I was watching a movie on T.V. The movie was a modern version of a true story from Japan of a dog-named Hachiko. The story goes that Hachi used to follow his master to the railway station every day as he left for work. Every evening, Hachi would be there again waiting as the train would pull in. One day the master died while at work. Hachi apparently kept a vigil at the station for almost nine years hoping that one day his master would eventually return. The townsfolk immortalized Hachi by setting up a statue in his memory.
The story and the movie brought tears to my wife’s eyes and she started with one of her long-standing requests.
“We should get a dog”, she said between sobs.
Tried arguing with her but that as usual did not work. My problem was that I hated dogs. I was not born this way. I came from a family where we loved dogs. My father was in the army. Over the year’s we had run through a whole range of pets from Pomeranian to dachshunds.
After my father’s retirement, we had settled down in Kerala, a state at the southernmost tip of India. One day my father brought home a Pomeranian puppy, the size of a white tennis ball, which was immediately christened Bobby. This name had been used up once before in the family. Years ago when I was just a toddler, we had a Sydney silky named Bobby.
This new version of Bobby must have been a month old when he came to our house. We had put a cushion in the garage for him, but Bobby did not seem to like it at all. During the daytime, Bobby liked to explore the house. He had a knack of squeezing into the most impossible of spots. Like the time, he climbed through the car tires and tried to get into the car from there. Another time he managed to be stuck in the grille built under the main gate. It was a full-time task keeping watch on Bobby. Nighttime was different and a whole lot worse. It seemed as if he still had not got over the separation from his mother and used to wail throughout the night.
A couple of days of this and the neighbors started complaining. Since my bedroom was the closest to the garage, I was also having a tough time sleeping. Therefore, I carried Bobby into my room and let him sleep on the carpet near my bed. Once the lights were off, he would try to climb up onto the bed. I would hang my arm off the side of the bed to let him know that I was there. Bobby would cuddle up against my hand and doze off. This phase lasted a few days. He was growing up fast, and soon got used to our home and its surroundings. He even became an expert at chasing birds that used to peck at the rosebuds in our garden.
Then I got a job and left home. The job involved a training period of a year, at locations spread across the country. A year later, I came home on a short leave of two weeks. I reached home at one in the night. We have a bell right outside the main gate. I must have tried ringing it a thousand times, but both of my parents who were then in their early sixties, continued sleeping peacefully. I did not want to bang on the iron gates and wake up the entire neighborhood.
Then I heard Bobby. I could hear him running on the other side of the gate, barking his head off. I realized that if I did not shut him up soon the entire neighborhood would get up anyway. Our gate is a huge metallic affair and does not show much of what is happening on the other side. The lower part of the gate though had a grill like structure. This was the same grille where Bobby used to get his head stuck. Now he was grown up and I could see his nose poking through.
He was barking fiercely, so even though I was a bit worried, I held out my hand for him to sniff. Suddenly the barking stopped. He must have remembered the smell of my hand since I noticed that he had started wagging his tail vigorously and was clawing at the gates. I threw my bag over the wall and climbed up the gate like a thief. Bobby had recognized me and sure seemed to be happy. He was running all around me, licking me, smelling me; it sure felt good to be home.
Normally we used to keep the gates locked, so that Bobby had a free run of the compound. A day before the end of my leave, someone had left the gates open and Bobby ran out into the street and came under the wheels of a passing truck. None of the wheels had touched him but the shock proved too much and his heart just stopped. I buried him in our backyard. That night no one ate anything at home. Early the next morning I returned.
Now that is why I hate dogs, they have this nasty habit of becoming a part of your family. They wriggle their way into your heart and eventually end up breaking it when they leave you.
Did not want to share all this with my wife, so changed the channel and started watching Godzilla.