December 18, 2005


More singles in India keeping pets for companionship

A story published today in the Hindustan Times reports that many urban singles in India no longer seem to need a conventional soulmate in the opposite sex. They have — much to the dismay of those desperately seeking partners — found companionship in their pets.

Dusky beauty Koena Mitra, who has been unattached for about a year now, seeks company in her European pomeranian. “I stay alone in Mumbai which means she (my dog) is the only one I can talk to at home,” says Koena. “It’s very uplifting to come back after a long day at work and find her waiting.”

The actress is not alone. The number of single people showering attention on their pets is rising by the day.

Talking about the phenomenon, clinical psychologist Samindara Sawant says, “People believe that unlike human relations, keeping a pet means there are no emotional strings attached. This occurs primarily because individuals  fear getting scarred by relationships. A pet also helps kill boredom.”

For Namita, a photographer by profession, cuddling her dog is the best way ridding herself of the blues. “Ego, my dog, is a complete sweetheart,” says Namita. But why the name Ego? “That’s because I think my dog is very stubborn and arrogant,” she replies. A bit of a spoilt pooch, perhaps, but worth a great deal to the owner.

Parlimentarian Milind Deora dotes on his five-month-old pup. Away from his world of cut-throat politics, his dog gives Milind the unconditional love and absolute loyalty he is unlikely to find anywhere else.

The svelte Shilpa Shetty might vacillate on the issue of marriage but does not hesitate to profess her love for pets. And those she has plenty. A Russian pekinese, two Persian cats, a turtle and a tankful of fishes. Much like a mother who stays away from the trap of favouritism, Shipa responds to a query about her favourite with endearing diplomacy, “All of them are my babies and I love them all.”

VJ Nikhil Chinappa, who is nuts about his labrador, says, “I think human beings by nature are incapable of unconditional love and that’s where the pets step in.”

Does this mean that the camaraderie of human beings is passé? Can human contact be replaced? “No,” says Sawant, “It’s understandable if you love your pets. But cutting oneself off from the rest of the world may prove unhealthy.”

Warning: even keeping a pet requires some commitment on the part of its owner. If you think pets are the easy way out of a potential emotional quandry, think again.