Raining Cats and Dogs, without the cats.
Trip Start Jan 27, 2008
30Trip End Apr 06, 2009
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Nothing much to do in the cold rain but study, and perhaps slip out to the new town to do a little catching up on blogs and internet. The gray skies make people a little more prone to sleep under warm covers, as there is no sitting outside, really, and inside without heat is not much better. The breeze, when it blows, only brings a taste of the cold above in the mountains, and if anything makes one grateful to be in the valley away from that icy breath.
Still and all, it is what it is.
Dogs! Dogs are a real problem here in Manali, I think I mentioned before about the passing of a law against killing them and the subsequent proliferation of these sorry, mangy creatures. The night before last was the full moon, so every dog within earshot was barking like mad; there must have been hundreds. Not that the din actually bothers a sleeper, it just kind of fades into one noise, but about 3 in the morning a shrill little pooch planted himself in the yard below my window and decided to instigate the others to song. No other dog was barking, but this little bastard kept on, non-stop. I tried to sleep, to convince myself that he would grow tired and give up, but he continued until every yip out of his dirty muzzle cut through my brain like a branding iron.
Enough! Getting quickly dressed and muttering curses as I did so, I snuck down the stairs as quietly as possible, picked up a few stones, then approached the critter. He saw me, and bolted. I heaved a rock or two after him to keep him running, and walked a way down the muddy lane to make sure he was gone. On my way back, I saw Dayalu, whose sensitive ears had heard me come down the stairs (uncharacteristically) and had come to see who it was and what was going on. Apparently, the creak of my foot on the stairs, though about a hundred decibels less than the little rat-dog's yapping woke him up. I told him about the dog--sometimes you live and let live, other times you have to throw a rock. This is the way of life--and of course, the wisdom to know the difference. . .
On the way back to my room, however, a familiar racket arose from the open space in back of the clubhouse, amplified this time by the building's walls, so sounding like a pack of annoying mutts. A handful of stones later, and the sound then came from the other side of the clubhouse, moderated a bit by the rush of the river. Quiet at last. Then back to get what little sleep I could get.
There are more half-feral dogs in Manali than people, it seems like, and with no program of sterilization or elimination, things are headed from bad to worse. One outbreak of rabies and a big problem could arise. The people who pass the anti-dog-poisoning laws do not realize that even though this seems cruel to some, there is a reason for it. The balance has been thrown off by administration, and now there are hundreds of skinny and hungry wild dogs roaming the streets, eating out of dumpsters, gutters, and streams of sewage, diseased and wounded, many with weeping infections on their backs and sides. These dogs have been known to pack up and get aggressive toward humans, sometimes biting, growing bolder in the night, and bolder still as time passes. Makes one wonder where critical mass will be--will a child have to die? Will some people get rabies? Will people be afraid to go out at night, or have to carry clubs to beat vicious curs? The people who make such "humane" laws, it would seem, do not have the foresight to at least put a replacement system of population control, such as a capture-spay-release program or some such. Perhaps there should be an organization callet "veterinarians without borders," who could come a couple of times a year to do the job. There are plenty of other cities and towns in India that could use the same service, and indeed, around the world. Rabies shots as well. In lieu of that, it is only a matter of time before the old-fashioned method of poisoning or clubbing comes back, legal or not.
Of course pretty much all lawmakers everywhere are completely out of touch with the ramifications of a law on the people that have to abide by it. This works the same in all countries. But what to do?
If I get growled at on one of my walks up the hill at night, someone is going to get a size 11 riding boot to the muzzle, that's for sure. Can't be too careful. The most dangerous kind of animal is a half-wild one, bold enough not to be afraid of humans, but wild enough not to like them. I feel bad for the dogs, a little, but I feel worse for the villagers, who have to put up with the results of a short-sighted ordinance.