Monday, September 5, 2016

Bowwow days

Bowwow days

Dogs have been an important consideration set throughout my life. My tryst with the canine kinds goes long before the days of YouTube. On YouTube, dogs are kind, playful, virtuous, tear-jerking content producers, garnering millions of touched global audience. In my times you found them on roads looking for food and barking in 360 degree surround sound trying to get attention. So this post is a true story mildly exaggerated as per my convenience.

Introduction and also Nicky
I hadn’t thought much about dogs till I was 6 years old, till when we moved to Pondicherry from Calcutta. On an innocent evening, I was walking back home from a shop, maybe buying biscuits, when a small black street dog fast approached barking at me, I don't exactly remember why, maybe he wanted my biscuits. My instant combative move was to take a piece of rock and fling at the dog. I thought I had settled matters and showed who the boss was. But the dog easily evaded the rock and came at me, this time, with more purpose, he wanted to get me no matter what.
I could see his teeth, I recently had lost mine. I then made a swift decision to swallow my pride and run homeward with a gentle cry of "mummmmmy ..MUMMMMY... MUMMMMMMMMMY" that grew louder as I ran 100 meters in under 10 seconds. I breathed heavily and shut the gate as the dog stood outside possibly kicking himself to have missed me by a whisker.  I knew that moment, I couldn't take this species lightly. 'Going forward I need to exercise caution,' I reflected, though a negative non-well wisher such as the reader might call it fear. That was going to be guiding relationship theme with dogs from now to have a "respectful distance and fear."

Our Pondicherry house owners had a big sized bungalow, where they rented out the first floor to us and they lived downstairs and had gardens surrounding the house for their dog called "Nicky", A Rajapalyam breed. They had even made a nice dog house for Nicky. Luckily I never had to see Nicky face to face since there was a wall with a small gate separating Nicky and our entry/exit from main gate. This distance meant I could provoke him from afar say from our balcony and just get barked at, but never bitten.
As I walked upstairs post school, Nicky would run quite a distance to get a chance to bite me. But there was the gated wall in between. He tried and every-time I laughed at his stupidity. On one such victorious occasion, my dad cautioned cutting short my chuckle with a "Rajapalyams are a wild breed can grow very fast very soon and can easily jump across the wall to have a grab at you". That was it! This new possibility played on my mind every single day. "Has he grown today?" "Will he jump on me?" "If that happens, should I run back up home or outside the gate?" I mentally practiced my escape routes. I couldn't sleep. I provoked him with caution. But thankfully we shifted out of Pondicherry to Cuddalore before Nicky grew bigger. So long.

Tiger and Sweetie

Now fast forward to 6 years, I am in 7th standard and we shift from Cuddalore to another town in Andhra Pradesh called Srikakulam. This time, my father did not choose a house with one dog, but one with 2 dogs. One was a Pomeranian called Sweety and a Dalmatian called Tiger. The two dogs assumed their names quite literally. Sweety was sweet and docile while Tiger thought he was a real wild animal. This time I did not have the luxury of a wall/gate partition between my house and the owners and my escape route was more elaborate. I had to climb our compound wall in the backyard and tightrope on the compound wall all the way around the house to jump into a neighborhood office space and use their gate to get to the road. The people working in that office knew me well, as the kid who is doing this tedious rigmarole to escape a furious defeated barking Tiger. The perverted peon in that office once told me, "Jumping like this everyday will make one's testicles inflate like a balloon when grown up". The thought did bother me.

Back then, every day was a battle for survival. But I kept winning.

Post 2000 - The digital era

In the wake of new millennium - in the year 2002 - I joined college and no one knew my position towards dogs. Dogs were gaining immense popularity among girls and therefore a man had to tolerate and often impress dogs actively participating in the mutual girl-dog 'awww' sessions and buying them biscuits. I think dogs have a secret marketing tie up with of Britannia and Parle. We must dig up the nexus,  30% of all biscuit sales are for appeasing dogs, I speculate.

I had kept a low profile till my final year until a day i got exposed thanks to a friend who saw my sudden rush of a fear towards a young Labrador and told the whole world about it. I was laughed at and even my college farewell book has a mention of the episode.

In 2007, I moved to Mumbai to begin work, I had lived a dog free life. a couple of incidents but i don't want to take your time describing them. You get the drift.. right? In the meanwhile, Internet penetration and bandwidth speeds was now increasing and dogs were beating billboard Top 100 in views.  It did not concern me. I did not watch those videos. Dogs were bygones.

Turning Point and the nice looking girl

According  to my folks I was  attaining a marriage-able age and they had positioned me as an eligible bachelor on  On the portal, my folks transformed me from someone who is often referred to as a  useless lazy bum to now being addressed as a go-getter with all virtues rolled into one. Great success!  

So I saw this nice looking girl and told my sister-in-law that she is not-all-that-bad and asked her to take things forward and close the deal.

"Did you check her Facebook profile?" she asked.
"Not yet,"  I said.
"Her cover photo is a big-looking dog.  I'll add her as a friend and unearth more dog photos???"  she asked with imaginary emoticons winking at me.
I replied with a blank imaginary emoticon

The dogs were back in my life.

The following week I had gone to Chennai for a friend's wedding when my dad asked me to go meet this aforementioned girl. 

"Meet her?  No way.  I don't want to marry." I said decisively. and followed it up with  "But where to meet her? Should I take any gift along?". Like i said before, the girl was nice looking.

"Of course go meet her in their home.  That way You could meet her family too," my father ordered.
The thought of the meeting a girl with her family and a big dog made weird sounds in my stomach.

"No way.  I am meeting her at a restaurant. I know one 10 km from her house," I revolted

"Why? Is it because of the dog?"  My dad quickly asked.  

"No! Errr.... It's just too early," I sighed. He laughed.

 The next day I met this nice girl at a restaurant.  After exchanging pleasantries, on weather and traffic,  One of the first questions she asked me point blank was "Are you a dog person or a cat person?" 

"I am a human person" was my reply. I thought I had come with temporary fix and a satisfactory answer.  She smiled. Maybe she thought I was trying to be funny and gave additional brownie points.

In the next 6 months, we got married,  In the courtship period I realized I am marrying a dog fanatic, a champion for the dog's purpose. She could communicate with mongrels and breed dogs with extra terrestrial powers. She had written articles on dogs for the newspaper she worked for. Angry dogs melted to her voice and wagged their tails joyously.  She addressed a ferocious Doberman as a 'ladoo' and German Sheperd with a sound that roughly sounds like  "OOONNNeeeeiiiiii". The beasts became kittens. Hard core stuff! We got married, nevertheless. 

Post marriage, visits to her house meant,  dealing with her pet dog named Cookie.
The nice girl I married, cunningly, let her dog loose against my "please tie him" please and made her intentions clear - "Either get along with my dog or get out!"  To be fair Cookie was mostly lazy but he did tend to jump on humans when he wanted to be playful. My initial strategy was to avoid any room he possible might be in. For example, I spent a lot of time in bathroom and corners of the bed. I worried I might come across as a weird guy with digestion issues, but still stuck to my hiding spots. Tough leadership calls.

After a couple of visits, Cookie quickly realized I was an important inclusion in their family.  He sensed I was the guy who walked, talked and ate with his main lady-master and tried to be nicer to me. He stopped barking at me. I used to greet him with "Hi Cookie" with respect. Slowly this metamorphosis began.   The next day he gently wagged his tails and tried to lick me a couple of times. Sensing my discomfort he stopped licking and merely sniffed me. In exchange, I patted his back and head. It was a win-win deal.

In my recent visit, I patted his back and as he sit next to me. Think Baasha. (reference pic below)
But something out of the ordinary happened, I gave him a belly rub and our relationship hit a new high. A surprised Cookie looked at me as if "Did you actually give me a belly rub or was it a mistake?" I confirmed it by doing it again. He tried to lick me, I let him do so. He was mighty pleased with my gesture. He then turned around exposing his complete belly for me to do more of belly rub. I continued doing it. It doesn't occur to one that dogs are almost always naked till you give them a belly rub. An overjoyed Cookie took his paw to my face; "My brother..." his soul told mine. I checked my emotions.

I heard tears of joy from the missus. I grew into a man that day in her eyes. she served me an additional coffee.

Today, I am more gentle to my area dogs in Five Gardens, Mumbai. I buy them biscuits when with missus and voluntarily go to YouTube and watch dog videos. A compact beagle is now a part of my medium to long term plan. Looks are important.

They are not all that bad a species you know.