Most afternoons, 45-year-old Tanamma is busy roasting dried gram and chopping vegetables to make into sambar for herself and her husband. What she doesn’t forget is to cook some extra rice — or ragi on some days — for Jimmy, the dog they’ve fed and taken care of for over ten years now.
Tanamma lives and works in the Venkatapura area in Koramangala 1st Block. The cluster of houses here is home to an unusual, inordinate number of street dogs. While some of them have been adopted from the CUPA shelter, some dogs were born in the neighbourhood and have been the community’s companions ever since.
Just entering the locality, on Venkatapura Main Road off Sarjapur Road, is enough to prove this isn’t your average neighbourhood, with just a handful of dogs. Here, every building has outside it a dog — or even two, as in the case of Krishna, who works at a metal fabrication shop in the neighbourhood. He feeds dogs Kencha and Ramu bread every day, and has done so for as long as he can remember. He cautions, however, that they are fiercely protective and wont to bark at outsiders. Of course, not everyone has taken kindly to the dogs. Naveena Kamath, an animal rights activist, visited the area six months ago because there had been complaints of the dogs being a menace. She points out that except in very rare cases, dogs rarely attack unprovoked. “They are usually curious, so they come up to sniff and identify the person. This itself can scare people,” she says. She works with a number of NGOs such as CUPA and Sarvodaya Sevabhavi Sanstha, and visits localities where there has been “man-dog conflict”, and tries to resolve the conflict appropriately.
But on the whole, the remarkable nature of the coexistence between humans and dogs here has garnered positive attention. “We wanted to capture this — that the people here are so animal-friendly and generous,” says Ramya Reddy, who photographed the residents of Venkatapura for the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (WRRC) 2012 Calendar. Through several moving images of Venkatapura, the calendar documents the relationship of the area’s residents with their animal companions.
Tanamma’s house has walls of cloth. Its pillars are wooden poles. She sells greens; her husband is a luggage porter. Their modest means don’t stop them from looking after Jimmy the best they can. In one corner, Jimmy has his own muddle of rugs to sleep on. Once in a while, he gets chicken, mutton, Tanamma says.
“Leftovers,” I guess.
“No, not leftovers. Made for him. What’s the use of keeping a dog if you only feed it leftovers?”
Residents of Venkatapura in Koramangala care for a number of dogs despite their modest means