They are precious beings, don’t insult them

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                                  They are precious beings, don’t insult them

          Are you a dog/cat  lover?  So, am I.  Therefore, I detest anyone using phrases like, “It’s a dog’s life.”  In the Tamil language, if you want to use the most deprecatory word for  some human being, one would say, “ you are an ungrateful dog”.  If you want to hail anyone  in an evil manner, one would address him, “Hey dog,  come here”.    How terrible! All the above descriptions are contrary to the facts. Have you ever heard of or come across  an ungrateful dog?

           God created several animals for Man’s benefit and the one that’s expected to be very close to him is  Dog.   A dog has a natural affinity for a human being. After a puppy opens its eyes and if it sees a man, it would wag its tail  at him like it has known him for years. That is a God-given bond between dog and man.

            Street dogs in India are a forsaken lot and have been starved of  the human love. (There are plenty of them in the streets of any India city)You click your fingers at a stray dog, the fellow would immediately swing his tail most vigorously and run behind you.  You touch his head and give a small pat, he/she would jump with joy  and fall at your feet. You might have forgotten that particular dog but if he/she sees you on a road side even after months, it would come charging at you to show his affection and gratitude to you.   That’s the kind of love a dog, even a street dog, has for a human being. So, aren’t the phrases, “ungrateful dog”  or “hey, dog” to a human being very cruel?  
              The dog lovers in India go around looking for a pedigree type or 90% pedigreed dog.  Someone, the other day has recommended that we adopt an Indian dog instead.  They are absolutely healthy fellows and would give no opportunity for a Vet to visit him. Whereas, the pedigree model would need constant care and a balanced diet.  An Indian street dog may not look as attractive as the western brand but is no less as far as affection is concerned.

            Once upon a time, we had four dogs, one cat, one parrot and one rabbit as our pet squad.  All of them got along well with each other. They were free to roam around inside or outside our large house. The parrot loved to come out of his cage and walk around on the floor. If he found any material which is slightly higher than the ground level, he would climb on it like a chief guest would ascend the saluting base to take the salute from the troops standing opposite him. Even our  Alsatian never challenged the bird. Kitty, the cat loved to lick the parrots red beak at least once a day. The rabbit was a loner.  He loved to look at her companions from a distance and never made real friends with the other pets. Then one by one, they started leaving their small world.  We shed tears at the death of every pet over a period of some twenty years. Then the children started  bidding us good bye in their turn according to their seniority.  Oh no, they didn’t leave the parental home after a quarrel or disagreement of sorts or any such thing. All of them got married in their turn and preferred to run their own homes and possess their own pets.

           Wife and I were ageing.  Feeding the pets became a task of high labour.  For instance, our cat would eat only ‘sardines’.  Give her any other fish, she would smell, sneer and sulk, almost crying.  Now, sardine is not a variety available round the year nor in every fish shop. We had to beg Kitty to eat whatever was given.  She did.  And alas, she developed frequent colic pain and died in course of time. Much against our wish, a replacement came, not at our instance, but our son found a stray  unattended kitten, picked it up and brought the small bundle to us. So, we had to keep the fellow who turned out to be a tom cat.  He grew up well and ate any fish much to our relief. But after he became an adult, he seldom  spent any time in the house and visited his home  only at meal times. He turned out to be a real Don Juan and had many girl friends. It so happened that he was the only Tom cat in our area and was in great demand by the feline. Dolfy couldn’t refuse any demand.  And in course of time, died  due to sheer exhaustion caused by excessive sex life.

         After Dolfy, we had decided not to keep any pet.  Not that we had developed any aversion for these wonderful animals but we were getting on in age. And one day, we saw a mongrel  at our door steps that early morning.  He looked to be about an year in age and flapped his tail very very warmly.   That’s it.  He had captured our heart wholesale.  Wifey fed him with the left overs. Our regular pets wouldn’t have touched the stuff but Jackie swallowed them in lumps and gurgles.  Quite satisfied, he made our front balcony his home.  For reasons not known, Jackie never attempted to step into our house.  Perhaps he realized he was a street dog and was required to spend his time just out side the house or in the open.! 

          Came a time when we had to move out to a new locality.  We visited our erstwhile colony to meet some old friends after  an year or so..  Jackie spotted us and made a bee line at us.  He held my hand with both his front paws and wouldn’t release himself.  It was something similar to a warm hug between lovers, which could last several hours.  Jackie was trying to copy that.

          Who says that street dogs of India don’t know what gratitude is.  Jackie demonstrated that in full measure when he met us after a  long gap.  We had to resist the temptation to take him to our new home.

         As of now, we are pet less, by choice. But if we see any dog on our way, we wish him, touch him/her and  make a little fuss over it. We have to steel ourselves and bid farewell to each one of them. Man by nature being a dog lover, where is the question of a dog having to lead a hard life.  So, let’s not use the term “dog’s life” in a negative sense. 

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