By Aishwarya Nair Rawat*

My husband and I love animals, especially dogs, since we both have grown up around dogs throughout our childhood. We had always wanted to keep a pet but since both of us were working full time, we thought against it as having a pet is also a full time responsibility and job in itself.  

Three years ago, I was randomly scrolling through Facebook and came across a Hyderabad pet adoption page. There I saw a little three month old puppy’s photo who was peeking out of a blue bucket and who was being put up for adoption along with his siblings.  As soon as I looked at his photo, I just knew that he is the one for us! The timing just felt right too, as my husband started recently working from home and we were in a better position to keep a pet. I immediately contacted the girl who was fostering him. She was a volunteer from a pet rescue and rehab organization named Deven’s Hope Society. I was impressed by their vetting process as the girl interviewed us and made sure that we understood the responsibility of keeping a pet. She even planned for a follow-up visit to see how the puppy was coping with us.

 It was a mixed bag of emotions for us; we were both excited and nervous as we had now signed up for a huge responsibility. Little did we know that this puppy was going to become such an integral part of our lives! I had always heard and read about people adopting rescued dogs and cats but we had never consciously planned to adopt an Indie. I feel the stars were aligned for him to be in our lives.

 We had a list of names that we had chosen for him but when my husband suggested Oreo (as he is black and white); we instinctively knew that that was the name for him.

 Oreo is now a three and half year old, intelligent, smart, and friendly dog. He has a unique look with his right ear up and left ear down, which makes him look cute and handsome at the same time. He is a total goofball too when he wants to be – that leaves us in splits.

Oreo is very good around small children as he is very gentle and careful while playing with them and this makes him super popular with all the kids in our colony and in fact we are referred to as Oreo’s parents by them. His favourite treats are a cup of vanilla ice cream and his doggie biscuits. He is very serious about nap time and will find a sunny spot wherever he is to take his afternoon naps undisturbed!

 Oreo has proven to be very good with learning commands and understands a large vocabulary of words (mostly English and a few Hindi too). I feel being an Indie gives him an edge as it could be the mix of varied dog genes in him that makes him so adaptive. He constantly astounds us with his observation and learning acumen, for example, he figured out on his own how to pull open the spring hinged door from his side to get into the house from balcony. 

He also has a very high EQ (emotional quotient), which makes him very perceptive of human emotions; he knows when to pacify us when we are feeling low. He is also an excellent guard dog and is highly protective of us.

 Oreo’s most favourite thing to do is to run wild and free, and as we live in an apartment complex, we try and make sure to take him out to places like a nearby lake area where he can run off-leash to his heart’s content. 

I cannot write this article without mentioning Oreo’s best friend Titli. She is another rescued Indie dog who lives in our colony. The friendship and love they share is so heart-warming and special that it is the talk of the town! Oreo loves having regular play dates with her and we make sure to celebrate his birthdays with Titli. 

Since we love travelling by car, we made sure that we took Oreo around for short trips to get him accustomed to it as a puppy. And now, he loves car journeys and is quite a seasoned traveller, having already travelled to five states with us by road. Just hearing the word ‘car’ gets him all excited, happy and raring to go.

 I feel Oreo’s personality is an extension of mine because I also love travelling and exploring new places. We had recently made a memorable car trip from Hyderabad to my husband’s hometown Bhopal. This was an ambitious trip as it took us two days by road and we had to break journey at Nagpur. We did a lot of research and found a pet friendly resort near the highway. Oreo had a separate bag with all his paraphernalia like food bowls, food packets, chewies etc. We spent a night at the resort and since there were no other guests, Oreo had a free run of their property and enjoyed exploring the area. He also made a quick trip to their kitchens to check out what was cooking. The staff was understanding and enjoyed having him around. The next day we left for Bhopal where Oreo met our three year old twin nephews, after which the three were inseparable. Our trip to my husband’s ancestral village was fun too and felt right out of a Suraj Barjatiya’s movie, where the whole family including Oreo rode a caravan to the village. It was fun watching Oreo’s reactions to the village animals like cows, buffaloes, etc. He had a ball running around the open fields, while the locals were amused that we had brought our pet dog from over a thousand kms away.

 The lockdown was a roller coaster of emotions for us humans but I feel for pets like Oreo this was the best phase of their lives; Oreo got to spend maximum time with us as we both worked from home. He loved off-the-leash walks in our colony (since no humans were allowed to be outside) that he would take with us.

 We are lucky that we live in a pet friendly colony but we still face people who either are scared or just don’t like dogs. It is disheartening to hear some of the rules that some residential colonies come up with nowadays, like not allowing pets in lifts etc. We, as pet owners, too have to be more responsible and mindful on how we train our pets because one pet owner’s negligence can prove to be costly for all.

 People are generally a bit hesitant to adopt Desi or Indie dogs as they think they are unpredictable and ferocious. After interacting and meeting Oreo, people in our colony have actually been inspired to adopt Indie dogs instead of going for the regular pedigree breeds. Lack of awareness is a huge problem and I am glad and thankful that I got this opportunity to spread the word and talk about our Indie babies!

 *Author is an animal loving person and a proud dog mom to Oreo. She lives in Hyderabad with her husband Anoop Rawat.