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Find your inner dog

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Although I am a mainstream Indian journalist, I have very little in common with dogs. I know it’s difficult to establish this objectively, but that’s what I’ve always believed. However, my perspective changed when I discovered The Doggy Guardian. For those of you who don’t follow dogs or have dogs following you, The Doggy Guardian (no relation of the U.K.-based The Guardian) is an outstanding publication founded on the philosophical (and spiritual) premise that inside every person, there is a dog.

You might be wondering what prompted me to pick up a dog magazine. Has human journalism sunk so low that I’ve switched to a different species of media altogether? Not really. It all began with Kattabomman deciding he needed a puppy urgently.

They were doing a chapter on the different kinds of animals and one kind, apparently, are pets. His teacher asked the class who all had pets. Half a dozen kids raised their hands, and immediately began to show off. Six snouts appeared beside six brattish faces on the screen that served as Katta’s ‘school’. I was stunned. For some reason, all the pets were dogs — not one snake or crocodile among them.

How about snakes and crocs?

If you’re an avid watcher of Tik Tok videos from America, you would know that snakes and crocodiles make for excellent pets if you treat them well. But the problem with us Indians is we gravitate between extremes. Either we completely avoid snakes and crocodiles, or we treat them too well, even going to the extreme of electing them to power — a practice not recommended by most wildlife experts.

Anyway, the teacher asked the kids the names of their respective dogs. The answers were as follows: Aarav’s dog was Tiger, Anvi had Zebra, Atul had Bobo, Anaya had Zingo, Abhay had Rex, and Akriti had Coco sitting with her. Katta had me sitting with him, and I wasn’t a dog, at least not in the literal sense. For the first time, I found myself failing my son’s expectations.

Katta looked at me, his eyes welling up, and said, “I want a dog.”

“You want a pet,” I said. “You don’t know that you want a dog.”

“No, I want a dog, a puppy. I want it now,” he said. In no time, the quiet tears and mumbled plea morphed into a Level 5 tantrum with surround sound. Thankfully we were on mute. I tried to reason with him.

“You don’t need a separate pet dog,” I said. “I can be your pet dog.”

“But you don’t have a tail,” Katta said.

“Good point,” I said. “But unlike a real dog, I will never bite you.”

“But you scold me,” he said, tears streaming. “A real pet will never scold me.” “Fair enough,” I said. “I suppose the point of owning a pet is to have someone that you can scold.”

“I want a puppy,” he repeated. “Get me one right now.”

“Okay,” I said. “You have to stop crying first.”

Actually, I like cats better. But I don’t mind a dog if it looked like a cat and said ‘meow’ instead of ‘bow-wow’ or ‘The nation wants to know’. The Wife, however, tended to go all Taliban the moment you mentioned pets. No way was she letting a dog into the house.

Google, my friend

So I did what anyone in my place would have done. I sought the advice of my trusted friend, Google. I typed “What to do when your child wants a dog and you don’t want one?” into the search box. I stumbled into a rabbit hole of canine agony aunts doling out advice on a range of problems I didn’t know existed: is it ethical to share videos of your dog without their prior and informed consent? What to do when your own dog does not trust you? How to tell whether it’s you or your dog that’s going mad, and what should the dog do if it’s you?

My fall through the rabbit hole ended when I landed on the website of The Doggy Guardian. Specifically, on an essay titled, ‘How to be happy in a world dominated by tyrannical humans’.

Its central thesis: If you are a dog and want to be happy, keep your inner human on a tight leash (the ‘inner human’ is the humanoid super ego that every dog develops on prolonged exposure to human company). But if the bad karma of your previous births has made you take birth as a human, then despair not — the key to salvation is in discovering your inner dog.

The ‘inner dog’ is the hidden self that embodies the archetypal canine qualities of wagging your tail, licking your master and living in the present. I’ve spent the past week cajoling my inner dog to come out and play, partly to console Kattabomman, partly from a desire to achieve enlightenment. But the road to self-realisation is not easy. Shall keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, you also try.

G. Sampath, author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 3:48:21 AM |

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