It’s been a few days that I’ve moved into my new appartment in the city of Kolkata, India. Everything has been going smoothly… all of the essential electronic items have been purchased without any major hiccups in home delivery, the kitchen is slowly being stocked up, and I don’t feel the need anymore to get food from the restaurants; the neighbourhood seems decent enough, a bit quiet but I prefer it that way…. What should I be afraid of that would spoil this seemingly nice set-up??
Well, something has happened that has been bothering my conscience since the first day I moved in. I admit I am no great animal lover, I am not a vegetarian, nor am I involved actively to oppose animal cruelty. However, I do like animals in general. I do know that owning a pet can be a big responsibility, almost like taking care of a child, you have to show love and affection and see to it that your pet is happy and well looked after. I mean, that is the reason you bought your pet in the first place, because you loved the idea of looking after an animal, right?!
So, on my first day in the appartment, I peered down to my adjacent lower-floor-neighbour’s balcony and noticed a big Labrador dog that seemed to be in good health though slightly on the skinny side. Since my first day that dog has been whining (thankfully not during the night)! I wondered when I would see the owner of the dog draw aside the curtains, open the glass door and let in the dog into the appartment. I looked around to see if the dog had a bowl of water to drink from. I fidgeted just like the Labrador waiting for the owner to show up. I whistled at the dog to get it’s attention, but I think the dog seemed just miserable. That troubled me very much! 😦 Perhaps the owner showed up later during the day, but I wouldn’t have known as I got busy with my unpacking and moving in.
Aha! Towards evening of the second day, I saw signs of animation. A young woman opens the balcony door and brings out a tray of what seemed to be sandwiches. The dog is overjoyed to see her and though very hungry, only seems to want to be with her. Now here is where I get surprised by her reaction. She hits the dog and talks sternly to him to “sit”.
I don’t want to go into details but it’s my fourth day and the better I learn my neighborhood, the more I have come to like it. People are polite, health-concious, seeming well-educated, and mostly from the Indian army and Navy background, so what went wrong with these neighbours?! Why do they behave so uneducated? I have already been having dreams of writing a note outside their door asking them to better look after their pet. I don’t think I could speak to them so early into my move. I am afraid I might get annoyed with them, and I don’t want to get off on the wrong side so soon after moving here. What can I do??
This evening, I couldn’t help myself. I saw the balcony door open, and I hoped in my heart that the owner will seem happy to see his dog and want to take him down for a walk. This family member was a young boy of around 17-18 years of age. He had a rod in his hand. The dog had been whining and barking all evening. This young man used his rod to hit the dog to make it quiet. I lost my cool and shouted out immediately for him to stop. This boy didn’t look up at me, but I know he heard me. I have faced this peculiar mentality already a few times, and beginning to get used to it. When feeling cornered, many Indians’ first line of defense is to pretend they haven’t heard anything and continue doing what they are doing. This boy did not hit the dog anymore but made sure that I heard him when he kept threatening the dog to stay quiet. My poor aunt who was standing next to me kept shushing me asking me to keep quiet!
I know that sooner or later I will have to make an action against this cruelty. In an overcrowded city like Kolkata where SPCA would mostly be of little help, I doubt I can turn to anyone for help. I am open for suggestions, is there someone who could give me some ideas? As soon as I feel a little more settled in, I might speak to the owners to allow me to take their dog out for walks sometimes, and probably later try and hunt a good shelter. Of course I would do all this if they turn out to be stubborn and not take any action of their own!
Everytime I look at that dog I wonder “Every dog is happy to be with it’s master, and it doesn’t matter to them if the masters are just plain heartless”. Maybe that’s why I prefer cats. They seem to have so much more sense in that department!