100 Days in India Project

Scooter Dog. Black and white image of a white dog resting on a scooter in India.

12/ 100 Scooter Dogs

Alongside all the cows wandering the busy streets of India, there are always a lot of dogs. They are mostly feral street dogs and spend much of their days lazing about the place in the shards of sunlight that shine through the gaps in the tall buildings. On the whole, though, they were quite focussed on trying to keep out of the way of people, who weren’t as forgiving of the dogs as they are their giant cattle cousins.

From what I could see the poor creatures survived by walking a very fine line between being close enough to humans to get food, but not so close that they got kicked and chased away. I suppose this is probably how dogs have always existed up until quite recently when we decided we should dress them in a onesie and let them watch TV with us in bed.

I am fascinated by dogs and their behaviour and whiled away far too much time watching them when we were sat in cafes. The dog population in towns such as Varanasi lived by their own pack rules and it was wonderful to observe them and see behaviours that we recognised in our own dog, Chip. When a fight broke out between the dogs — usually because one had found something to eat and another had nothing — the strict hierarchy fell into play and the dispute was usually settled quickly and efficiently with one dog skulking off to nurse its wounds. These little tussles seemed to worry the locals more than it needed to have done. At the first murmur of a dog growl they would hurl whatever they had to hand and try and chase the dogs away, screaming at them and causing yet more dogs to run to the scene of the crime to figure out what was going on and making the situation worse.

Dogs, just like many other common animals, have been given a name and place in the books of Hindu mythology (except there aren’t actually any books, but that’s another story). The cattle are revered as the physical form of Nandi, who was the transportation, or Vahana, of the god Shiva, and therefore treated accordingly. Nobody will touch them except to receive some sort of bovine blessing.

The dog is also included in the Hindu mythology but, it would appear, many people seem to conveniently forget this. They get fed even less regularly than the cows and people seemed reluctant to ever help them. The majority of people seemed to leave the dogs alone, possibly out of fear of getting nipped, but there were obviously a few who despised them. Each day you’d see people walking by sleeping dogs and giving them a sharp jab with their foot for no real reason whilst others looked on but did nothing. I think Shiva would be pretty disappointed.

Something we noticed, but could never figure out, was that when the dogs were sleeping on the cracked PVC seats of scooters, which they did an awful lot of the time, they were largely undisturbed.