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The Pied Piper

I had always dreamt of being a Pied Piper, not for mice, for dogs of course. And today I did experience that dream come true, almost.

I walked through a tiny settlement wherein a huge dog reminded me of good ol’ Haara. I stopped and said a “HI”. His tongue went inside and he looked at me without moving his eye lids. I apologized and quickly proceeded.  As I walked along familiar roads, I went inside a society and sat next to (finally) an extremely sleepy and ticklish Haara, the real Haara, who bullies almost everyone but a few, among whom am I! His huge body convulsed with heavy breathing, as he lazed around in the cool shade, on an otherwise hot sunny afternoon. I saw his eyes close and nose drip, and his tail stopped battling with the flies. I think I even imagined him snoring. Just as I was about to leave, his paw , as if having life of its own, stopped me from getting up. So monsieur here wished for me to serve with massage while he gleefully slept.

Having pampered Haara to sleep, I started my journey again towards my room, when two young and hyper active pariahs, brown and white, came running towards me. We played for a while, and having received enough scratches for a day, I presumed my return to the building where I stay. But those two were not going to give up so soon. They kept running behind me, along side me, in between my feet, and at times even hugged my feet and took a lift while I attempted at continuing.  They ran across the road in excitement of discovering a new road, much beyond their territory.

We met a cow at the turn, who scared them enough to rush to my side and not leave it until we reached the building. The silence here always haunts me as it reminds me of Jenny, and these two seemed to really like the place. They jumped around, while I called the lift and went up. When I looked down from my floor, I saw them sitting in front of the lift door and could hear them yelp. Though it would be joyous to have them here, I knew it was unfair, I might get them in unnecessary trouble. I had to go down, where I was greeted gratefully by the scared brown one. He was terrified of the lift, it ate up the girl we followed!

So in all the heat, I walked them back to their place, and again they ran all across the road, full of joy and merriment. However once we reached, they expected me to stay. The moment I turned back, they would follow me again. I tried fooling them but all in vain. After a long struggle, they got thirsty and went for water, I made a dash.

In the evening, I reluctantly went out to buy some necessary items, when I met a dog sitting alone outside a shop. I said a Hi and could see her head rise apprehensively. I was wondering if she would like my intrusion. I went close and she lowered her head, offering her forehead to be touched. I did so greedily. Its that moment when you become friends, when we win each other’s trust.

I sat down next to her, she kept her paw on my knee, such beautiful nails. We played for a while when she got up and kept her head on my shoulders. I was hugged by a dog. They do understand when you really desperately need one don’t they! I think I needed her affection more than she needed mine.

As I bid her goodbye, I wish I did not have to, I was greeted by two pariahs barking in madness and running in circles. I stopped and called them. Now this was thoroughly confusing for them. As much as they wanted to meet me, how dare I enter their territory! So they chose to slyly reduce the circle and come closer as they moved in spiral, tails wagging crazily and barks moving from threats to loving sounds. And there they were jumping all over me uncontrollably. In times like these I wish I had many hands. They followed me for quite some time and I was glad the traffic stopped them from continuing. Their territory is after all theirs and they are the safest and happiest in their own micro systems.

I passed the stationery shop and suddenly felt a tug on my shirt. The big brown dog (who once almost bit em because I pressed his ears too hard) was happily chewing on my shirt. I patted him as he took out funny sounds and went up to his friend who lay on the floor, his face always looks as if he is smiling sleepily. I patted the sleepy one while the other got jealous and came in between my hand and his face. So now I had a dog on each side, when the third one came and stood right in front of me, eyes expectant, tail faithful.

I bought them biscuits, distributed equally and left. While returning I was reminded of the institute’s dogs who in the morning had convinced me into buying them biscuits from the shop inside. They not only followed me but literally led me to the biscuits.



Of Granny, Haara and a little more

In Silence, lay our solace

Since the loss of our dear Jenny, I had been hunting for solace in the wilderness of assumed objectivity around me. But all in vain. Like a volcano ready to erupt, I had been walking around gifting an angry word or two to those around. The heat certainly doesn’t help.

I tried distracting myself with a group of dogs (proxy family) who stay a few houses from ours. Among them are two (month old) little pariahs, full of energy and curious teeth. I tried to console myself with their joyous exhibition of life, hoping that it would get me over loss of my dear one. It couldn’t, in fact in all my selfishness to gain more of Jenny’s company, I made it worse for myself.

This evening, I was buying tomatoes for that group, completely aware though of the fact that I was trying a little too hard. I saw a little brown pariah noticing me. I went up to him and the playful soul that he was, he enjoyed being pampered to the hilt. When he would get tickled, his pink jaws with tiny teeth would show. He looked hilarious, I can certainly vouch for that. We (I had gone with a friend of mine, who seems to be quite popular in the dog community) christened him ‘Suppandi’.

Image from Wikipedia


His mother called “Haari” (informed by Mr. Altaf, who really loves these dogs on the roadside) joined in. As I rubbed on her forehead, Suppandi started fooling around and I felt him nudging on my elbow from back. I tried to squeeze him in against my leg, and was surprised at the softnes and sudden increase in his dimensions. I was just admiring the cushioned sensation when he jumped right in front of me, from a  completely different direction. OOPS! then who was the fellow I was so lovingly half-hugging, while crouching in the mud and hanging in mid-air?

And there he stood quietly, a beautiful golden dog, with the demeanor of an angel and the softness of the most comforting solace. Its as if, he just knew and understood it. He wasn’t playful or boisterous, rather his calmness was almost surreal and his loving nudges ecstatically magical. He demanded love, but also gave it back equally if not more. I couldn’t stop fondling with his fur, like rose petals, and looked into his innocent eyes, they looked back saying they knew how it felt. As if in a trance celebrating loss, harnessing the sweetness in pain, he literally hugged me with his silent company. Under the street lamp, on the roadside, in the company of four dogs (The adorable Lehariya joined in) I felt the solace and acceptance of mortality which dawns when next to the vastness and magnanimity of the ocean.



This one’s for you Jenny, I’ll always miss you

Jenny was the naughtiest of them all, and hid her chauvinistic impulses behind her graceful demeanor.

Those who knew her well, will have many a humorous anecdotes as alive in their minds as was Jenny herself, our childish,adorable “Dog on the staircase”

I particularly loved it when she would vouch for my attention, and put her paws behind her ears, it would tickle her there the most, and when enjoying it to the point of no return, her eyes would be closed and she would look absolutely ecstatic! Jenny would recognize my footsteps and later my bicycle’s sound, her ears straight in attention, neck raised, eyes alert, she would immediately identify the direction and voila! next moment she would be next to me.  Her beautiful brown fur and thick tail added to her authoritative voice, which she amusingly modulated when expressing anger at my lack of interest (which was rare, it was hard to ignore Jenny) and it would be very hard to accept her physical absence.

Jenny really inspired me, she just never gave up! Even towards the end, it was I who really gave up.

We lost Jenny to injuries, subsequent infections and paralysis.

But in her lively memory I request everyone who are  in the position of  caring for animals (which actually we all are and must be), please, if you can afford to, don’t bank on the random animal help etc. unless assured of their previous endeavours. At times they can really spoil it further. Also, never delay, the moment you feel something is wrong, immediately contact a vet who is known for his practice. Ask pet owners as to where they take their pets for medical help.

Secondly do not believe the myths that come your way. According to internet websites and healthcare helplines, mobile healthcare staff etc. Jenny had rabies. She did satisfy many a symptoms and to a point we got fearful, but the vet confirmed she did not have rabies. When he saw her, unlike those irrational helpline staff who literally traumatized her, he softly nudged at her nose and she responded. Now that is experience and affection which is required to take care of someone.

And yes, Jenny had been extremely sick and restless in her last few days, however never did she bite at us or even growl in all the pain she must have endured. Please don’t be unnecessarily scared of animals, they need love and care more than inhibitions and consequential recklessness.

I am sorry Jenny, I should have been more agile. I’ll always be grateful to you, you really taught me to be happy, to stand by your friends (literally) and were always there for me. You made me look forward to returns from Home, for I would be embraced in your affection and attention. I love you, I’ll always miss you…

Dear Jenny though I don’t have any photograph with you, you are embedded in my memory. However the following is a tribute to your innocence from my friend Shruthi.

Illustration by Shruthi Raj Gangadhar

P.S. For those in Ahmedabad:

The best possible (and really humane!) veterinary doctor- Dr. Chirag Dave

Address: Landmark Complex
Opp. HDFC Bank, Mithakali Six Road, Navarangpura
City: Ahmedabad
Country: INDIA – 380009
Main phone: +91-79-26447977
Main Mobile: 9825845174

Angry young dog at Chennai

Photograph clicked at Deoria, U.P.

An illustration made some time back