Communal pets

India is unusual in having two shared public “pets”.

Dogs are the ones that I’ve seen before in other countries, prowling every street and temple. These puppies with their sore-furred mum are in Pushkar.

Unusually, people feed them. The other day while waiting for a safari at a tiger reserve, I saw a woman feed a whole packet of sweet biscuits to a cute dog with lovely fur. Apparently the last chapati of a batch is reserved for a dog.

These are really friendly dogs. I’m a bit scared of dogs (I was bitten by one in Cambridge a while ago). A guide told me these peaceful ones that roam all Indian streets are nice because they, like many people here, are vegetarian…

The most famous communal Indian pet is of course the cow. Sacred in Hinduism, they really do just walk about by themselves, such as in the alleyways of Delhi.

And block the traffic – this van in Pushka had to wait 5 minutes to get these cows to move. 

This group are mooching on a major road by the station at Vadodara.

Some gangs cownap these free souls and smuggle them across the border to be slaughtered for meat.

In response, pro-cow vigilantes raid trucks at intersections, banging them to provoke any hidden cows to make a sound and sniffing to smell them out.

There’s talk of rounding up stray cows into sheds. Which would be sad to me, as they are a loving presence everywhere. 

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