Saturday, November 12, 2011
As far as I can remember, I try my best not to get attached to stray animals...And the reason is simple : once we get attached, then we have to fulfill the responsibility of taking care of them, and living in a rented apartment where the house owner and/or the neighbors may not like having strays just complicates the matter. So when I first saw the old smelly stray dog which used to sleep on the terrace of our building, I did not give him a second look...he never seemed to expect any food from us, and was content to just sleep on the terrace whenever he felt like it.
One night, while sitting on the terrace and enjoying the cool wind, I broke my rule...The dog came up to me and stood near by my leg as I was talking on the phone , and by habit (I had 2 dogs back home), I started stroking the head of the dog. To my utter surprise it gave out a sound which can be at best described as a sad but content dog purr, albeit a few decibels more than any cat or dog I have seen, and the sound seemed to have a tinge of sadness in it ; perhaps at being ignored for so long.I am not trying to be dramatic here...you have to hear it to believe it. That sound touched me as I was surprised to know that a few strokes from my hand made such a difference to the dog. Well to make a long story short, I started to feed the dog once in a while.
By luck, couple of kids adopted him as their pet and named him Rahul. So I was relieved to know that he had got people to look after him. With his new found owners, Rahul seemed to get renewed energy, and the battle scarred veteran started reclaiming the street from other dogs. Somehow the bigger younger dogs seemed to respect Rahul who, due to age, did not even have a decent loud bark...rather it was a sharp yelp or howl.
The building in which Rahul's new young owners lived, also had my friends living in the ground floor. One weekend night, after our usual barbeque party by Anish, my friend, I started to walk back to my room which was half a kilometer away. The time was around 1.30am and being a cool night, I was planning to have a enjoyable walk back to the room on the quiet deserted by-lanes. As a reached the first corner, I noticed that Rahul was walking few feet behind me. As he had a new home and was always well fed, I knew he not looking for food...It seemed that he knew the time was late and wanted to escort me home. I continued walking through the lanes and Rahul trotted behind me, stopping by once in a while to smell something on the road, and when noticing that I had walked farther away, coming up fast to close the distance.
Now, as city dwellers, especially two wheeler riders know, at night each by-lane belongs to its own set of dog groups who bark or give mock charges to any one using the road at night time. So as expected, as me and rahul walked towards my home, many such groups of dogs came up barking towards us...Rahul seemed to completely ignore them and just kept walking behind me, never turing back to even look at the other dogs who barked or growled just inches from him, and I never had to shoo away any of the dogs away. Once I reached the gate of the building in which I lived, I saw Rahul trotting back to his home, content in knowing that I had reached my destination.
For your information, Rahul has even followed one of my friends into the Perungudi suburban train station, and actually boarded the train. Luckily my friend was able to shoo him away from the train quickly, as these trains stop only for a few seconds at each station.
Years have gone by, and recently I came back to live in the same lane by chance. And by surprise, Rahul, who was not seen in the area for a few months (as told anxiously to me by his young owners ), came out of nowhere and has started sleeping on our door mat at nights...as if continuing to watch over his old friends.