Kathmandu, Feb.7: A 17-year-old, Sunikshya Pokhrel, a high schooler and a single child of working parents, from Kalanki, has a pet dog, ‘Bruno’.
Bruno has become her life, her sibling, which she wanted to realize for years.
Being a single child she always craved a sibling with whom she could share her major milestones and have a similar life experience.
She always imagined what it would be like to have a sibling and that feeling escalated in her teenage years, she finally shared with her parents about having a pet animal.
She said, “Even though my parents love me so much, they are not present in the home, because of which, I have to spend my home time alone. So, petting a dog has been a lifesaver for me.”
That’s how her dream of having a sibling was realized after 17 years. Now, she is seen taking her pet Bruno to walk, feeding him, and nurturing him.
Likewise, Pratibha Sharma from Bhaisepati, Lalitpur has an emotional story of losing a german shepherd-bred, dog, after raising him for fifteen years.
She remembers the day when the pet was brought to the family of four, and her two children fought to name him, and finally, he was named, ‘Fido’. Fido becomes like a third child to Pratibha and her partner, and an integral part of the family for two siblings.
She shared that she divided the responsibility of Fido to her two children which taught them responsibility and adjustment and that has helped them abroad as well.
Even though her two children went abroad, however, that was compensated by her third child, who was not only giving security to the house but also emotional support to the couple.
Sharma, who has bred three dogs after starting her own family, said, “The death of Fido was very heart-wrenching for me and my husband. It felt like I have lost my own child.”
The bereaved family is not able to pet an animal as they do not replace the memory of Fido.
30 years old, is like a ticking bomb for a female for society puts a lot of expectations on them, but, a single 30- year old, good-looking, Lila Gautam (requesting anonymity), a successful professional, is absorbed in raising her pet, ‘Mimi.’
Her lips curve when her cat,’ Mimi’ comes running to her after she comes home from a long and tiring day. Half-hour playtime and movie time is normal ritual for them. Spending a large chunk of money from her income is not a concern for her as wants to give the best care to her pet.
She said, “I am choosing a rather unconventional way of living from what society expects from me. I wish to remain single and raise my cat, ‘Mimi’ as my daughter, companion, and my stress buster.”
These are the representative stories of the interrelationship between pet animals and dogs, showing their coexistence has added meaning to life.
According to Dr Tika Ram Gautam, Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, TU the changing family structure of today’s society and lack of family time because of working partners have created a space for pet animals, as a reason, pet animals can be seen as a companion in the urbanized cities of Nepal.
As many people are working and there is less interpersonal communication with each other. So, people are finding another best companion, keeping a pet animal like dogs, cats, have added meaning to people’s lives.
Having a pet animal in Nepali society can be traced as far as the Stone Age. Companion animals like dogs and cats, helping animals like sheep, donkeys, and yaks have been part of the ancient human life of Nepal. However, the reason behind keeping a pet in the changing society of today is much different.
“In rural pets, however, many people are still keeping the helping animals such as donkeys, horses, and cats which helps in the farming and transportation,” He added.
Another main point behind keeping a pet animal is for security reasons as well. Many houses are empty or with children and elderly because of which many people in the city areas of the country are breeding pet dogs.
Dr Surya Poudel, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development said that there has been an increasing pattern in raising pet animals in the country.
It is credited to changing family structure, both parents working, and a way to refill the emotional need in the family where people are absent. Even the evidence suggests, that attachment to pets is good for human health and even helps build community.
"One can take it as a symbol of economic upliftment and increasing working culture in the country." He added.