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A pet dog for Rs 40 lakh!
Samyukta Bhowmick |
November 20, 2004
Sudhir Sharma owns a pet store in Defence Colony, Delhi. He spends all morning in his shop, surrounded by plastic bones, rubber balls and cat food, chatting with animal lovers that wander in throughout the day. It seems like a pleasant life, and probably is, with business booming and pets en vogue.
"Now that more people are starting to live in flats," says Sharma, "we've started to do a great trade in dogs that are comparatively low activity." For example, labrador retrievers are popular despite needing regular exercise (they will literally retrieve anything in sight), for they are non-aggressive and gentle with children.
Daschunds are becoming increasingly popular given that they are easy to exercise (being otherwise content to yap around the house) and also make good watchdogs, as anyone whose neighbour owns a daschund will know, for they will bark without discrimination or reserve and are surprisingly aggressive to strangers.
In direct contrast, the Lhasa apso, another favourite, is a solemn breed, easily trained and always eager to please. With its long straight hair and appealing eyes, the apso is suitable for families where the small children want a dog and the parents would rather buy them a toy -- and everyone agrees to compromise.
Pomeranians, and especially the pomeranian spitz, are ever-popular. Also looking a little bit like a toy, the pomeranian more than makes up for it by being playful, affectionate and very responsive to pampering.
If you live in a flat, forget about golden retrievers or German shepherds.
According to Mohan Kadam, of the Windsor pet store in Khan Market, Delhi, these breeds are popular among those who live in farmhouses; they are intelligent and faithful to the point where German shepherds are actually known to suffer from separation anxiety when removed from their owner family, but they also require a lot of exercise and training and will be unhappy if closeted in confined spaces.
Another point to keep in mind when buying a dog is the cost. Prices today can be astronomical, especially if you're fussy about pedigree. Last year, someone actually imported a German shepherd for Rs 40 lakh (Rs 4 million).
However, not everyone has to go this far; labradors can be available from between Rs 7,000-12,000, and daschunds come a bit cheaper at Rs 3,000-4,000.
A pomeranian will put you out a bit more, costing Rs 25,000 for an original, but you can compromise and buy a spitz for only Rs 2,000- 3,000.
If you have a longing to resemble Paris Hilton and want to buy a chihuahua, the smallest breed of dog in the world, you could end up spending anywhere between Rs 50,000 to around Rs 400,000 for a superior, imported breed.
When pugs had their day in the sun last year, thanks to the Hutch commercial featuring a small boy and his little squash-nosed pet, they also became very dear; there was a time when they were Rs 40,000 at a minimum. But now that the craze has died down a little, a pug will only put you back Rs 25,000.
There's not a great deal of investment to be made in terms of feeding or upkeep when you buy a dog. There will need to be an initial vaccination, which can mean two or three shots costing Rs 700 each, but this is the only major cost: if the dog needs to be de-wormed, this will only cost Rs 30, and various dog tonics are similarly priced at Rs 40-50.
Of course , if the dog needs an operation, that can be costly: minor operations will be Rs 300-400, but a major one will mean a minimum of Rs 2,500.
Food can also be a hassle; the cheapest brand of dog food, Pedigree, will cost around Rs 10-20 a day, while more expensive brands such as Royal Canine can cost Rs 50 a day for a small dog to Rs 100 for a large one.
"Of course, dog food can be cooked at home," says Sharma, "but it's difficult to keep track of the protein and fat content which can be very important, and of course cooks aren't impressed with having to waste their time cooking a meal for the family pet!"
All in all, if you're not up for the hassle, it may be safer to go for a cat. Apart from the usual breeds, which can be got for free if a cat somewhere has a litter no one is too keen to adopt, there are obviously more posh kinds.
The rather malevolent looking Persian cat, for instance, can cost anything upwards of Rs 12,000, and the regal Siamese anywhere from Rs 20,000-40,000. The Himalayan flat-faced cat will cost from Rs 10,000-20,000.
Apart from being as cute as a button, "Kittens are far less work," says Sharma. "Cats don't need to be exercised, they wash themselves, they can be kitty-litter trained." Cat food, however, is more expensive than dog food, but still reasonable at Rs 500-600 for two kilograms worth.
There are, of course, additional fringe expenditures to keep in mind. Pet therapy, an astonishing idea by itself, begins to look positively tame when compared with pet beauty parlours (there's at least one in Chennai), alternative therapy clinics where your pet can pick from aromatherapy, ayurvedic or homoeopathic treatments for various ailments, and dog boarding facilities (there's one in Gurgaon) where they can lie around in air-conditioned luxury. You know it's serious when Shahnaz Hussain has jumped on board with her own range of pet beauty products.
Maybe this is the reason why pets with far less intricate personalities such as hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits are also beginning to be in demand.
Birds and fish are also available, but birds make retailers uncomfortable because it is so easy to import them illegally, and shopkeepers are happy to use them as colourful displays but are uncomfortable going any further.Windsor has started to supply guinea pigs at Rs 500, hamsters at Rs 1,000 and rabbits at Rs 300-500, but cats and dogs refuse to budge and staunchly remain the favourite in Indian households.