” A dog is the only living being on the earth that LOVES you more than you LOVE yourself ! “

My trigger for writing this blog post is my close friend Susanta who lost his pet dog Buddy recently. His memoirs with photos on the painful separation of his beloved Buddy made me reflect over my own encounters with pet dogs over the last seven decades . Let me state here that we do not keep a pet dog now after we lost our two pets one after the other way back in the nineties but any reference to pet dogs and many videos [ Example “Paw Tok ” in Facebook ] in the social media bring up our finer self in us with nostalgia . This post is an attempt to record some of them .

In my early childhood , our neighbors had a white pet dog , a half Pomeranian , named Kaiser . We children were very fond of him and he lived and played with us during most of his waking time. Kaiser got badly injured when a car drove over him while chasing the vehicle barking [ his favorite pastime] and got his waist paralyzed . No vet could help him and it was a pathetic scene to watch him struggle thereafter . The owners decided to go for mercy killing and got a municipal shooter to do the job . A pit was dug in the backyard and Kaiser was positioned next to it . We watched the act and it still makes me uncomfortable after may be more than 70 years to think about it . I still remember Kaiser’s look when the shooter took his aim.

When I was may be in my teens , I got very friendly with another male dog D’cruz who belonged to another immediate neighbor . He was brown in color and a native mix breed . Our houses had only a low partition wall and D’ cruz spent most of his time with us . My father and mother used to feed him often . His favorite food was Dosa . At night , when my father – a lawyer – used to work late , he used to keep the front door open as a habit and D’cruz used to be on guard duty in front in the courtyard . On one such night , while we were all asleep and my father was still working , we heard a loud and continuous barking by D’cruz as if he has smelled danger ! When we looked , we found my father lying in the courtyard in front of the steps unable to get up himself . He had bronchitis and when he went out coughed incessantly and fell down from the steps ! I think D’ cruz saved him from any further complications by being alert and doing his job faithfully . I parted ways with old D’cruz when I moved to college .

Fast forward – I did my engineering degree and joined the Indian Army in 1965 in the technical branch . Got married in 1972 . My wife Malathi was a dog lover but we postponed our plan to have our own pet dog in the house . An opportunity presented itself to her when she opted to stay with her elder sister at Hyderabad with my 6 year old daughter Jaya , as I was posted to a field area in Sikkim in 1979 . Her sister had two pet dogs namely Lisa , a brown Lhasa Apso and Leo a white Spitz. Unlike my earlier pets like Kaiser and D’cruz who were not permitted inside a house and lived in the courtyard , Lisa and Leo were part of the family and shared all comforts of a house . During my leave from duty every year , I had a chance to play with them and pet them. Lisa was moody and growled occasionally . She liked me because I used to feed her with ‘tie biscuits ‘ and ‘cake rusk ‘ her favorite snacks . She did not like Malathi feeding her eggs and protested . Leo was a dope but liked petting. My sister in law’s maid servant had a local male dog which lived with them in the servant’s quarters . I gave him a suitable name – Gajapati Rao . I don’t think the name registered with him. Both Lisa and Leo barked loudly when they spotted Gajapathi Rao outside ! . Taking the dogs out for a walk was a favorite pastime . Back in Sikkim , I used to watch with amusement little Lhasa Apso dogs lined up for sale at Thegu on the approach road to Nathula Pass in the Chinese border leading to Tibet . I somehow resisted my temptation to buy one of them.

Finally we got our pet dog in 1985 , when I was posted to Bangalore . My daughter was 12 and her younger brother Raghu was 3 . Young Lucy , an infant Lhasa Apso was gifted to us by a relative in Kerala and we brought her with a lot of care in a bamboo basket in the train . Life with little Lucy was great fun for all of us . She lived with us and shared our bed always. Her staple food was meat and rice . As I was in a command appointment , there were some perks and Lucy was a darling of the support staff . My sahayak [ helper ] Karan Singh took good care of Lucy . In due course when Lucy was two years old , Karan Singh tried to introduce Lucy to many suitable grooms in the Army Colony where we lived but with no success . Finally , Lucy found her mate [ of questionable pedigree ] in our play ground nearby and duly delivered a quadruple . Malathi was a midwife to her and helped her out at night . But in spite of Lucy ‘s best efforts , one of the puppy was still born . Her three living children were duly named Suzy , Whisky and Brownie . We gifted Suzy to the person who gave us Lucy , Brownie to one of my daughter’s friend and kept Whisky with us . Whisky was a mix of black and brown and hardly had any features of Lucy . He was taller also . Whisky was very alert and always reacted to the horn of my approaching car when I came home for lunch or return in the evening from work. Lhasa Apso dogs by nature are delicate and very sensitive to weather. After her first litter , Lucy got very ill one night . We took her first to the Cantonment Veterinary facility but it was closed at night . We then decided to trouble our relative Colonel { Retd} PNP Nair , who was the Director of the Veterinary Corps . The old man did not mind it and examined Lucy and said it is probably a stomach infection and gave her some medicine . Luckily Lucy got cured by morning .

When we went to Palghat where my in laws lived , during leave , the dogs traveled with us in my car and spent two months with us at Estate Mansion. Lucy almost came under a car on the way when we halted to take the dogs out for their routine !. Against all previous taboo [ permitting dogs inside the house ] , my father in law let Lucy and Whisky live inside as both of them endeared greatly to all the members of the household . Though all of them were vegetarians , special dispensation was given to cook meat at home for the dogs. I remember one incident here . My father in law used to watch the Ramayan serial on every Sunday morning in the national TV Channel ‘Door Darshan ‘ It was amazing to watch Whisky reacting to the opening title song and ran to draw the attention of my father in law and others if we are not already seated to watch the show. Whisky also joined us as an attentive audience !

I got promoted to a Colonel and was soon nominated to attend the Higher Command course [ duration 10 months ] at the College of Combat ,Mhow near Indore . We sent our baggage by truck and traveled by air via Bombay . Lucy and Whisky enjoyed the luxury and behaved during the journey . Karan Singh also moved with us to Mhow. At the new place , we had a good married accommodation with all facilities with enough open space for the dogs to move around . There were many pet dogs around the colony . My training was quite intense and both my canine friends gave me good relaxation in the evening and during week ends . After the course , I was retained as a faculty with the college for another two years . During this time , I met with a vehicle accident resulting in multiple fracture on my left hand . I got evacuated to Lucknow hospital and stayed there for almost 7 months including my post operative care . It was a very stressful period for Malathi to manage the house and children . Lucy and Whisky gave them some relief with their pure love and companionship . Jaya moved to Baroda for her college education soon . Towards the end of my tenure at Mhow , in one afternoon , in an unguarded moment , Whisky mated with Lucy in our courtyard . My wife saw this and we immediately took her to a vet and got her aborted . This made Lucy weak later on .

Soon , I got posted in a staff appointment at the Army HQ in New Delhi in Dec 91. As Raghu was in school and the academic sessions finished in April , I moved alone leaving my family behind at Mhow . Subsequently , I took them by an overnight train in June 92 with the dogs after sending our baggage by road . We had a very difficult time at Delhi initially as we had to wait for almost two weeks to get a house . I had a room with a balcony in the Army Officers Mess and my family moved in there . The rooms were carpeted and there was only a fan . The summer was very hot and humid and we kept the dogs in the balcony . Another onerous task was to get cooked rice and meat from the nearby road side outlets , wash the meat to get the condiments out and feed the dogs . Anyway , we moved to an independent house at NOIDA across the Yamuna soon and both the family and the dogs were quite relieved . Reddy replaced Karan Singh at Delhi and life became peaceful once again. Raghu had to travel a long distance to New Delhi in his school bus and I commuted in an officers bus for work . By the time we reached home late in the evening, we were exhausted . Both Lucy and Whisky gave Malathi company when we were away and entertained us later with their pranks .

After two years in the Capital , I got promoted to Brigadier and posted to Allahabad as Commandant and MD of an Army Base Workshop . This occasion , both Lucy and Whisky traveled with Reddy in the baggage truck overnight , a day in advance. We followed by train . The workshop was located inside the old Mughal Fort , remodeled subsequently by the British Army . I had a very large appointment house built on the the ramparts of the fort facing river Yamuna . DK Singh replaced Reddy and he soon got accustomed with the dogs and took good care of them. Strangely enough , the dogs refused to enter some rooms in the house smelling something amiss there . When we checked around , we were told that there were stories about part of the house being haunted ! . Anyway , we did not have any supernatural episodes during our stay for two years. Jaya visited us from Pune on vacation – she had moved there from Baroda to pursue her post graduate course in Fashion Technology . The dogs enjoyed her visit immensely .

After a year at Allahabad , we went to Kerala on a two months leave , leaving the dogs in the care of D K Singh . Everything went off well till about a week before our return . We were told Lucy became very sick . It looked like she was hanging on somehow for us to come back. On arrival , we found her at the door steps , struggling , not eating her food and partially blind. We immediately got a Vet from the city and he established a make shift clinic at home . Her condition was going bad and early in the morning , she breathed her last !. All of us including the doctor who really struggled to keep her alive , wept that day ! I got her buried in our Vehicle park , not very far from the holy Sangam , the confluence of the rivers Ganga ,Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati . We missed her badly during our remaining stay at Allahabad . Whisky was a loner thereafter .

In Jan 95 , I got posted to Military College of EME at Secunderabad as a Dean . We sent our baggage separately by road and moved to Jhansi by a taxi and boarded the train there at night to Secunderabad . We traveled by AC First Class . The compartment was mostly empty and I remember Raghu and Whisky moving in and out of different cabins and enjoying the overnight Journey . At MCEME , we had to wait for a couple of weeks for a married accommodation and stayed in a double room in the officers mess. Both DK Singh who came over with our baggage and Whisky did not like this drop in stature here , little realizing that the perks back at Allahabad came along with my role and not my rank . Once we moved to a first floor apartment , life became peaceful again . Jaya joined us here and took up a job locally with a fashion designer . She soon moved to Bangalore where she found a better job .

I retired from service in Nov 96 and soon joined a civil organisation . We moved to Sainikpuri in Secunderabad to a hired house . DK Singh got posted out . The new environment was good for all and Whisky . He used to chase squirrels and birds in our courtyard to while away his waking hours . He continued to be a loner . One day while chasing a squirrel , he jumped high and fell down badly . Soon he became sick – our Vet doctor suspected a weak heart . One night Whisky became restless and started running around with me all over unable to relieve himself . Malathi kept on petting him throughout the night . When we realized that his condition is becoming worse and he could not even sit up , we rushed him to the doctor few miles away . Malathi kept him in her lap and continuously prayed . Whisky became unconscious on the way . At the hospital , the doctor tried to give him a cardiac shock but Whisky breathed his last in his table ! Another big loss for us in two years ! The grief was uncontrollable . I got him buried at a lake side nearby . We decided not to go for any pet dogs then .

Both Lucy and Whisky shared their unconditional love and companionship with us for ten years or more . Whisky was 12 years when he died. Pet dogs depend on us totally and we generally took good care of them with proper medical examinations , preventive injections and grooming . They both played a very significant part in lifting our moods in difficult times and especially gave Malathi company during our absence from home . Their memories are sacred for us .

In due course Jaya got married in Nov 2000 and moved to New Jersey in the US with her husband Sanjay . Raghu graduated and after a brief stint with a small IT Company at Hyderabad , got selected by Google . He moved to San Francisco in 2012 . We used to visit them once in two years . What amazed us there was the care and upkeep of the pet dogs with dog friendly neighborhood parks , good pet clinics etc. I found in Google they even permit pet dogs in the work place ! Myself and Malathi spent hours together at the Duboce Park near Raghu’s apartment just watching the dogs play with their owners , children and other dogs . A different world altogether and a new experience for us.

” Did you know that there are over 300 words for Love in Canine ? – Gabriel Levin.

Raghu with Lucy
Jaya with Lisa
Leo with Jaya ,Preetam and Bunty
Lucy and Whisky with Jaya ,Raghu and Benoy , Raghu’s friend
LUCY shows off!

2 thoughts on “My Encounters with Pet Dogs

  1. We have bashet hound dogs (coco and cokie). What I observed is they understand the mood of the master’s voice and behave. When my hubby is angry it distance itself. While his happy it jumps up to his face and licks. They are our stress busters

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