GUWAHATI, March 28 – Almost every family in Guwahati owned a pet dog during the 1940s and most of the canines were local Dhekura species. However, some well-off people used to keep Alsatian or other exotic species of dogs, said noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika.
Hazarika told this correspondent that prominent among those who used to keep exotic dog species were late Girijananda Choudhury of Panbazar Nathan Road (now Dr JC Das Road), Guha family of the Panbazar Nagkata Pukhuripar area, then Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Superintendents of Police (SPs) of the undivided Kamrup district and Principal J Barua of the Silpukhuri GNB Road area, among others.
Hazarika said that he had heard from elders that Girijananda Choudhury used to celebrate the birthdays of his dogs and invited all who had pet dogs to such birthday parties.
The owners of the Dhekuras or Dhekuris were also very much mindful of their canines. They treated their pets as their own family members. Some of the Dhekuras like Tom of Chandra Kumar Agarwalla Lane (now CK Agarwalla Road), were real terrors for the people of their respective localities. Tom’s owner, late Bidya Ram Majumdar, a prominent advocate of the 1940s, had to chain the dog during the day time.
The owners of the dogs, even those of the Dhekuras, had to take their pets to the veterinary dispensary at Chenikuthi for their health check-up and treatment. The registration fee at the dispensary was between eight annas (50 paisa) and Re 1.
Principal J Barua’s last Alsatian was known as Tiger and when it died, it was ceremoniously buried inside the campus of his residence ‘Abhiram.’
Some owners themselves took their pets to morning and evening walks, while some others deployed their domestic helpers to do that. Some owners of exotic dogs had the habit of taking their animals on car rides.
The stray dogs killed by the municipality were mostly ‘guardian less’, or ‘owner less’ ones. Dog owners, including those of the Dhekuras, Dhekuris, used to register their animals with the municipality, against a fee. And the municipality issued them a leather collar for the animals. The municipality collars were the proof that the dogs were pets.