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All for furry friends: Ratan Tata dedicates part of Bombay House 2.0 to stray dogs

The kennel is designed to tend to each need of the pack’s, be it the flap door at the base of the main door of the room.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 07, 2018, 08.20 AM IST
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RatanTata1
The newly-restored Tata Group headquarters has thoughtfully allotted a part of its Bombay House premises to furry friends.

When Bombay House reopened last week, after a nine-month long restoration process, perhaps what grabbed most eyeballs, was the ‘kennel’. It’s an open secret that the building has been home to several stray dogs for many years, an outcome of the group’s former chairman Ratan Tata’s love for them. Earlier, these strays would often be seen sleeping in the reception area or the security guards’ cabin, just past the main entrance. But, in Bombay House 2.0, they have a room of their own.



The kennel is designed to tend to each need of the pack’s, be it the flap door at the base of the main door of the room for the dogs to move in and out at will, or the separate bathing area for their weekly, Saturday baths. It is also well-stocked with toys, chewies, feeding bowls, dog biscuits and a daily supply of boiled meat that comes from the kitchens at the Taj.

Doggie


In fact, when Tata first saw the dogs resting in their new kennel, he apparently asked if they went in voluntarily. “He was very touched that they were all there, and that they really liked it,” said Nandini Somaya Sampat of Somaya & K a l appa Consultants, the architecture firm that worked on the restoration project.

Speaking about the construction of the kennel, she said, “When we were working (on the restoration of Bombay House), whatever was here (before), had to be maintained and upgraded. There are some sacred spaces and old traditions that must be kept up. And the dogs, of course, are such an important part of the space.”

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The kennel can be accessed by walking past the length of the ground floor lounge area. A quick right from there and you’ll be at the door. The room’s a cheery one with its choice of yellow for one of the walls and a black and white dog graffiti wallpaper for the other. The two large windows that look out toward the street add to the sense of openness. The activity level in the room depends on the hour of the day that you’ve walked in. The dogs could either be sleeping atop the wooden bunk or the darker, quieter section underneath, or perhaps lounging on one of the seats spread around the room.

Doggie1


Meet the members
The kennel is shared by eight dogs at the moment. The oldest of the lot is Sheeba (around 11-12 years old), and the youngest is Munni, a tan and white-coloured, month-and-a-half old puppy.

Then there is Goa, Jackal, Chotu, Bushy(also known as Sweety), Julie and Simba. And just like any other house, this one has its personalities and dynamics. “Sheeba is kind of this older, motherly presence. Simba is the shy one, whereas Chotu, he’s the bratty one,” Abodh Aras, CEO of The Welfare of Stray Dogs NGO said. Aras and his team attend to the medical needs of the dogs, ensuring that they are sterilised, and vaccinated annually.

The leader-of-the-pack title goes to Goa. He is named so, as he journeyed from Goa to Bombay as a puppy. The story goes that he got into the car of a senior Tata executive as a puppy in Goa and only got off at Bombay House. There are whispers that he is Tata’s favourite and that the feeling is mutual. “He would wait for Mr Tata to arrive each morning at Bombay House and ride up the elevator with him. Goa had even earmarked a couch to sleep on in the office,” a long-time occupant of Bombay House said.

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Tending to their needs
The dogs are well looked after, with the security guards at the building playing doting parents to this pack. First among equals is a certain guard called Shankar Singh, who takes a leading role in looking after the dogs. A story in the building goes that once, a Japanese client, afraid of dogs, was visiting. He refused to enter as one of the dogs was sitting in the corridor. It was Singh who came to the rescue, as he engaged with the animal, and the client was quickly taken in. He’ll be real proud when that finishing touch — framed pictures of the seven grown dogs for the wall — gets added.


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