Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beach Dogs

{Two Days in Goa & Some Thoughts on Dogs Getting Second Chances}

I've been offline for the better part of the past week for good reason: real life usurped blog life. I've been clocking six hour bus rides between Jaipur and Delhi with a giant black duffel bag full of paintings, organizing last-minute logistics for art-related endeavors, flying across the country after multiple nights on less than four hours of sleep and stupidly, exhaustedly leaving my laptop in the airport security line (more on that later). But on the way to a conference P. and I were finally, marvelously, able to take a break from the madness and spend two days of R&R on the beaches of Goa. We stayed in a perfect palm grove beach shack in laid-back Patnem that a friend had highly recommended, where we ate our weight in fresh tomats and shredded basil with real balsamic vinegar, which was such a continental treat in the land of masala.  I gleefully ordered 3pm no-nonsence cocktails and plowed through Sarah MacDonald's bawdy, staggeringly un-PC love/hate affair with India, Holy Cow, which has been described as "condescending, narrow-minded, insulting and ethnocentric." Which is precisely why it was so entertaining.

But the best thing about Goa: beach dogs. There's a whole oligarchy of feral but well-fed, well-mannered beach dogs running the show in Patnem, and although the practice is forbidden in our house, P. and I happily fed scraps directly from the table and into the gentle, grateful maws of our new buddies. In return we were rewarded with their stately (if scruffy) company. Compared to your average street dog in India, these mutts have it made in the shade. For a pretty tough but hopeful story about a down-and-out doggy getting a second chance back in the US of A, read Beth's courageous post over at Six Orange Carrots. Having gone through some serious initial trials those first few months after adopting our spotted desert mutt, Dolly (who had been abused and was terrrified of men) I can say unequivicolly that watching her grow into the incredibly affectionate, gentle, intelligent copilot that she is now (and watching her bond with P. after he returned from his last combat tour) has been one of the biggest, purest joys of my adult life.

So there's that.

Hope you have a great weekend. The first leg of our show opens tonight, and my paintings are hung and my sari is ironed. But I can't help thinking that half a world away our motley pair of doggies are just bedding down in my parent's comfortable house, and how lucky they (and we) are indeed.


  1. my close friends adopted a stray dog from costa rica. she is one of the coolest sweetest dogs ever. i love your photos. they get better and better.

  2. You guys sure know how to get some R&R. Also, happy beach mutts are my fave.

    And your pictures, I want to EAT them, they're so delicious. Can't wait to see your paintings...

  3. these pictures are so dreamy! i want to be there.

  4. <3

    congratulations. enjoy your opening after so much hard work!

    goa looks amazing. i hope you get to go back and spend a week!

  5. Goa doesn't look like it's changed much in the 30 years since I spent a month there waiting for the monsoon to start. And, for the record, I *loved* Holy Cow!

  6. What a great post. I feel like I just took a vacation, and bonded with my doggies...two of the best things ever! Delicious sigh of relief! Love it.

  7. for some reason (our own shelter dog, my living separately from my army husband, my intense wanderlust currently infecting every aspect of my life)this post brought tears to my eyes. i love reading your blog. it makes me hopeful that my own life will eventually be filled.

  8. that all sounds perfect. well, the resting after the hard work, and all that went with it, at least. congratulations on your show! i can't wait to see/hear more details.

  9. FYI:
    Krupakar-Senani’s Green Oscar winning "The Pack" - on the Asiatic dogs or dhol - is a triumph for wildlife film-making.... found at bangalore website "citizen matters"

    group that finds homes for indian street dogs in bangalore:!/group.php?gid=41478875858

    just something to promote awareness.....

  10. Congratulations and best,best,best for the opening!!

  11. bianca- thanks, lady.

    agirl- surely not as magical as your home beaches in T&T, but pretty good as far as R&R goes.

    mina- xo.

    jamie- i'd do anything to transport you and hankypoo to the beaches of goa for some last-minute preggers swimming in the ocean!

    bonnie- i can TOTALLY imagine you wooping it up on the beaches in well as getting up to some naughty business...was this pre-george?

    michelle- doggies + beach = pure happiness, right?

    lindsey- YOUR comment brought lil' tearses to my eyes- hang on, chica! shoot me an email if you ever feel like it- we went through two 7-month deployments and it was hell. you're not alone. xo.

    laura.- thanks, lady! pics coming soon...

    sabine- thanks for the awesome links! that's so great to know about.

    annamaria- aw, thanks so much for being so supportive!

    esb- <3

  12. Good luck at the show!

    One of the hard parts in Athens was getting used to the stray pups everywhere. One of the amazing parts was seeing just how resilient and street smart they were. And I rather liked having a dog or two escort me safely home after a late night dancing.

  13. Yes, your dogs are lucky indeed. Goa looks beautiful. Glad you got some much-needed R&R. Good luck at the show!

  14. An extremely fine haunch there in the top pic, my dear. Thanks for the love to our Jodie-- we're still kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop: disturbingly smoothing sailing so far. I think there are all kinds of doggies out there-- those that need lots of love like your gorgeous Dolly, and those that can take even a little at face value and bounce back. Jodie may turn out to be in the second category, which means I have all the more respect for you and P and hound-of-love in the first.

    You must miss them. :) Where will you be this time next year, do you think?

    All the luck in the world for your show-- Bill and I want dibs on that gorgeous one all the way to the right in your last post. Hi to your sister. :)

  15. First of all, goooood luck for your show!

    And then thanks for precising those dogs are well fed. I was already getting together a box of dog food and ship it to India. I am a little oversensitive about animals.

    Sixorangecarrots is a great girl, and jodie is going to be the best dog ever.

    Again, I hope your paintings sells go as high as the moon.

  16. Just came across your lovely blog! How wonderful to be painting and living in India. I travelled through Northern India a few years back and spent some time teaching in a girls' school/orphanage, and ever since I have been trying to find a way into tricking my husband into moving there (at least for a little while!).
    Anyway, I love your photos (especially the ones of marigold covered children below), and am so happy to hear that someone's looking after all those lovely street dogs!

  17. the lil one with the chewed up ear...bring her/him home???

    I loved Holy Cow. PC or not, it really captured my India too.

    miss you! break a leg with the show.

  18. Definitely pre-George by about 4 years! Oh, and I forgot to ask if the infamous "pig toilets" of Goa are still in use.

  19. amazing. i would love to have beach dogs on vacation.



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