METRO PLUS

Doggy days are here again

Amongst Intimidating two-legged creatures.

Amongst Intimidating two-legged creatures.  

ALMOST 220 dogs in the makeshift enclosure and more than 500 people at any given time, but nay a bark. That's training for you. But at rare moments, the training is forgotten, a riveting growl attracts your attention and all that handler-induced refinement is forgotten, as it becomes `just another dog' as the Maker intended.

The dog show held by the Cochin Kennel Club at the Marine Drive on Sunday last, saw families arriving in droves to have a dekko at the many breeds on show, surprising the organisers, who were awed by the sheer numbers. The dogs, on the other hand, were not very keen to meet so many in so short a time, in the heat. The owners had to wrap the dogs in wet towels to protect them from the extreme heat. Many of them who came from air-conditioned comfort just could not cope. The St Bernards at the show came from Coimbatore. (The St Bernards which were here at Kochi, earlier, were reportedly given away and are at Ooty, simply because climatic conditions were unfavourable to the animals.)

Doggy days are here again

Rottweilers, the breed with the rogue tag, banned in the UK, were hot favourites at the show. In India, people don't think so. Two of them came toppers in Judge May Lim's ring. " I have had 18 Rottweilers set loose in my house, along with my infant son, but they all had a good time. Not once did these dogs behave badly," says their owner, Nagaraj Shetty, from Bangalore. His bull mastiff, `the first to enter Indian soil', as he put it, was a star attraction. Sheer size dazzles. The Neapolitan mastiff, squatting on nearly 90 kgs of bulk, had onlookers wide eyed.

Scooby, the black beauty, an American poodle, had it all its own way. In the ring, it was playfulness incarnate. And ask Arjun, the huge German Shepherd what meat he likes best and he would probably look up at you as if it's Greek. For he's vegetarian, you know, like his owner, Rajaram, from Tirupur. Oh, he eats eggs, like some vegetarians. Otherwise, it's milk, bread and curd rice, with vitamin supplements of course, says Rajaram.

Doggy days are here again

Great Danes, like slim beauties, grow tall and slim, and come in fawn, black, brindled and blue, said Big Ben's owner Sabhi Mavari. One of them, like Arjun, was a vegetarian. Golden Retrievers Pharaoh and Shadow, Basset Hound Fancy Boy, who won a prize, Great Dane Pappi, Rottweilers aplenty, all had kids and adults wowing them. There was not much competition for the sole whippet, which was agile all the while, and the bull terrier.

"The problem is that once dog owners learn that a very good dog in the same breed is taking part in the show, they don't bring in their dog of the same breed if they feel they will not get the prize," explained Bijoy Varghese of the Cochin Kennel Club.

Doggy days are here again

One of the two judges, Dr. May Lim, from Singapore found the dogs `terrific'. Her `bests' were Rottweilers in the top two slots, a Labrador, Doberman, German Shepherd. But German Shepherds are her favourite breed, she said. The type of breed, temperament of the dog, its construction and above all, showmanship it displays go a long way towards judging the best, she said. Dr Lim found that in India, usually handlers showed the dogs while in other countries, the owners handled the animals themselves. "The handlers must wear good outfits also, because, after all it is a show. The Rottweiler here behaved so well and had great showmanship," she commented. Dr Lim usually never goes to the same country within the span of a year to judge shows, she said. "It isn't fair to the dogs, as the same dogs are shown by the owners and the others don't get a chance to win. It takes more than a year for a dog to change, so others get a chance," the veterinarian said.

Dr. Mathew. C. John, the other judge, plumped for a German Shepherd for the top slot, followed by a Doberman, a boxer, the whippet and the bull mastiff. "Health condition, breed characteristics and movement are top criterions while judging", he said.

Doggy days are here again

"Most of the man made breeds originated during the wars. The latest breed is the Doberman, finalised in the early fifties. Of the Indian breeds, Rajapalayam, Chippipara and a breed called Patty, yes, Patty (origin, Thirunelveli) are popular. The latest to gain acceptance is the Mudhel hounds of Karnataka", Dr John said.

WILL I QUALIFY? Judge Dr May Lim sizes the little fellow up.

WILL I QUALIFY? Judge Dr May Lim sizes the little fellow up.  

Doggy days are here again, with the onlookers hell bent on getting pets. Rates have down, with more and more breeders plunging headlong into the lucrative business, so much so that Rottweiler pups were there at the show for sale, for just Rs 10,000. Boxers are available for Rs 8,000 and spotty Dalmatians for as little as Rs 2,000. "Good German Shepherds may cost you only Rs 15,000 today", said a breeder from Thrissur.

Sponsored by Pedigree and Eucanuba, the response to the dog show showed how city folks have warmed up to animals in a life full of stress and strain.

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