The blog: Enlightenment from the Gameland!

Dog Branding Explained.

I can’t elaborate it personally every time this question is popped, here it goes once and for all. Indian culture has given ayurveda, yoga, mathematics, economics, social science and much more. Back then in the primitive time, there were no testing aid and hence scientifically proven facts. One had to depend on the observation for results. So after a solution has worked for the expected result, the researcher may get close to state the reason for the result but he is not going to prove it with a proper scientific analysis. So now, when with the advancement we can give the reasoning for a result but the working biology remains the same primitive.

There were no vaccinations or antibiotics available in the natives easily back then. So when a dog is sick, they will try many native remedies including a rather infamous one, BRANDING. They take a bicycle wheel spoke, heat it up and just pull it over animals’ skin gently. Scientifically the blood supply is pumped up by this practice which is slow due to the inactivity and illness. This catalyzes the immune system to work out against the pathogens. Not every native would understand this logic so the learned bluntly put forth this practice before the native as ‘ to avoid the” evil eye” or bad omen’. I am not promoting this practice but it is not a bad practice as well since it has a scientific logic and above all, it works! Now the vaccines and other drugs are accessible by most natives but since the branding practice was put forth as to avoid the evil eye, many still follow it and many don’t. A branded dog does look rustic and odd, does not mean it is more perfect to a non branded one. , Working skills and visual confirmation of the Pedigree primarily, working ability and the visual breed confirmation of that specific specimen secondly is how the dog is judged in the natives.

Nothing spiritual about the pattern of branding. Generally the body parts which are vulnerable are branded. A standard branding pattern is 2 ear to ear parallel lines with one intersection line following Nose Bridge, a big cross on chest, two parallel lines on all four upper limbs, a cross on the croup and the last one on the keel. The head, legs chest and croup are considered important and functional for the hunting hound, hence branded.

There were people claiming that these dogs are branded as for proving ownership .That is not true as all the dogs are branded in a similar pattern.

There was someone claiming these dogs were branded as a proof that they are castrated. Not true again, as females are branded too plus why would one need to declare on the dogs’ body that it is a geld? Plus castration is very rare in the natives.

Some think it is very very CRUEL, There are many cruel things most of us learned modern crowd unknowingly do to our animals like confining them to a cage, having limited space to run and dig. Many of you experts can’t unleash your dogs; there can’t be a more cruel thing to an animal engineered to bolt through to follow a leader on a leash for life. Not letting a chase, etc. A good caravan is precious and prized possession of the parent. A branded living dog is way better than a dead caravan to his parent. Being a PARENT, he will try everything he has been taught by his seniors to keep it fit and breathing.
I appeal to think logically and practically to all such comments, there will be more to come from the many brilliant minds who have not yet seen a Caravan.

A young branded male

All that Thins…isn’t gold!

The people who have average animals, feed average, expect only average performance and have no concerns about how healthy the animal looks since its value is insignificant. These people cover their females from any male available to them for free irrespective of any other factor like his breed confirmation, ability, temperament, structure, etc. They expect average returns for the young ones. So the animal they give is cheap not because they are poor farmers but only because they know it is not up to the mark. These kind of animals are obviously much more in numbers and easily available. Any outsider coming in search of a caravan pup is certainly going to find these before anything else.

The best ones are always hid in close circuits and they simply don’t sell in most instances. But the CITYzen prefer to buy the cheap [hence fantastic] puppy and consider it and the information he received from a handful of people as the epitome of the breed. Since he acquired the puppy straight from a farmer. “And WOAH! The farmer’s dogs were as tall as a donkey! Since he is a farmer with dogs, he is automatically a hunter and hence the parents of my puppy hunt. Even if the dog grows out to appear way different than his breed, he is the best specimen since it’s from the natives!” Kindly give yourself a break from this illogical crocshit. No one stops you from visiting frequently, making new contacts every time and find out the truth. People will be good to you if you have an unadulterated intention of acquiring knowledge and helping the breed in the process and not just hunting for a perfect animal for a bargain. For that is thin in the natives, isn’t really gold. Dig deep. Visit and spend frequently and then you see the real stuff…

The people who rely upon the number of CH in the pedigree paperwork of their indigenous animal, may god bless you. By the time you are reading this, I presume you have been through my previous articles and other available information on the internet. One can apparently figure out that there is a resource gap between the Clubs and the Natives which everyone is trying to bridge *sigh*. So the native Mudhol hound completing his title in the show rings doesn’t make him the world’s best Caravan hound and his or his owner’s popularity doesn’t make him the most eligible stud for your bitch [Read this sentence again]. What makes him eligible is his compliance to the aboriginal specification, ability, temperament and progeny’s qualities. Even if all of these are found apt, the dog might still fail if his parents are not equivalently good enough. I kid you not; this will make or break the dog’s score card irrespective of however perfect the dog is. Confirmation of parents is of grave importance.

If you really mean it, you can’t depend blindly upon someone’s reputation and trust him to get you just the perfect animal. You have to chew your food yourself. Study thoroughly, not everything you find on the internet is true because it has a big shiny animal’s picture with it or since it is on Wikipedia. By that I don’t mean everything is false as well. One has to open its mind to everything, unprejudiced. Only then the mind will train itself to select, for your and the breed’s betterment. The gap regarding the knowledge and the access to the livestock bridges up due to the reach of social media. One can’t fool people with faux knowledge or substandard specimens any more. You will make friends to aid you in this path but also foes. The future houndsman will be an advanced, evolved being. He is going to sniff your trails and unravel your secrets from the clubs and the natives as well in his exploration of the breed. I am very conscious of this fact and a few wrong decisions will ruin a life’s worth of work. Better start and conduct as clean as you can. Speak as much truth and hide only what you truly consider insignificant. The upcoming breeder was certainly fooled by some trader in the past. Breeder needs to realize his mistake, accept it and fix them. Propagating the same mistake with a bunch of your followers who show and breed dogs they bought off you will affect the constitution of the breed by creating confusion. Your ego puts the breed in jeopardy which you claimed to save; will it be saved like this?

Indian breed Messiahs….

Everybody has a notion of acquired sainthood by keeping and breeding an Indigenous dog. Irrespective of unraveling the facts or choosing cautiously to ignore them. Everyone has been new to something once, that doesn’t mean their credibility reduces though. I am new to the shows, not dogs. I state in bold, I am learning and hardly acquired enough knowledge of the subject; yet I see some significant blunders disturbing the constitution of the indigenous breeds. One can learn with a few efforts and a humble, unprejudiced mind.

To initiate the trend, I publicly agree to disagree with the concepts of the famed, legendary associates of the breed but in a CIVILIZED manner and exhibit in their show. Not to win but for everyone to see the aboriginal caravan type.[ If I am allowed of course since the court is literally theirs]. I don’t have 100+ dogs but a humble few specimens. I might not succeed there as I am not a butter knife doing every club authority or overly polite .But I will do well before my friends from the natives who know and use these hounds. A coursing challenge combined with the visual breed characteristic confirmation would have been a better measure of the dog. I wish to see how the bulky tall dogs would suffer through fatal heat strokes. Only then the clubs would realize that how the over angulated rear awarded for flashy gaits and theoretical speed increment doesn’t really increase the speed actually reduces it and the agility. These infused angulation, heights, extravagant gaits aren’t really ‘improvements’ but proving to be corrupting the perfect time tested working and beautiful Indian breeds. We have seen the improved cases of the punch face Rottweiler, roaching German shepherd and numerous other breeds whose improvements have proven to be deformities and diseases in the long run. No passive viewer at least at this instance can study and decide for himself weather the dog being shown is authentic or not. Thanks to the grand confusion created between the aboriginal and the show hounds. The previous Club breed standards sounded like reading a fairy tale portrayal of a painted knight hound and not a simple sight hound as it is. So one has to depend on show titles and club records to find a dog and believe in it. Another blunder for the new enthusiast. Outsiders couldn’t learn anything unless they try to penetrate in the source areas of these hounds, make contacts and most importantly approach with the motive of preserving the breed and not to crack a cheap deal. My respect is towards such people who paid me for the puppies and put their money where their mouth is. All your money goes into this conservation program and you actually helped the breed not only by owning an authentic native pup and showing it but bearing a part of my expense. There will always be a set of those who are talking on social network and the show fraternity about all randomness but the exact specs of one. Only talking.

I wish to defog some facts about dog game everybody knows. Shows are decided by judges [non native] who have no access to genuine knowledge and the wins are glorified upon to sell pups, not for the breed conservation in its true aboriginal form. It is the need of the hour. I hold nothing remotely personal against any one at the organization. I certainly will not do well at the shows pertaining to my bold remarks taken personally. Yet why am I ready to risk it?

I accept in assertive speech that the efforts and continuous showing and humongous breeding that Caravan has acquired the fame on an International or national front even. I wish to congratulate the Club for that effort even if I do not agree with their show dog.

If the source or the recipient of knowledge was limited to a few, the results won’t be satisfactory. I got serious about caravans when I heard caravans; Mudhols and Pashmis are claimed the same since this is the knowledge passed to the committee. Now I find it my responsibility to bridge the gap and propagate what I am learning. Every knowledge source should be appreciated weather 5 year old or 50. How many times did the leading club authorities confront the natives and hear from them about their breed? Is it too much for the Natives to ask for an audience when their own breed is being involved? Was it so difficult to send a couple of hound specialists from the club to discuss it out with the natives?

I got into dogs for my passion towards conserving the breeds and I had to pay the cost. I can be diplomatic in business not my passion. I am writing this because I felt engaged somewhere. I will always feel so when a Mudhol, Caravan, Pashmi or an Alaknoor is concerned…..Not to pick fights, just to stand my ground positively with my fellow natives. Someone yet interested picking fights, welcome.

Its not the Judges’ fault!

All the enthusiasts, breeders, handlers, viewers have a negative view about the judging personnel in the ring. The negativity escalates to a different level especially when your dog, horse, bovine, etc isn’t rewarded. Many times a worthy animal is taken over by a lesser specimen. It’s got bad legs, over angulated, irrelevant features, wrong coat, hasn’t got the drive, walks bad, too long, too tall, albino! Many other reasons for the animal to fail, yet is rewarded. To be true, I was dejected to see dogs win multiple shows but they don’t even show enough features to be called of the specific breed it was been shown as. Similarly when the TB mix won for being a tall Marwari mare. Cussing doesn’t improve the situation. I decide to analyze it from a neutral point of view.

It’s difficult to summarize the exact number of breeds recognized at the kennel clubs, let alone the ones unaccounted for. Each breed has a specific phenotype, genotype and temperamental dies. All of it occurring in varying measures in each specimen. Variation of a specific feature in some extent may be appreciated or disregarded by the breeders. Any breed is constantly in the process of change as every litter is born with a specific vision of its breeder .Out of this litter, not every pup comes up to the breeders’ standard or specialist specification. A specific feature/type which appeals to one, may not appeal to another. One person’s trash may appear to be another one’s treasure.

Said that, one person’s ceiling is also another one’s floor…Someone feels his dog is the pinnacle of the breed by what he understood from his mentor and his understanding of the breed. The case of the indigenous animals here is they are very selectively bred up to minute features like the thinness of the coat, tail, head, ear leather. Extremely specific features like the pigmentation not just limited the skin color but that of the nails, iris and so on. So specific and particular that a slight deviation will significantly reduce the score card, in most cases fail to be counted as a Karvani or Khillar bull or a Kathiawari horse. These breeds are not so thoroughly documented on the World Wide Web or any literature written upon them. Albeit the breed standard is yet so specifically maintained and the knowledge is passed down from the elders with mandatory field practical and testing to back up the theories leaving no unfurnished chapters in the learning of a novice in pursuit. To summarize, the native breed standards are stringent and resolute despite any significant records maintained. Keeping animals for money or ego massage and have a pseudo fulfillment from the education received off a handful people ruins you, eventually the breed you keep. Studying specimens constantly with an unbiased eye and field trials are necessary. Charlatans will take their simply perfect breed specimen to the shows and breed the heck out resting on their too much knowledge .Neglecting the doyens from the natives who are with these animals for their lifetimes but promoting whatever is bred and pushing it down everyone’s’ mind.

Concluding on the matter of framing the ones who ruin the indigenous fauna, it’s every single one of us in the following order.

1]The ‘Natives’ who didn’t take enough interest to document in eternal format, blindfold trust upon the next group of enthusiasts to propagate the breed. Not taking the animals to shows for everyone to see the aboriginal type. Cross bred for improved performance but lost the phenotype all together.

2]The ‘Show Breeders’ who didn’t collect sufficient knowledge but collected sufficient under-performing rejects from the natives and brandishing them as ideal specimens [Since they being cheap or free and easily available].

3]The ‘Buyers’ who didn’t pay the breeder enough, which could inspire breeder to acquire a better specimen and allow further exploration. The buyers expect it to be cheap and easy since its local or since it’s from a farmer. Good stock comes only at a good price, no exception. The inflow of moolah reduces, the quality deteriorates.

4]The ‘Clubs’ to be blamed for relying only upon a handful of favored breeders but not venturing out for a field study for the right breed recognition. Awarding the participated dogs irrespective of the native breed confirmation which promoted the dogs which don’t adhere to the phenotype[read not caravans at all!]. After such pervasive showing all these years, the newcomer has to consider the show dog as a ‘ pattern’ of Caravan which actually is a smooth Saluki phenotype ,mostly bred out of a Saluki but isn’t a Karvani at all.

5]The Judges are to be the least blamed for the ruckus. They are provided with favorably tampered documentation to study from, hardly explaining a breed which is so thoroughly examined. The lid blows when a specimen which would be disqualified from the breed is not just included in the breed but also wins multiple best in shows. Not the Judges’ fault when they have lack sufficient input about the breed specifications but compelled to make a decision. It’s obvious to bank their reputation upon the frequent winner or trust the elder handler/breeder/kennel prefix and award their dog. If nothing works, the best handled dog with the best handler or simply the favored owner/handler/breeder may be awarded. It’s totally fine, at least with me. It’s enough that the judges be consciously unbiased. There is a margin for the judges for deciding upon a poorly documented breed. Otherwise they have to deliver a bulletproof judgment in the matters of well documented breeds. Their judgment is the measure of their knowledge and it is a difficult job to live up to their reputation with a thousand eyes upon them.

The breeds represent long hauls of sweat, blood, determination, patience, emotion, stress. More importance to the indigenous fauna as this was meant for a purpose and looks beautiful as well. These breeds can’t propagate by themselves and the rigors of the men and women working for them and with them for hundreds of years will be lost. Set the egos aside, be open to the knowledge and most importantly to work together to contribute worthwhile by propagating and promoting these animals in the format they were meant to be.

P.S. : I might sound like objectifying animals .But it is only limited to this matter to clarify the intricacy of the subject. By no means have I considered Animals to be lesser than us Homo sapiens. Animals are way better and humane than the existing humans I’ve encountered lately. I adore them all.

Alaknoori

Would like to share the insights I learnt from my elders regarding the difference between hound breeds .I will be talking about the Karvani and the Mudhol but will clarify a bit about Pashmi and Alaknoori as well. Technically the genetic reports will do more talking but who would bear the expense? The KCI hasn’t researched about the 50+ indigenous canine breeds so far. Most of these breeds are extinct already due to ban on hunting and diminishing game lands to increasing population. Enough of the rant.

Now all breeds come under same species. Moreover, the breed is recognized upon the phenotype and the not the genotype. I know lines have been vigorously mixed and stirred hence the resulting litter’s varying characteristics from that of the parent. But the breeds are developed for different purposes and in different areas having a different terrain and climate.

ALAKNOORI : H.H. CH. Shahu Maharaja of Kolhapur is the man who influenced the “make life large” philosophy of we GHATIS [ people from the mountain ranges ]. He loved animals, kept them, and hunted in vast region. He imported some grey hounds to his personal hunting grounds in Alaknoor village in Karnataka State .Greyhounds were faster but weaker in this harsh climate and couldn’t manage the rough terrain. Greyhound would suffer strokes within a couple of courses in the heat. Their digits and limb are often fractured by taking tumbles while being dodged by the hare or due to the rough terrain. He bred these hounds with the Karvani to enhance characteristics suitable for the terrain. He succeeded making a new breed altogether known by the village it was originated around….ALAKNOORI. One can call it a breed when some specific characteristics of the parents are exhibited throughout down their line as it proceeds. Alaknoori was developed into an independent breed aiming to eliminate these shortcomings of the greyhound. The following characteristics were carried forward :

  1. signature short white coat with black patches preferably but other colors exist as well.
  2. long muscular torso but a deep chest and a level top line unlike that seen in a Greyhound
  3. flying ears and a sloping stop
  4. Good front and rear angulation
  5. Speed of a greyhound and agility of a Karvani.

Unfortunately this breed has been vigorously mixed with many things , recent interests being the derby greyhound, This breed being from the Mudhol hound catchment , was frequently mixed with them. There is some greyhound in the Mudhol hounds found now a study from the government canine centre states which raged a debate .Those greyhound genetics might have passed from these Alaknooris. This doesn’t make it a mixed breed, read the previous blogs for reference .Need not be worried about.

Would like to share the insights I learnt from my elders regarding the difference between hound breeds .I will be talking about the Karvani and the Mudhol but will clarify a bit about Pashmi and Alaknoori as well. Technically the genetic reports will do more talking but who would bear the expense? The KCI hasn’t researched about the 50+ indigenous canine breeds so far. Most of these breeds are extinct already due to ban on hunting and diminishing game lands to increasing population. Enough of the rant.

Now all breeds come under same species. Moreover, the breed is recognized upon the phenotype and the not the genotype. I know lines have been vigorously mixed and stirred hence the resulting litter’s varying characteristics from that of the parent. But the breeds are developed for different purposes and in different areas having a different terrain and climate.

More of the H.H. Ch. Shahu Maharaja of Kolhapur:

He lived a life fit for a king and imparted that KINGSIZE attitude to Kolhapur. He had varied interests and hobbies which he indulged in . Wrestling and Hunting mainly.

Himself being a good wrestler, he had an extraordinarily huge physique. He established the arena named Khasbag maidan for the Indian style Wrestling called ans KUSTI. He also established many gymnasiums known as TALIM providing excellent amenities for the players.

We can say hunting was his favorite of all sports. Mainly use to hunt menacing animals. Sources tell he had a KUTTA KHANA {dog breeding centre} in Radhanagri. Mainly use to breed dogs for the sport. He culled to promote only the best of breed..A dog heavily wounded or not good at the sport would be culled immediately to avoid further pass of the genetics. Only the dog which has sustained the ground without serious injuries and played well would be bred. Hence the lines were genetically very strong in their game.

During the last days of his time when he couldn’t walk , he still use to hunt travelling in a cart. It is said that a male and a female parti-colored were the prime foundations .The male with a broken leg and a female bruised by some animal was sent for cull to a Dhangar {a person from the shepherd clan} of his Shikaar Khana {Hunting House}.This Dhangar , resident of the village ALAKNOOR didn’t cull these dogs  but kept them hidden as he had disobeyed the culling orders and could be punished if brought to notice. In the meantime the hounds recovered but Shahu Maharaj deceased. Now he started breeding these two dogs and the whole lineage of Alaknoor got its signature particolor coat of white and black. This was a story told by an 85+ year old man named Turiappa in Alaknoor village .The Dhangar he mentioned was his father……Turiappa and his brother were owners of 350 acres of land inherited from his father. Such vast land was gifted to the men close to the Kings when the Land acquisition act came into force.

A few of what we hear are truths and most are myths. I leave it up to you to believe it or not. But the Alaknoori still plays mightily braving the barbs and the sun. Already forgotten and awaiting extinction due to ban on hunting and no recognition in the show circuit.

The poor farmer and his dogs!

For the ones who have the misconception of the term FARMER being synonymous to POOR, this is for them. Poor people can’t afford to buy 2-6 hounds and condition them for optimum performance. Keeping varied animal interests, one has to manage their upkeep and invest time and money. The returns are not assured in the animals hence whatever stock held is considered valuable. A city chap comes on his high horses and consider farmers poor and hence their livestock cheap. The ones only playing dogs, have you even the slightest clue what a fine Khillar or a Pandharpuri Gavlaht buffalo costs? It costs approximately equivalent to a hatchback car the city chap pays EMI for. The Madgyal sheep and her kid cost more than your Royal Enfield motorcycle. These POOR farmers have such expensive livestock not handful but yards and sheds full of them. Similarly expensive is their upkeep. Only a worthy payment buys a worthy animal. The farmer owns acres of land. The population is increasing but the land isn’t hence the northward set prices for these land holdings of a farmer. Accounting these factors, can we still consider the native Houndsman poor?

Not just the owning and knowing a fine being but upkeep is a major part of the hobby. Expensive and important animals are well fed, well kept in all aspects possible. This involves serious money which goes unaccounted for a novice to notice. Being wrestlers at some point of their lives, they know the fact that a match performance depends solely upon the efforts taken outside the ring. Good food, good exercise and a good trainer are crucial factors for optimizing skills. Similarly these are working animals and their performance depends upon their conditioning. People here depend a lot upon ample milk for their animal .Be it horses, bulls, buffalo, cows, goats, sheep and dogs of course. Copious amount of milk is fed to the lactating female and the puppies. Some keep a milch animal not to sell the milk but just for feeding milk to their other animals. Fed meat, eggs, and various farm produce. Milk will be fed to most of the good canines throughout their lives.

There is another side to this coin as well. There are people who have average animals, feed average, expect only average performance and have no concerns about how healthy the animal looks since its value is insignificant. These people breed their females to any male available to them for free irrespective of any other factor like his breed confirmation, ability, temperament, structure, etc. They expect average returns for the young ones. So the animal they give is cheap not because they are poor farmers but only because they know it is not up to the mark. These kind of animals are obviously much more in numbers and easily available. Any outsider coming in search of a caravan pup is certainly going to find these before anything else. These comprise of your pet shop purchases.

In a rare instance if an animal with decent confirmation shows up in the possession of an average upkeep owner, it is immediately cracked a deal with the neighborhood houndsman who values its worth. Such deals happen only in the close circuit and it is highly rarely that an outsider is going to get a decent animal at a lower value since everyone in the natives knows the value of their livestock. Quality always comes at a cost, be it the cities or the natives. All the best sourcing your cheap or best Indigenous hound.

Share This