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King of my castle

Billa lost his mother and siblings when he was just a small pup. He recollects here some of his painful memories of growing up lonely and uncaring before he finally found love and a home…

I am Billa. I came here as a puppy with my mother and siblings – three brothers and three sisters. But they all perished – some starved to death, some by motor accidents and some because evil boys in the neighbourhood pelted stones at us. Eventually mother passed away too, grief-struck. I alone survived. When mamma died, a van came and took her body. The man, who threw her into the vehicle, chased me away with sticks and with that mamma left me here alone. But this has been my home ever since the entrance to ‘A’ Wing where the big dog recently moved in and my fine-dining eatery – the waste dump. Anyway, over the years, several dogs came to compete with me and left battered.

Little trouble…

“Grrrrr…..grrrr!” There he is the white furry large dog and his lady. “Grrrrrrufff! This is my territory. Mine!” I chased them to the entrance to their wing. I alone have accessed to the path next to my garbage dump.

Just then, a few meters away, a man on the bike threw a packet into the heap and it smelt good. I ran to it swiftly and “clink….rrk”. The ground felt wet under my paw. “Sniff! Sniff! Blood…” I was hurt. It didn’t look good. I tried to walk but the bleeding was profuse and the pain sharp. The food would have to wait. I cleaned the wound and fell asleep drowsy with pain.

When I woke up at night, my paw was bandaged and I had slept through the day unaware of anyone touching me. Who did it? I was an older dog now, at seven years and had been malnourished since a few months now.

Love comes unannounced…

Suddenly, the lady with the white dog came out and started walking towards me. She had what looked like a large stone in her hand. I started to run. “No, no, wait! I got you food. You need to recover. Here, let me see your paw, darling”, she spoke while reaching her hands out to me after placing the bowl of warm chicken soup next to me. I didn’t understand a word but her actions made me realise that she didn’t mean harm.

I let her touch me. She did not hesitate nor fear me unlike the other people who were terrified of me and often pelted stones at me or hit me with anything they could lay their hands on, often injuring me. Years had gone by and none had touched or fed me, forget looking at me. She placed her hand on my head and smiled: “Eat boy…” At that moment, I saw my life changing before my eyes.

Gradually I learnt to tolerate the big white beast with her, she looked for excuses to come down from her second floor apartment to spend time with me rubbing my belly, scratching my ears and my neck, feed me, walk with me to the stores nearby or simply to sit next to me while reading a book.

Lucky dog…

It had been three months since I last went rummaging in the garbage heap and meals were regular. I also shifted my sleeping quarters to her doorstep at night. Suddenly, my life had a purpose and I was no longer a stray unwanted Mutt. I was healthy, perky, plump, active, less grumpy and almost child-like in my energy. She placed two collars on me, one for a leash and other for fleas.

“You lucky dog!” mewed the stray cat who loitered along the ground floor flats for scraps and I chased her off all the same. Finally, everything turned out right and I had a lady who cared for me.

Alone again…

Then one day, there was furniture being moved into a truck that stood at the entrance of my wing, blocking my way. “Sniff!” I smelt the white Mutt. As the truck moved, I glimpsed my lady rushing the big dog into her car and shut the door. She then walked towards me. I wagged my tail. “Maybe she is offering me a treat because she will be late,” I thought.

“Billu”, she continued looking sullen, “I’m leaving this building. I will be in an apartment complex a block ahead. I will come to see you whenever I can. I have told the neighbours to feed you well.” I kept wagging as I couldn’t understand what she said. I knew somehow that something was wrong. She walked to her car, crying and got in without her customary waving and kisses.

Was she leaving me?

I waited all night, awake. I saw the bowl filled with food but she wasn’t there to feed me. I would wait till she returned.

A week passed by. The cat ate it and mocked me gesturing at the waste dump, “This is your rightful throne, my scraggly king.” I slept again. Hours passed by. Visitors came and left, none my lady. Rains began. Other than getting up to keep myself dry, I stopped moving about.

I saw her face and woke up startled when I heard her calling my name “Billa” with a whistle peculiar only to her. I looked around smiling at no one. I was abandoned again and heart-broken. I couldn’t care to live. I attacked a dog at the bin but the fight left me with a large gash under my jaw. I reasoned that it would heal with time but the gash that my lady left in my heart would endure painfully.

The familiar whistle…

One afternoon, I heard it, the whistle. It was sharp and distinct. I stood up quivering and shook off my daze. Could it be a trick of my mind? I tweaked my ears in the direction of the sound and sprinted. I saw her seated on her knees, arms open wide and calling out to me. I ran to her. I had so many hurtful things to say but the sight of her made me forget everything!

She fed me biscuits and milk all the while caressing my head and speaking lovingly. Then, she encouraged me to follow her by running alongside her bike a few meters ahead through a tiny lane that led to a massive complex with lots of grass, a large pool of water, lots of space to run around and lounge in and people who welcomed me.

Billa
“So this is what you left me for?” I queried. She hugged me and said, “Sorry Billu. Stay with me.” She laid a bowl of her delicious soup which I wolfed down and then walked me into her apartment. I stopped, hesitant. I had never entered someone’s home before. Having seen the doubt in my eyes, she stepped in first, looked back at me and said, “Come!” so confidently that I walked indoors. “That’s the hall. That’s our balcony where you can laze. There’s our study room and our bedroom. Do you like it Billu boy?” I wagged my tail in reply, “I like you.”

I stepped out at night and she placed a mat outside for me to sleep on. At day break I left for my territory. I was grateful to see her and she hadn’t forgotten me!

She returned several times to take me back with her but I always came back. She never gave up on me. Finally, one day, I decided to stay back with her. I had nothing to look forward to at the garbage dump anyway, just painful memories of growing up lonely and uncaring and hurtful people. Besides, a large black Doberman-mix pup, Jack she named him, was trying to woo her and lingered at her door when I wasn’t around.

It wasn’t so bad. The people here liked me and fed me treats. Before me, there were eight unruly dogs in the complex whom I chased off and I kept strangers at bay crouching outside her balcony during day and sleeping at her doorstep by night. No one trespassed on my duty.

I didn’t like that the puppy Jack sneaked in when I stepped out or that she insisted on feeding us together. But I only put up with him because of my love for her. A year passed by and I turned eight.

Where I belonged…

Now, I have two deputies, Jack and Matthew, both disowned dogs that my lady also cares for and whom I have trained in warfare and territory guarding. I am the Sheriff of this town with four large buildings with several wings and countless apartments, a large pool of water, a garden rich with yummy frogs and lizards and the benevolent humans who feed us frequently all day long. But my place is and always will be next to my lady’s door, guarding her and my best friend, her big white dog, Bouncer, from any harm. No one escapes my watchful eyes. Together, Jack, Matthew and I defend our new home and the love of my life.

breed profile

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: the little bundle of endless joy

An active, graceful, well-balanced dog, very gay and free in action, fearless and sporting in character, yet at the same time gentle and affectionate…that’s how a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is. Come fall in love with this wonderful breed.

A royal heritage…

“History tells us that King Charles II was seldom seen without two or three spaniels at his heels. So fond wasbreed profile King Charles II of his little dogs, he wrote a decree that the King Charles Spaniel should be accepted in any public place, even in the Houses of Parliament where animals were not usually allowed. This decree is still in existence today in England. As time went by, and with the coming of the Dutch Court, Toy Spaniels went out of fashion and were replaced in popularity by the Pug. One exception was the strain of red and white Toy Spaniels that was bred at Blenheim Palace by various Dukes of Marlborough. This Spaniel was later known as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and this particular colour, which is still very popular and common, was named after the Blenheim Palace and is called the Blenheim colour. These dogs were also very common with the French ladies and were used as lap warmers,” told Dinkar.

Loving and lovable…

“The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a delightfully affectionate, playful, intelligent little dog who repays his owner’s care and attention with an endearing devotion,” told Dinkar. Cavaliers are not kennel dogs and do not like to be left alone. Because of four hundred years of close contact with their owners and their development as lap dogs, they make wonderful companions. They are happy, outgoing, loving little dogs who want to love you and be loved, to run and play in a safe place, and to sleep in a soft bed – preferably their owners, but they’re willing to negotiate on that point! They get along well with children, cats, and other dogs.

Physical attributes…

The skull is slightly rounded, but without a dome or peak. It should appear flat because of the high placement of the ears. Eyes are large, round and set well apart. The colour is very dark brown, giving a lustrous, limpid look. There is a slight cushioning under the eyes, which contributes much to the sweet, gentle expression characteristic of the breed. The muzzle is well tapered, well covering the mouth level and lips. Ears are set high, but not close, on top of the head. They are long, with plenty of silky feathering, and wide enough so that when the dog is alert, the ears fan slightly forward to frame the face. His long and silky coat is very soft to the touch and is free from curl, though a slight wave is permissible. Feathering on ears, legs and tail is long, and the feathering on the feet is a feature of the breed. Their height is around 12 to 13 inches at the withers and the weight, proportionate to height, between 13 and 18 pounds.

They are available in four colours – Blenheim (rich chestnut markings well broken up on a pearly white ground), tricolour (jet black markings well-broken up on a pearly white ground), whole-coloured rich red and jet black with rich tan markings over the eyes, on cheeks, inside ears, on chest, legs, and underside of tail.

Bundle of energy…

Cavaliers are active and sporting little dogs who require regular exercise. They have an instinct to give chase to just about anything that moves, and should either be on a leash or in a fenced yard in which to run. They should get a minimum of two good walks each day (in addition to potty walks). If their owners want walking companions, Cavaliers can build up over time to much longer walks. Regular exercise is recommended. “But, if you are a couch potato, they will share that with delight and if you like to walk for miles on end, they will equally delightedly do that,” told Gabriele G Pollmeier.

Living with children…

Cavaliers love to interact with their owners and enjoy activity and play, making them especially close friends and confidants for children. They are excellent with children, but the age of the children is an important factor in choosing a puppy. Because Cavalier puppies are so small, it is better to get a young puppy only if the family has children above the age of five. An older puppy or adult dog will be more suitable for such families. All children, of course, need supervision to ensure they do not hurt the pup/dog.

Taking care of puppy…

Just like any other puppy or small animal, feed excellent food only, keep lots of fresh clean water available, play with the puppy when he is awake, and let him sleep when tired and do not disturb when he sleeps. Give him plenty of attention and training. Do not scold or punish him, added Gabriele.

Living with other pets…

Cavaliers are the ultimate groupies and are usually delighted to have the company of cats and dogs of any size. If you have a large dog, you will need to watch your Cavalier puppy carefully while he is small. Because Cavaliers are spaniels with a strong sporting instinct, they should be watched closely around birds and other small animals as well. In households where no one is home during the day, the companionship of another dog or a cat is highly recommended.

Groom me beautiful…

The Cavalier does require regular grooming. A great deal of time and effort is not necessary if the dog is brushed and combed thoroughly at least once a week. Knots and tangles are kept to a minimum if the Cavalier is free of parasites and combed regularly. Ears need particular attention and should be checked and given a quick combing every few days and daily in shedding season.

Cavaliers do shed, particularly in spring and fall. They also shed a little all the time. Their nails should be clipped and the hair between their pads trimmed once a month. Cavaliers are naturally clean dogs.

Health…

All dog breeds have their own set of health problems that they may have, so does this breed. Some of them are Heart Murmurs, Mitral Valve Disease and Syringomyelia (SM) is rapidly emerging as a severe inherited condition in Cavaliers. It is a progressive neurological disease that varies in severity. Hence it is important that one buys a pup from a reputed breeder.

On a concluding note…

“They do very well as therapy dogs as well as dogs for handicapped people. They are excellent dogs for the elderly and for young children,” told Gabriele. “I personally feel this breed is perfect for most types of people except for the extreme outdoor person. They adapt really well to apartment living and love being with people. Unlike most small dogs, they are not snappy, protective and that noisy,” concluded Dinkar.

(With inputs from Dinkar Singh, he has recently introduced the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for the first time in India and Gabriele G Pollmeier, AnGa’s Star Kennels & Eulenburg Cavalier King Charles Spaniels; www.angasstar.com).

My loving Cavaliers – always like puppies
My two-year-old son just adores our first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who came to us when she was barely two months old. They love playing together, but we take care that he does not hug her too tight! Our male Cavalier is more sensible and just backs away when he sees that our son wants to hug and kiss him. They are totally house and lap dogs and just love to sleep with us in the bed. The female likes to sleep on our pillows and inside the quilt where as the male loves to sleep behind the pillow with his head on the pillow. They are very gentle dogs in a small very manageable size and look so sweet like puppies even now when both of them are more or less adults.

– Dinkar Singh