I come from a family of dog lovers. Why canines, we have had representatives of many of the domesticated variety of Noah’s Ark in the backyard of our houses while we ourselves were in the process of growing up. Cows, buffaloes, hens, horses, cats, rabbits, birds have been our housemates at various periods of our colourful childhood along with visitors from all parts of the world and cars of many shapes and sizes.
My brothers continue the heritage of having dogs and cats in their homes. The naming ceremony of these pets has been given as much serious thought and reflection as the choice of the names of the offspring who continue the family bloodline. The pet names have been very eclectic with Candy, Bessie, Leo, Fluffy and Pusskin rubbing shoulders with Indian names like Subramaniam, Ambi alias Abhay, Kuchi, Pattee and Brownie. We also had the foreign touch with Kaiser, Garcon, Mishi, Leah and Ghia as a choice that reflected our family’s International connection and character.
The dogs in the family have had special characteristics too. Kaiser, a Doberman, sang the alaap with my mother. Leo loved an argument with used lemon halves. Leah likes to hide behind the sari, under a chair. Mishi never barked at anybody who wore glasses as according to him they were family members. And my neighbour’s dog is hand fed from a stainless steel thali by the maid who faithfully follows the beast.
My own family, on the other hand, tactically keeps animals at arm’s length. You can say their track record with dogs has been very ‘iffy’. My Lord and master is one of those who firmly believe that feeding a pet is not as good a Karma as looking after an orphan.
My son tolerated dogs as a toddler for they were part of the background in which he grew up. His first negative experience was with the maid’s dog that suddenly growled and snarled at him. My son’s fever shot up that night and his aversion for dogs began. My daughter has faithfully adopted her brother’s feelings.
Cats are also not my son’s favourite friends. While he was staying with his uncle Mani in LA part of his duties, performed with absolute abhorrence, was to feed the cat. This feline actually belonged to the neighbour but spent the day in Mani’s house. It also had a running battle with my son for occupying the Lazy Boy chair in front of the TV. It also took objections to my son’s choice of TV programmes and mewed pitifully at the World war movies and comedy shows. The irony was that both were guests of equal importance in that establishment.
To make a true confession I do not like some breeds of dogs. My pet aversion is to Alsatians. My brother had one -the aforementioned Ambi. I used to avoid visiting brother dear as I was not confident about the dog’s reaction to my unannounced visits. I used to make sure with a telephone call that Ambi was under control before I stepped into his office. I used to look like a Juliet looking up at the balcony after calling the family on my mobile waiting for the green signal to go up the flight of stairs after the ‘dog’ aws under control. Of course, it used to make me wonder whether my brother had found the ideal way of keeping me away!
I have always been extremely fond of Snoopy in Charlie Brown…Lassie was a wonderful film and other dog characters in films were absolutely cute. Sometimes I do say with longing that with both the offspring away, I would enjoy having a pet companion. My son is quite critical of the logic of the corollary–‘You mean me or a dog” he queries. My daughter is more direct and has threatened boycott of visits. To break the impasse I have recently found a wonderful new world that has opened to me with myriad opportunities to satisfy my longing for a pet.
Its time and I have to run. Animal Planet with a special on Dogs is just going to be telecast. So, bow wow until next time.