We have a Dog!!

About a month ago, we went to the local Humane Society and adopted a dog.  Somehow, it was my idea.  I was really pushing Satya to go to the Humane Society and then once we were there, I decided that we’d like a closer look at this dog.  She was curled up at the back of her cage, but her information page said that she was 22 lbs and house trained.  Then, we took her for a little walk outside.  She walked nicely-not pulling the leash too badly and she shook paws with Satya!  Then, somehow I told the volunteer, “We’d like to fill out an application for her.”  After filling out an application and the Humane Society verifying that indeed yes our apartment complex does allow dogs (max. 2, must be under 50 lbs.) we walked out with Lego.  3 days later we returned to finalize her adoption and now she is ours.

Some things have been a pleasant surprise.  She is very well-behaved in the house-no shoes chewed yet or accidents (knock on wood).  She can sleep in her crate just fine.  One of my favorite parts of the day is in the evening when the 3 of us all go to the park together.  We play frisbee across the park and back with her and it is a lot of fun to see her jump up and catch the frisbee.  Other things aren’t so fun-I don’t like getting up at 6 am so she can toilet outside (better than her messing up the inside though).  We also discovered she has some separation anxiety.  At first, I couldn’t even leave her alone to take out the trash without her barking and whining.  Now, I can take out the trash and she will be quiet and calm, but I can’t leave her alone to check mail without the barking and whining.  We are going to try the advice in Patricia McConnell’s I’ll be Home Soon and if that doesn’t work we’ll call a local dog behaviorist.

I’ve never had a dog before. Growing up I had rabbits.  My grandfather grew up on a farm and thought that it was cruel to have a dog in the city, so he got my mom and aunt rabbits.  My dad agreed with my grandfather.  Dogs are much, much different from rabbits. Like a good ex-librarian, I’ve been trying to find out all I can from watching Cesar Millan’s  Dog Whisperer, to reading books like Tamar Geller’s 30 Days to a Well-Behaved Dog, to ordering Patricia McConnell’s books and pamphlets.  Some things we are doing right-Lego has to sit and wait to enter and exit the apartment, sit and wait for her food, etc.

Lego is a miniture Australian Shepherd.  At the Humane Society they warned us that her breed is very smart and very active.  Lego gets 2 walks a day-morning and evening for physical exercise.  For mental exercise, she has a purple treat dispenser, Busy Buddy’s Squirrel Dude (best toy ever!) and she goes to basic obedience class on Saturdays.  We also practice her obedience commands a bit throughout the day.

Why did we get Lego?  For me, it was for Satya.  He had a dog in India that he loved very, very much and he always talks about that dog.  Also, he is very stressed from work so I thought a dog would be a great way for him to relax and get some exercise after a long day in the office on the computer.  Originally, I’d wanted a labradoodle or barring that, a lazy couch potato dog like maybe a whippet.  Satya wanted a dog who “looks like a dog” which meant no toy dogs.

What have been the effects?  Well, Satya’s stress acne has gone down.  He says my skin as also improved and that my stomach has gotten smaller (I walk Lego by myself during the day and with Satya at night).  I think the two of us also feel more like a family now.  Lego does complicate things though-with her separation anxiety can’t do as much.  We either take her with us (one sitting outside with Lego while the other one grocery shops), or we take her to doggy day care.  Satya’s sister loves to see the dog on Skype which is sometimes sweet and sometimes annoying-like when the dog is asleep and she wants to see Lego play.

Differences between us having a dog now and Satya’s dog in India:

  • Here we have commercial dog food, in India Satya’s mom cooked the dog’s food which was the same vegetarian Lingayat food the family ate.  The dog’s mom brought him bones to chew herself.
  • In India, the dog would be let out to run around by himself during the day.  He was trusted to return on his own. Here, Lego is never off the leash unless we are in the apartment.  We have a long 16 ft. leash for her frisbee games in the park.
  • In India, the vet made house calls here we drive to the vet
  • In the U.S. lots of commercial dog toys vs. homemade ones in India
  • Dog trainers and obedience classes in the U.S. are plentiful in India in the ’90s there weren’t any in his city
  • A lot easier to get vaccines here.  In India in the ’90s Satya had to special order his dog’s rabies vaccine from Switzerland.

 

Has anyone traveled with a dog to India?  Online I’ve read that Europe is very dog friendly and that it is not a big deal to bring your American dog along for a trip.

A very happy looking Lego!

How is it for India?  We plan on going to India again in the spring for 3-4 weeks.

The trip, Part 1

Where to begin…….First off overall the trip went really well.  I made some minor faux pas, but did not permanently wreck anything.  The trip was definitely easier on me than on Satya.  I think he just had too much to worry about and feel-returning home after nearly 10 years and worrying about whether I was having a great time and realizing how much India has changed. 

We left from NY and were nervous about missing the plane which made for tense train rides.  Once we got to the airport we relaxed.  Flew to Germany.  First plane was very nice-very cushy and modern. We landed in Germany late at night for our 8 hour layover.  Discovering that  water was $8/bottle was not fun.  The Frankfort airport was not very clean and we never did discover where the showers were.  Got on to the plane and discovered this one didn’t have all the amenities of the first plane-no personal video screen and stuff like that.  We also made another mistake-we ordered the “special meal”.  We felt pretty special to receive our food first, but then discovered that we somehow got on the vegan meal list instead of the regular vegetarian one.  We noticed others had some very tasty meals beside us. 

Landed in Bangalore.  The new Bangalore airport is very nice and extremely modern and clean.  Some people complain that it doesn’t reflect India at all, which could be true.  The bathroom was very clean-when one person leaves the stall the attendant briefly cleans the stall before you enter.  We were funneled through a place where a guy was sitting near a camera.  I guess the camera was a thermal one aimed at people’s foreheads to see if they were feverish.  Did not see anybody get stopped. 

We found Satya’s dad and cousin and the taxi and drove off.  It was about 3 am Bangalore time.  Then we entered the hotel Satya’s dad picked.  Satya’s dad calls it an “old-timer’s no-star hotel”.  What does that mean?  There was a toilet, but no shower just buckets.  No towels.  Flimsy sheets.  Hotel workers were sleeping in the hallways.  The hotel had a convenient location-right beside the bus stand where we’d catch the bus going north later that night.  Unfortunately, the hotel was insanely loud. The hotel was located at a corner and right below our window was the roof of a Ganesha temple.  Even at 4 and 5 am it was loud and at 6 am rush hour seemed to start up.  I don’t think either of us slept. 

Around 8 am we decided to give up sleeping.  We met Satya’s dad and cousin and then walked a few blocks to have idlis, rasam and tea for breakfast at a small restaurant.  Then we did more walking around Bangalore.  Bangalore seemed extremely noisy and busy but not in a very antagonistic way.  It seemed gentler than New York City, for example.  Satya noticed a lot of changes.  10 years ago there were more trees, less cars, less people.

We went to the government store.  The building seemed to sell almost everything from shoes to wooden statues to sports equipment.  We didn’t buy anything though.  Next was the Sapna Bookstore.  This had multiple floors and many books, dvds, and cds.  Next were the government buildings.  We took the rickshaw which was an adventure.  Rickshaws in Bangalore are definitely not for the faint of heart!  Only use rickshaws on short trips…….at the end of the trip we were in a rickshaw from one end of Bangalore to the other.  That experience will not be repeated! 

As others have said, horns are used for everything-when turning, when at an intersection, etc.  Later on in the trip we kept seeing big orange dump trucks filled with manganese.  On the back, the trucks said something like “Honk please”.  Horns seem to be crucial for safe driving. 

After looking at the outside of the government buildings and going to the park, we met up with another cousin and his family.  He had rented a minivan.  Minivan is a much more comfortable way of traveling than rickshaw!  We went to lunch inside a hotel.  One cultural difference was soon apparent-kids can run everywhere in India!  His cousin had a daughter who was about 3 but she would go to other tables and talk to other families and then go to the entrance of the hotel. When she strayed too far, she’d be called or brought back, but she was never forced to stay put or told “Don’t talk to strangers”. 

After doing some shopping and stopping at their house it was time to rush back to the hotel to catch the bus.  We just barely caught the bus.

Bus travel is not for the faint of heart either.  We did not travel on the new, fancy buses, but on the older ones-not too clean, no ac, no bathroom onboard (although that was probably a good thing).  After just managing to catch the bus, we settled in.  The trip would take about 10 hours and there would only be one bathroom stop.  The bathroom stop was at a small roadside restaurant (Indian equilvalent of a diner maybe).  Sleep did not come easy on the bus either.  The road was extremely bumpy (Satya explained that it was because in some places the road gets wiped out each year because of the monsoons), very noisy because of the horns, and there was lots of construction.

I’ll leave off here for now…..

Preparing to Travel to India: How To?

It looks like our trip to India may finally happen at the end of this year.  People have been telling me I need to prepare, but I don’t quite know how.  On the bright side, Satya’s parents will be living with us for another two months this summer so that will help some. 

 

For all those non-Indians out there, how did you prepare?  One piece of advice I heard was to travel to the Southern U.S. states to get a taste of how the bug situation will be.  (The furthest south I’ve lived is Virginia so I haven’t really seen giant bugs).  I’ve also heard that watching travel dvds and reading books is useful.   I have read some of the typical classics already Malgudi Days, Maximum City, etc. 

 

How well did your preparations prepare you for the reality? 

 

What shots did you get?  I heard there is a new anti-diarrhea one which seems practical.  I hate shots, but there doesn’t seem to be another option. 

 

For all of you Indians, what do you think foreigners need to know about India before they arrive?  How do you recommend they prepare? 

 

I think for this first trip we are going to stay around Karnataka, especially Northern Karnataka which is Satya’s home turf.  We are planning to see sites like Hampi, Gokarna, etc.  I’ve always wanted to see Kerala too for some reason.  Satya also has an idea of seeing the Himalayas-maybe Darjeeling or Shimla and maybe even the country of Bhutan.  We shall see……my honeymoon ideal is more of the kind of a houseboat in Kerala while his is the frozen Himalayas. 

 

Also, his place doesn’t seem to fit the stereotypes of India.  He isn’t from a huge, sprawling metropolis and he isn’t from a poor, isolated village.  Are there any books that focus on more mundane India?