When I grew up, there used to live an ex-army General down the road. He had a Doberman named Miles (inspired from Miles Davis) and a German Shepherd named Doris (i.e. Doris Day). Whenever I asked him about managing pets, he would often say in his gravely voice “a pet is not a play toy. They are living things with emotions.” When I adopted my first dog – a stray pup with a lovely yellowish brown coat – whom I aptly named Amber, I remember the General’s words. I was initially disappointed that Amber wasn’t a Labrador or a Poodle, or a purebred dog like the ones my affluent friends owned. But, soon, as Amber and I got to know each other well, I knew that breed apart, all dogs are the same. They are all loving creatures who would receive you with so much love whenever you returned from school in the evening.

I grew up during a time when having a Labrador or a German Shepherd or some fancy breed dog made you a part of an exclusive society. These dogs weren’t hard to maintain. It’s just that they weren’t normally available on the street. They came from different countries and are part of a small community created by their ancestors. The RSPCA, Blue Cross and even PETA loved these breeds as they were far more superior to the stray dogs, who never belonged to a single breed. Even today, a trained veterinarian can never tells what breed a stray actually belongs to; it’s often a hunch made based on the skin colour or texture.

In an era when Labrador pups were sold for Rs. 850 (this was 1994), I was proud of my stray pup. After Amber passed away in 2002, I adopted another stray pup whom I found stranded in the sidewalk, one rainy night. I named her Spotty, owing to her Dalmatian-like colours and tall appearance. One visit to the nearby park and you’ll notice a slew of Labradors, Poodles, Golden Retrievers and in rare cases, even a Husky, all being overly cuddled by their masters, tied to a strong leash, and protected from the trampy stray dogs who run around trying to communicate with these pampered pooches.

If you’ve ever wanted to “buy” or even adopt a purebred dog that isn’t indigenous to India – and that’s almost all of us – I have a news flash for you: Strays are great too! And in this article, I will try and break down some of the common misconceptions on why most people are against adopting strays.

 

Will they be prone to diseases?

To be honest, all dogs are prone to diseases. In fact, Labradors and Pugs are 10 times more susceptible to illnesses such as distemper and stomach cancer, than your street-bound strays. Most adoption shelters vaccinate and deworm strays, while vets encourage you to follow a 12-month schedule for the same. If you simply do that, your stray will be healthy for a long time coming.

 

Will they create any health issues for the elders or little ones in the house?

The most common health issue that can affect elders or little ones is the shedding of dog hair. But, dog hair isn’t as allergic as cat hair, and the cases of allergic reactions caused due to dog hair is way lower than other common substances that cause allergies. Having a dog in your house, especially around elders and babies is in fact, a great thing. Dogs can relate easily with babies – whom they are fiercely protective of, and elders – whom they will easily adore.

 

Can stray animals be trained?

There is a common misconception that only purebred dogs can be trained. I can prove this wrong personally, because I’ve trained both of my stray dogs, whether it’s discipline, potty training, walks or even feeding times. It all depends on YOUR willingness and perseverance. Remember that cats can be easily trained, while dogs need some time. But, dogs are very methodical and if they learn a lesson, they will never forget it.

 

Will they be aggressive?

Aggression towards strangers is common. But, as the saying goes, barking dogs seldom bite. Almost all dogs are protective of their household. Dogs are aggressive towards people only if they are provoked. Dogs – much like humans – are also protective of themselves and will take any kind of physical abuse as a sign of caution.

 

Adopting a stray dog is very noble. If you’re planning on adopting a stray, I tip my imaginary hat to you. There are plenty of people who want to adopt purebred dog, But there are only few who are looking to take in a stray. So, in order to make your plan a successful one, here are the necessary things you must do while adopting a stray dog:

 

Vaccination:

Depending on the age of the dog, the vaccination schedule may vary. Here is a predefined schedule:

Mandatory Vaccination: Measles, Parainfluenza, Distemper
Optional: Bordetella

Mandatory Vaccination: DHPP(this includes vaccination for Parainfluenza, Distemper, Adenovirus & Parvovirus)
Optional: Bordetella, Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis

Mandatory Vaccination: Rabies
Optional: Nil

Mandatory Vaccination: DHPP
Optional: Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis

Mandatory Vaccination: DHPP, Rabies
Optional: Bordetella, Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis

Mandatory Vaccination: DHPP
Optional: Bordetella, Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis

Mandatory Vaccination: Rabies
Optional: Nil

1. Boosters and Titers:

Many say that too many vaccinations could lead to health problems in a dog. But others also say that it can prevent diseases like distemper. By conducting a Titer test, you will know whether or nor your dog requires vaccination. Next time you go to a vet, ask them about the procedure.

 

2. Medical Checkup:

Medical checkup tells us whether the dog can be adopted. It tells us whether the dog is sane or not. Rabies test is really important, although tests for fungal infection or fleas are also prescribed. The medical checkup is inclusive of both mental & physical tests. It is best that these tests are carried out in a reputed hospital.

 

3. Identification of Breed:

dog-breed-identification

Mongrel dogs are the most common breed in India among strays. It may not seem necessary, but the identification of the exact breed of the dog can help to monitor and tackle health issues in a dog. A typical example is that a cold weather dog cannot survive in warm climates.

 

4. Potty Training:

Training an dog whether it’s an adult or a puppy is not easy. Unlike cats, dogs need to reminded constantly, given treats for good behaviour and must follow a regular drill. Luckily, there are plenty of guides available online on how to potty train your dog. Your vet will have additional advice on how to do it right. While potty training is hard, it’s benefits are amazing. No cleaning up after at all!

 

It’s not hard to find a good dog. All dogs are good dogs. Just ask them :). Strays are often seen as unruly dogs due to their comeuppance but these strays can also show you a warmer side of their self if you are willing to show compassion.