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Who let the dogs out?
If you're are one of those dog owners, who feel guilty about leaving your dog behind every time you go out, there's finally an activity you could enjoy with your pooch.
Next month's Bacardi NH7 Weekender Festival - to be held from October 13-14 at the Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida - is all set to become India's first pet-friendly music festival.
The event, which will also be held in Pune and Bangalore in November and December respectively, will have a special designated pet zone where owners can bring their dogs and involve themselves in various games and competitions for the first few hours of Day 1 of the festival.
After the mutts and their owners have had their share of fun, they can check out the festival, which features international acts like thrash metal giants Megadeath, German techno act Kaiserdisco, Anoushka Shankar and popular indie acts, with their pets in tow. The focus of these games will be on how to improve coordination, obedience and understanding between the owner and dog, and are crucial in ensuring that the dogs fit in to this new space comfortably and the owners as well as other festival-goers are also at ease.
Mumbai-based pet services, Party Barky Hai, who've had organised similar programmes for dogs in the past - Celebrate Bandra last year - will be running the dog-friendly zone at the Weekender.
PBH is run by two certified canine behaviourists and trainers, Ragini Parmar and Shivani Mathur. Both Parmar and Mathur are dedicated to making our social environment more dog-inclusive and see music concerts as just an extension of that.
"Our dogs are already integrated into our daily lives, " Mathur, who studied in Delhi, says. "We have parties at home, we play loud music, watch movies, entertain people. So dogs are used to some level of noise and social interaction. Dogs need a lot more activity and bonding than most owners can provide, hence we have created special spaces and events where bonding becomes top priority, " Mathur adds.
But why a music festival, you ask. "The area is huge and we have a separate area for the dogs. As a responsible parent, you don't take your child close to the speakers do you? So why would you do that with the dog? Abroad, taking your pet to an open air concert is a regular thing. In India, we need to open up spaces where we can spend time with our pets, " she answers.
But before the dogs reach the festival grounds, they need to be trained. PBH plan on organising pre-party events where the pets will be desensitised to sound, and which will also serve as a screening process for dogs. "We will see how dogs and dog owners reacts at these pre-parties - in a smaller similar set-up - before they qualify for the main festival. These pre-parties are extremely important as we get to meet the dogs and owners first-hand. We will have a Q & A session with them, play games that will help them integrate their dogs into a space with large crowds and loud music, " Mathur explains. And if you want to headbang to Megadeath and groove to The Raghu Dixit Project with your pet, then you must register for the pre-party in Delhi on September 15.
The canine behavioural trainers will talk to the dogs and the owners, see how the dogs react around sound and gauge as to which dogs make it to the final list.
Delhi-based Ravi Singh was among the first to register for the pre-party, and is one of PBH's more dedicated patrons. He has an 18-monthold South African mastiff called Hooch who loved his interaction with other dogs at a previous PBH event. "Honestly, I've never been to a music festival but my wife loves music and I love hanging out with Hooch so its best of both the worlds for us, " says Singh, a corporate trainer. "It's a cool concept and with Diwali round the corner, maybe this won't be a bad idea at all, " he adds. If Hooch can handle Megadeath, then the sound of crackling crackers will be a smooth ride.
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