From time immemorial dogs were considered as man’s best friend. The friendship between man and pets like dogs was evident in ancient Egyptian art. In the remains of Harappa and Mohenjo daro civilisation, and even in the great epics of Mahabharata dog found a place as the best companion and friends of mankind. Pet dogs are regarded today as an integral part of a family in every corner of world. Among the pet animals and utility animals; dogs always rank at the top among all other pets taken into consideration.
Many of the advanced countries across the globe including USA, UK, China, Russia and entire Europe have passionate dog lovers. Even there is a tradition for the US President to keep a pet dog as a part of Presidential family. The Indian scenario is also changing with the increasing trend of keeping dog as their family members, young children’s playmate, blind people’s eye, old people’s companion and as house guards, friend of the family and in memory of their beloved.
Dogs are also an integral part of Defence Forces where they are recruited as soldier dogs for tracking mine, bomb detection and disposal. They are also recruited in police and Para-Military forces for sniffing and crime control. Significantly quite a few numbers of Hollywood and Bollywood films are featured on the lives and functioning of some of the famous dogs of the world. Names of few award winning films on dogs are — ‘Lassie’, ‘Marley & Me’, Hachiko: A dogs tale’. Not to speak of many short stories and award winning novels.
Being such an important intrinsic part of human civilisation dogs’ importance in the modern society cannot be denied of and their privilege that they should enjoy and also their fate at the end of their lives. Best example of man’s love to the his best friend is the Bronze statue “Hachiko” the most faithful dog of his Master at Shibuya station in Tokyo, Japan, and another Bronze statue of “Hachiko”, the same dog at the train depot Woonsocket Depot Square, former rail road station in downtown, Woonsocket, Rhode Island in USA. These statues have been built in Japan & USA to commemorate the loyalty of this faithful dog towards his master.
It is a traumatic situation when a beloved pet in the family dies. There is no place earmarked for decent burial or cremation of pets like dogs in most of the cities and towns of India. With the small family concept most of the families are going nuclear and as a part of these families keeping a dog in their house has become convenient and good company to many families.
Guwahati has been declared as a “Smart City”; but it is still a long way to achieve it. In recent survey of civic amenities of Indian cities, Guwahati was ranked 14th in a list of 23 selected cities, and performance index was very disappointing, scoring only 3.8 out of 10 points. We need many amenities in the cities and towns to come up to a high standard of living and to prepare to deliver a high quality of life that is sustainable for modern urbanisation.
Perhaps, there are several thousands of pet dogs of various breeds in Guwahati. On an average one out of every ten households keeps a dog as an inseparable member of the family. It is really pathetic and sad when a pet member of the family dies. For human beings we have several burial/ cremation grounds. But, we have to think, plan and look desperately to bury/cremate the most loving member of the family in a decent and dignified manner.
It is now high time that we plan for a decent burial ground in the city for our pets like dog, cat or avian, our beloved members of the family. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and other organisations who care and work for the animals need to rise up and create enough support to get decent burial ground for the most loved animal of the human community. It’s not only for the family dogs but for the street dogs too, whose numbers are swelling to sixty thousand (approx) in Guwahati alone and the number is increasing in every breeding season. A modern urban society needs several amenities for improvement of quality of urban life and dog cremation centre or a burial ground is one of the indispensable needs.
“One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God’s creature.”
The writer is Professor & Head, Department of Extension Education, College of Veterinary Science, Assam Agricultural University, Khanapara, Guwahati. He can be reached at [email protected]