When Priya Chetty-Rajagopal took home a cocker spaniel, it was life-changing. The dog’s demise made her start an Award in her name.
Priya Chetty-Rajagopal is an executive director for a Japanese conglomerate in Bengaluru but she is more well known as a die-hard dog lover. She believes in giving a roof for every woof and in the motto ‘Adopt, don’t shop!’
These days, other causes have made her spend less time with the Cubbon Park Dog Owner’s Association that she started with great affection. But nothing gets her as chatty as when one broaches the subject of the dog community she set up called ‘The Cubbon Park Canines’ or the ‘CJ Memorial Community Guardian Award’ that she started in memory of her dear dog.
“My first dog was CJ who I got 16 years ago,” she reminisces. “It happened by accident when I expressed my wish to keep a dog to my friend who gave me their new born cocker spaniel. It was love at first sight and CJ or Calamity Jane was the name my husband Rajagopal gave her. She was well-known in the city’s dog circuit as the ‘dog with a black tuxedo, white socks and a red bow’.”
She continues: “After being with us for 13 years, she fell ill and passed away. We would go to the gazebo even afterwards, but it felt empty and since she was hugely loved by all, I felt the need to reconnect with moms of dogs like Fluffy, Misty and Rani. That’s when I realised that we should have a community. I started Cubbon Park Canines(CPC) and the CJ Memorial Community Guardian Award, where we give out a plaque, cash award and a big announcement. The first year when we announced it, all the dogs attended the memorial for CJ. Sudha Narayanan of Care, Bismi Anil of Dumas Trust who feeds over a hundred dogs every night and works towards advocacy of pet care and others have been winners. There’s nothing commercial in any of these groups, only a sense of warmth and unselfish love.”
When there was a notice that Cubbon Park would be closed for dogs, Priya started a campaign against it and thousands joined her. “CPC is anti-commercial, anti-breeding and pro-adoption and has already exceeded 5,500 members with 1,000 numbers in waiting. It’s a thriving community of responsible and conscious citizens, where we talk about health, training, social and fun pet issues,” says Priya.
She illustrates the selfless work through an anecdote, “There was a person who was going out of town and had signed up for a boarding facility for her pet, but the pet came into season and at that time one cannot take them into boarding. One of the CPC friends took her home for that period and took great care.”
India Pet Grief Support Group — Goodbye Tails is for those who like to share their sorrows. “We had crumbled after CJ’s death and then JD happened to us thanks to a family friend. He was Joapie and belonged to a Dutch guy, but we wanted to Indianise the name and named him Janardhan Doraiswamy (JD) and the circle turned for us.”