A person once joked that the government should supply canes to every individual in Bhutan.

Not because it would come in handy while traversing country’s uneven terrains on foot, as that could work too, but for a more critical use. It should serve as a weapon to battle off dogs found in every corner.

Every home has an anecdote of a member’s encounter with a dog, of not so pleasant ones, of course. One would get attacked by a pack during an early morning jog or evening walks, others would be nipped on the street while out shopping. One would almost enjoy serenity and peace, especially in the outskirts, if not for distance barks breaking the silence.

At nights, the packs, in eights and nines, emerge from their “community” for a confrontation with others in the neighbourhood. That results in ceaseless bawls and whines, keeping everyone from drifting off. Dogs, mostly strays, are a problem. Its increasing population is a menace. Has always been so.

Everyone knows and even government acknowledges that. Efforts have been made to control the count. Dog pounds were built and nationwide sterilising programs were initiated for years. Yet, it is still a problem. How did it happen? They say dogs were not much of an issue in rural settings where farmers were handling canines to guard their farms and properties. A few puppies they received were also raised with care or given charge to someone from the same village. But the towns like Thimphu and Paro, where eateries and meat vendors mushroomed overnight, saw stray dogs thrive on wastes produced. If not from the shops, schools and institutes that offered feeding programs attracted more dogs.

Even otherwise, the largely Buddhist society in practice of compassion let the dogs be, giving food in consideration of the animals that were mostly deprived and starved. However, as the size of the pack grew and incidents of intimidation and biting increased, pursuit of compassion was to be revisited. First, there was a need to address the problem before it worsened.

As the government asserts on neutering and prevention programs, which would eventually make a difference, for individuals who aspire to make Bhutan a beautiful home, a more practical approach could be considered. For one, it would make sense to take in dogs from streets and give it home care. That would replace the imported breeds and serve the purpose of disbanding the packs going after people.

If not, local firms and organisations, big or small, could assume responsibility of ensuring the dogs in the locality are spayed and vaccinated. The quickest way out is to work together.

Until then, dogs could work as a fine excuse for many to stay indoors.