Having seen how our undergraduates behave, it is relevant for me to say our stray dogs behave better.
Reproduction to show the yesteryear.
If I do not mention my dog and how he helps me in my gardening efforts, this book is not complete.
To begin with he does not like me spending lot of time watering the plants.
Even then, he comes and spends a little time if the sun is bright.
He does not like the spraying of water, I rarely do that.
It wastes lot of water.
Then of course he contributes by spraying his liquid fertilizer, whenever he notices a new plant.
But what he really interested in, is the various smells in the rooftop garden especially (probably) the scent of the civet that comes in the night for rats and water.
I think the civet drinks the water with the guppies in one gulp.
It is not the kingfisher that devours my fish.
I have few Andu Kola (Long coriander) plants.
I use it as a repellent (a belief) for snakes.
It has a a strong pungent smell and is hidden among other plants. My dog gets the scent of it and spend lot of time near it.
In the evening and night the jasmine flowers bloom it gives a nice aura around. The flowers are not within its nostrils, he spends a lot of time enjoying the smell with its snout up.
It loves to crunch and chew few leaves of grass of his liking.
Now he is blind, I have made an oblong path around with all the thorny plants hidden in the center.
He does not have to come in reverse gear, which he is very good at.
He has to go there, at least once at night before retuning to sleep with me.
I do not intend to write a book about him but would like to dedicate this book to him for being a wonderful companion.
I do not put any fertilizer (except left over tea leaves) and if any one queries me, of the success of the rooftop garden, I say it is Zimba’s urine that keeps it going.
Zimba gets the credit by default.
Few lines about Ginger and the Bunty are relevant.
I cannot say I hate (except one) cats, I simply dislike them ever since my pet squirrel was killed by our domestic cat when I was a kid.
That cat was banished immediately after, I almost killed her.
My mother found her a foster home.
Years later having grown up, a bit, I used to visit my aunt just to see (I would take her favourite food and feed her by hand, not my aunt but the cat and she did not have a particular name) the cat and she was doing OK.
Ginger and Banti had untimely and tragic ends and I did not want to have another cat and another tragic episode.
Bunti was few days older to Zimba and will have the lion's share of the food.
Zimba (puppy) as nice as he is today would not disturb his voracious appetite.
Would sit and wait for his turn and milk.
His food habits are better compared to our children and humans.
When food is dished out, he would wait for a few minutes to this day before eating as it to say ‘Thank you for the meal’.
Bunti and Zimba were good friends and my dog has a special affinity for cats and let feral cats eat its meal after we lost Banti for good.
It took ages for us to break this habit and chase the unwanted cats.
Of course, he learned a bad habit afterwards to tip over the food, especially milk, if we do not stay with him till he finishes the food.
My gut feeling is he still has the memory of Banti every time he feeds, such was his affection for Banti.
Below is a reproduction of a piece I mad 20 years ago. The cat is Banti named above.
First the cat is dispensed with (my children with the help of grandma have reared more than thirty litters (all neglected) in their childhood.
One episode was the worse with four partially or totally blind kitten. Children looked after them and found foster homes.
In the last litter three of them were killed (probably by a wild weasel) and the fourth survived (saved from the attack probably by its black coat with only a few white patches) under a cabinet.
He was our juvenile tom (Banti) cat.
It disappeared and I believe ended as a dish in Kandy city.
Cats of course have wild instincts and survive in spite of being neglected because of their ability to hunt and steal. Unlike dogs, the cat protects its dwelling and territory and care less if the master is not interested in him.
Second the pet dog is abandoned.
The number of dogs loitering in any neighbourhood is a living indication of the prevalence.
Sri-Lankan stray dogs who adopt a strong and exclusive club mentality (no different from our political parties) with small packs (apply to politicians too) survive somewhat differently to the indirect benevolence of our people.
Amount of food wasted by our middle class (what is left of) is adequate to support the small packs.
I have resisted having a pet dog for a long period. Exactly three months after we adopted the tom cat (mentioned above) that restriction was relaxed after laying down strict rules of conduct. Present medical students (and other undergraduates) should not feel envy if I say that my room mate in the final year was a dog named Mr.Campus.
I had this dog (strayed out from one of the university residences) for two reasons.
One the simple love of having a good companion (otherwise would have been killed by the veterinary people) and the second the more important reason, if any undergraduate who could not care for this animal he needs not be my room mate.
The third, the indirect benefit of my idiosyncrasy was that I did not have a room mate for two terms.
I had another dog named Ranger at home and he was my physical trainer. A run with him around the lake kept me physically fit. In our time food was plenty and I could not understand why this dog left the home.
It had to be neglect.
When I left the campus I made sure that this dog had a caretaker no less than a professor (divorced) and an amiable senior technician to look after. Years later when I joined the Faculty after leaving Government Service he was in good hands and would not forget to greet me on the corridor.
That's about stray dogs but what about the pets (pedigree dogs).
I believe they also suffer the same fate.
Caged with little exercise and minimal care in most of the homes. Adults and children do not have time for these pets within a year of their birth.
So do not bring a puppy as a Christmas gift.