“Paw-Tails” l July-Aug-05

Yeh dosti!
People, who have to live alone due to certain circumstances, get used to it but they crave company, any company. And dogs are very similar to human beings in this regard. Case in point – Shadow, my 2-year old black Labrador. He seems content spending large amount of time sleeping alone in the house, while I am away at work, he has an amazingly and endearing craving for company which is comic, touching and downright dangerous at times, example:
Dogs
Every single dog, no matter what the breed, sex, size, colour, race, is greeted with an energetic wag of the tail and enquiring look on the face, which says,
“You want to be friends?” He is particularly fascinated by puppies and can watch them for hours with a wistful look, wanting to join them in their romps. Perhaps, he still thinks of himself as one of them, not withstanding his huge girth and height! So typically male! Some special doggy friends are greeted with low whimpers, which means that he really wants to go over and give them a big hug! I feel like a villain when I do not allow him to do that and he gives me this reproaching, mournful look, as if to say, “How could you?”
While dogs are his first preference for making friends, Shadow is a fair-minded and impartial fellow and likes others animals as well. Goats, cows, cats, horses, camels, buffaloes, all animals, great and small are given the option to touch noses with him and be fast friends forever! Sometimes, this offer of friendship boomerangs on him, like the time a gigantic 10 tonne buffalo (buffaloes seem to have the most “attitude”) gave him a shove with his horns instead of a friendly nose shake (doggy version of the handshake)! As such times, Shadow immediately retreats to safer grounds, i.e. hide behind me and peep out to gauge the mood of the offended creature. Talk about timely re-strategising in the face of changing circumstances! So versatile, so adaptable and so very street-smart. Any management consultant would be proud of him.
People
People are Shadow’s second best love. While we are on our walks, the sheer volume of appreciation that they get in return overwhelms anybody who gives Shadow the slightest encouragement in any form. It might be by way of slobbering huge licks on any exposed skin parts or a gentle mouthing of their hands or enthusiastic snorts and grunts. There are times when Shadow almost seems ready to jump into their arms and go home with them. People who are standing near cars, especially if they are opening or closing doors are watched with bated breath till he finally decides that no, they are not inviting him to get into their car for a joyride.
Shadow loves to sit by the roadside and watch the world go by. For him, the whole world is a meeting ground to hang out and make friends! How I wish I could be more like him…
–Alpa Patel