ENTERPRISE P.S. Kumar and P.S. Ravi run a kennel that specialises in breeding native dogs. Elizabeth Paulose spends a day with the animals

It is a sprawling 40-acre farm ripe with coconut trees. We pass two hefty kangeyam bulls chewing on hay. Soon we hear a din that increases in volume as we pull into the driveway. There are dogs everywhere. We are at Conserve Kennel that specialises in breeding dogs that are native to India. The Kennel was started three years ago by brothers P.S Kumar and P.S. Ravi to popularise Indian breeds with dog lovers.

“We felt that nobody was aware of the existence of these dogs. So much was being said and done about foreign breeds but not our own breeds,” says Kumar. They started off with the famed Rajapalayam breed. A white coat, pink nose, a robust, muscular physique, albino eyes, thin long legs and a tail that curls up in the end are a few of its traits. “It took us a year to procure the right one. We were cheated repeatedly. Get out of a bus at Rajapalyam, and traders swarm you with offers of ‘original Rajapalayam dogs',” says Ravi. It is difficult to procure a pure breed. Kumar says this breed is equivalent to the ferocious Rottweiler.

Going native

Now, they have over 20 different dogs native to India, such as Rajapalayam, Chippiparai, Kanni, Rampur hound, Mudhol Hound and Pashmi Hound. Their next aim is to procure the Alangu Mastiff and the Kombai. Both are known to be extremely ferocious. But Kumar and Ravi haven't seen a pure breed till date. “We have come across a dog that is close to the Kombai, but it's not the pure one. For the first six months, it is impossible to tell if these puppies are of a particular breed. It is only by the time they grow up, that one can be sure,” says Kumar.

The native dogs are sturdy and for the most part self-reliant. “They require minimum maintenance and fewer trips to the veterinarian,” explains Ravi. We see the 30-day-old pups, nine of them, that belong to Jimmy, a friendly and agile Mudhol Hound. They are fed on elaneer, apart from mother's milk, Ravi tells us.

Ask Kumar if these dogs can be maintained in an urban household and he says, “Of course. All they need is a bit of space to move around. If procured as pups, they make loyal and caring pets.” Unlike the foreign breeds that breed twice a year, the native ones breed only once in nine months and sometimes not even that. “One of the biggest reasons for the dogs being endangered is in-breeding. Just like in the case of humans, this has caused genetic problems in a lot of these dogs. This is why a lot of Rajapalayam dogs have eye-sight and hearing problems”, says Ravi.

The most sought after breed for them is the Rampur hound. Originally from the North Indian region of Rampur, these dogs are famed for their impressive speed. “One of our dogs could run along with a bike at a speed of 90 km/hr for the first five kms,” says Kumar.

Most of their dogs are Champions, coming back with trophies from dog shows. “We only wish that we had more competition. In most dog shows, only five to 10 per cent of the dogs belong to Indian breeds. We hope that will change.”

Picture perfect

We round off our trip to the Kennel with a photo session. It is definitely not a walk-in-the-park. Bose, the very non co-operative Rajapalayam flinches each time a photograph is clicked. Some agree to come to the party only for the food. But Mandy, a white Pashmi Hound, on the other hand, is a photographer's dream. She is the Marilyn Monroe of the gang!

Conserve Kennel is at Palathurai (via Madukkarai). For details, call: 98434-44500/ 98439-93325.