Diwali, the very word conjures up images of multi-coloured rangolis, floral decorations, delectable mithai, gay lanterns swaying in the breeze, and vivid firecrackers lighting up the skies. It’s a time of joy, mirth and happiness. But have you ever given a thought to what happens to us dogs at this time of year? The humans get so busy that they forget us. Here are some of the suggestions I gathered from Kalu (the street dog), Thea (my German Shepherd neighbour) and Spock (my cousin, a handsome Indie) to help your doggies have a yappy Diwali!
1. As a Labrador, my love for food often has me begging for your delicious diwali food. But, my vet says that chocolate is harmful for us canines and I also need to stay away from the rich gravies, farsans, mithai and dry fruits so that I can keep my expanding waistline in check and because it can cause pancreatitis in dogs. So as much as we may beg for your human food, it may be wiser to feed us healthy doggy treats instead.
2. All of us doggies are very curious animals, which is why it is best to keep candles and diyas preferably on a high counter or table out of reach from our curious noses and our wagging tails.
3. The pretty lights and swaying lanterns may be attractive, but as dogs, we can only see the tempting wires peeking out. And Curious dogs like Thea, may get entangled in hanging wires or cords and hurt themselves. Remember to unplug all the
decorative lights when you are not at home. A bored dog
chewing a live wire can easily get electrocuted. Decorative ‘bubbling’ lights, filled with methylene chloride, can be mildly toxic to pets. If you absolutely must have them in your home make sure we doggies cannot get to them.
4. Spock has a great affinity for yummy food and would love to rummage through the garbage bin in search of chicken bones. But rotting foods, plastic bags or sharp objects can be dangerous, so can be bones, plastic wrap and tin foil flavoured with food. Many of our doggy friends have ingested these items and it has caused vomiting, diarrhoea and intestinal perforation in them. So avoid tempting us by ensuring your garbage can is out of our reach and is secured with a tight lid.
5. Firecrackers are the bane of all animals. We absolutely HATE loud noises! Some of us get stressed, others try to hide and some of us need medicines to help us calm down. As dogs, we cannot understand the need to celebrate a festival by disturbing others. My beagle friend once chewed on a firecracker and got poisoned by the gunpowder and had to be rushed to the vet. So please keep all fire crackers away from us.
6. When the crackers go off, my family sits with me and comfort me. Sometimes, she brings out a toy and we play games to help us forget about the loud noises. Many of us doggies find that comforting, but some of us prefer to be left alone at that time. Please allow us to do whatever we find comforting.
7. Also, whenever a cracker goes off, I get confused by the loud nose and I immediately look to my family to see how they react. If you get scared at this time, I will pick up on your subtle signals and perceive the situation to be a threatening one. So please stay calm at this time. My human is terrible at this and keeps flinching and muttering under her breath whenever a cracker goes off. I don’t think she is a great role model for me at Diwali time.
8. Many of our wild cousins would instinctively seek out confining spaces when frightened. If your dog chooses to hide from the noise, under a bed or behind a cupboard, for hours on end, let him. Don’t drag him out in an attempt to comfort him. Instead, draw the curtains, play soothing music or turn on the TV to help drown out the noise.
9. Not all dogs enjoy human company as much as I do, so please keep in mind that like reclusive Roxie in the neighbouring building, many of us get very upset with the constant onslaught of visitors. If you have a dog that is used to a quiet life and feels its territory is being invaded, it would be prudent to keep him in a secluded area of the house where he can be comfortable and not troubled by the visitors.
10. My human has made sure she got me a doggy tag this Diwali. She says that many of us run away from home because of the loud noises and a doggy tag can help my chances of coming back home. Have you got yours yet?
11. Kalu as a street dog particularly gets a raw deal. He spends many nights running in terror trying to escape from the sound, some of his brothers became victims of burns or car accidents and many of his doggy friends lost their lives during this Diwali season. He cannot understand the loud sounds and has no one to comfort him or keep him safe at that time. He makes a fervent plea for us humans to stop celebrating so selfishly. When will humans understand that their actions are harming other animals?
As doggies, we love humans and want them to be happy, but can you please keep our happiness in mind too this Diwali and celebrate it as the Festival of Lights not Sound?