Man's Best Friend

Out of all pets, the dog has a special place for man. Known as man’s best friend, the dog certainly lives up to the description, by his loyalty, love and attachment he shares with his owner. There are stories bordering on legends featuring the unique relationship between man and his dog. I remember reading a true story about a dog – Hachiko in Japan in the early twentieth century who went to the railway station each day, waiting for his master to return (who had unfortunately suffered a fatal stroke at the university he travelled to each day). He did this for almost ten years till he finally died of old age. As a result of this news published in a newspaper in Japan, the city of Shibayu built a statue of the dog outside the ShibayumRailway Station and immortalized the story of Hachiko.

Unfortunately all this seems to amount to nothing as far as our city leaders are concerned. Not only our cities neglect this loyal breed but what’s worse they seem to even ignore its existence. The first crematorium for dogs (and other animals) was built less than five years back – thanks to a sustained campaign by animal lovers; but this hasn’t made the PMC any more sensitive towards pets. I was surprised to read recently that they have now banned dogs on the hills. Having covered the roads in concrete, if the hills too become inaccessible to people with dogs (whether on the leash or not) where can the pets be taken out for their daily walks?

But this blog isn’t only about dogs. A city without public spaces for dogs is also a city without adequate public spaces for humans – and this should be of some concern to those who plan our cities. A liveable city isn’t a city with roads, buildings and shopping malls. It is the spaces between buildings (to use a phrase popularized by the great architect and city planner Jan Gehl) that are even more important. Gehl has revolutionized the old concepts of city planning by highlighting the need for public spaces, community interactions and the importance of walking and cycling.


We need to understand these concepts and recognise that cities need to be pleasant for all – citizens as well as pets who play such an important role in making us more human, sensitive and compassionate.

Footnote

Some of our readers may be familiar with the story of Hachiko
– the loyal dog. A Hollywood film - ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’ based
on this true story can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video.

img hachi tokyo station

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hachikō statue at Shibuya Station as it is today.
The surrounding plaza is Tokyo’s most popular
rendezvous point and is always abuzz.

 Written by Sujit Patwardhan, Trustee and Founder Member, Parisar

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