Monday, 21 January 2013

Theo's Story - from International Animal Rescue in Goa

Many years ago I was a stray down on my luck and in desperate need of help. But then I was taken to Animal Tracks and somehow became one of the lucky few who never had to leave. Through the years I’ve seen all manner of dogs arrive here, some pure breeds but mainly lovely mongrels much like myself.
The work carried out by IAR Goa’s human team involves upwards of 200 dogs and numerous cats each and every month throughout the year, some with ailments and injuries, or simply lost or unwanted, but mainly just passing through for routine sterilisation and vaccinations.
Recently, from my vantage point as reception greeting supervisor, I witnessed a visit from a young lady named Monica who was desperately seeking advice on how to rehome her family dog. Two and a half years earlier cute pup Theo had been purchased by Monica’s brother as a wedding gift for his new wife. Although Monica and her brother were both animal lovers, Monica felt uneasy about his gift of a Labrador pup right from the start.
Theo is no lightweight!
Monica was already actively interested and involved with Mumbai’s animal rescue organisations. She was fully aware of the horrendous statistics concerning the huge number of animals in need of care and shelter and also the unsuitability of certain breed dogs for people’s lifestyles when they develop beyond the puppy stage. But there was nothing she could do or say, even amongst a loving family sometimes a young girl’s opinion is often of little or no consequence. Nevertheless the dog was loved and welcomed by the family, at least while he was a cute and manageable sized pup. 
But right from the onset the hard work involved in keeping him and training, grooming, and cleaning up after him was left in the main to Monica. But then, soon after, the sister-in-law became pregnant and unbelievably her doctor advised her that it was unhealthy for a foetus to have animals around it….how weird is that? (I often wonder how you humans arrive at such ridiculous irrational conclusions).
Despite Monica’s protestations, Theo was banished to the family farm far away in Goa. His care was undertaken by the farm staff and overnight his life became very different. Separated from Monica Theo pined and could not understand why he had been sent away. Of course he was fed but, without stimulation and nurture, Theo grew depressed: every pet's needs go far beyond basic nutrition.
Each visit from his best friend Monica left them both in distress when the time came for her to return to the city. Poor Theo suffered from separation anxiety and became a very unhappy confused dog.
A further two years passed and Theo grew to be a hefty animal with boundless energy. The situation became even more problematic when his carers left the job on the farm. Monica realised then that the only option was to find Theo a new home.
Often there is much interest in adopting a breed dog that’s up for rehoming, particularly a free and unsterilised one who, if put to stud, who could be an easy source of income.
Theo was adopted briefly but proved too much of a handful and was soon rejected by his new owners, which prompted Monica to contact Animal Tracks in desperation. Through her association with animal welfare Monica was already aware of the diversity of work done here in Goa by our team.
Bhagat and Theo - together forever!
Of course Animal Tracks cannot morally advocate or condone the deliberate controlled breeding of pedigree animals, particularly when there are thousands of gorgeous mutts like myself already born and out there. But of course all animals are special and precious and young Theo was certainly in desperate need of some help. This is not the kind of situation we usually get involved with but we did know of a kind young man who’d adopted a young rescue puppy recently and given her a lovely home together with another full grown Labrador that had been abandoned the previous year. Bhagat had experience with the specific requirements and high maintenance of the breed and was happy to take Theo to join his family.
Theo had an up to date full vaccination history so no time was lost in booking him in for the compulsory sterilisation of all dogs and cats that pass through the rescue centre. The bond between Bhagat and Theo was instant and it seems we have a happy ending at last for this poor dog that through no fault of his own had had so much upheaval and sadness.
Visitors to the IAR Goa’s rescue centre and volunteers who come to help out often ask how it is that the dogs here, who are in the majority street and feral animals, are so friendly and will walk calmly on a leash and allow their wounds to be tended with no animosity when their own pet dogs back home are often much more difficult.
From my informed and experienced mongrel point of view I feel it’s because the genetics that contribute to the character of us street dogs is strong and healthy and our high intelligence factor instinctively tells us that these kind hearted humans are here to help us so it’s good to be cooperative.
A breed dog usually comes into existence through the parents being introduced deliberately in order to create an aesthetically pleasing litter that perpetuates the pedigree breed, and of course is also a very lucrative economic commodity. In the wild, left to nature’s devices, only the brightest, strongest, fittest dogs succeed in mating with a bitch in season. The dominant males usually have to compete with others vying for her. This naturally ensures the strongest genes come to the fore and the weaker traits tend to be bred out of the line.
Consequently a mongrel or mixed breed is generally healthier and less susceptible to the hereditary negative characteristics and physiological problems that are exaggerated by over breeding from a pedigree animal’s limited gene pool. Pure bred dogs are destined to be prone to breed-related issues, whether they are good or bad. The intervention and breeding of dogs to deliberately create the extreme characteristics and physical appearance to satisfy the lust of man for aesthetic perfection in their eyes has in many breeds resulted in malformations and hereditary problems.
Naturally selected random cross breeding can inhibit the negative effects of breed traits because of the return to a larger diversified stronger and healthier gene pool. All of this just enforces my belief that so called “high class” in both humans and animals has absolutely nothing to do with deliberate breeding from a selected parentage.
Indeed studies show that the more a dog resembles a wolf, the longer the life expectancy and the more healthily viable they are. Whether you humans refer to my type as mongrels, mutts, strays or pariahs…’s a fact that greater choice in a gene pool results in the recessive negative characteristics and weaknesses being suppressed by the stronger traits that combine to make us superior  genetically, emotionally, intellectually and physically to most pedigrees. Humans often use the term mongrel in a derogatory way, but realistically the name ought to be a canine compliment.
 Obviously I’m biased as I myself am a proud mongrel of unknown parentage but the evidence is out there, we have evolved to the best in the canine world. So all of you humans who are thinking of buying a dog or cat at huge cost from a breeder, think on and visit your local shelter and adopt a rescue animal, it will love you forever, cost you less in vet bills, understand and be easier to train and be more compatible with your so called higher human intellect. And as for looks, who wants a perfect specimen that is identical to the next when each of us is adorable and absolutely unique?
Out for a jog on the beach!
Theo is a soft natured, gentle lumbering boy, but had gained too much weight with his sedentary lifestyle and was unaccustomed to regular exercise but is now eagerly undergoing Baghat’s weight loss and fitness regime that involves a healthy diet and jogging on the beach in the coolness of the early morning and limitless love and friendship. Theo is undeniably a fine looking boy, but he’s not without the negative problems associated with his breed. Bhagat knows that Theo will always be high maintenance compared to his mongrel sister Sally but he loves him unconditionally and for life and that’s all that any of us can ever hope for.
Theo has already made friends with other dogs he has met at the "gym"
And finally please never buy a cute pedigree puppy or kitten as a spontaneous gift for your new wife - opt for designer jewellery, not a living creature. Later if you feel you can offer a secure loving home to an animal for the duration of its life, adopt from a rescue shelter and give an unwanted or abandoned dog a second chance in life.

That’s enough of my preaching for today. I’ll keep you posted on Theo’s progress as time goes on.

Bye for now!

Love Olive x

What a handsome pair!

No comments: