Joy in Jaipur

My office has a small dog. His name is Joy (whenever people call him, it sounds like they’re yelling my name). He’s a puppy, and definitely adorable, but for the past few weeks–since he followed my NGO’s director around and she decided to take him in–he’s been irritating many at the office by roaming in the workspace, trying to eat shoes and garbage, and defecating everywhere.

Yesterday someone left the gate open, and Joy got outside. None of us saw exactly what happened, but a minute later he started barking shrilly and came running back bleeding with a bite taken out of his side. We cleaned up his wounds, and after he rolled around on the lawn for a while, a van came from an organization that cares for stray animals. They took him to give him some shots and he hasn’t been back.

The streets of Jaipur are a rough place to be a new dog indeed. If we had left Joy outside for an hour, he’d probably be devoured. But the streets of Jaipur are probably a rough place for any kind of dog.

The main thing to say about them is they are numerous: on pretty much any street, at any time, you can see at least a few. They almost blend into the background (the way squirrels do in America). They mostly seem to wander and stare at you cock-eyed if you’re holding food.  Like strays everywhere, they are brown and medium sized. To a foreigner, the one thing that really stands out is that none have been spayed or neutered.

One night a week or two ago I was walking home and came upon the biggest pack I’d ever seen–I counted 17 dogs, walking down the street together. And most nights, around 2 or 3 am, you can hear packs of them howling and fighting, for what seems like hours on end. One morning, cycling to work, I passed by a burlap sack on the side of my street, with a leg sticking out and what seemed to be a dead dog inside.

But, now, a small bright spot, to bring hope at the end of this grisly story: Joy is due to return to the office later this week. He’s apparently doing well, has gotten a rabies shot, and with any luck will soon be back to digging holes and knawing on empty bags of milk. Apparently in the heart of India there is a place for one small dog.

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