Let me introduce myself. My name is Moti, but you may call me a street dog, a stray, a pariah dog, a dirty, filthy animal, whatever you want.
It doesn’t matter to me, not anymore. Because in the end, whatever you call me, I will remain what I am―a street dog, a pariah to you all.
Want to have a peep into my daily life? Here’s my story for you.
My day begins every morning around six o’clock, when I am kicked and shooed away by the street sweepers. Sometimes stones are thrown at me or a stick poked into my bony body, reminding me that night is over and day beckons.
I shake myself and come out of my dreamy night and begin searching for something to eat. Usually, I manage to find some stale bread or roti, and if I’m lucky, a half eaten chicken or some mutton bones. But food never comes easily as I have to compete with many other neighbourhood dogs. Often, I get bitten and hurt in the process of grabbing a bite to eat… but that’s life, my friend, for us street dogs. We have to grab what we can before someone else takes it.
Not all days are bad. Some days, if I am lucky, I come across a kind and gentle family who feed me milk and biscuits. Some even pat me on the head and say loving words while I thank them with a wagging tail and a full belly. But there are days, too, when I am shouted at, yelled at, stones thrown at me, when I am abused and chased by kids and I have to run for my life and hide in dank and filthy drains, all for the sake of a piece of bread.
What amazes me is the amount of food people throw away, without a thought of feeding us. But I guess in the end it’s God’s way of providing us with food. Man’s anger or hatred towards us is something I have never been able to understand. While on the one hand, pedigree dogs―who are same as us―are given good food, water, milk, and so on, and are cared for, loved, hugged, and played with, and on the other, we are chased out of the street because the so called pedigree pets are on their way. What humans fail to see is that in the end we are all the same race, just different breeds.
The most difficult and tough times are in winter when we shiver and cuddle up against each other for warmth while our well-placed brothers and sisters wear coats and are inside warm rooms, fully sated and with a warm bed and blanket. Summers, too, are not easy times. We have to hunt for water, and often we are forced to drink from dirty drains outside hotels and restaurants. We have to take shelter from the heat and the rain under cars, and this sometimes leads to us being crushed under the very vehicle that gave us shelter.
All the while, our well-to-do friends are living in nice air-conditioned rooms, reclining in cool cars, or going for walks with nice shiny collars and leashes. If we try to come near to them, we are hit with sticks, kicked, and shooed away. It bewilders me. Are these people not so-called dog lovers? If they can shower so much love and affection on their upper-class pets, why not us? Why be mean to us? We are not asking to be taken into their homes, but can’t we just lie down and sleep outside their homes and be given one meal a day? Is that too much to ask? How can man be so harsh in differentiating between two creatures of the same species?
Who is there to take care of us when we fall sick or are too weak to walk and find food for ourselves? When we are too old and frail to move? No one. The harsh reality hits me: Me and my friends are all alone in this cruel, selfish world and we have to fend for ourselves or just lie and wait for a speeding car, truck, or bus to crush us and take away what little life there was in us.
But in the end, I must admit, my life on the street toughens me and makes me ready to face all hardships. It makes me a fighter and also someone who can share with my fellow beings. The joy of running carefree with my friends, tugging at them, playing with them, barking and chasing cars, and so on, makes my dull, monotonous life worth living.
I don’t mind being reborn as a dog in my next life, but I do ask that God be just a little bit partial to me and give me a better life. Can I have the taste of both lives, one outside on the streets and one inside where I am surrounded with warmth, love and happiness? Well it seems a dream for many of us, but you never know. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Lastly, I want to let you in on a secret. For me, the word PARIAH stands for :
P – Pretty and Perfect
A – Adorable
R – Reliable
I – Intelligent
A – Alert and Lovable
H – Humble
Pariah doesn’t have to be a derogatory term, it can be a compliment―just as pariah dogs don’t have to be your enemies. We can be your best friends, as dogs were ever meant to be to man. It is up to you.
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About the author
Bhavani Sundaram is an animal lover and activist from Himachal Pradesh in India.