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Buying a Pup Online in India

09 Dec 2009 | by V S Menon | Posted in: Wag Wiki

We had just relocated to Kerala and wanted to add another dog to our family. We already had a Labrador and a Rottweiler.

I was looking for a Golden Retreiver and after a great deal of surfing and phone calls got interested in St Bernards. I was sceptical whether these gentle giants from the Alps would survive the local climate. I was assured that if we kept him indoors and in A/C during summer they would. I also found out that there was a St Bernard with a family in the same town.

The few large kennels that breed this category did not have any pup at that time and their terms were preposterous - pay the full amount RS.50K in advance and wait for a litter. I found an advertiser who claimed to bea breeder but soon turned out to be more of an intermediary who dealt in sale/purchase/mating etc. This person had advertised male St Bernard pups for Rs.30K. The pedigree claimed was impressive and he was able to produce documents to back these claims. The puppy looked beautiful in photos. The terms were the same - pay in advance and he would airfreight from Delhi. I promptly made the payment including charges for airfreight. There are no direct flights from Delhi to our town. On three occassions I was woken up at 4 and 5 AM to be told that days flight would not accept the puppy as the cabin would not be pressurised. Ihad no way of veryfying this and by now it was 1 week since I had made payment. Offcourse I had no recourse and was at his mercy. I then suggested trying to transport by train with an handler traveling with the puppy. I was told that could be done but had to pay additional for the handler. I agreed and paid up. It was better to make the additional payment and hope I got the puupy for which I had already paid. I got a call the next day that the pup and handler had boarded the train at Delhi.

The ordeal had just begun. In the late night news on Asianet we were dismayed to hear a hartal was announced the next day from 6 a.m to 6 pm. The reason cited: party rivalry! A  party worker hacked  B party worker to death. In protest the B party declared a hartal in the town.

 “Hartals are the bane of Kerala!”

Scheduled arrival of the train at Kannur station was 5.30 am. If all went well we could be back home safely with pup before the hartal clock started ticking at 6 a.m.

It was a close call!

 On the wings of a prayer we set out to bring home a two month old puppy. The area outside the station was deserted. Shops were not expected to open so early but even taxi drivers who generally harried passengers long enough till they relented and hired their vehicles were conspicuous by their absence, making the arrival area look like a cemetery. Beggars and urchins slept soundly in a row, their faces and bodies shrouded like corpses in a morgue. It was their turn to sleep in; there would be no alms that day

We waited with bated breath for a puppy to walk out of the station at 5.30 in the morning. Fifteen minutes seemed like an hour; there was no sign of either handler or pup.

 ‘Where the hell was the handler and pup?’

 The train had arrived on time, passengers spilled onto the front yard of the station, thick and fast, greeted by darkness.

I  kept checking the time. I called the seller on his cell phone to check whether this was for real or a wild goose chase.  The seller assured me handler and pup are on board this train.

After waiting for half an hour with no sign of the pup or handler we decided to return as the hartal was about to begin.

At 7 AM  my phone rang. It was the handler calling from the station.

He explained that after he got off the train he hung about the platform feeding the puppy, making him drink water, making him do his stuff. He didn’t expect the new eager beaver owners to be waiting outside the station that early in the morning. In his experience as a handler owners took their own sweet time to fetch their protégée. He thought 7 a.m. was a decent time to make the call.

We were in a quandary. The hartal had commenced and we couldn’t expect the handler to make the trip to our home on his own.

I told him to wait outside the station and informed him that  an Hartal had been declared for the day. The handler had no perception of how a hartal could hold a whole town to ransom.

Five minutes on the road heading towards the raiway station we saw men in the distance flagging us down.

I slowed down and pulled up to the side. Four ominous looking men with their dhotis folded half way to their knees approached our vehicle. Two split sides; one to my side and the other to my wifes. The other two stood hands folded across their chests in front of the bonnet, their expression scornful. 

Menacingly he knocked on my window and asked “Don’t you know there is a hartal today?”  his face was deadly serious, “from 6 am to 6 pm. We are aware I said  gently, “but we have to pick up someone at the station.” I dare not tell them our visitor was a pup.

 “We don’t care to know the purpose of your visit to the railway station. If a hartal is declared, that’s it, you have to respect it.” Then on second thought, he said, “One of our workers has been killed. It is not simply we have called for a hartal. We tried to reason but to no avail. At last we were preparing to turn back when one of the men standing in the front came by the window and looked in, he saw the Ganesha on the dashboard and our attire which suggested that we were apolitical and not deliberatley breaking their hartal, and said we could proceed towards the station. We did not wait to give them time to think and raced ahead. When we had reached half way we found the road blocked with burning tyres. We turned back. We again were stopped by the same group. We explained we were returning as the road was blocked and to our surprise the same fellow suggested we take another route which he confided was open.

We reached the station this time and I set out looking for our visitors. I saw this cute little pup sitting on the platform all covered in muck after three days on the train. He looked disoriented and vulnerable and my heart went out to him. I took him from the handler gave him a tip and was about to get in the car when the handler came up with his sob story about being robbed on the train. I paid him enough to get a room in a nearby lodge to wash up eat and go back.

We saw the same group again on our way back but this time they did not stop us.

We got home. Gave the pup a good shampoo wash, dried him and fed him. We named him Benjamin.

When we got Benjamin examined by the local Vet to check for any physical abnormalities we were told he had a recessed testes - one of his testes had not come down. After he was 6 months old we noticed he had a slight limp on his hind leg which on examination turned out to be hip displacia.

At the end of the saga after going through all the trouble and the trauma we were actually sold a defective puppy. It made me mad but I was helpless. When I spoke to the seller he was all assurance that the puppy he gave us was perfect. Again I had no recourse. I had bought him blind.

With all his physical abnormalities Benjamin was a fantastic dog. He became friends with our two senior dogs and provided us hours and hours of fun and happiness. He could make us laugh everytime. We could never stay angry with him for all the pranks he played.

He died aged 16 months. A victim of the ignorance and callousness of the local vets.

That is another story.

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