Though we did not travel to urbanized Chennai, India expecting to be surrounded by wildlife, we did end up having many encounters. As I prepare to switch careers into animal grooming, I have been wondering if those meetings may have guided me.
My father-in-law, who passed on in August, lived on a 275 acre tree-farm sanctuary in Maine. In the week before we left for our 5 month trip, we spent a last weekend visiting the farm and encountered these magnificent beings.
Those New England bovine beauties stand in sharp visual contrast to the ‘sacred cows’ that we met on the streets of Chennai. While true that no one seemed to harm them, it was also hard to feel like anyone really cared for them as they wandered anonymously about. In reality, it does seem that most Indian urban cows and goats do have owners, but like latch-key children, the animals are left to wander and it is trusted that they will return – driven by some internal daily routine.
In contrast, the street dogs of India really do not seem to have owners, but they, none-the-less, seem to survive on offered scraps and compost heaps. We observed what seemed like a neighborhood willingness to offer up tidbits to the dogs – even by those who seemed to have very little food of their own. Not surprisingly, my Indian co-workers are baffled by the concept of ‘dog grooming’.