The essence of Kukur Tihar
On the occasion of Kukur Tihar let’s take a moment to reflect on how we treat man’s best friend, DOGS! We celebrate this festival with great vigour. It is a moment where we follow tradition by worshipping the dogs we own or see on the streets. The hustle and bustle to catch a dog, feed it and worship it, is all around for us to witness!
I feel so proud to be part of a society where we revere all life, yet it saddens me to see the rampant suffering of dogs despite living in a society that worships them. It saddens me to see people abandoning, abusing and neglecting pets (or any other animal for that matter).
Is Kukur Tihar the only day when we show our care for dogs while the rest of the year we treat them indifferently, inflict pain and suffering on them?
The trend of keeping exotic breeds as pets is growing at a rapid pace in Nepal, particularly in Kathmandu. I see an array of beautiful German Shepherds, Labradors, Boxers, Spaniels, Huskies, in the mushrooming pet shops, locked in small cages all day long, looking miserable and lifeless. I have come across breeders who are endlessly flooding the market with puppies. I wonder if they are responsible breeders, how many times a year they breed their females? Why do they sell puppies that are less than eight weeks old? Who is monitoring this industry? Does the Government even know what is going on in the breeding industry?
With our team at Animal Nepal we have decided to research the actual situation, work with the breeders and request the Government to come up with breeding and pet shop standards and an efficient monitoring system. Creating responsible breeders and cruelty free pet shops is our intention.
I also wonder and worry how many of these puppies, separated from their mothers at a few weeks old, will manage to find good homes with loving responsible owners. Have the people buying these puppies done their research about those breeds? Have they made adequate preparations to welcome their new family member home? Are they prepared to love their pet like their own family member, spend time with them, take them out for walks, provide them with the right food, medical care, shelter and most importantly rarely cage or tie their dogs? Can you fully accept their unconditional love?
We are seeing an increasing number of pet dogs being abandoned on the streets. Is this because we find a cute puppy and take it home, without considering the aforementioned factors?
Please do your research and be a responsible owner. Consider the fact that dogs are expensive to keep; one has to carefully reflect on one’s circumstances before bringing a puppy or a dog home.
I feel very happy when I see some dogs being walked, looking healthy and loved. A well cared for and loved dog has that air of confidence around them which is such a pleasure to see. It is heartwarming to see a growing number of people who love their dogs and treat them like family. They cry when they lose their pets, take them to the vets when they are sick and fuss over them like they would over their own children. But there are many who buy pure breeds simply as status symbols. It is this group of people that I am appealing to, through this article.
I appeal to you to take a moment to open your eyes and ears to the distressed barking of your dog or puppy locked away in a cage or tied in your front or backyard. How can you bear the continuous barking? How do your neighbours bear it? What pleasure do you get by looking at a caged or tied dog? Don’t you feel their pain?
Dogs are sentient beings. They have feelings too, they feel pain, they respond to your moods, they seek your love and attention and they crave your TOUCH. How can you, as a respectable human being, inflict so much pain and suffering on your pet?
I appeal to you to take a pledge this Kukur Tihar, to not just worship your pet on this day but do the right thing for them all year round. Unchain and uncage your dogs, learn to interact with them, take them for walks, understand their feelings, learn from the Internet, there is so much information out there.
Please educate yourself and others; there is no excuse not to change!
Not just animal lovers but the entire society needs to speak up for the welfare of animals. If you see a dog suffering in your neighbourhood please speak up. If they don’t listen, contact animal welfare organisations who will visit them and if necessary, rescue the dog. Help build a society that is kind to all animals.
We Nepalis are very open to change and listening to others about a myriad of issues; we are always willing to change for the better and evolve as a society. It is for this reason that I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I live in hope that people will understand, change and imbibe compassion as one of their greatest virtues!
Let’s keep Tihar alive all year long for the sake of the animals it represents!
(The author is the President of Animal Nepal. She can be reached at email@example.com)