Must love dogsThis Kukur Tihar let’s worship our dogs without scaring the living daylights out of them with firecrackers
Love for dogs is somewhat inherited. Humans have probably evolved to develop a special kind of gene that makes them predisposed to love dogs. And as canines evolved, dogs probably have bonding with humans in their DNA too.
That could be why I have always felt an instant connection with a dog, I am sure I was born with it. I also feel that instant connection with fellow dog lovers than with anyone else.
I was born in a family where dogs were tremendously loved and cared for. My mother’s two biggest gifts to me are a) a kind heart, and b) love for all animals, especially dogs.
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I grew up hearing her story of the time when I was 6 and was bitten near my eye by my uncle’s dog. I needed to get stitches. Even today, she says she fails to understand why that never stopped me from loving dogs, and why I was never scared of them even after that traumatic event in my childhood.
As a child, my favourite memory is going out for walks with my mother when she fed biscuits to stray pups along the way. We knew the dogs all along the alleys outside the house. It is a practice I have inherited.
As soon as we walked out of the house, we would be trailed by neighbourhood dogs wagging their tails wildly in anticipation. They used to follow up right to the little corner store. And what grateful creatures God of Dogs created, the love and loyalty they show in exchange of one small treat or a little rub on their head.
So, when I say I love dogs, I am a bit biased. I have more affection for the strays on the road, the breed now recognised as a distinct species and which Nepalis fondly call bhusyaha kukur. My love for stray mutts and pups has led me to rescue a few, my four-legged girls. Many of these furry friends have since then found their way to my heart. Some are abandoned, others are community canines whom I feed snacks.
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Each of them has a unique personality, each has a unique story to tell. Beyond their limitations of not having a home, they all enjoy and value their life in the streets and between struggling to protect their territory to finding food, they are also surrounded by humans who love them, feed them, give them a belly rub.
And it is heart-warming to see them walking around proudly with marigold garlands, foreheads red with vermilion on Kukur Tihar (which this year falls on 12 November). This festival, which is unique to Nepal, is an equaliser because it forces us to embrace purebred pets at home equally with the strays outside.
The sad part, of course, is that the dogs we worship in the morning are scared out of their wits in the evening when the firecrackers start going off. Many strays and pets are so spooked they run away and are lost during Tihar. We have to be more mindful of this.
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From living in the moment to loving selflessly to never complaining to never stopping to being happy, we humans have a lot to learn from dogs. My hope is that we all continue this celebration all year round, that we find ways to rehome stray dogs, that we stop buying and start rescuing. For someone who has rescued dogs myself, I can tell you there is nothing as liberating as this act of humanity.
And the rewards that you receive in return is immeasurable. We can all take action by not buying another dog for our home, and who knows, the next rescue you make is the one who will rescue you.