I was just reading Chelsea Haywood's 90-day Geisha and came across a little story in the novel. It is the story of a dog, in whose honour they now have a statue at Shibuya Station in Tokyo. The dog, Chu-ken Hachiko is said to have been the pet of a professor and is said to have accompanied his master to the railway station everyday. The loyal canine saw his master off every morning and escorted him back from the station when he returned from work, until one day the professor died at work. However the dog continued to go to the station and wait for him there for years together. Some 10 years later -- they say -- Hachiko was found dead at his usual waiting place.
Misnomer and unconditional love
This anecdote reminds me of our pet Terror. His name might have been that. but he was actually anything but a terror. Anybody who has known him will agree that he was the best of dogs they ever saw. Coming from a place where dogs are an inevitable part of the household, I remember most of the canines that have been a part of the family over the years. Terror is the oldest one I have known and I can't help saying again - the best!
This brilliant pet had several types of barks, friendly woofs for family, quick short barks for strangers and an aggravated one for a cousin of ours, that he was quite indifferent to, for reasons we know not. Dear Terror and I grew up together. He was almost my age; slightly older to be exact and my brother often joked and said I'd have to be more respectful of him and address him as I would an older brother. I must say --Terror was very protective of me when I was a little girl.
That apart, he loved shaking hands and loved playing fetch in the river nearby. Terror also had a special bond with my brother and undoubtedly loved him more than he loved himself. We cannot forget how this lovely pooch, even when he was old and ailing, followed my brother wherever he went, as if he were a shadow. Even if it was a chore that required going round and round in circles, he would be there. Be it day or the middle of the night, if his favourite person in the family stepped out, the poor senile doggie was sure to go along.
When we lost him, it was like having lost a member of the family. Thankfully I was away at boarding school when he or any other pet dog we had, passed away. I remember them all with fond memories and I can write up character sketches of each one of them.
Dingo and Bingo
I remember Dingo and Bingo, the twosome who came charging out when they were let out of their kennels. Little me was often terrified by their sudden burst of energy. That seems like a long, long time ago.
Fluffy Brat, I miss you
I'll never ever forget Panju (meaning cotton in Tamil). His first owner, a dog-trainer in Ooty gave him that name and we continued to call him that when we brought him to Mallu land. He was huge and fluffy and almost lion-like with a furry coat that made it seem as though he had a mane. His disposition was also very royal indeed. His deep-throated barks were majestic too. The people who worked at the estate and every visitor to our house was terrified of this tough looker. I was scared of him when I first met him. However when I befriended him him, I was fell in love with him. I'd make sure to send him my love when I wrote my weekly letters from school. And I had to hear about how he was doing in every reply I received from home.
He was strong. I was no match for him if he decided to go on an adventure all on his own. He was not allowed to run off from our field of view, considering his notoriety with some meek creatures in the neighbourhood. Such a brat! You couldn't help adoring him though.
Everytime he sauntered off, his tail would be up in the air, seeming like he was waving out to everybody. Oh that tail!
You know how as teenagers we get into those disagreements with the family and end up feeling so unloved? Well, a rebellious teen that I was, I had many of those moments and I just had to take a walk to this canine friend of mine to feel better. He wagged his bushy tail and I was convinced there was 'somebody' who loved me. Panju boy, I miss you so much.
I remember Gypsy too. This Alsatian was so full of life and looked so perfect. She was beautiful. If she was not hungry at her mealtime, she would hold her dish by her teeth and take it to where she was usually secured once her eating, pooping and playing time was over. That way her food was ready when she was ready for it.
Scotty the first of the Dobermans (yeah, that's the plural noun) at home and was probably the one who was most-pampered among the whole lot. He walked into any room like it were his own. He once made his way into my room and looked into a tall mirror in there. You can imagine the ruckus he created that afternoon when he saw 'the dog in the mirror.'
He had a fetish for toothpaste and gunny bags. And when he rested he crossed his fore paws one over the other and literally held his head high. If he were sitting by your feet (I should say `knees' considering his height) he would take the freedom to lean against you like you were his backrest (Ooh! and he was heavy) or happily place his muzzle on your lap. Spoiled sweetheart! He really was a darling. And one other thing: he would sometimes fuss over his food and we had to feed him with our bare hands. He would eat then. I swear, he'd make sure that he never hurt us with his sharp teeth.
Then there was Danny, also a Doberman. This fellow was always playful. He was a pup when he came home and grew bigger and older in time but he just never grew up. Then there was Hito and Tito named. Sadly Hito had a short life and poor Tito just led a quiet life without his sibling.
I've seen that dogs are very human-like in the fact that they have their own distinct characters. However man's best friend really is sometimes more humane than human beings. They are some of the finest creations the earth ever saw.
Dear Terror, Panju, Gypsy, Scotty, Danny and the others,
REST IN PEACE.