Saturday, December 26, 2009

A dog's life in Dhaka, Bangladesh - part 2

from Cathrine continued from here.

Ready for the world

It's been six weeks since Rani and her pups moved into the Staff storage room at the Residence. They have been educational weeks.


Rani's mate turned up at the gate within hours of our rescue, and hung around every day, watching how we handled his mate and his pups. He is a big boy compared to most street males, with a wide skull and thick neck that make it clear why he has few scars from mating battles.

The father

He isn't aggressive, in fact, he is clearly someone's dog, with a string around his neck as a sign of 'ownership'. But he would not leave until he was sure his mate and her pups were in no danger. We ended up under his watchful eye for over three weeks.

Rani is a great mother. She is attentive and affectionate, but takes no nonsense when it comes to things like learning to eat and to do the business outside! One night when I was exercising her, one of the pups set up a yipping that sounded like trouble: I have never seen a dog move so fast! I had abrasions on my leash hand for two weeks. Fortunately, it was nothing serious, just one of those fights that children get into. Once she was sure everyone was really okay, both culprits got nipped on the ear, and told in no uncertain terms not to scare their mother that way!

The only danger to these pups was the stampede of people wanting them. Admittedly, a big part of this eagerness was the source: it's a status society, and getting a dog from the Canadian High Commission is a lifetime conversation point. But it means I have been able to be picky about who gets to take a puppy.

The first one to be placed was Runt. She went to a US couple who came to Dhaka 25 years ago and liked it so much they took out citizenship. They had glowing references from our veterinarian and several long term members of the expat community. They know how to care for dogs and cats, not merely feed them. A good beginning to what I thought would be an arduous search.


My staff proved that one should never, ever underestimate the Bangladeshi. The Cook and the Bearer both asked if they could be considered for a puppy. Both wanted to take the pup back to their respective villages to be family dogs. Both have had dogs before, and produced evidence of care for previous dogs to back their
applications, including, in one case, a letter from the local veterinarian, assuring us he had experience with dogs.

I've visited one of those villages, and my husband has seen the other. The dogs are healthy, accepted and cared for. However, they are also not sterilized. Negotiations ensued.

Rajah is now in the Garo tribal lands: if cellphone photos are anything to go by, he thinks he is in puppy heaven.


Goldengirl will, if the family agrees to sterilization in Dhaka at the right age, go with our Bearer, who is up there for the holiday, fencing his yard so the puppy can be secure until she is old enough to mingle with the older dogs.

Rajah and Goldengirl (at right)

This leaves Goldenboy. Ali, our driver, has a friend who is seriously interested. Like Ali, he loves animals and, like Ali, he is willing to make his dog, if he gets one, a member of the family. If he agrees to the conditions, he will get the last puppy.


That's not the end of it. The old lady on the bridge has a new puppy. I can't blame her: begging is a lonely, harsh life, and two months is a long time to be without your dog. But it means I have to find a place for Rani after her sterilization. And that will be tough. Even with a little weight on her, she is not a beautiful girl. She's scrawny and has scars from being hit by a car. And she's not a puppy anymore.

However, after this experience, I have a little more faith that it can be done. Already the veterinarian and Ali are out looking for the right situation for an active, affectionate street dog who will guarantee not to have a lot of puppies for people to worry about.

Now, if only it were this easy to find homes for kittens!


Anonymous said...

What handsome parents and pretty pups.

borderjack said...

I think Rani is quite beautiful. She wears the scars of a hard life on her body. That doesn't take away from her beauty; it takes away from ours.

Anonymous said...

Your blog made me really nostalgic for the country I have left to come to Canada. I could never ever have a dog in my own country despite my desperate attempts of sneaking in street pups into my bedroom at night, but now I finally have a pup, thanks to the freedom I earned in your country.

Love from Toronto, Canada

Anonymous said...

I just wish more people were like you, Cathrine.

I have rescued a number of kittens over the past years and now my house is kind of full of their offsprings.I have never given any of my cats away for adoption but now it's becoming a bit difficult to look after them.

Even though they are potty trained some take the liberty to soil the neighbours ground regularly whenever they are out taking a stroll. The mess is cleaned up as quickly as we are notified of it.

I know my neighbours are upset as they are quite abusive towards me and my family about this whole thing.

These cats are about 1-2 years old and too old to give up for adoption. do you have any suggestions for me?

Cathrine said...

Anonymous, I suspect you will not like my advice.

First, you need to sterilise your cats! It does not matter where you are, if you live in a house, then you can afford to get your cats sterilised. From the sound of it, it might cost a bit to do them all, so start with the females. But they all need to be done, including the males, for both their own health, and yours.

Second, if you are in one of the G-8 countries, then 1-2 years old is *not* too old for rehoming. Even here in Dhaka, I have found homes for adult cats, and Dhakaites show a strong preference for kittens and puppies.

How you do that depends on where you are. If you are in North America, there are many no-kill cat and animal rescue organisations that will help. Ask your veterinarian for referrals, call the local Humane Society or SPCA. There are newspapers to advertise in. There are friends and friends of friends.

It is normal for cats to do their business outside, potty trained or no. The litter pan is only an indoor substitute for the dirt they crave.

You can solve the problem with your neighbours by not letting your cats out. Cats can live quite happily without ever going outside. It is one of the great myths that they need to be outdoors to bee somehow fulfilled. All a cat needs is a secure territory, and that can be inside. At the moment I have three cats of my own, plus seven rescues. None of them go outdoors, all have an area to call their own. My cats have three rooms and a hall way, the rescues are sorted into rooms based on their age, health and ability to get along. At some point in every day, my cats all get a nap in the bedroom with the door closed, and the rescues each take a turn racing around the rest of the apartment.

Note that no one goes outside.

Finally, I suggest you do some online research into hoarding. You are not there yet, but you are headed that way. That's not healthy for you, or for the cats.

Good luck, wherever you may be.

Mhossain1971 said...

Hello Everyone. This is Munira from Dhaka, Bangladesh. I'm an ex animal rescuer. Due to my illness I stay home all the time now. I'm currently working on adopting pet kittens. You see most feral kittens either die before help reaches them or learn to survive on their own on street. But kittens or puppies who's parents is house pet and was vaccinated, has weak immunity system and can hardly survive on street due to their long ancestral staying as house pet. Or may be they can be pure breed needing extra care because they cant get along with our weather.
I already have three kittens with ragdoll, Aby and bengal cat blood in their vain. I adopted them from their owner who was having hard time with her family. Today I'm going to adopt two more kittens. They are homeless and found by another cat lover. But she is having grown up cats in her home which is being quite territorial. I'm looking for adopting two puppies for last two months. Dhaka doesn lack puppies but it needs plenty field work to find and get them. As I am unable to go out much I am asking for your help. If anyone can help me on it I'll be eternally grateful. Just let me know where you have seen the puppies or kittens. I need to know if they are lost and without mother or even injured. I don't want to adopt puppies who have their mother checking out it. I would be giving them a forever home. Please help me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Munira,

I am also in Dhaka, and I would love to talk to you about your animal rescue experience. Is there any way to contact you?

Thank you!


Mhossain1971 said...

My contact e-mail address is
Sorry couldn't post earlier. I was away. Now a days I'm having hard time to write down words, forming lines, put my thoughts into to language. But I'll try my best to help you. Take care. Waiting to hear from you.
Best regards,
Munira Hossain

Anonymous said...

True true

sumaiya marium said...

This is a weird coincidence..there are 2 puppies in Kafrul, dhaka who live under a school van and survive on bread.I've been asking friends to adopt them since I sadly can't. If you really want them....