Friday, February 06, 2015

Confessions of a vicarious dog lover

"Dogs are humans in the form of animals", emphatically stated my twelve-year old niece Shreya, in sheer frustration, trying to convince me about how beautiful it is to have them as pets and share our space with them. It was difficult for me tell her, "hey, look, I don't hate dogs, but..." Nevertheless, her profound statement made me confess some things about my 'distant' relationship with these cute and cuddly canines, how much I care and love them and feel for them - vicariously though:)

Meet Snoopy, the cute little Beagle, Shreya had, couple of years ago. One of his hobbies was to bite my footwear; he always kept me at a distance, for obvious reasons - we could never bond:(  Though I could never touch him or feed him, I liked his innocent and heart-melting looks. Snoopy was given away to another dog-loving family since bringing him up in a flat was getting difficult he as was growing up. I still remember the day when Shreya and Snoopy was one of the saddest moments. The good thing is that, we get Snoopy's updates and pictures and it feels great to know he's grown into a handsome adult.  I feel proud of him!

Aslan is an adorable little Pekingese gentleman and what he means to Ankita is simply difficult to put in words. The glint in her eyes at the mention of Aslan is enough to show the magic this furry friend has created in her life. And, often our conversation centres around the adventures of Aslan, his antics and pictures. So what if I can't hold him or allow him come close to me; when he falls sick, I am genuinely concerned...doesn’t it qualify me as a dog lover

Ginger is a cute Labrador Retriever, an important member of Mathew's family. I love to read his Facebook updates and wait for interesting pictures as Ginger adds spice to ordinary events and strikes a pose in such heart-warming ways. Particularly, his expressive pictures can move even the worst pet-hater, whipping up oodles of love.  It’s almost as if one can start a conversation if dogs had a language that humans could learn. At the same time, it amazing how we communicate with them, understanding the barks and the body language.

I know dogs are the best friends that a human can ever have – most loving and faithful. But, somehow my love for dogs has always been vicarious. Is it the fear? Yes, I'm scared when I see them yelping or coming close to me – the bark, the bite, the touch - and I still remember how I screamed my life out when Snoopy was thrust upon me and placed on my lap! Perhaps it's got to do with a childhood incident when I was chased by a street dog and I ran and fell down and hurt myself badly.  But then, there’s something weird ...I really love dogs and I can’t show it!  I’m sure there are others like me who belong to my clan of dog lovers - taking pictures, writing, reading and listening to stories.

Now, coming to the other side of the story, recently, when this picture appeared in the newspaper, I was in complete awe of this sniffer dog at the passing out parade. It was overwhelming to read and know more about how dogs work hard for our safety and security supporting the police and the army.
At the same time, look at the hypocritical way we treat them. While we sing praises of dog's faithfulness and loyalty, in the same breath, we also use them to swear and abuse. Just look back and think how often people refer to dogs for cussing like ‘living a dog’s life or dying a dog’s death',‘wagging a tail like a dog’, or worst things. And this is true of many languages, not just some dialogues in Bollywood movies. I failed to dig deeper to understand how such a friendly animal got associated with the worst conditions. Apparently, it’s evolved with times when street dogs were uncared for, surviving in most pathetic conditions, which is true even today. Whatever be the history of such usage, stray dogs deserve better treatment and a dignified life.
Certainly, most dogs can't be like Beast Zuckerberg! However, luckily, a majority of them enjoy being members of different families in different cultures and countries – filling that much needed gap of unconditional love that humans aren’t always capable of giving and sharing. And, of course, bringing a smile to those stressed-out souls who love them vicariously!

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