So...where were we?
Well we have met Kalu in our first edition.
Here are some members of his family whom we have loved over the years.
This litter was a very outgoing and social pack. Kalu had a few litters we knew of over the years and these were the only ones who were not too timid to befriend.
Before we go on, let me tell you a little about where they live.
Kalu lived out the front of a long row of shops. Mostly motorbike hire shops, chai shops, a clothing shop and of course, our old silver school.
The road in front is a dusty, busy part of town with buses, camels, cows, motorbikes, rickshaws and taxis constantly going up and down it! Luckily, behind the row of shops is a large, closed compound. It's a bit like a giant sandpit for the dogs and wonderfully safe. The only downfall is the difficulty for them to find food...especially when the town's tourist season comes to an end.
In India, much less now, but back when we first started going in 2001, generally most Indians were not such huge dog fans. You would see them being shooed away, sometimes beaten or having rocks thrown at them, and not many people would give food to street animals. ( apart from the cows of course! )
Now, you must understand, India is a poor country so food is not taken for granted, and it is also a country that still has a rabies problem, so both these factors make it easier to understand the general attitude and fear of street dogs amongst the people and children of India.
The presence of the shops in front of the compound meant that we were not the only travellers to know and love this pack and between Tony and I and one very lovely Italian man who spoke no English, we tried to ensure these dogs always were being looked out for. We would buy huge bags of dog food to leave for 6 months whilst tourist season was low, and we found some very kind Indian friends to give the food. This is no small feat as, as I have said, Pushkar is a pure vegetarian town and nobody wants to touch or smell animal meat products....so we are always eternally grateful for their help.
The compound used to have an old granny that lived in the tiny room on the grounds, however we never got to meet her, I think she had passed on years ago and nothing had been done with the land or the tiny room. The dogs were born in the compound, their mother having always stayed in there herself. She is a shy old girl and knows how to take care of herself. We see her catching birds and sneaking in and out of the compound being careful to avoid humans and any dangers!
Champa, otherwise known as smiles, was a very pretty and gorgeous girl.
Mischievous, naughty, bossy and dainty are my best words to describe her. She was loved by the Indian shopkeepers the most ( being a lucky black coloured dog ! ) and she was the most like her pops in her nature too . She would bicker and fight constantly with the other female dogs Guts and Dotty, establishing herself as the Alpha of the pack even though she was the smallest. Champa was a superb hole digger and we would come to the compounds on hot summer days to find intricate tunnel systems throughout the sand in the compound and find Champa down one of them hiding from the extreme desert heat.
Champa is a Magnolia flower in Hindi language.
Dotty was a little sweetheart!! Fluffy, cute, and very lovable!! She is actually a year older than the rest of the pack. She came from a litter the year before and ended up remaining in the compound and living with this pack. Champa would get quite jealous of Dotty and her pretty dotty coat! She would give her a hard time and play rough with her but they were true sisters and always together.
Guts was called Guts because, as I think you may have already guessed...she liked her food...and everybody else's food too! Guts was a speed eater...gobbling down her share of curd chapati and moving on to the next bowl - ain't nobody getting in her way! The biscuits would come out and be scattered across the sands and she was like a canine hoover mowing them all up! As you can imagine the rest of the pack didn't really get on so well with her and she was quite outcast, although she truly held her own and was highly independent. Guts was a crafty little fox, like her mum she knew how to hunt and find her own sources for food. She loved pats as much as the rest of them though and was a sweet and curious character!
Spike was a true gent! He was gentle in nature, always well behaved and very very soft to pat!! As you can see he was a beautiful brindle boy and was a true Rajasthani dog with his tribal colours and patterns! He was never grumpy and was a friend to all his brothers and sisters, he tolerated Guts the most too! Spike was the only singer of the group. If you talked to him in a high sing song voice he would sing along! He had a lovely voice and wasn't shy, he would howl along earnestly and with pride!
Fraggy is the biggest of the pack but definately the softest! I have literally caught him once jumping out of his skin at his own shadow in the sand! He is a peaceful giant with a soft, loving and loyal nature. He is passive and loves nothing more than love and pats...he will happily bypass a meal for just an hour of pats and cuddles! Fraggy is the last of the pack left in the compound, apart from their momma.
Every year when we have returned another has vanished. It is extremely hard to get any answers from the shopkeepers...everyone has a different story and it is extremely frustrating and heartbreaking. Tony and I pray for Frags everyday.