Man, and animal have co-existed since the beginning of creation, with good and bad relations. Humans have always tried to gain superiority over animals and this led to the development of relationship between animals and humans. Humans started domesticating animals as per their needs. The animal which became important and helpful to humans – “Dog”. Dogs were domesticated about thousands of years ago when humans were hunter-gatherers. It is believed that dogs were first domesticated in Central Asia. The earliest mention of the dog is in the Rig Veda. Sarama was the dog of Indra. It pursued and recovered the cows stolen by the Panis.
In Ramayana, when Bharata returns to his father’s kingdom at Ayodhya on the urgent summons of the minister, his maternal grandfather sends rich gifts, horses and dogs that were ‘gigantic, with sharp teeth, as powerful as tigers, who were bred in the palace’.
In Mahabharata, according to ‘Mahaprasthanika Parva’ when Pandavas decided to end their life, a dog accompanied them. Along the way, Draupadi and four Pandava brothers died one after another, leaving Yudhishthira and the dog. Indra appeared and offered to take Yudhishthira to heaven in his chariot. Yudhishthira wanted the faithful dog to accompany him to heaven, but Indra refused. Yudhishthira preferred the animals company to the pleasures of heaven. Then Dharma, the god of death Yama emerged from the dog. The dog had been used to test Yudhishthira.
Bhairava is a Hindu deity, a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation. Bhairava is usually accompanied by a dog or rides a dog who is his Vahana. There are also some people who believe that dogs are an incarnation of Bhairava.
Next most important instance of dog in Hinduism is associated with Lord Dattatreya – considered to be an avatar of three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva known as Trimurti. Dattatreya is followed by four dogs which represent the four Vedas and his complete mastery over the Vedas.
In Zoroastrianism, Gratitude of men toward the herd and house dog, for Ahura Mazda is represented as declaring: “No house would stand firmly founded for me on the Ahura-created earth were there not my herd dog or house dog”. Responsibility toward dogs is repeatedly linked with responsibility toward Humans. In the Husparam Nask the proper quantities of food are listed for man, woman, child and the three kinds of dogs. A sick dog is to be looked after as carefully as a sick person, a bitch in whelp as solicitously as a woman with child. Puppies are to be cared for six months, children for seven years.
Dogs have special chemistry with humans that goes back many tens of thousands of years. As human migrated from place to place, a variety of dog forms migrated with them. Agriculture and urbanization led to an increase in the dog population. India has among the largest dog population in the world. The passing of the Dog Control (ABC) Rules, 2001, by the Government of India emphasizes on spaying, neutering and vaccination. Government hospitals have been established in every district to promote health and proper breeding of dogs. Various NGO’s and SPCA’s are working for the welfare of Indian dog breeds.