous journeys as a pet parent. If you’ve had pets before, you have a fair idea of what to expect. As a first time parent, you’re feeling a whole lot of emotions right now. You’re happy, excited and probably even a little overwhelmed at the prospect of bringing your new puppy home.

This handy guide will help you and your pet start off on the right paw!

What To Expect

Just like human beings, each dog has his or her own individual personality, and will behave differently. Some of them have had traumatic experiences in their little lives already, and entering new surroundings is a big change for your puppy.

You will need to be GENTLE, PATIENT and KIND to help ease your puppy into her new family.
Till your puppy is fully adjusted, it is natural for your puppy to:

  • Be a bundle of nervous energy
  • Be scared
  • Whimper, cry or bawl all day and all night for 1 or 2 days
  • Be depressed

Reassure your puppy that she is safe, and loved. Talk to her in a soothing voice. She will understand the voice. Pet her and give her a cuddle; Try not to leave her alone at any time till she gains confidence.

The most important thing is for you not to panic and remain calm. If you remain calm the puppy too will learn to calm down in a few days.

IMPORTANT: A puppy is a lifetime commitment.
Your puppy is leaving behind it’s own family to live with yours.

She is a living being that might have ups and downs in her life.

Your own life might take unpleasant turns.

She will also grow up to become big dog.

In all situations, families stick together.
Proceed ONLY if you are 100% sure to make a life-long commitment.

If you have any doubts, please do not proceed!

Before The Puppy Arrives

ü  Decide on who will care for the pup. The pup will need constant attention till it is fully toilet trained. The pup will also require 4 meals day for the first few months

ü  Find a part of your house that the puppy can be confined in when left alone. In it’s early days a puppy does not know what it can and cannot play with and may damage valuables left within it’s reach

ü  Create a safe, warm and comfortable sleeping area for the new puppy if possible, in your own bedroom. Puppies, just like babies, will cry if left alone at night

ü  Decide on your budget for the puppy. The costs of keeping a puppy will include food, medical bills, toys, chewies, leash, collar and bowls.

ü  Decide on making a lifetime commitment to your puppy.

When The Puppy Arrives


ü  Make an immediate appointment with your veterinarian to have your puppy undergo a wellness check-up.

ü  Ask your vet about deworming and vaccinations.

ü  Get his advice on the right food for your pup and the feeding schedule based on your budget constraints, time constraints or other constraints and your lifestyle

Bond with your vet as you will need to go back to him frequently. Ensure he learns as much about your pup and you as possible, so that he can give you advice that is best suited for your lifestyle.


ü  Pick food based on your vets advice

ü  If you decide on readymade dog food, buy sufficient food from local pet shop. Refer to our directory for list of pet shops and online shops that sell dog food.

ü  Pick bowls for your pup – at least 2 for food, 2 for water. Ensure that they are cleaned frequently and the water is fresh and clean.

ü  Several human food can be poisonous for dogs. Avoid feeding table scraps to dogs to ensure she won’t end up eating such. This is also a great way to train her not to beg.

ü  Stock up on dog-treats. This can be used for training and can also in to keep her from begging for human food.

Some food should never be fed to dogs as they can even be fatal to dogs. Some have to be fed with extreme caution as they might be dangerous in certain quantities or fed a certain way. A vet should be consulted before feeding these to a dog.

Never Feed

Consult vet before feeding

  • Coffee, tea & other caffeine
  • Grapes, raisins & drinks extracted from them (like wine & grape juice)
  • Chocolate
  • Candy, chewing gum & lipstick (they steal it from handbags & eat it)
  • Fruit seeds/pits contain small quantities of cyanide. Ex: Pips of apple, pearl, plum
  • Sugary food & drunks
  • Alcohol
  • Raw chicken bones
  • Raw eggs & meat
  • Salted food
  • Onions & garlic


Consistency is very important in a dog’s life. Try and create a schedule for feeding, playing/exercise, toileting and grooming right from the start. This will help during obedience and toilet training.


Your puppy’s first few weeks are filled with new sights and sounds, like pressure cooker sounds, children playing etc. Expose her to as many different situations as she might encounter in her life. Reassure her when she is scared. Give her confidence to go explore. The more she is exposed to, the less likely she is to react badly to it when she grows up.

Once your vet gives you the go-ahead, make time to help socialize her with other dogs. This will prove very useful when taking her for walks or to the park

Bathing & Grooming

Dogs don’t sweat. However their fur might collect dust. The Ph of their skin is also different. Due to all of these factors, neither human products nor human methods of cleaning work on dogs.

Dogs should not be washed frequently. Follow the schedule provided by your vet or dog-groomer. Do not use human or baby shampoo or toothpaste. There are pet specific products. Your groomer or vet can advice you on the right product for your dog, based on your budget, your dogs coat type and dogs age.

Invest in a good brush, after consulting a groomer. While dogs cannot be bathed frequently, they can and should be brushed frequently. It has several benefits:

ü  Less fur at home

ü  Reduce lose fur from the dog, thus reducing bad odour

ü  Increased blood circulation to the skin, making the coat shine

ü  Time to bond with your dog. Most dogs calm down while brushing and cherish your love and touch. Talk about your day to your day and see observe how he learns to read your mood and respond to it.

Your puppy also will need regular cleaning of the ears. Earwax causes irritation. Your puppy might need nails clipped carefully. Dogs nails have veins in nails and bleed if not clipped carefully. Contrary to popular belief, dogs will also need teeth brushed with special, non-toxic dog-toothpaste & anal sack cleaning. A professional groomer or your vet can help you with all of these.

Other Dos & Don’ts

More Questions

We have listed a several frequently asked questions below. If you have more questions, your vet is a good person to ask. You should also feel free to contact the person who gave you your puppy. There are several resources on the internet that you will find useful. You could also reach out to other dog owners to help you who are part of Bombat Dawgz.

10 Frequently Asked Questions

1. My pup is crying a lot. Is something wrong?

Unlikely! Your puppy is just scared. It is very normal as she has left behind what is familiar and is in a new environment. Give her a lot of love. Feed her some good food. Sit on the floor and throw a small ball for her to play with. Distract her. If there was something bothering her, a visit to the vet will sort it out. Once your vet says she is ok, sit back and relax. Give her a little time. She is just a baby. She will be fine in a few days.

2. I take her on walks. She still urinates/defecates in my house. Is this normal?

Yes. This is normal. A puppy does not have a concept of inside & outside a house. They also have very little bladder control, like a baby in a diaper and will need to go to the toilet as soon as they wake up and as soon as they eat. You will have to teach her toilet manners. Observe when she goes to the toilet. This will help in training her. But don’t worry, it is possible to train her in due time. And once she learns, she will be very disciplined about following the rules you put down for her. Dogs really like to please their masters.

3. Is she vaccinated?

If you receive a puppy profile during adoption, that will give you details on vaccination and deworming. If you do not receive the profile, please ensure you gather this information from the person who gave you the puppy, before your first visit to the vet. This is important information for you to carry to the vet.

4. There are many stray dogs near my house. Where should I take her for a walk?

Consult your vet on when you can take your dog out for a walk. It is not advisable to expose your puppy to other dogs, especially street dogs, before your puppy is adequately vaccinated. Find an isolated patch of grass or mud for her to use as her toilet and carry her to that spot if required. Try not to put her down before reaching that spot. In due time, your puppy and the street dogs might learn to accept each other. But do not allow contact at an early stage.

5. What veterinarian should I take her to?

Pick a veterinarian close to your house. Given the traffic situation, a vet close by will be useful in case of emergencies. If you do not get a directory of veterinarians as part of this handout, quickly identify a close by vet, either by asking other neighbouring dog-owners or looking at the yellow pages.

6. Can you recommend what I should feed her?

This is best recommended by the vet, after examining your puppy and assessing your own situation and constraints. There are several different brands of dog food available in pet shops at different budgets, containing different ingredients. They are also several people who deliver home made food. You have a wide range to choose from. Your vet will be your best ally in selecting the food for your dog.

7. When can I keep her outside the house?

It is not advisable to keep the puppy outside the house. Dogs are highly social creatures and yearn for company all the time. Keeping them outside causes severe emotional trauma. However if you are keen on doing this, consult your vet on when your puppy will be ready.

8. My puppy is biting. Is she aggressive?

No. Your puppy is not aggressive. Puppies use their mouth like humans use their hands. They use their mouth to grasp things and play. But they are still learning how much pressure causes pain to other dogs and to humans. When they are biting, they are just trying to play with you. You can teach your puppy that it hurts you by making a high pitched yelping sound (like dogs do when in pain) and end the play session. Soon they will learn bite control.

9. How do I toilet train my puppy?

Your puppy is naturally inclined to pick a porous area, away from its bed (like lawn, mud or carpet) to pee on. It is likely to go to the toilet after each meal and after waking up. We can use these natural tendencies to train the puppy.

As soon as your puppy wakes up or finishes each meal, take her and some tasty treats to the designated areas and wait. Have patience, take a book or something to keep you entertained and wait! Be prepared to wait for a long time in the beginning. As soon as your puppy does what is expected of her, praise her profusely in a very excited tone and reward with her favorite treats. You can also run around a little and engage her in a short game that she loves. Basically make her feel extremely happy for having done such a good job.

But remember accidents will happen. If you catch her in the act, make a loud distracting noise that will stop her and carry her to her designated spot. If the accident happened when you were not watching, there is NOTHING you can do. Quietly clean it up and spray vinegar on it. Dogs can smell their own pee and are likely to pick the same spot again. Vinegar helps remove the odour. Do NOT punish your puppy, stuff her nose in it, or yell at her. She will not understand what is happening.

A puppy is eager to please you and if you continue to praise her and treat her when she goes to the toilet in the designated spot and refuse to react when she does it elsewhere, in her eagerness to please you, she will try her best to go to the toilet only where you want her to go. Once she understands what you are expecting of her, she will always strive to please you.

10. Does my puppy need any other training?

This is entirely up to you. It is usually a good idea to train the puppy to walk on a leash, not to bite and to obey simple commands like Sit, Down, Stay. You could use a professional trainer or do it on your own. There is plenty of information available on the internet and in book stores to help you decide what is right for your dog. Training your puppy can be a rewarding experience as it helps bond with your puppy. However if you are unable to keep the sessions fun and it is causing stress either to you or your puppy then it is best to avoid training or use professional help


Directory of Useful Services


Malleshwaram Dr. Shivprakash: Westend Clinic, 23461295 / 9845031295
Indiranagar Dr. Ramesh , Dr. Pawan, Dr. Ajitesh:Cessna LifeLine- www.cessnalifeline.com, 91-080-2528-9817
HSR Dr. Ansar Kamran: 080 25726989 (clinic) / +91 98451 16616
Koramangala Dr Nanjundappa:  Vm+(91)-80-66366410  (does house visit)No.15 Nr Kabab Magic Restaurant, 1st Mn,1st Blk, Koramangala, Cartman – 98451 98781, 25530121, 25530304
Whitefield Dr. Lohit : 9845358602 http://www.bangalorepethospital.com/
Yelahanka Dr. Azeem,  Neha Pet Clinic – +91 98441 03321 Assists in air transportations and pet imports along with all paper work (BIAL). Does house visits.
Sahakarnagar / R.T. Nagar Suke Pet Clinic: Contact: Sujaya – +91 98451 93057 Dr Basvanna gowda:  9844025928
J.P. Nagar Dr. Pampapathy080 26653555, Mob: +919740066081 Advisable to take a prior appointment. 
Banashankari Dr.Srikant: Mob:9844057919, Prakruthi Veterinary Hospital
Other Dr Michael Morton (does house visit)- 9243453440
Trauma Service VoSD:  http://vet.strays.in/, 9880119900 (Service in limited areas only)

Pet Shops

  • Glenands Pet Shop: 475, 1st A Cross, 5th Block, KHB Colony, Koramangala . Ph: 080 4092 7524
  • Shevar Groomers & Pet Shop– #832, 12th main, 4 block, Koramangala. Ph: 9880176610
Bridage Road
  • Paws the pet store –  No. 10, K 2nd Street, Markham road, Ashoknagar. Ph: 4131 7297
Church Street
  • Glenands Pet Shop: 35 Church Gate, Church Street, beside Empire Hotel. Ph: 9845001449
  • Glenands: 1, 17th ‘F’ Cross, Indiranagar 2nd Stage, Ph:09845001449
  • Cessna Lifeline (Pet shop attached to clinic)
Online Shopping


  • Wags n Wiggles Grooming: Ph: 9845440541
  • Shevar Grooming – (Same address as pet shop)
  • Fuzzy Wuzzy Grooming- CMH Road. Ph: 98440 58080
  • Muddy Paws  Grooming– Shobana 9886165226
R.T. Nagar
  • Wags n Whiskers Grooming: Patel’s Inn, Ph: 9845964087

When a little goes a long way.


Shreyas Jayakumar, Ramya Reddy & Ashita Mathew

Photographs : Ramya Reddy, Tiya Joshi(as marked), Varsha Karnik(as marked)


It’s hard to summarize the overwhelming feeling we experienced when our paths crossed with the troubled souls residing at what was once the economically Weaker Section housing complex at Ejipura. What were once secure housing blocks, have now been reduced to dirt to benefit mankind’s greed. A swanky shopping mall is destined to occupy a site that has seen some tragic outcomes as a result of its deracination. Mountains of excavated earth, tons of trash and leftover remnants of the residents’ paltry possessions – the scene was eerily similar to what we see in many disaster movies, but this is exactly what greeted us when we – Ramya, Varsha, Ashita, Tiya and Shreyas – entered the hurriedly-barricaded entrance. Armed with boiled eggs, biscuits, bread and milk, we made our way into the plot, with only one objective in mind – to feed as many of the hungry, displaced dogs (and cats) as we could find.

tiya grid                                                                                              Braving the rubble. Images : Tiya Joshi


 when every bit matters

That sense of sinking despair had already set in as we were approaching the folks who would lead us to the several dogs that desperately needed to be fed. We were received with a sense of remorse and bitterness (as we had expected). ‘Dogs over people?’, we were asked by many. We had done sufficient homework and knew that the meals for the human population were being tended to, and were also told by our peers not to be bogged down by these very human, outbursts. We went right ahead and started feeding the needy babies – over 80 dogs and puppies that were rendered homeless and abandoned – without any further thoughts affecting what we had set out to do.

blue                                                                                               awaiting a home…

feeding…and hungry

Naveen Rolands and his team at Canine Cuisine had already stepped in – at the very beginning of this unfortunate displacement – volunteering to take on the responsibility of feeding the dogs wholesome meals, each day for as long as they could. The generous donations that further came in from the members of Bombat Dawgz, has kept Canine Cuisine’s efforts going strong till date.  Anoopa Anand & Meera Pillai were there with timely medical help as was CUPA. CUPA was also taking in some of the younger puppies and injured dogs, besides feeding the dogs inside the premises everyday. But the enormity and scattered nature of the devastation was such that there always more that was needed, and it was imperative that these parched animals get every last bit of what we could give. And so we decided to make this a regular affair, and feed them at least twice a week, as a complementary activity to the existing feeding efforts by Canine Cuisine and CUPA.

Contrary to media reports, the policemen and security guards posted around the site were extremely supportive of our intent to feed the hungry animals. No sooner had we entered, than we were mobbed by over 80 of the friendliest dogs you can ever imagine. Dogs of all shapes, ages and sizes. Some with severe physical deformities and ugly open wounds and all of them most definitely confused, hungry and thirsty and yet, the love they showered on us, a bunch of strangers, was such a wonderful thing. One would expect feeding 80 dogs to be a chaotic experience but what we encountered was far from the truth. Most of the dogs would patiently wait for their turn, their impatience shown only in the furious wagging of their tails. Very quickly we noticed that the dogs had divided themselves into 3 main packs and would pick a fight with a rival pack member if he/she got too close to their territory. To tackle this, we had to divide ourselves into 3 groups so ensure that everyone was fed. It was a bit of trial and error, as one would expect, but an immense learning experience for us that was extremely rewarding too.

varsha:ashAshita shares a warm moment with Tommy (L); Varsha chats up Lucy, the spaniel (R)

tommy2Gentle Tommy boy was one of our star dogs ! (L) ; Shreyas & Ramya talk to Tommy (R)

Over the next two months, we continued feeding the ‘Eji-dogs’ twice a week. We started carrying a giant canister of water and used some big plastic bowls that Ramya and Ashita had as we realized that the dogs were totally parched. Watching them lap up the cool water was so fulfilling in itself. Ridhima and Sandeep from PAWS the pet store donated around 15 rolls of Butch that ended up being such a special treat to the doggies. We also had a few volunteers help us out by providing us with some much-needed extra sets of hands. We noticed that there were quite a few cats hiding amidst the rubble but they would not let us approach them and instead waited until we moved away to eat the bits of egg and bread that we had left out for them. Just outside the plot, on the footpaths were the temporary tents erected by the displaced residents. These residents had also got their dogs, numbering around 25, out on the footpath and we decided to feed them too.



We were an assorted bunch of people who came together due to our love for animals and our need to help them. Ashita, who was in her last trimester, shares in her own words, how therapeutic the whole thing was. She says, “I was 6.5 months pregnant then, would work from morning till evening at my salon, and then we used to go to meet these fellas in the evening. It was tiring and walking around the rubble hoping not to slip n fall wasn’t easy, but those faces, those happy faces who later started recognizing us from a distance and them coming and greeting us with kisses and jumping around was just too good to not go there again. It became a routine for us girls to go there at least twice a week. This was my little secret – spending time twice a week with these doggies, as nobody would have allowed me to go given my heavily pregnant state. Other than my husband nobody knew these secret visits of mine, to meet these lovely doggies. I continued to meet them, feed them and play with them well into my 8th month.”

varsha-grid   Ashita & Varsha groom the these little ones at Wags & Wiggles before Sreyas & Varsha take them to PPF (for adoption). Images : Varsha Karnik

It was evident, that in such a short span of time, these dogs had become very dear to us. We would eagerly look forward to visiting Ejipura and playing with the brats and we started noticing the various personalities of the dogs, their peculiar mannerisms, the unique way that they showed their love for us and it was hard not to fall in love with each one of them. Pretty soon, we had even named a few of the dogs that were our favourites. And so below are some of the stars:

* Tommy: This giant-of-a-dog is less than a year old but is the size of an adult Great Dane. A big heart in an even bigger body, Tommy was always the first to greet us as soon as we got out of the auto/car and was the last to leave. One day, Shreyas had to wait for 15 minutes to catch an auto. It was already 7pm but Tommy stood next to her the whole time until she got an auto and then gave her one final lick and trotted off. We recently heard distressing reports that he was stolen in the dead of the night by a few people. We tried to speak to the displaced residents but made no headway. We hope and pray that he is somewhere safe, healthy and happy.

* Mangy boy: who later turned out to be Mangy girl. She was this loving, friendly, 3 month-old puppy with severe mange on her back when we initially met her. Since she was tiny, the bigger dogs were constantly attacking her. After a few weeks of regular food and some topical application of skin cream, she was getting better. When we last saw her, she was limping really badly. Unfortunately when Varsha and Shreyas went to pick her up and drop her at PPF, she was missing and has not been seen since

* Oreo: She has to be the cutest doggy ever. With a black coat and a white sliver of fur between her eyes, she looked like an Oreo cookie. She was being fed by Niranjan, the security guard, and would love to sit on our laps the whole time. She was dropped off at Precious Paws Foundation (PPF) by Varsha and Shreyas and we have just heard the wonderful news by Debbie who runs PPF that Oreo has been adopted.

* German: So- called because of the hint of German Shepherd DNA in her, German was another of those puppies like Mangy and Oreo who really tugged at our heartstrings. It was so much fun to see German running towards us from the far end of the plot as soon as we entered. German was also dropped off at PPF and has now been adopted into a loving home where she shares a big garden with 3 dogs, 2 squirrels and a cat.

* Patch: One of the most handsome fellas we’ve seen. Patch has a white face, save for a brown patch over one eye. Very regal-looking and despite being an obvious senior in pack hierarchy, he is one adorable doggy who was always super-gentle with us.

* One-eye: This is an old boy with one eye that was either gouged out or injured by a rock/firecracker, perhaps when he was young. He used to get driven away by the other healthier dogs and therefore, Shreyas used to always feed him outside the barricades. Somehow he knew that she would always feed him and he would wait outside for his turn.

There are many more dogs that are not named but are still dear to us. To each one of us, these dogs have shown a very different side to themselves and the reasons why we love them so much may also differ. But the fact remains that the Eji dogs have found their place in our hearts forever. The sight of these dogs bounding towards us with happy barks, wagging tails with no expectations, but only to bless us with an abundance of love and wet kisses – despite their suffering – is deeply moving. When will we humans ever learn to give without expecting anything in return? There are many lessons to be learnt from these wonderful creatures.


varsha3                                                                                               Image : Varsha Karnik

Ashita sums it up perfectly when she says, “It made me realize how much I love these creatures and that I was willing to take risks and be there and be a part their lives. My husband could see the happiness on my face every time I returned from the slums rather than sitting at home and resting during those heavily pregnant months. People asked me why I am helping the animals when so many humans need help. I said there are angels to help them out…but we are angels for these doggies and we’re doing our part in this universe.” Don’t you all agree?

These are the kind of experiences that reinforce, that which truly matters in the matrix of life – to give and to do so unconditionally. Because what comes back, as is written in the laws of nature, is tenfold – it is pure love that is brutally honest and clear of expectations or judgments of any sort. These creatures are capable of that and much more. We can be certain of that.


Since there has been no clear mention of actionable measures on the authorities’ part regarding relocating the folks of Ejipura colony, expecting them to do something about these poor darlings might be a grim possibility. Some of the dogs have found homes and for the rest…one of best possible solutions, as of now, is for Canine Cuisine to continue to feed them as long as need be. So please consider making a small donation on a continuing basis to Canine Cuisine so their efforts towards this cause won’t be dampened. All the details can be found here :https://www.facebook.com/groups/BombatDawgz/doc/213655648773871/

And for those of you in Bangalore who might be considering a pet, please remember there are so many beautiful, clever, healthy Indian dogs waiting for loving homes, right here in your backyard. We will shortly be adding an album with images of all of these dogs looking for forever homes on Bombat Dawgz. Please stay tuned.

Duke : A story of rebirth

by Chinthana Gopinath

I remember the small cage that I’d spent my life in. I was provided food & water in that space, I even had to poop & pee right there. I have a vague vision of having a mother; brothers and sisters with whom I’d spent a little time running & playing, not knowing fear. But is it really a memory? Or just my imagination, conjured up from many years spent in my little cage? I can’t be sure. I could barely stand in that cage. I had a heavy metal chain around my neck with a round pendant that had a number inscribed on it. That was my identity, just a number. I remember the men in the white coats, wearing white gloves. I was afraid of them, very afraid. I was poked & prodded by these men. I still bear some scars on my body from that time. I would cower & try to hide every time they came near my cage but there was no place to go.

   Duke- hide & seek

I know there were many more like me in the room. I could hear their whimpering in the dark. Some would die and they would be removed. Some new little ones would come in, their innocent childish voices would ring clear across the room until after sometime, they learnt to be silent like the rest of us. How long was I there for? I don’t know. Time had stood still. Each day flowing into the next in an endless stream of despair. Each season bled into the next in this temperature controlled room that we were in. Nobody knew that we were here, nobody cared.

One day however, things seemed a little different. The hushed tones of the men in white coats were peppered with new words, “rescue”, “release”. I didn’t know what that meant; but the poking & prodding stopped. We were left untouched for a while in our little cages. Until suddenly, one evening, I could feel my cage being lifted. I peeped out through the grill to see that all the other cages were being lifted as well. What was happening? Where were we going? We were brought out of the room and put into the back of a big blue box that had big black wheels. And that big blue box slowly started to move. We were taken to a place that they called a “shelter”. We were moved out of our little cages to a small enclosure. At least we could walk around a little bit here.


A couple of men approached my enclosure. I stuck to the wall at the end of my enclosure, were these men going to do to us what all men have always done to us? But this time, it was slightly different. These men spoke in soft soothing tones with the words “good boy” being used quite often. They gently examined my entire body. I heard them mention that there was a growth in my testicles and that I needed surgery, they thought it could be cancer. I didn’t know what any of this meant. I just sat in my enclosure staring blankly ahead of me.

Many things happened over the next few days. I was made unconscious, which I think has happened to me before in the laboratory, I’m not sure. The growth in my testicles was removed, my rotting teeth and gums cleaned out. I heard a new word around me now; people were saying “adoption”. I put my head down and went to sleep. Nothing was making sense to me, it was all so confusing. Soon I was packed into a little cage again. Were they taking me back to the laboratory? I hoped not but dare I hope? Dare I hope for a better life? Dare I believe that I was somewhat important in this world? Dare I hope that somebody cared for me? My cage was put into the moving blue box again. I didn’t know what was ahead.

A short ride later, I was handed over to two brothers, Ravi & Anup. I didn’t know it at the time but my life had changed completely. I would learn things that I never knew existed in this world.

They carried me up a flight of stairs to what they said was my new home. I slowly walked around the one bedroom apartment, looking around. All the time, I had an eye on the two humans in the room while they had their eyes on me. I stepped out on to their terrace. As I walked around, I felt something warm on my skin. It felt so good. It soothed the aching muscles. I sat down in that patch of warmth that I later learnt was called sunlight. Sunlight remains one of my favourite things; I tried to soak up as much of it as possible. Why was I denied this pleasure all these years?

Handsome Duke

peace at last


It felt good to be able to walk around but I stayed away from the humans. I overheard Anup telling Ravi, “Just forget that he’s here. Give him his food and make sure he has water. He will come to us when he is ready.” So over the next few days, they just ignored me and let me be. I sat in the sun as much as I could. The thought occurred to me that maybe, just maybe these humans would do me no harm. I thought I’d go & check them out. What did I have to lose? What could they do to me that I hadn’t already endured? I went to them. They stretched out their hand towards me and said “Duke”. I flinched. Every time a human has reached out to me, it has been to hurt me. I braced myself for what was to come. But what came next was a surprise. They just gently ran their hands on my neck and my back. They stroked me and said “good boy Duke.” It felt so good.

One morning, Anup said to Ravi that I needed a bath. It didn’t scare me; I was beginning to trust these two humans. They took me into the bathroom and poured some warm water all over me. Then Anup took some liquid into his hands and started massaging my body. I let out a sigh. I wished this bath thing would never stop. More warm water was poured all over me and I was sent to the terrace to indulge in my favourite pastime – sunbathing.

duke enjoys a massage

my first bath and massage !

I distinctly remember the first time I was being taken for a walk. I have a soft black collar now instead of that heavy painful metal chain. Anup clipped on a leash to my collar. Some painful memory returned to haunt me. I started writhing and screaming. No!! No!! Not again!! I felt the same soothing touch on my back and the same soothing voice saying, “shhh, its ok, its ok Duke.” I opened my eyes to see Anup looking down at me and I came back from my memory. I let him lead me, I trusted him. The first walk was scary, everything was new, the sights, the smells, the noises, everything. I just trustingly followed Anup. Over time, I’ve learnt to love going for walks. It helps me work out my old legs. Every time a stray dog comes within a few feet of me, Anup picks me up in his arms. He says he doesn’t want me to get ticks & fleas as I still have a couple of wounds from my years spent in the laboratory.

They are good humans, these two. They spend so much time with me. I’ve learnt to look at them when they say “Duke”. I’ve learnt to place my bum on the ground when they say “sit”, I’ve learnt to wave my paw in the air when they say “hi”, I’ve learnt to jump up in the air when they say “up”. The one trick I’m struggling with a little bit has the command “speak”. I try to but most of the time, only a puff of air escapes my throat. This one time though, a voice escaped my throat. The humans quickly took a video of that event. I’ve heard them say that I’m extremely smart to learn so fast, given that I am so old. I’m just having fun; after all I do get a yummy biscuit every time I do a trick!!

Anup & Ravi’s landlord came one day and said that they can no longer keep me here. If they wanted to stay here, they would have to give me up. I shuddered with fear. This is the only family that I have ever known, would they forsake me too? What they said next, I will never forget, “Duke is our priority, he is a part of the family and we will not give him up. You give us one month’s time and we will find another place to move to.” I watched them, stunned. Somebody was taking up for me. I was a priority in somebody’s life. I was important.

They have given me so much in the past few months. With my growing self confidence and self esteem, I can now say that I have given them quite a bit too. They say that they are more disciplined and responsible now. They have to wake up early every morning to take me for a walk. They have to come home from work on time to take care of me. I greet them with such exuberance and enthusiasm that it makes them smile. I run around playfully, unable to contain my excitement to see them come home to me. I believe that I make them feel good to realize that they are capable of such compassion and courage.


I often wonder how come they picked me. An old fellow, with not much time to live. Why me? Ravi says that no matter how old our bodies are, we remain playful little babies within, so age really doesn’t matter. Anup says that I was denied a childhood, so all he wanted was for me to be normal and happy for the rest of my days. He even says that I am an ideal dog. Yes, I’m going to repeat that, I am an ideal dog. I don’t make noise, I don’t destroy things around the house, and I am calm and peaceful. Who would’ve thought, little old me would be an ideal dog to somebody?

I know that there is another one like me called Phoenix. He had a small problem with his liver that has been treated. He is healthy, and was in foster care until now when two wonderful humans decided to open their home and their hearts to him ! With hearts as big as their sprawling coffee estates, Kushi and Bharath Bhimaya have decided to welcome Phoenix into their lives. Given his love for open spaces and sunlight, this is definitely a match made in doggy heaven. I’m so happy that Phoenix has found his happy ending !


my friend phoenix


like me, phoenix LOVES sniffing the fresh air and soaking up sunshine…

We are not what everyone’s idea of a dog is. We won’t cuddle into bed with you and snuggle into you right away. We just need some time, some patience, some understanding. We are learning everyday. We still flinch a little when somebody touches our paws or raises their hands suddenly in our direction. But we have come a long way. We are slowly learning to trust in humans, put our faith in them. We do enjoy being stroked and pet. I have learnt now to climb on the bed and sleep, it’s really comfortable.


my friend chinthana and i

I am now free. I am no longer bound by a small cage. I have space to walk around, I feel sunlight on my skin, I use my leg muscles to clumsily climb up & down the stairs. I have a food bowl, a water bowl, a mattress to sleep on, a roof over my head, I even have a fancy jacket to help me stay warm. I also have a cool name, I’m no longer an inanimate object identified by a number. Most importantly I have a family. Two men that will never forsake me, never give up on me. They will stand by me no matter what comes our way in the future. They are doing everything they can to make sure that I am a normal dog. I’m almost there; I just need to learn to run after that ball that they often throw. When I look into their eyes, feel their gentle touch on me, feel their kisses on my forehead, feel the warmth of their hugs, I feel that exhilarating feeling that I now know as love. It is when I feel this love that I am truly liberated, truly free. Why was I denied this my entire life? I will not dwell on that, I am not designed to hold grudges. I am designed to live fully in the now & that’s what I’m going to do. I’m off to bask in a patch of sunlight and in the love of my two incredible humans, Ravi & Anup.


Duke & Phoenix are two of the 28 beagles (all on average ten years old) rescued from a pharmaceutical laboratory in Bangalore. They are like playful little puppies, totally enjoying life outside a cage. Sunlight is an absolute favourite for both of them.

All the photographs of Duke © Anup Hela