Muthu liked to sit with his father and watch him work. And then one day, he wanted to try his hand at it.

SCREECEE-CH! Went the tyres of a fast-moving car, as the driver slammed the brakes. But it was too late to avoid the little puppy running across the road. Muthu picked up the yelping animal and took it home. He lived in Kumbakonam, in the south of India.

His father helped him clean the wound and bandage the injured leg. “Don’t worry, he will be well again,” said appa to a tearful Muthu. And sure enough the puppy was soon happily limping all over the house.

Appa was a bronze sculptor. One day, as he was working on the wax model of a big bronze Nataraja that had been especially commissioned, a mouse ran across the room. The puppy chased it and nearly knocked the wax model down. Appa was very angry. He caught hold of the pup and put him outside the door. “Don’t you dare come back again,” he hollered. “A month’s work would have gone down the drain because of you!”

Muthu pleaded and cried, but to no avail.

Sadly, Muthu sat in appa’s workshop and taking a piece of wax started to mould it. “I am going to make a bronze statue of my puppy,” he said softly. “In that way, he will always be with me.”

Punished

He worked carefully with the chisel like he had seen his father do. He then covered it with a thin layer of soft clay, leaving a small hole at the top and the bottom. He continued adding layers of clay until the entire piece was covered. He then heated it in the kiln, which had just been fired by his father for the Nataraja. The wax inside started to melt and run out of the two holes. Muthu then stood the model on a stand and poured in the hot molten bronze. The next day, when the mould had cooled down, Muthu broke open the cast. Inside, lay the bronze statue looking just like his beloved little puppy, the metal glinting like gold in the sunlight. Muthu was delighted.

That evening when, appa’s patron came to pick up the Nataraja he had ordered, he saw the bronze puppy.

“Can I have that piece, as well, it is beautiful,” he said.

Appa looked at Muthu who shook his head, whispering a soft, “No!”

The man continued, “My son is very sick and he loves dogs,” he explained. “I cannot get a real one for him. And so, I would like to give your golden puppy to him. It will make him very happy. I am willing to pay any price you ask.”

Muthu felt sad for the boy. He placed the statue in the man’s hands and quietly walked away.

“I am proud of you, my son,” said appa, smiling at him.

“Now, since, the bronze puppy has found a good home, maybe, your little fellow deserves to be brought back again, eh?”