Doggy Prattle | Pet peeves of privileged pets

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In this one, Mia and Molly make Reem realise how easily humans let themselves become influenced by popular trends, forgetting to live simply and honestly like their pets.

Dogs can be more picky about their food than their self-effacing loyalty might suggest.

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“What is this brown sludge?” I growled, pushing away the bowl placed in front of me. “Don’t fuss, Mia!” scolded Reem, shoving the bowl back towards me, “It’s a wholesome nutritious bowl of ragi porridge with lashings of dahi and just a drizzle of honey. It’s delicious, now don’t be fussy.” I wrinkled my snout in disgust.

 

“Where are the toast and eggs? Or that crunchy cereal I like? With lashings of sugar. Now that’s the stuff!” I looked over at Molly, whose head was submerged in her bowl, greedy gulping sounds echoing from within. “Thanks for the support, Molls,” I drawled sarcastically. She emerged for air, spraying bits of ragi around while licking her lips. “It’s quite good, Mia, you should try it! Besides, ragi is all the rage now. You know, millet biryani and ragi pancakes. Super trendy.” Reem nodded enthusiastically, “It’s true, Mia. It is. But you’re becoming quite the snob. Turning your nose up at local produce and wanting processed bread and cereal out of a box. I am trying to get us to eat more fresh and local food, sourced from here.” I rolled my eyes and stuck my tongue out at her. “Oh, please, you lot are so fickle. I’m sure someone realised that some chef in Europe has made it all trendy and some Hollywood actress has raved about how her skin is glowing and she feels so light, so now everyone here is inspired to eat something that has always been under their nose. They just needed someone outside to appropriate it first, declare it fantastic and then all of you will go berserk with your millet waffles.” Reem looked a bit stunned, shifting uncomfortably in her seat and stirring her ragi absent-mindedly.

Molly licked her bowl till a sweet white and brown face stared back at her in the reflection. She looked over at my untouched porridge, which I pushed towards her. “Knock yourself out.” She plunged into it joyfully. I leapt off my chair and went over to the kitchen cupboard, scrounging around to the back till I found a packet of something crunchy. “Okra chips!” I scoffed, “Where is all the good stuff? I am going to buy myself some real junk.” I trooped out of the house, my bushy tail bouncing in indignation. I returned after a while, settling in with a large bag of pretzels and fizzy ginger ale. Reem peeped in a few minutes later, her brow wrinkling in disapproval when she saw what I was eating but wisely choosing to refrain from argument at the time. She turned on the TV, scrolling to a new episode of Orange is the New Black, a show we binge-watched together regularly. After a few minutes, she turned to me:

“I’m not sorry for getting you to eat healthier. But you are right about the part where we often don’t realise what we have until someone else makes it trendy.” I nuzzled into her lap and offered her some chips, which she wisely declined since I had licked all of them. “It’s fine, mum. I’ll eat the ragi. But I just don’t get all of you. You all keep changing your mind about what’s good, everyone raves and rants about cultural appropriation — ‘oooh, they stole our yoga! They stole jackfruit! They stole turmeric and are making lattés, when we have always had haldi doodh!’ In my opinion, you need to just enjoy what’s around you and not wait for someone else to make it popular before you start following the trend.”

Molly trotted in to join the conversation. “So, does that mean the West will have to appropriate desi dogs and adopt them, before everyone here realises that ‘hey, these are our indigenous bowwows’? Our lot will finally be popular and in-demand and I can wipe that smirk off that silly St. Bernard’s face who crosses us everyday on a walk.” Mia nodded. “Yes, I think you’re right. ‘Tis a shame the two of us didn’t get to be adopted by a nice family in say, Virginia. I hear the colours in autumn there are just riveting. Instead we’re stuck here in Dwarka — it’s not even South Delhi!” Reem glared at me, “Oh, if the air-conditioned comfort and three meals a day and toys and belly rubs are not up to your standards, I can just drop you back on the streets from where you both were found.”

I snickered, “Kidding, mum. Where’s your sense of humour? That’s something Indians need to learn, maybe appropriate some of that from the West, what do you say, Molls?”

Molly nodded enthusiastically. “I agree. But you know, Mum, I think you human lot have it all wrong. You’re influenced by and taking on elements of each other’s cultures, often unmindfully, but you should perhaps be appropriating some animal culture — learn from all of us.” Reem looked puzzled. She did seem to have mastered that vacant cowlike expression. “All of you are a stressed and panicked lot. Look at us. If we don’t want to poop, there’s no amount of you shouting at us on a walk to hurry up that will make us go until we are ready.”

I nodded in agreement. “That’s right, Molls. Another thing you could learn more of is patience. Seen a lioness stalking her prey? None of this nonsense 30-minute Dominos countdown. It could be hours or days before she and the family can sink their teeth into that juicy deer. Patience!” Molly jumped into Reem’s lap, “Absolutely! And then there’s living in the now. We just enjoy what’s going on right now, like this nap I am going to take when you get off the sofa and give me some space. No rush, I’m not impatient.” Reem rolled her eyes and got off the couch. “And before you leave, another important one. The ability to live within our means. We animals live within our means. Something you lot can definitely learn from”.

Reem left us to our nap, closing the door on her way out. “All this advice coming from you two is a bit rich, don’t you think?” came a voice from the recliner at the corner of the room. I cracked open my eye to take in Sid who had been sitting silently on his iPad all this while, probably playing Candy Crush. “I have no idea what you mean, Pops.” I answered sleepily. “Well, the two of you are as far removed, culturally, from your brethren in the wild. You exhaust our internet speed each month binge-watching TV shows. You’ve run up an alarming tab at the downstairs grocery store on crunchy snacks and aerated drinks. And please stop logging into my Amazon account and ordering Bohemian Rhapsody merchandise and dog toys.”

Molly stretched out lazily, “Oh, relax, Pops. If we dogs have to live with humans we need to become like all of you. It’s called cultural assimilation. Maybe if you used your iPad to read up a bit more about it, you wouldn’t find it all so surprising. Now be a good lad and hush, we must get some sleep.” I signalled towards the door with my paw: “You know how the saying goes — ‘Let sleeping dogs lie.’ Tootle off, Pops.”

(In this series, a pair of pet dogs cast their eyes about the world, taking turns to whine and woof about what they see, while wagging both tails and tongues before their favourite human companion, the author.)

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