Big Dogs of Tibet and the Himalayas: A Personal Journey

This book by Don Messerschmidt is a journey of discovery of the exotic and rare breeds of large dogs from Tibet and the Himalaya such as the Tibetan Mastiff, the rare Kyi Apso (the bearded or shaggy Tibetan Mastiff), the Himalayan mountain dog and the Sha-kyi (Tibetan hunting dog). Don has undertaken thorough research on the dogs, travelled in the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayan regions of Nepal studying them closely and searched information on these dogs in the old writings of various writers, travellers, anthropologists, spies, explorers, diplomats and missionaries. He has also bred, photographed and made them participate in dog shows. An anthropologist and Himalayan specialist, Don is a Tibetan Mastiff aficionado and spent a considerable time researching, raising and breeding them.
This book dispels a lot of myths about these dogs and is a must read for all big dog admirers.

What goes inside your dog’s mind?

Have you ever thought what your dog thinks? Well, Alexandra Horowitz, Term Assistant Professor, Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University has come up with an interesting book on the subject. Dogs & Pups interacted with her on how she came up with this wonderful idea. Excerpts.

D&P: Please tell us something about your book Inside Of A Dog.book review

Alexandra: This book is an attempt to use scientific results about dogs’ perceptual and cognitive capacities to imagine what the world looks like from a dog’s point of view: the dog’s perspective.

D&P: How did you conceive the idea of writing this book?

Alexandra: I study dog behaviour scientifically, and am also a dog owner. I found that the results of research scientists were performing were not being translated to the population of dog owners, and I thought it was high time that someone must do so. I was also interested in using some results of research in a creative way to answer the kinds of questions dog owners have about their pups – questions not explicitly asked by science, such as “Do dogs get bored?” “What does my dog know about me?” and so on.

D&P: What has been the response of the book so far?

Alexandra: The response has been very good, which is delightful. People here in the States seem very much interested in trying to understand what dogs know and understand – how they see the world.

D&P: What is the main aim of the book?

Alexandra: That is the aim: to begin to draw a picture of how the dog sees the world. By doing so, I think dog owners can start to forge a new relationship with their dogs: instead of anthropomorphizing (attributing human-like characteristics to their dogs), we can appreciate what dogs are really capable of. This, in turn, can lead to being less focussed on whether a dog is “misbehaving” and more interested in how to make the dog’s life a rich one.

D&P: Being a canine psychologist, please share a few things which every dog owner should keep in mind to keep their pooch happy?

Alexandra: Dogs are very responsive and attentive to human movement and behaviour. If we spent half as much time studying them as they do studying us, we would learn a lot.

D&P: How can a dog owner know his pooch needs attention?

Alexandra: Simply because dogs can sleep a lot doesn’t mean they don’t need attention or company. Dogs are social animals, and need lots of social time. Dogs have a lot of ways to tell you when they need attention: from barking, to walking restlessly near you, to putting their head on your lap, etc. Watch your dog, and see how he tries to get your attention – and reinforce the attention-getters you like.

D&P: How can we avoid behavioural problems in our pooches?

Alexandra: Spend a lot of time with your dog; form a good relationship early on, where the dog knows that you will be there for him; give him lots of exercise and care; allow him to interact with other dogs from early in his life.

book review

‘How Cheeka Became a Star’ and other dog stories

Remember the cute little Pug in the commercial for a telecommunication service provider? How did it becomebook review India’s most treasured dog? The book How Cheeka Became a Star gives answers to all these questions and more.

Celebrities reveal their love for their pooches. This book is made all the more interesting with beautiful sketches, funny files and quotable quotes on our dear pooches. Funny anecdotes keep the reader glued to the book. Like Cyrus Broacha, a VJ, television anchor, columnist and humorist, says, “When you’re eight years old, how many friends do you have who can perform the most exacting of tricks, like sniffing their own behind or digging their ear with their leg or walking around without a stitch of clothing all day?”

In all, an interesting and well written book for all dog lovers! The book has been edited by Dhiraj Nayyar and published by Etch, an imprint of Natraj Publishers.

Meet The Author

Gauri remarks, “Simba’s coming made me and my family awaken to new experiences–to perceive our environment, both humans and animals as an interconnected whole, and open ourselves up to a whole new world in that awareness. I wanted to share our story so others too may laugh and learn with us, a shared journey of joyous discovery. And understand, as we did, how one little furry being can go a long way in bringing about change – a welcome, necessary change, that emphasises love and commitment in an uncertain world and underlines renewed wonder in everyday life experiences. Simba may be a dog but to us he is a valued, wonderful member of our family and writing about him made me realise just how important he is to our evolutionary growth in the larger cycle/circle of life.” Dog-Send

The Story of Simba
Author: Gauri Sinh

Set in Mumbai, Dog-Send: The Story of Simba is a touching story of Simba, a cheeky Labrador puppy who enters the life of a prominent and beautiful journalist and changes it forever. Chait is a man of few words, with a quiet dedication to his wife, his family, his rugby pals and, above all, his dogs. Having grown up with pets, Chait desperately wants a dog, so his journalist wife Gauri who finally relents and gets Simba, a mischievous Labrador puppy.

As the months turn into years, Simba nuzzles his soft furry way into Gauri’s heart, even as he insists on sharing the bed with his ‘parents’, never obeys anyone but Chait, and shows a rather perilous affection for violent strays. When Gauri and Chait realise they are expecting their first child, Gauri becomes concerned. Will Simba be jealous or remain his affectionate self? But after a deeply harrowing experience, in which both Chait and Simba’s lives are at risk, Gauri and Chait discover that no concerns can ever come in the way of their lasting love for Simba.

A wonderful story of life and love in Mumbai, of friendships built around pets, of moving visits with pet psychics and of family ties; a narrative that creates a profound and genuinely enlivening picture of life as it is actually lived in India: heartfelt, passionate, warm and deeply human. Gauri Sinh was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. Graduated from the University of Mumbai with a degree in English, she is editor of After Hours (lifestyle and entertainment supplement of DNA).

A Home for Gori

Memoir of a beloved canine

Habib Rehman’s A Home for Gori is not merely a book but an outpour of timeless romance he keeps affectionately in the corner of his heart for his beloved Gori who died on 27 July 2005. The author shares the joy and anguish of his canine friend with Dogs & Pups at his New Delhi ‘home’ that was built as a memorial to Gori in sight of her grave in the courtyard.

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A Home for Gori will remind dog-lovers of the canine companions they have loved, and lost. To the rest, it will tell an extraordinary story of a dog and a human being, and a bond that endures, quite literally, beyond the grave.

Ever since he worked as a major in the Indian Army in the remotest area of Arunachal Pradesh, Habib Rehman began to realise what love lies between humans and canine partners. He left army to join the hospitality industry where he spent three decades with ITC. He recently retired as director-in-charge of ITC’s hotels, travel & tourism and food businesses.

The love story…

In the mid-nineties, Gori was smuggled by his wife into their home. Habib refused to do anything with the six-week-old Gori in the first place. But it didn’t take long for him to be smitten by Gori’s charms and she soon wormed her way into his heart.

For a span of ten years, Habib and Gori had become inseparable companions. They walked together, played games, shared the same pillow, talked on phone when he traveled out. “The first time when she snuggled with me on my pillow was the turning point after which we never looked back. I was more demonstrative so that got me in her better books not to forget the games and walks which strengthened our relationship more. She took me as her pack leader. She was very sensitive to everyone’s needs,” says Habib.

Gori… the heart stealer

“Gori was always full of life and love, her gentle ways and antics never ceased to amaze me, the cow she made an enemy of, her love for kebabs during a party, the best part is she knew exactly when she would be given a delicacy, just made me love her every moment. Gori was very intelligent and by judging the size of my suitcase she would exactly know for how many days I would be gone. In my absence, everybody in the family, particularly my wife, took good care of Gori,” tells Habib.

Tough time…

He mentions, “Agnes really helped us a lot in taking care of her when she was ill. My veterinarian Dr Pradeep Rana was gently urging me to let her go but I was determined to see her survive. It was big emotional loss for us. Now, I have my life filled with so many canine members.”

A note…

People should adopt for the right reason only for love. And once you have your pet in, it’s your responsibility to understand their needs and behaviour. Because when people don’t understand a dog’s behaviour, frustration arise and they vent their anger on them (dogs)–which is very wrong. More love you give, more you get.

book review

A personal journey of love and friendship

Being a pet parent I love to share stories and anecdotes, peeves and laughs with other pet parents. So when Ibook review came across Dawn Kairns’ book on the Internet, ‘Maggie: The Dog Who Changed My Life’, I knew I had to read it.

The book is all that it promises and more. At one level it’s a sweet and heartwarming story about Dawn and her beloved black Labrador, Maggie. While reading about the bond that the two share with each other, I could not but recall moments that I had experienced with my own Irish Setter, Baloo, who passed away a few months ago. The delightful little moments when you bask in the sheer joy of seeing life through the wondrous eyes of a pup! Or the heart-stopping moments when the pup has a mishap or an accident that could have been worse than they actually were! Or those telepathic moments when your dog actually seems to read your mind well before you have articulated the thought!

At another level, the book is about the spiritual connect that humans share with their pets. It’s almost as if our dogs were a special gift that were given to us to cherish and love, who support us emotionally and unstintingly through our difficult times. And yet, we do take our loyal buddies for granted.

The bond that you share with your dog is one of a kind. As Dawn writes: “Maggie’s life, illness and untimely death led me to more profoundly honour and nurture my inner world…she showed me my way home: to my heart, my intuition, and to a fuller self-love.” Dawn and Maggie’s personal journey of love and friendship is indeed a life-changing experience and resonates for many of us who have shared such a bond with our pets.

Nobles Hounds & Dear Companions

A collection of mesmerising images of canines with their royal families

Canines have been a favourite with royal families – from Dash, Queen Victoria’s beloved King Charles Spaniel and Eos, Prince Albert’s elegant Greyhound, to the famous Corgis of the House of Windsor, to name a few. The ‘Noble Hounds and Dear Companions’ is a compilation of over 200 affectionate, amusing and often poignant images of canine companions. Here’s a glimpse of some of the intriguing pictures from this book by Sophie Gordon.
Nobles-Hounds-&-Dear-CompanionsCanines have always played an important role in the public and private lives of the Royal Family and ‘Noble Hounds and Dear Companions’ by Sophie Gordon celebrates this bond. Selected from the Royal Photograph Collection, it covers over 150 years of canines and royal family bond. Over 200 images showcase pooches as centre stage in both formal studio portraits and as part of relaxed family groups. Dogs are seen riding in carriages, on board the royal yacht, on guard duty at Windsor Castle and in the arms of monarchs, consorts, princes and princesses.As pets or working animals, dogs came into the possession of the royal family through many different routes. Quarry, a Russian dog, was brought back for Queen Victoria from Sebastopol by British troops serving in the Crimean War. Looty, another gift to the Queen, was probably the first Pekingese dog to arrive in Britain. King Edward VII’s Samoyed was a present from the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, while Vassilka and Alex, the first Borzois in the royal kennels, were presented by Tsar Alexander III of Russia. Skippy, on the other hand, was rescued from Battersea Dogs Home by Prince Leopold, son of Queen Victoria.Queen Victoria brought back Marco, a Pomeranian, from a visit to Italy in 1888 and at one time had 35 of the breed in the royal kennels. A Pomeranian called Turi often accompanied the Queen on her carriage drives in the last years of her life and was at her side when she died. The Japanese Chin, which had been introduced from Japan in the 1880s, became a favourite breed of Queen Alexandra, as were Papillons and Pekingese.

Her Majesty The Queen is among the world’s leading breeders of Pembroke corgis. The first royal Corgis, Dookie and Jane, were bought for the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose by their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Some of the photographs in this book even reveal the deep devotion shared by generations of dogs and their royal owners. Queen Victoria’s Spaniel, Dash, was buried at Windsor with an epitaph that read: His attachment was without selfishness, His playfulness without malice, His fidelity without deceit. READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH.

Interestingly, most of these photographs come from private family albums and have never been published before. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were patrons and collectors of photography, and several members of the royal family were gifted amateur photographers.

To get a copy of this beautiful book, log on to www.royalcollection.org.uk

– by Varsha Verma

 

 

 

Living in harmony with your puppy

‘Living in harmony with your puppy’ by Nicole Mackie unfolds the vast world of puppy parenting. This book walks with all pet lovers right from finding the right breed to each and every aspect related to pooch care, nurturing and training. A great start for understanding his needs. It is an information rich book to build and experience a great relationship of trust and understanding with your dogs.

This book is an outcome of Nicole Mackie’s 14+ years of experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying and sharing her life with dogs. Her in-depth knowledge in canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience in veterinary nursing has helped many in bringing up their canine chaps in a smart way.

A Dog’s Life Moti from his home in heaven, Lynn de Souza

‘A dog’s life’ is narrated by Moti from his home in heaven. –by Lynn de Souza Till now…Moti was picked up by Golu from his littermates and brought to Brindavan building. He befriends Tiger, another dog and the kind-hearted Pinto girl who takes care of both of them. Moti is hurt and driven away from Brindavan, seeks refuge in drain but eventually with the help of Pinto girl gets acceptance at Brindavan. He meets Rani and fathers a pup. Facing other brutalities of life, he and Tiger are caught by death dog van but are rescued by the Pinto girl. Tiger gets ill and is driven from Brindavan and suffers a painful death…

I was eight years old when Tiger died, with still a couple of good doggy years left inside me. But I grew lonely, and missed him very much. Rani now practically stayed all the time at Brindavan, and kept me company.

The Pintos had started feeding her daily. When they came back from their holiday, and Harichander told them about Tiger, I was surprised to see how upset the mother got. The tears stood out in her eyes, and she rushed off upstairs. “Mum saved Tiger’s life so many times when he was little”, the Pinto girl explained to me.

Rani stopped having puppies. She too had started to age a little, and her wandering days were over. We both kept watch over the building at night, but our hearts weren’t in it, after we saw the shabby treatment Tiger had received.

But the Pinto girl reminded me that for every wrong act, there is a corresponding right one happening somewhere in the world, so I should not bear any grudges against Harichander and company, and be grateful that I still enjoyed a peaceful life. Peaceful it was, but that only lasted till Rex came along.

Rex was a German Shepherd who came into the building as a pup in the apartment immediately neighbouring the Pinto’s. By the time he was a year old, and I was nine, he was the terror of the building.

He had bitten other dogs, including one of the Pinto’s, and also some of the children. His owner had a special extra door with grills built, to prevent him from rushing out. But they secretly wanted a ferocious guard dog, because they were up to all kinds of shady business.

It was only a matter of time before he bit me. One of the Pinto’s dogs came into season and Rex got very excited indeed. On one of the days of her heat, he managed to escape past both the doors, and rushed down the stairs. I made a dash for the gate as soon as I heard his heavy breath and pounding feet, but it was too late. He went for my genitals and bit hard. Being much lighter and nimbler than he was, despite my age and broken hip, I pulled free and ran as fast as I could out of the gate, while the watchman quickly shut it past me, so that Rex couldn’t follow. The servant who looked after him came running down, and collared him and took him away.

Luckily I wasn’t too badly hurt, just the one bite, which hadn’t gone too deep, but it was still very painful. She came quickly with her dressing material and started to clean and bandage the wound.

The next morning her parents left for an extended holiday abroad to live with their son. While leaving her mother said to me, quite sadly, “Will you be well? Will you still be here when I get back, or will you too be gone like Tiger?” I couldn’t reply then, but like Tiger had felt earlier, I think we too said our silent goodbyes to each other at that moment.

Despite the dressing, the wound caught maggots. And I came down with a high fever as well. So she called the vet, who gave me a shot of antibiotics, and then attempted to puncture a vein in my left leg to feed in a special kind of injection, that would perk me up a bit. I think that was a mistake. He didn’t seem to have found the vein properly, and sent the medicine into the muscles around it instead. That is very dangerous, because these strong injections can destroy all the surrounding tissues, and in my case they did. My leg started swelling up, and by the next evening, I was unable to put my foot down.

The vet came again and tried to give me another injection, in the other leg, but I didn’t trust him anymore and for the first time in my life, I resisted, and wouldn’t stay still. So he went away without doing anything.

I had lost the will to eat, and she began to feed me manually, holding my mouth open and placing morsels of bread mixed with something sweet deep inside my mouth. The fever was still high, and she fed me little bits every few hours.

I could tell that she was exhausted from managing her home, and her own dogs, and her office, and now me all by herself, but did the best she could, sitting by my side all evening, and late into the night. When we dogs feel ill, we like to sit quietly away from everything preferably in a dark place, so I crawled under her car and tried to sleep.

I was suffering and in pain again after so many years. This time it was a little different though. When I was a young dog, pain made me panic. Now I felt no fear, just discomfort. I knew that I was in good hands, that Tiger would fulfil his promise to me, that from his place far away, he would exercise whatever power he had over mother nature to make sure that I would not have reason to be sad or scared.

On my last night on earth, she stayed with me till well past midnight. She gave me my last helping of sweet water and medicine, then wished me goodnight. “I’ll see you in the morning then, Moti. I’ll bring Mischief to see you as well, he’s been wondering why you haven’t joined him for the morning walk for so many days”. That was a good thing to hear. Mischief was a very sweet chap, a black long eared Cocker Spaniel, with a playful nature, who had also once been bitten by Rex. She had adopted him two years earlier, and he had quickly become her favourite. I liked him too, he loved walking with me, and I could tell that he would be very good to her when Tiger and I were no longer around.

It was an agonising night for me. The pain in my leg was intense, and despite the medicine, I felt alternately hot and cold with fever. My head and eyes ached, and I found it difficult to breathe.

At one point in the middle of the night I was so uncomfortable, that I let out a loud cry. She came running down to check on me when she heard me cry, but I had already settled down by the bench, and felt a little better. So she stayed with me for a while, and then went back upstairs.

Like Tiger, I knew when it was time for me to go. Unlike him, I was loved and cared for till the very end. But I didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye to Mischief who, she had promised me, was coming to see me the next morning. So I kept on breathing for as long as I could, waiting and waiting for the early morning sun to rise.

She brought him right after his morning walk. Mischief kissed me, and licked my face. “You look all tired out, old chap”, he said, jovially. “Don’t worry, there will be no more pain and suffering in the place where you’re going. And you’ll meet Tiger again, and some of my friends too, I won’t be meeting you in a hurry, but when I do, don’t act like you’ve forgotten me already, okay?”

He wagged his stump of a tail joyfully, because I could tell that he was genuinely happy for me. He could see past my pain to the times that lay ahead, in that special way we animals have.

I did have a pretty good life, and here I was, having the best kind of death in the circumstances. Pain becomes much more bearable when you have someone around who gives you love along with medicines.

“I’ll be back just now with your food, Moti”, she whispered, and chucked me under my chin. She stroked my head a few times, but tears were already rolling down her eyes, as she witnessed Mischief and me sniffing each other for the last time. She gazed deep and searchingly into my hazel eyes for a long time. I think she was looking for something very important right then, and I hope she found it. Then she turned away, and went upstairs with Mischief in tow.

I filled my eyes with my last earthly sight of her, and then looked beyond into another world, a world where I could see Tiger, the stupid kitten, some of the Pinto dogs who had passed on too, and the dogs I had seen at the electric chamber, all beautiful and happy, and eternally alive. And full of the joy of living. In that instant I learnt that finding your home, and you can only ever have one true home in any life, is not an easy thing. It is always preceded by great suffering – like the night I was beaten up in the rain, and now the night of fever and pain.

Could that be why many of you never find your true homes ever – because you are not prepared to accept or endure the trials that must go before?

She came down again when the watchman informed her that I had passed away, and wrapped me up in a white towel, then laid me in the back seat of her car. She phoned her aunt and uncle who came over and drove the car to the spot at the beach where she had buried all her other dogs. She dug up a deep pit in the sand with a shovel, laid me down in it, and then crossing herself and me, she wished me goodbye. “See you someday, Moti”, she wept softly. “You have been the best friend I ever had, and I will really miss you”.

So that’s my story, the story of a dog’s life, sometimes happy sometimes sad, but a life I am always more than glad to have lived.

I felt the hardship of blows, but I also felt the tenderness of the human touch. I found that true friendship crosses all the boundaries and forms of life, and home lies only in the heart of a true friend.

And if there is one important lesson that I have for you, my human friend, it is that nothing is perfect. Where there is great sorrow there is also great joy, and the opposite is also true. It is only in discovering and dealing with the imperfections of life with eternal love and optimism that we live at all.

A dog’s life

‘A dog’s life’ is narrated by Moti from his home in heaven.
-by Lynn de Souza

Till now…Moti was picked up by Golu from his littermates and brought to Brindavan building. He befriends Tiger, another dog and the kind-hearted Pinto girl who takes care of both of them. Moti is hurt and driven away from Brindavan, seeks refuge in drain but eventually with the help of Pinto girl gets acceptance at Brindavan. He also fathers a pup. A death dog van catches Moti and Tiger and Pinto girl rescues them from the death chamber…

My first encounter with maggot wounds was when Tiger got bitten in a dog fight, on the inside of his thigh. Flies hovered around the bleeding wound, and laid their eggs, which then hatched into little white worms called maggots. These creatures rapidly ate up all the surrounding flesh, and formed a kind of crater like wound. When treated quickly, these wounds heal very fast, but if neglected, the maggots can eat away so much of the dog’s flesh that it eventually leads to death.
The most identifiable symptom of a maggot wound is the distinctive horrible smell. Tiger stank, oh did he stink!
As soon as the Pinto girl discovered his wound, she dragged him off to the vet. When he came back home, he ran round and round the building for an hour, chasing his tail and shaking his head with discomfort. “What happened to you at the vet’s place?” I asked him. “You seem to be in even more discomfort now”.
“That wretched vet poured a strong liquid called turpentine into the wound”, he answered. “It burned like crazy but it made the maggots jump out very quickly. He also pulled out some more maggots from inside with forceps. Then he dusted some yellow powder which doesn’t burn as much but feels all sticky. I want to lick it off, but can’t reach my tongue there, will you do it for me?”
“Oh rubbish”, I replied, “You’re such a fusspot. That powder’s good for you, why should I lick it off? Just calm down, and it’s bound to ease up”.
But I did sit down by his side and licked his face and neck instead, while the burning pain subsided. For two days after that, she dressed the wound herself, removing the remaining maggots with forceps.
Tiger was very cooperative with her, like me. Many dogs need to be muzzled during veterinary treatment, because the pain can make even ordinarily mild tempered dogs bite. But Tiger and I would let her touch us anywhere with anything, without a murmur.
He was up and about and his usual self in a few days, and the wound healed very well. I had stayed with him all the time, giving up my street roaming in the mornings to be with him.
It seemed to make him feel better, and we got the rare chance to just sit and talk about all kinds of things, from life in the drain, to the visit to the vet, to dog fights, to the problems of cats and rats, and wondered what it must be like to be living up in the Pinto flat with all those other namby pamby dogs. The one subject we studiously avoided was our tryst with death.
“Do humans also get maggot wounds?” Tiger asked.
“I doubt”, I replied, never having seen a human with one. Then came my turn with those slimy little worms. A minor dog fight in which I got bitten on my front paw, and soon enough the maggots came. She didn’t take me to the vet, but fixed me up with the turpentine and antiseptic cream herself. I was soon well.
Maggot wounds became a common occurrence, because there were many flies around the place. Even the smallest of wounds picked up while not necessarily fighting, but just jumping over the wall, would get infested with maggots, and she became quite an expert at treating them.
Some years later, however, Tiger’s right ear got bitten in a dog fight, and the maggots wormed their way right down the ear canal. There were several trips to the vet, but this wound took almost a month to heal, and repeated dressing took its toll on his ear.
Over the weeks, the canal closed up completely, and he lost his hearing on the right side. The vet’s treatment couldn’t have been too good, because the ear would still ooze a whitish liquid from time to time, which she would mop up and medicate. If she ever forgot, the maggots would start up again, because the flies loved to feed on this ooze, even more than on blood.
This unhappy state of affairs continued for nearly two years.
Tiger was now almost ten years old, and finding the whole situation pretty painful and uncomfortable. There was a constant bad smell around him, either from the dressing, or the ooze, or the maggots, whichever happened to be on him at the time. The building residents started to complain, and the Chairman’s wife wanted him thrown out. Though he was almost always in pain, and probably also had a constant low fever, he ate well, and went about his daily wanderings, shaking his head all the while. It reminded me of the time when I was a youngster and the rats had bitten my ears.
His eyes however took on a vacant stare, as if he were there but not really there. They had lost that mischievous devil may care Tiger look, and a human would have now felt he was a very sad dog. Which he was.
“It seems to be my turn to get the boot now”, Tiger said to me mournfully, when he heard what the Chairman’s wife said “What fair weather friends these humans are”.
The Pintos left the building every year for a month to go on a holiday. The Pinto mother would give Harichander a packet of uncooked dal, and money for bread before she left, and he was kept in charge of our daily meals.
Despite his earlier behaviour, Harichander had completely reformed, and kept us properly fed and watered while they were away.
When we wished them bon voyage, Tiger’s ear wasn’t bad. It happened to be during those rare days, when there was nothing wrong with it, not even ooze. But a few days after they left, it started oozing again.
This time, since there was no treatment, the pus formed very rapidly, and maggots multiplied by the thousands. The building residents were too selfish and miserly to do anything for us, when the Pintos weren’t around, not even Harichander who was Tiger’s owner. No one even bothered to call the vet, or the SPCA and have Tiger admitted to the hospital.
In a couple of weeks, the right side of Tiger’s head was a stinking rotten mass. There was no visible ear left, just a large red open wound, in which big white and yellow maggots kept crawling up and down. The wound now extended well over his forehead almost reaching his right eye.
He shook his head all the time to ease the pain and discomfort. The maggots had begun worming their way towards his brain, and he complained of a constant headache, and was slowly losing his vision too. And his sanity. Though he didn’t go mad, he began to lose his grip on reality and would drift off into a daze.
My faithful friend Tiger, was such a happy handsome smart dog – I couldn’t bear to see him now reduced to this indignity. If I could, I would have delivered him a fatal bite on his neck, but I didn’t even know how to do that. So I just sat quietly by his side, keeping him updated about what was going on in the streets, and reassuring him that the Pintos would soon be back, and then everything would be all right.
But no, it only got worse. The Chairman’s wife began to complain bitterly about the smell and ordered for Tiger to be thrown out of the building. So Harichander did as he was told, and sent him out.
Too weak to complain, Tiger went out without a sound, and sat outside the gate. I went out with him.
For two days, Harichander brought us our food outside as usual, and though I ate, Tiger didn’t touch a morsel. He grew sadder and weaker, so weak that even a tail wag became difficult. His eyes watered, and you would have thought he was crying. In his own way, he was.
“It’s too late for me now”, he said to me quietly, on the third evening. “Moti, you’ve been such a good friend, but I don’t think I can wait till she comes back for me to get some treatment. It is a bad and cruel thing that I have to live like this in my dying days, discarded in the street, when I have saved the people in this building from so many robberies, and played with all of them and their children over the years. But you must understand, that it is  better for me to die quickly”.
“Wouldn’t you like to wait to say good bye to her?” I asked.
“Moti, we did say our byes. She knew when she was going that she would not see me again, at least not on this earth. It will be a long time before I meet up with her again, but you Moti, you will join me soon, won’t you?”
“Oh I will, Tiger”, I promised him, and nuzzled his chest.
“Hey, but don’t you go having such a rotten death, okay? I will protect you from where I am, and see that you are looked after till the very end”.
“Thank you, my friend”, I replied, and licked his living face for the last time. “Have a good journey, and see you soon. Say hi to that stupid kitten for me, will you?”
Tiger breathed his last, and I licked the other side of his face for a long while after that. Then I came back into the building, heavy hearted and lonely.
I knew that life is never quite the same from one day to the next, but I had never lost a close friend before. My ears and nose could still pick up the sounds and smells of Tiger, but they came now from very far away and I wanted to be there.
The next morning, the municipality garbage van took his body away along with the other rubbish. No, the building folks didn’t even bother to give him a decent burial.
To be continued in the next issue…