Published on August 8, 2022

Ahmedabad: Girls love them, they are super popular in dorms and their fan following cuts across batches. And no, class studs of the IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) do not stand a chance against the swooning popularity of the pack of 38 dogs and 15 cats that have made the lush green campus of the premier B-school their home.

One can find feline ‘Friends’ Rachel, Monica and Joey here. Then, there is Dobby – a character from the Harry Potter universe – and its twin, christened Maybe on the campus.
The IIT Gandhinagar campus is home to strays named Boeing, Activa, Biscuit, Cream and Brownie! The campus near Gandhinagar hums with puppy love with some 40 cats and dogs. Such is the passion and compassion for the animals that the institute has a dedicated veterinary cell to take care of their vaccination and other medical needs.

While premier educational institutes in and around Ahmedabad are known for their research, pedagogy, and illustrious alumni, the thriving subculture on residential campuses has helped foster an amazing student-animal bond. For students living away from their homes, the bonding with the furry occupants is so strong, they willingly go the extra mile and hold special vaccination camps, naming ceremonies and even crowdfunding to give them the best possible care and love.

According to old-timers, while strays have always been around, the students’ love for them to ensure formal setup to take care of pets on campus is a fairly new phenomenon. It has also caused run-ins and some skirmishes between staff, students and dog catchers prompting some institutions to formulate rules and unwritten pet policy.
At MICA, the two beagles – Frozo and Pfaff – are adopted from a nearby medical research facility in 2018, and to take care of them there’s also a ‘Beagle Band’ of the students.

The pets are no push-overs, they are stars in their own right – Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) and IIM-A have dedicated Instagram pages that keep updating about their well-being, occasional requests for adoption or donations. The campuses also have groups such as Pawsible and Paws of GNLU.

Instant camaraderie and sense of belonging are two major reasons for many students to adopt pets or get attached to them.

Manali Shah, part of Pawsible at IIM-A, said that she had joined the institute amid pandemic and there were few students on the campus.

“I was not much fond of the pets earlier, but I bonded surprisingly well with the dogs on the campus and started feeding them. The love and warmth the dogs provided during my initial days has formed a life-long connection,” says Shah who takes care of feeding the dogs at designated times. At the National Institute of Design (NID), the sound of ‘Damru’ keeps students in sway. The canine can also be found in the workshop area, canteen and corridors where the students just cuddle it or play fetch.

In almost all institutes, including NID, the student community nurtures and provides for the cats and canines on the campus.

Students said that like the heirloom passed on from one generation to the next, the pets often come with do’s and don’ts, likes and dislikes and of course generous donations from their immediate seniors.

It ensures that their pets remain cosy on a half-chewed rug or a shade in corridors while the academia around them scurry around to build their careers and chase plum placements.

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