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Introducing our Desi Dog, Ginger

TLDR: Say hello to the newest member of our family: the beautiful Ginger!

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The backstory:

Last year, about six months after our beloved dog Ashley died, we found ourselves really missing having a pooch in our lives. But we weren’t quite ready to adopt a new one.

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Anasuya started asking around about organizations here in Delhi that help street dogs, and a friend recommended the Indian Canine Uplipftment Centre, or ICUC.

ICUC

The New Delhi-based organization was founded in 2012 by the charming Sonya Kochhar Apicella, who like all the staff at the center clearly care deeply for dogs. And as anyone who has visited Delhi knows, there are tons of street dogs here.

ICUC is the NGO wing of a boarding, day care and grooming on the same premises called Canine Elite.

(If you’re into helping dogs, do consider getting in touch with or donating funds to ICUC. If you’re here in Delhi and need any dog-related services, consider Canine Elite.)

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‘Designed by Darwin’

Often called Desi dogs (Desi roughly meaning “from India,” based on the Hindi word for “country”), these canines typically look like Ginger: medium sized, short haired, and often a shade of brown, with some white marks.

They’re also sometimes referred to as Indi-dogs or “Indian pariah dogs.” (“Pariah” is an ecological term for dogs that typically live on their own, outside homes, untouched by breeding.)

Another name for the creatures is INDogs, short for “Indian Native Dog;” you can find a wealth of information at INDog.co.in, the site for the INDog Project.

The group also maintains a gallery of such canines, and a crowd-sourced document containing reports on the dogs’ temperament.

Desi dogs, some of which have over the years mixed with non-native Indian breeds to varying degrees, often live in neighborhoods here in New Delhi and in other cities, towns, and villages.

Residents typically look after them, feeding them but often not providing medical attention or sterilization. Others dogs roam around more freely. Many have diseases and suffer from various ailments.

I haven’t seen the full version of the documentary, but Desi dogs are reportedly mentioned in a 2003 National Geographic documentary called “Search for the First Dog,” as being one of the world’s oldest types of dogs.

A snippet from the show describes these dogs perfectly: they’re “designed by Darwin.” They are mostly a product of natural selection, not man-made tinkering for looks.

So anyway: Ginger.

On our first ICUC visit, we learned that Sonya and her team had just taken in a litter of ten Desi dog puppies, along with their mother, who had been rescued from a New Delhi intersection.

We decided to play with the pups a bit.

Then this happened.

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Frankly, all the puppies were cute, but this little light brown one – with a white stripe down the middle of her face – struck me as especially lovable. And she was comfortable with people, which I liked, while some of her litter-mates were a bit more skittish.

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We continued visiting the center once or twice a month, often checking in on the litter and spending time playing with some of the dozen or so older dogs living there, which range in age from nearly a year to several years old.

Then around October, one day we showed up to discover that five of the ten puppies…had been adopted!

I rushed into the room where they were being held and found, to my relief, that the cute little yellow puppy was still there.

So that was it: We decided to officially adopt her, signing the papers on November 4.

And as I mentioned, we’ve named her Ginger.

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The big day.

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In the car on the way home.

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The first couple of weeks, despite our better judgement, we let her sleep in our bed because it was the only way we could get her to stop whining. Total bed hog. She no longer sleeps in the bed with us.

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“Please play with me!”

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An early visit to the vet

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With a favorite toy

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Sleeping on Anasuya

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One of her favorite perches, where she can keep an eye on the gate and police any potential intruders – when she’s not napping, that is.

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In the sun.

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She weighed about five kilograms – or 11 pounds – when we first adopted here and now, at about eight months, she weighs 16 kg (35 pounds). I think she’ll continue growing a bit more. She seeks out pats a little less now, but still enjoys sitting in our laps from time to time, as you can see above.

Now that she’s getting closer to the one-year mark, we’re also getting a better sense of her grown-up characteristics.

She is a very smart and alert dog, keen to interact with humans and play with toys and fetch balls. She’s also quite athletic and agile.

And she is a great watch dog: She’s plenty defensive of us and our house, but she doesn’t bark an unreasonable amount.

Ginger’s likes include:

  1. Eating bugs
  2. Running in circles in the yard
  3. Playing with other dogs
  4. Biting her leash, turning walks into tug-of-war matches
  5. Policing the kitchen for dropped scraps
  6. Napping

Among her dislikes:

  1. Cats
  2. Tennis racquet-shaped flyswatters
  3. People ringing our doorbell

We love her so much already.

Ashley, 2008-2017

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This is a post I hoped I would never have to write.

Long-time readers will remember Ashley, our beloved Bangkok street dog, whom we adopted in 2009.

About two weeks ago, on March 7, Ashley died after a brief illness.

Above is a photo from the day we adopted her from an organization that rescued “soi dogs,” as they’re called, in Bangkok.

It’s one of our favorite images of Ashley, since it was such a happy day for us — and because we joke that Ashley looks like she’s laughing in the photo, having tricked her way into a “forever home” as a year-old dog at a time when other owners were snapping up much younger, often cuter puppies from the organzation that saved her.

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Here’s a recent pic of her, from before she got sick.

A and I are still trying to process the news and live with the reality of coming home to an empty house, no longer taking walks with her, and living without her constant companionship on the couch, in the den, in the kitchen and nearly everywhere in between.

She was by our side in Bangkok for five years, then with us in Singapore for two and a half years, and then here in Delhi with us since we moved here last summer.

We adopted her when she was about a year old, and she would have turned nine this August.

(You can read about her history in this post and this one, and here’s one I wrote on the fifth anniversary of adopting her.)

Ashley was no longer a puppy, of course, and she had started to slow down ever so slightly in recent months. While she had some health issues before we adopted her, she was a pretty robust dog, and we expected to have much more time with her. And that’s part of what makes saying goodbye so difficult.

She loved our house here in New Delhi, with our small yard and its many sights and sounds: birds to eye, squirrels to chase, fellow street dogs to romp with, cats to pester.

Ash developed a cough a month or so back, and a subsequent ultrasound revealed a large mass in her abdomen that we later learned was cancerous.

She underwent surgery not long afterwards, and the mass was removed, but she never rebounded fully, and she succumbed to multi-organ failure just a few days later. Fortunately we were with her during her final days and hours, patting her head, stroking her back, and just keeping her company.

She was so weak in her final days that she had to be carried everywhere, yet her puppy-like enthusiasm remained; just an hour before she died, even though she could barely sit up on her own, I took her leash down from a coat rack near the door and she wagged her tail vigorously, looking up at me with her big black eyes.

When she passed away, we had her cremated here in Delhi, and the very sympathetic workers at the facility gave us her ashes in a lovely urn. Now it sits, with her collar and a painting of her A gave me as a gift years ago, on our mantle. (See the photo at the bottom of this post.)

Rather than dwell on her sickness — really just a week or two of the nearly nine years she lived — we have been trying to focus on all the fun we had with her.

Here, to have them all in one place, are a bunch of my favorite photos of her. I’ve posted some of these before, but others are new.

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As a puppy, before we adopted her

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She was in really rough shape

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But was soon…

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…On her way to health

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How she looked when we adopted her

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On the way home, day one

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Taking a nap at home in Bangkok, not long after we adopted her

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A happy, high energy pup

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A favorite past time: hanging out on the balcony.

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At the beach in Thailand

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One funny thing: she liked the beach but hated getting near any kind of water

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Sand on the nose

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At home in Singapore

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On one of many long walks we took in the city-state

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On the couch and in my face, likely because I was eating a snack

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On a jaunt in Singapore

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At Singapore’s Bishan Park

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Looking quizzical

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“Can I please have some of that lamb you’re cooking?”

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If her morning walk was ever delayed, you might open your eyes to see this, with her unruly ear fur — tendrils, we called them — blowing in the air conditioning

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At home in Singapore

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On our balcony here in New Delhi

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On the bed

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After her surgery, wearing a T-shirt to protect the stitches

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RIP, Ashley

I really, really loved that little ball of fur.

Here’s a Completely Gratuitous Photo of Our Dog Ashley

File under: Just because.

Here’s a recent photo, supplied by our friend P, of our beloved adopted street dog, Ashley, previously discussed here and here.

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Ashley turns five in August, so she’s technically a middle-aged pooch. But, as you may be able to tell in this image, she still has a youthful face and many puppy-like traits.

Normal programming will resume shortly.

Second anniversary with Ashley, our adopted Bangkok street dog

File under: The adopted soi dog chronicles…

I am late in noting this, but August 15 was the second anniversary of our adoption of Ashley, our rescued street dog.

As I mentioned in my post last year providing the back story, we got her from the fine folks at SCAD Bangkok.

SCAD stands for Soi Cats and Dogs. (Soi is the Thai word for a small street.) The group takes in sick street animals and encourages adoption, fostering, spaying-neutering, and more.

The original post has all the details, but here, again, is what Ashley looked like as a puppy when SCAD rescued her.

You can see that she underwent a surgery for a stomach injury:

Ashley 01 PF

And:

Ashley 02 PF

Here’s how she appeared when we took her home with us. She had been living at SCAD for about a year at this point:

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The big day:

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I think the before and after photos tell you everything you need to know about the exceptional work SCAD does.

Okay. Ashley updates for the past year:

Her likes continue to be:

  • hanging out on the patio
  • sleeping under the coffee table
  • going for walks
  • chasing birds and geckos
  • gnawing on bones and various chew toys

Dislikes, as ever, are:

  • strangers knocking on the door
  • loud noises
  • thunder
  • the guitar
  • swimming

Ashley can be a bit skittish when she encounters aggressive dogs or people she’s never met. But when there’s a knock at the door, she responds with a ferocity that belies her somewhat delicate, 12-kilo (26 pound) frame.

Here we are at the beach:

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And:

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And here she is relaxing at home.

(She sometimes has a pensive look on her face, though I’m certain I’m projecting what I imagine to be thoughts or emotions about her human companions. I truly believe her only concerns — as they are for all dogs — are food and reliable shelter. But then again, what is loyalty anyway?)

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A favorite pastime: longing to lunge at the pigeons through the screen on the balcony:

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Caught on the couch! Not only that, but she was resting her head on a silk pillow! That is just not right…

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Hmm. Doe eyes. Ears down.

Where have I seen that expression before? Oh yeah, when she was a puppy:

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And finally, an interesting tidbit we discovered — through the SCAD Facebook page, if memory serves.

One of Ashley’s litter mates, Amber, was adopted by a family in Canada around the time, or just before, we took Ashley in.

Here’s Amber. Despite the differences in color, I think you’ll see some similarities between Amber and Ashley:

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Here’s to another great year. And again, here’s a link to the SCAD site. There are, as always, adoptable dogs and cats available…

One year ago today: The story of adopting our Bangkok street dog

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One year ago today, we adopted Ashley, a rescued street dog. Just a puppy, she was found in poor condition indeed. But she was rehabilitated by the fine folks at SCAD Bangkok. SCAD stands for Soi Cats and Dogs — soi being the Thai name for alley or small street.

There are many thousands of “soi dogs,” as they’re known, in the Thai capital and throughout Thailand.

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We were told that Ashley had been abused when she was young, and that she was found living with her litter mates in a box outside of a wood dyeing factory. Their mother was nowhere to be found. Someone had kicked Ashley, apparently, and so SCAD arranged to have life-saving surgery performed.

When SCAD took her in, she appeared to be suffering pretty badly:

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The organization did a great job of fixing her up, and here’s how she looked when we got her last August, when she was roughly a year old.

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Here we are in the taxi coming home:

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She was a bit dubious at first…

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But once we got home, she settled in quickly.

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These days, she has very few puppy-like traits left. She was well socialized with other dogs when we got her, having spent her time time at the center with dozens of other canines. And she was fine with people — not aggressive, and not overly skittish. Generally, her mood is calm. She’s not overly active or insistent on human company. She is, however, extremely playful, both with people and other mutts.

Her likes include:

Hanging out on the balcony…

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And hanging out some more…

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Taking naps…

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Smiling for the camera…

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Acting daintily — even crossing her legs:

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She also enjoys the the beach, though she likes chasing birds (especially chickens) more than taking dips in the water…

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And she also loves her rubber chicken chew toy (though since this photo was taken, only a foot remains):

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…and, finally, here she is with a favorite treat — a mangosteen:

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Dislikes include swimming (and water of all kinds), loud noises, the guitar, cats, vegetables, and strangers knocking at the door.

Here’s to another great year. And hey, if you’ve been thinking of adopting a pooch, there are several available here on the SCAD Web site.

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