Lallo Popo Parsi Pooch!

It is quite commonplace, in keeping with our culture which overflows with an affinity for dogs and pets, to see most of our pooches spoilt silly with all our ‘laar gela’. Let’s face it – our pooches are given way more leniency than our own family members, sometimes! Leading Canine Behaviourist and one of PT’s most popular columnists, Shirin Merchant, delights us all with ‘Lallo Popo Parsi Pooch’!

“My little Winston has stopped eating!” Mrs. Soonawalla wailed at me over the phone. “I’ve tried to feed him everything and even by hand, but he just doesn’t eat his food! He will die of starvation!”

Fussy eating in dogs is a common problem and one that can be easily sorted out, I told her, as I scheduled to meet with her the next day. Winston, the Labrador, waddled in for the consult the next day. One look at him told me he had enough fat to last through 3 famines! Winston was earlier on a diet that would make a Cordon Bleu chef jealous – scrambled eggs with cheese for breakfast; Batasa (warm, not cold) and toast with butter, as the late morning snack; chicken, rice, offal and aleti paleti for lunch, rose falooda and Shrewsbury biscuits for evening tea, then Winston ate some saria at drink’s time with scotch broth soup (so that he doesn’t feel left out) and dinner included lamb, fried eggs, bread and milk.

This was till the vet stepped in and cut the diet down drastically and threw in lots of vegetables for good measure, which Winston, being a true blue Bawa dog refused to touch! I sent her home with a few tips on how to get Winston to eat his vegetables and told her to call me in a week.

Parsi pooches get their fair share of pampering, and any dog that lives in a Bawa home soon learns the fun of all our customs and rituals. Our dog, Maya, always gets a teeli on her forehead and a toran around her neck on any birthday at home. And most Parsi dogs are very present during jasans at home, even if their role mostly involves sneaking off with the food when the Dasturji isn’t looking!

And whilst, I confess that I may not remember all my Navjote prayers, I do vividly remember our Doberman ‘Sambo’, was given the best whiskey in the house to celebrate! And as the night wore on, Sambo was shaking a leg with Bawas in daglis and Bawis in garas as Ra-Ra- Rasputin blared from the speakers!

But it’s not all food and raucous fun for dogs in a Bawa home, there is a strong dose of culture too. Any Bawa dog knows how to differentiate between Chopin and 2 Pac Shakur! And the difference in a mawa cake made at Kyani’s and one made at a local bakery. But sometimes, I feel we take our pampering a bit too far, as was in the case of the Batliwalas who came to meet me with their German shepherd.

“Rex is giving me a hard time in bed,” complained Mr. Batliwala dryly.

Unsure of where this was heading, I hesitatingly asked him to clarify what he meant.

“When I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom,” he began. “I return to find the dog sleeping on my bed. When I ask him to get off, he growls at me.”

It seemed the man got no sympathy from a smirking Mrs. Batliwala, who encouraged the dog’s behaviour and insisted that the dog had an equal right to the bed.

“Why should my dikro Rexu sleep on the floor?” she questioned, straightening her mathu banu.

“But it’s my bed!” the man asserted angrily, his male Parsi pride smarting. But, as any Parsi man knows, even Donald Trump would shrink away from arguing with a Parsi woman… there was nothing I could say that would convince Mrs. Batliwala to change her ways.

We finally reached a compromise where the living room sofa was pulled out every night for Mr. Batliwala to sleep on, in case he had the late night bathroom visit.

A week later Mrs. Soonawalla called me disdainfully to report that all my suggestions had failed. For, as she sarcastically pointed out, Parsi dogs are too smart. And since Winston had tasted blood (her words, not mine) he was not in any mood to become a tarkari-khaato-kutro (vegetable-eating-dog)!

But using her inherited intelligence, she found a novel way to get Winston to eat his vegetables!

“I made papeta per eedubheeda per eedu and tamota per eedu!” she exclaimed, proudly. “And now my Winstoo eats all his vegetables!”

“But egg is not vegetarian,” I feebly protested.

Ja ja!” she said, dismissively. “Any good Parsi worth his salt knows that eggs and fish are vegetarian food.”  Needless to say, Winston has not lost any weight and this Navroze he is going to be getting some special mawa maleeda as a treat for being on his diet!



Shirin Dhabhar

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