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Pet show

Pets come to the party at Tollygunge Club

Stories of deep bonds and compassion were heard from the pet parents

Udita Chakraborty | Published 29.01.23, 07:59 PM
Labradors Bruno and Olive dressed as Chip and Dale — the two impish chipmunks of Walt Disney’s creation

Labradors Bruno and Olive dressed as Chip and Dale — the two impish chipmunks of Walt Disney’s creation

Photos: Soumyajit Dey

The driving range at Tollygunge Club was taken over by woofs and wags as pet parents and canines, dressed up in their Sunday best, waited impatiently for the Tolly Pet Pal Party.

Fancy dresses for the win

When Labradors Bruno and Olive appeared dressed as Chip and Dale — the two impish chipmunks of Walt Disney’s creation — the audience couldn’t stop cheering. Energetic and friendly, Bruno and Olive made their owners proud by taking a turn on the stage and displaying their beautiful costumes.

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But nothing could have prepared the audience for Gulab Jamun — the Lhasa Apso who came dressed as a balloon seller, wearing a dhoti and a bunch of balloons on her back. Her owner Anju Shree Das had to hold her down to prevent her from flying away with the balloons.

Gulab Jamun, a Lhasa Apso, dressed as a balloon seller

Gulab Jamun, a Lhasa Apso, dressed as a balloon seller

Giving her a run for the money was Athena, the King Charles Cavalier who wore a pink tutu to look the part of a ballerina. Shubhika Singh, a psychologist and the proud mother of Athena, said her love for dogs went back to when she married into a family that always had dogs. “Athena walked into my heart a year ago and she has made a space there ever since. She is extremely loving, warm, and friendly. If you’re looking for a guard dog, a King Charles Cavalier should be your last option because they will go and befriend the thief! I have been a member of Tolly for over a decade and this is the only club in Kolkata that allows pets,” Singh said.

Needless to say, both Gulab Jamun and Athena won the fancy dress competition.

Athena in a tutu for the fancy dress competition

Athena in a tutu for the fancy dress competition

Like owner, like pet

They say, more often than not, pets resemble their owners. Or perhaps, it’s the owners who end up looking like their pets — but whatever the case, the participants of the ‘Owner and Pet Lookalike’ category hit it out of the park with their uncanny resemblance to their furry friends.

The first participant was Skyla Nazir with her Beagle, Beau. Just like Beau’s black and brown coat, Skyla came wearing shades of black and brown and carried a red purse to march Beau’s red leash.

Skyla Nazir with her Beagle, Beau

Skyla Nazir with her Beagle, Beau

Cairo, the Husky, wore a black jacket and shoes much like his owner, Kishlay Chatterjee. When asked about the choice of name for his pet, Chatterjee responded, “He is Cairo because he looks like a pharaoh”. The audience couldn’t agree more.

However, it was Kenzo, the Daschund, who stole the show. Wearing a red jacket over his black fur, Kenzo looked exactly like his owner Rhea Todi who donned a red jacket as well.

Olive, the labrador, and his owner Yash Jalan wore shirts that looked identical. Apart from their clothes, the owner and the pet both had moles on their foreheads, making them look remarkably similar.

Kenzo the Daschund with his owner Rhea Todi

Kenzo the Daschund with his owner Rhea Todi

Providing a home

In between the pet party, Tolly Club introduced the guests to the pets that it has sheltered and taken care of over the years. The ponies, Zara and Esha, were brought out and Anil Mukherjee, CEO and managing member of Tolly Club, pointed out that the ponies “demonstrate the undying compassion and empathy for animals that Tolly Club has for its animals”.

“I am an animal lover myself. This is symbolic of the unique bonding that Tolly has with our animal friends which many other clubs don’t have. So, animals are a part of our ethos, and we celebrate love through them,” Mukherjee said.

Stories of a deep bond

Mellow the Golden Retriever with her friends and family

Mellow the Golden Retriever with her friends and family

Stories of compassion were heard from the pet owners as well. Mellow the Golden Retriever had a similar story. Anasuya Sircar, who has been a member of the Tolly Club for over three decades, shared the story of Mellow’s rescue. “Mellow was a rescue dog of sorts and my daughter rescued her. We had a tenant who rather neglected her. My daughter used to go through the rear door and take care of her. There was a time when the tenant went away and took Mellow with them. It made my daughter inconsolable. Then we found out through a website that they had already sold her to another family. But that family didn’t want to take her in on account of her size and that is when our friends posed as customers who wanted to buy her. We ended up buying her and took her back,” she said.

Rukmini Mehta with her Indie dog Romeo

Rukmini Mehta with her Indie dog Romeo

Rukmini Mehta, who teaches golf at the club, was there with her Indie dog Romeo and emphasised the need for adopting dogs who already need a home. “I am a part of a group at the club which looks after the dogs at the club. Romeo was adopted eight years ago and he is calm and very handsome! I hope more people will be inspired by him to adopt more dogs who need homes,” she said.

Meenu Sareen, who was one of the judges at the event, said Tolly has been at the forefront of adopting Indie dogs who are looked after and taken care of by the club. “The Indies at our club are all in good health, vaccinated, and sterilised. One special mention here will go to Binca Mukherjee, the wife of our CEO. She is a devoted and passionate dog lover. She has taken the responsibility of looking after the dogs,” Sareen pointed out.

Sujoy Banerjee, vice-president of Tollygunge Club, at the event

Sujoy Banerjee, vice-president of Tollygunge Club, at the event

“To see so many people caring for their pets and caring for animals is very encouraging because pets are the biggest friends of human beings. Pets at times are more sensitive than human beings and it's lovely that Tolly Club encourages members to bring their pets,” said Sujoy Banerjee, vice-president of Tollygunge Club.

Judges speak

We call it a party rather than a competition. However, we also try to emphasise stories that are about rescues and adopting those dogs which need homes. We use this as a platform to convince pet owners that adopting a dog that had been abandoned and neglected is a happy-ever-after story. We also talk about responsible pet keeping and the implications of bringing a new pet at home.

— Arundhati Gupta, freelance writer, and a Paws in Hope founding member

The Pet Pal Party is a very important annual club event as it reflects the ethos of this institution and its long association with animals. It is reassuring and delightful to see the participation of so many children with their pets as I truly believe that one's sense of compassion and empathy must start young.

— Esha Dutta, entrepreneur, and Ashari trustee

Last updated on 29.01.23, 07:59 PM
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