Dogs on My Mind

A dog relaxing on the street

Where I’m from in the U.S., you almost never see animals roaming the streets except for squirrels. I guess I’ve seen a lost dog or two over the years, but it’s very unusual. In Kathmandu, there are always stray animals around. It can be really sad to see. Cows are sacred in Nepal, and it’s considered a sin to kill one by many Hindus. I think it was even illegal in Nepal for a long time (maybe still is?). Cows are very useful because they provide milk. While bulls are used to pull plows and for breeding, they’re not as valuable as cows. But people can’t kill them, so they often let the bulls out onto the street, where they hang out and cause traffic jams. Actually, I don’t really know what becomes of them. Are there NGO’s that take care of stray bulls? Besides cows/bulls, there are usually chickens pecking around the side streets and monkeys that hang around certain areas of Kathmandu, like Pashupatinath. And of course there are the dogs.

A dog in the mist one morning

When I was very small, we had cats at my house, but my brothers were allergic, so we had to get rid of them. I was quite bad to the cats anyway. I remember I loved to sneak up behind them and pull their tails, so it was probably good that we gave them away. We also had a variety of fish at different points in my childhood, hermit crabs, and even chickens for a while. But never a dog. I expressed interest in getting one when I was a kid, but my parents didn’t want to have to take care of it. I get it. Dogs are a big financial and emotional investment. I put the thought out of my mind for a long time until I met Tri. When he was five, he begged his parents to let him have a dog, and Buwa and Mamu agreed. The dog was something like a golden retriever, named Joni. Ever since we got together, he has talked about this dog. He’s told me countless stories about Joni’s love for chasing cats and scaring away the neighborhood kids. Strangely, he also liked to eat balloons and money. He was quite an unruly dog but very loved and really a member of their family. There’s actually an interesting NOVA episode about dogs and their relationship with humans that helps to explain why our species are so close.

Since Tri started to tell me these stories about Joni, I’ve developed this growing desire to get a dog, and coming to Nepal has really sealed the deal for me. I was never really around dogs while growing up, but now that I spot at least 15 dogs a day, I can’t get enough of them. They fight and cuddle and play with each other and the people around them. They’re so full of personality and life.

Puppies

And they can be so cute too! The cats we had when I was a kid were kind of cute, but none of the other animals we’ve had were even remotely cute. Dogs, though, especially puppies, are so adorable. Lately there have been a few puppies romping around the street outside of our house, and I just can’t help but sigh whenever I see one.

With all of these dogs around, Tri and I have been seriously talking about getting one ourselves. Since we’ll be going back to the US soonish, we can’t get one now, and even once we get there, we’ll have to wait a while because with me applying to grad school, we won’t know exactly where we’ll end up. But once we finally settle somewhere for a while, we’ll definitely get a dog 🙂 I can’t wait!

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10 thoughts on “Dogs on My Mind

  1. You called your chicken “Tofu”- best pet chicken name ever.
    Dogs are nice to have when you have small children because your’re stuck at home anyway!
    Pros: good for blood pressure, stress relief, teaching kids responsibility. Cons: expensive, allergies, what do you do when you go on vacation? Certain breeds are less allergy causing.

    My friend, Jackie just got a puppy and she gets up twice a night to put her out, but she is loving every minute of it.

  2. I heard that poodles and west highland terriers are “hypoallergenic.” (They aren’t truly hypoallergenic, but people with allergies tend to tolerate them better.) Dogs are amazing…but you’re right, they are a lot of work. If you want to have a ‘temporary’ dog, I know that in the US there are “dog rescues,” which is basically like a foster system. I’m not sure if they have them in Nepal, but they might!

    • I need to look into getting a dog like that. That’s a great idea about the “temporary” dog thing. It would be a good way to try it out before getting a dog for the long term.

  3. If I ever have a pet chicken… I might have to steal that name! 😉

    P had a dog as a kid (“Tiger”) and so did I (“Blackie”) and as adults we were dying to get a dog. We wanted one for several years but it took a while to find an apartment and a landlord that we could finally wear down to let us get a dog. Three years ago we adopted Sampson from a dog rescue that saves stray dogs from Puerto Rico. I can’t really imagine our lives without him now… he is such a main member of our family! I even talk about bringing him to Nepal with us if we have the chance to move some day… I just can’t imagine leaving him behind!

    Puppies are super cute… but giving a good home to a rescue dog is also a great alternative 🙂

  4. When I was last in Kathmandu, a couple living at the Monastery where we normally stay were feeding one particular dog that had mange. They had offered an animal shelter to take on the task so that they could begin slipping some medication into the food. It was beginning to work and they told me that the shelter would then take the dog and rehome it. I believe, from what they were saying, that domestic dog ownership is actually increasing in a more affluent Kathmandu. Would you say this was true?

    • Yeah, I think it could be. I know a lot of families with pet dogs. Although there’s still kind of a taboo against touching dogs, even the one who living inside houses (not by the family who owns the dog but by visitors).

      • I wonder what leads to that taboo. Is it a natural aversion to the power of the Tibetan Mastiff? They are rather imposing. 🙂

        • maybe! 🙂 I also think it’s that street dogs here can be very dirty, rooting around in trash, and they may not have had any vaccines, so they could have worms, etc. I understand not wanting to pet street dogs, but house dogs are presumably pretty clean.

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