This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aakanksha Bhatia. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

As A Pet-Mom, I Feel We Should Adopt Pets And Not Shop For Them

More from Aakanksha Bhatia

As a child, I was never allowed to go near animals – particularly dogs, because my mother was petrified by them. She associated dogs with germs, unwanted hair and perilous infections, due to which dogs were never permitted in our home.

As I was growing up, my need to have a four-legged companion increased with each passing day. Each time, I used to bring up this topic at home, I was given the customary negative reply – this, despite the fact that I was raised in a very liberal and supportive environment.

Being a psychologist by profession, I have a tendency to analyse situations and behaviours deeply. I felt an urge to comprehend the reasons for my family’s contempt towards dogs. I realised that the major reasons for their aversion towards dogs were misinformation, irrational beliefs (under the garb of truth) and a general fear of the ‘animal’.

Much against the wishes of everyone, I took a deliberate and life-altering decision of bringing home a dog. My fiancé (now my husband) was equally keen to have a dog at our home. So, we both decided to get a beagle for ourselves. Beagles are highly active, playful and friendly dogs with a small stature.

However, at that point, both of us were pretty naive about breeds, behavioural patterns, nutrition and other essential things related to dogs. Anyhow, Pluto entered our lives in the most dramatic manner. He was a 25-day-old pup who could barely see or walk. His size was literally that of a big fat rat!

We were later informed by his vet that no puppy should be separated from its mother till 45 days to two months. Thankfully, even after this (unintentional) blunder, he turned out to be a healthy puppy. Nurturing him required lots of effort and time. In fact, for about two months after his arrival, I had sleepless nights.

Those days were quite taxing, indeed. Yet, they were also the most satisfying days of my life. Becoming a pet-mom was a beautiful road to self-discovery. I never knew I was capable of giving so much unconditional love to another being.

No automatic alt text available.

Pluto attracted the attention of everyone in the family. My brother and grandmother eventually grew really fond of him, taking care of him during the times when I was at work.

Fast forward to the present – Pluto is about to turn two this month. He visits his naani’s (maternal grandmother’s) home quite frequently. My mother, too, has grown quite fond of him. Pluto never misses a chance to give her ‘free licks’ when she is sleeping. I am sure even she doesn’t mind any of them!

Lately, I have been contemplating much about the idea of adoption rather than shopping. Therefore, I thought of becoming a foster parent to an Indie pup – and contribute in his journey till he found his loving family. I contacted PAWS in order to become a volunteer and foster parent.

Soon after the home check, Cookie came along, wagging his tail, to our doorstep. This was our first experience with an Indie pup – even though I have never had any particular inhibition towards petting stray dogs.

Cookie was a delightful pup, who exuded much energy and love. I could train him in a couple of hours, and he was always up for cuddles and licks. This over-enthusiasm was clearly misconstrued by his previous adopters who had abandoned him. It makes me wonder if these people would abandon their children for their behavioural issues!

Pluto was also once a very rowdy and ill-mannered dog with various behavioural issues. Now, he is so peaceful and calm than he can be in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize!

In my experience, love, patience along with systematic behavioural training are all that’s needed to nurture a dog and help him/her adapt to your home and get along with the family members. In fact, we were also quite apprehensive of Pluto’s reaction towards Cookie. However, he turned out to be a true gentleman in every sense. Not only did he share his toys and bed with Cookie, he learnt to behave more responsibly and set up a decent example for Cookie.

I would like to appreciate the team at PAWS, who have tried their best to rehabilitate Cookie in a loving home. I am also in constant touch with Cookie’s rescuer who was really concerned about him and his settlement in his Forever Home. In fact, every one of us were facing great difficulties in finding a loving home for Cookie where his new family would be genuinely concerned and love him for what he is – rather than expecting him to behave the way they want.

It is essential to understand that like humans, every dog has its own personality and temperament. Hence, an effective rehabilitation or training can happen only in accordance to this. After much effort and another failed adoption, Cookie has finally found with his Forever Family in Dehradun. I was really elated at this, but I also started wondering how many other dogs get such an opportunity?

This short experience as Cookie’s foster parent impacted me deeply. Since Cookie was temperamentally very different from Pluto, I had to put in a different kind of effort altogether. I wouldn’t say that it was a bed of roses, because it wasn’t. But again, it is never so with any puppy!

Fostering Cookie was quite challenging in its own way. What I appreciate is the immense love that I received from him in return and a change in my outlook towards animals. Whenever I see any dog now, I feel a deeper connect with it rather than superficially appreciating its ‘cuteness quotient’, like many dog lovers do. I have now started realising that you don’t become a ‘dog lover’ just because you have a dog at home whom you really love. You can become one only when you are compassionate towards each and every dog, irrespective of breed, age, health, physical appearance, etc.

Image may contain: dog

Nowadays, when I consciously recognise the state of dogs, I feel quite despondent. I believe that the fault lies with us – the ‘(pedigree) dog lovers’. Our ‘want’ (read ‘demand’) of pedigree dogs has not only grown and sustained this cruel breeding culture (after all, they are catering/supplying to our demands) for years, but also belittled the importance of Indie dogs.

I think a lot about whether Cookie would have faced so many rejections and abandonments, had he been a pedigree dog? Moreover, I am also forced to think about the plight of female pedigree dogs who are just treated as ‘puppy producing machines’. When they are no longer fertile, they are either abandoned or killed. Sometimes, the unwanted puppies are also euthanized or killed brutally, which clearly indicates their ‘commodified’ identities.

There is also a huge gender-preference, even in pet industry. Most of us want to have male dogs to avoid any unnecessary hassles of ‘unwanted pregnancies’ or ‘going into heat’.  Consequently, the breeders are left with more female pups which are treated brutally for purposes of breeding. Moreover, some of the dog breeds have evolved by cross-breeding. This increases the long-term health risks, especially in the relatively newer breeds.

On the other hand, the likeability of stray dogs is still very low. There are horrible cases of dog-abuse being reported every now and then. On any festival, be it Holi or Diwali, stray dogs are the ‘silent sufferers’ who are affected with pollution, hazardous chemicals, and other forms of life-threats.

Besides, it is shocking to see not only adults but even children engaging in intense acts of insensitivity and cruelty in order to have fun and ‘feel a kick’. I believe that this is a matter of serious concern – is the younger generation deriving pleasure from burning alive puppies, throwing dog from rooftops, and spilling boiling water on them? If yes, then there is definitely something gravely wrong with their upbringing and our culture.

In addition to this, if you are explicitly compassionate towards animals (by feeding or showing love towards the strays in your locality) it is likely that you may have faced opposition by neighbors or even resident welfare associations.

These kinds of behaviour reveal our contempt and disgust for stray animals and also represent the collective mindset and character of our society. I think that a society which is not compassionate towards its animals can never really be progressive and happy. It will always have to bear the burden of the silent suffering of its innocent animals. As Anatole France had once remarked: “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Finally, I would like to emphasise that I am not against any pedigree breed, since I am a proud beagle mom, myself. However, I am against the atrocities and discrimination that the Indie or pedigree dogs have to face – just to fulfil our wants, beliefs, greed and entertainment purposes.

Only now do I truly realise that adopting a dog instead of shopping for it, is much more humane and satisfying. We have decided that whenever we will bring Pluto’s furry sibling, it will surely be an adopted one.

It shouldn’t matter whether you open the doors of your home for an Indie or pedigree dog, as long as you refrain from contributing to the breeding industry and/or economy. If you don’t believe me, try becoming a foster for these furry balls and experience the love and contentment for yourself!

The author can be found here.

_

Images by author
Featured image for representation only.

More from Aakanksha Bhatia

Similar Posts

By Animal Equality

By Animal Equality

By Animal Equality

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below