IIguess I always loved animals. Like everyone else. I loved my steaks and sashimi as well.
But the arrival of an Indie dog called Sugar into our house, courtesy my son, changed all that.
One of the first things I noticed was that people seem to prefer breed dogs to Indies. It has nothing to do with the looks of the Indie, the love they can give or their intelligence. In fact, they are low maintenance and definitely more hardy than the breed dogs. It had to do with brands. And the power of brands.
Ogilvy created the loveable pug for Vodafone, and along with a hugely successful advertising campaign, it also created a huge market for pugs. I remember an Anglophile looking askance at me in the elevator one day and asking me, “Is that a pariah breed?” And I managed to look shocked and said, “Gosh, no! It’s a whippet hound!” He smiled at me and said, “Ah! I thought so!” The best part is, Sugar was blissfully unaware of the fuss around her lineage.
And so when my friend Gokul came up with the idea to make a film promoting adoption of Indie dogs, I was delighted. By this time, we had our third Indie called Missy (Sugar and Peppy having departed to the place where dogs are forever happy), and I egged him on. A script appeared from him and I approached a young production house called Another Idea and requested them to make the film for us pro bono. They readily agreed.
All we needed was a client. So I told The Welfare of Stray Dogs that they would be the client. It was fortuitous that Hiten Rathod, the young director/cinematographer and God knows what else rolled into one, was also a dog lover.
And so we mangled Gokul’s script till he gently asked us to remove his name from the credits and made a film that was obviously inspired by the confused DNA of the Indie itself. The final product was received joyously on social media. Dog lovers like Faye D’Souza and Cyrus Broacha were happy to amplify the message, and friends in the media were their usual kind selves.
The film is doing well now, hopefully changing mindsets and positioning Indies as the first choice for adoption. The line “Don’t buy a dog. Adopt an Indie” seems to be resonating well.
On Independence Day, we exhorted pet parents to put up pictures of themselves with their Indies, along with the slogan ‘Proud Indiean’. I’d like to add a disclaimer here too. The star of the film is my very own Missy. Found with maggot wounds on her head at Grant Road station and fostered by a kind soul before we adopted her.
She rules in our home and our hearts. Don’t buy. Adopt!