Pat the Labrador and the Rottweiler, sit next to the Great Dane, scratch the German Shepherd, get slobbered by the other Rottweiler and smile at the small Mixed Breed boy..
All are at the door to welcome you to their home. None of them are ever tied up, they wear collars and leashes only to go for their walks.
Whew! Them and Om, his parents Kalyani and Cricketer – Entrepreneur Abhijit make up the Pharande family! As wonderful as it sounds, yes, it is one happy family, but the work that goes into keeping it that way is huge too.
“You have to be consistent in their care – from food to grooming to walks. Only then will the dogs be happy and so will you,” explains Kalyani, a home maker.
After every Aarti, for prasad, Kalyani gets mango barfi from Chitale. “This one time, I could’t, so I bought another barfi. They were all waiting for their prasad. All of them spat it out and gave me disgusted looks. I can’t even think of getting another barfi,” she laughs. On one occasion, Kalyani hurt her hand separating two from the pack who got into a fight. The ones who were fighting skipped their meal on their own that night. “For the next few days when my arm was swollen, they all took turns to come and sniff it every now and then till they were convinced I was fine,” she recounts.
Kalyani spends over two hours every evening walking the pack individually. While she talks to all the street dogs on the way, her own bachchas meet their canine friends.
The most loved on these walks is Alex, the German shepherd, and he knows it. The minute he sees women approaching him and fawning over him he swells up. So much so that he loves being called “handsome”. The gentle giant, the huge Harlequin great Dane Tyson commands attention with just his presence. Though he is actually really loving, people don’t come to make friends with him because of his size. Max, the rottweiler is not as social as Ronny who is almost a lab in rottweiler clothing.
The youngest of the pack is Astro, the mongrel who Klayani picked up from garbage where he was dumped. He has just begun his walks, but is terrified of humans given his early experience. The eldest in the pack is Tusky the lab. True to his age, he is the alpha at home.
The Pecking Order:
Mealtimes, are structured. Everybody knows the order in which they are served and each waits for his turn. No fighting or putting their faces into the other’s bowls, they are all very well behaved boys. They love to play around the home and get into each others way. But Tusky has everything under control. “He senses if a fight is going the wrong way. One growl from him and things pipe down,” shares Kalyani. Max, gets everybody to play when he wants to and if he doesnt he snarls the others away. Alex plays naughty games where he troubles the pack into mischief and then pretends it wasn’t him.
“So every day is a new day with more fun,” says Kalyani.
The Other Side:
They need 70 kgs of dog food in a month, and Kalyani spends Rs 6000 on chicken, plus regular supplements for their coats. So while it may look like a rosy picture to have so many dogs at home, it is far from easy. Bath times, regular brushing hours, managing guests fielding questions, cleaning the fur flying across the house and living without any help can get tedious. “Abhijit and I have divided the work for our dogs and the home. We don’t have a maid to help us. So it does get over whelming once in a while. But I can’t complain because it is worth it. The world for us includes our bachchas. our dogs, my bachchas, brought in so much positivity to the home. Om dotes on them just like we do,” she admits.
The family hasn’t gone on an outing together in years. “I have managed to stay away from them for a day, but more than that is just not possible. So we take turns,” she explains.
Doing up the house is on the agenda.
“We have bought furniture twice in the last three years. The younger ones started chewing it and the older ones joined in. So thoughts of painting the house etc are on hold till the youngest grows up a little,” she smiles!
But the joy is manifold. “They keep us all happy,” she concludes. And we can see why with all 6 tails wagging at their ever loving mom..
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