I had coffee today with a dog-loving friend of mine named Kathy, who spends three to four months each year in India. We were talking about dogs, of course, and she was describing what she sees over there. It’s pretty much what I expected. Lots of stray mutts, small, Shepherd-Lab looking pups, scavenging in the garbage. There are pet dogs—mostly belonging to people with money and almost always purebred. She says there are a surprising number of American Eskimo Dogs—pure white with thick double-coats that seem ill suited to the climate. I’m thinking their very inappropriateness makes them a status symbol. A friend of hers in Rajasthan has a pair of pugs with staff. Domestic help is inexpensive in India, and these pugs have a young man whose sole employment is their care and feeding.
But that’s nothing. Kathy had heard of a man who married a stray dog. I don’t know how that failed to surface on my radar. As soon as I got home, I googled (because honestly, isn’t that pretty much what we do about nearly every question these days): “Indian man marries dog.” Sure enough: In a Hindu ceremony, P. Selvakumar married a dog to ward off some bad karma he banked as a result of killing two dogs 15 years earlier. And he’s not the only one. From what I can tell, it’s not an icky, carnal thing but more a commitment to take care of the dog, Selvi, for the rest of her days. We’d call it adoption, although it’s a lot more festive looking. I know it seems weird but Selvi’s a lovely bride (watch, below) and who can argue with the desire to atone for a cruel act with kindness?