This morning I was lucky enough to witness a border dispute. It was 6 against 2. Caesar and PV are regulars on my study route. They stay with a lady who told me she works at a construction site. She has a little one room structure she lives in and these two live "with her". She does not really have a yard to confine them in. She does not tie them. (Actually, I should perhaps gift her two reflective collars for her dogs). The two dogs generally live with her and she proudly shows me how they follow her around. She also explains to me at great length what she feeds them and smiles when she says "Once a week I pay 70 rupees to buy them chicken. I even got them operated on (read neutered). I have two daughters and then these two". She goes on to express her disgust at the people in the "big apartment" who had Caesar with them and then just dumped him behind for him to be found by her. Ug!
Anyways, this morning I find 6 dogs frozen and staring. I was an idiot and could not really figure out what they were staring at. To me, it seemed like they were staring at a distant wall. I gradually got closer and finally heard the distant barking. The barks were coming from Caesar & PV territory, so I knew it had to be them. You really need to wait to the end of the video to see how far the dogs were and why I could not hear them till I got closer.
So this interaction happened over a very large distance. It was a lot of posturing. The 6 new guys really considered the situation. If they had sized it up right, they would have realized they could win this one. But I don't think it works like that in the dog world. I think that when they can, they avoid conflict. That is perhaps why Caesar and PVs barks are designed to carry over such a large distance. That way conflict can be avoided at a distance - the farther away, the better. Actually, if you think about it, this was a great diplomatic resolution to the conflict. I find it very elegant.
This video fascinates me. To someone who is just passing by, this might have not even looked like a conflict (in dialogue?). It was just a few dogs pottering about. We only notice it when it has turned into a full blown fight. We then register, in our minds that street dogs are feral/aggressive (label it any which way). Are we missing the countless effective dialogues that are happening between our dogs? Media only features "full blown wars" and that's what becomes viral and evokes nasty images when we talk about street dogs. But this, right here, is what their lives are really about, is it not? Most times, we don't even notice them going about, negotiating their complex social lives.
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All the details and videos from this day's study are available here. If you like data or just want to watch videos of all the streeties I saw, then do check out this section: Study Details