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.

“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.