Times of India | 1 week ago | 23-11-2022 | 06:59 am
Walk into Ganeshpura, a village located 37km from Ahmedabad, and you will witness a rare sight - dobermans, greyhounds, St Bernards, labradors, salukis and pitbulls gambolling playfully with the pariahs. It's quite a paw-ty at this village inhabited by members of the Madari community. While exotic dog breeds are status symbols for the uber-wealthy, for the villagers here, all canines - breed no bar - are symbols of reverence. The previous generations of these families were snake charmers and would move from place to place, accompanied by guard dogs. However, the inherited profession was banned in India in 1991 after which they took to juggling, acrobatics and odd jobs for a living. What did not change, though, was their love for dogs. Nearly 200 families live in the shanties erected on the government-allotted plots here. Happily adjusting in the small spaces and large hearts are these pricey dogs - there's a dachshund in nearly every house here. Kokiben Madari, 60, says, "We are seven people in the family, and we own three different breeds of dogs. Our ancestors used to keep street dogs as pets. But the new generation is quite fond of fancy breeds. We used up a large part of our earnings to buy these dogs." Pets gleefully respond to Indian names given to them mostly by kids. Unless our dogs are fed, we do not have food. And we feed them with our own hands. They eat what we eat, which is a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. We also take them to the vet for routine health checks," Kokiben Madari, 60, adds. In a big city set-up, dogs like the St Bernard would be living in air conditioned rooms since they come from the Swiss Alps. But here, they are well-adapted to warmer temperatures. Names like Moti, Mango, Sheru, Max, Chameli may seem less suited for their personalities, but the pets gleefully respond to these names given to them mostly by the kids in their families. None of them are kept on leashes, a luxury not available to their big-city counterparts. One of the villagers, who refused to be identified, said he went to Chennai and spent Rs 65,000 to bring home a greyhound which he has named Raftaar. Subhash Madari, 45, said, "Our forefathers were nomads, but we are settled here. We can no longer keep snakes as pets as the law prohibits us from doing so, but we can at least keep the dogs with us like our ancestors did."