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Give your heart to a dog to tear

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The dog is the only friend left in the world for humans

As life evolved on earth, only the house sparrow and dog cast their lot with humans out of their own volition. Goat, cow, horse and other domesticated animals had “forced conversions”.

The sparrow, however, is on the cusp of extinction in India. Fortunately, the dog still maintains a visible presence, but stands unequivocally damned to the status of “stray” out of a bankruptcy of compassion and an utter lack of sense of symbiotic living.

On a brief holiday to Kasauli in 2008, we were welcomed to our cottage by a dog and her five daughters — from the outer side of a window, there was the sound of yelping and sure enough, the puppies were playfully gambolling around and over their indulgent mother. The first eye contact reminded my wife of Mickey Mouse and that name stuck till Mickey passed away in the natural way peacefully in mid-June this year.

My wife has a way with animals from eel to elephant and so in the next hour, the mother and daughters had shifted home to the large doormat outside the entrance door to our cottage. Six weeks later, nearing the end of our holiday, the zealous Army garrison commander issued a fiat to banish all “strays” from Kasauli. Noticing our anxiety, a caretaker mentioned a well-tended animal charity near Dharampur, about 40 km away. Two days hence, a proficient dog-catcher, wielding a variant of a fishing-net, effortlessly trapped three puppies asleep on a sunny patch. Another two days and the entire family was reunited in the new home. We made a handsome donation and returned to Chandigarh.

In our efforts to prevent harm to this dog family, we ignored the fact that all their lives, dogs remain tethered to the territory they are born in. Little wonder then that less than a month later, mother and two daughters made a daring escape and in time were back safely on the cottage premises! So my wife with her faithful maid drove to the shelter to fetch home the remaining three. However, the runt of the litter gave them the slip, but fortunately was tracked down and successfully retrieved a month later from the backyard of a roadside dhaba.

With little effort, they adjusted to other dogs and sundry creatures and became loveable and loving pets. Unbeknown, Gussie was carrying cancerous genes which metamorphosed into a swelling on the lower jaw about six months ago and despite all medical interventions that beautiful being was sorrowfully laid to rest on September 8, 2019 and as usual, we turned our thoughts to Kipling’s The Power of the Dog.

Rest in peace, Gussie.

naturefan3@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 2:14:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/dog-is-a-mans-best-friend/article29806587.ece

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