Pokey little friends

Stray goats      I run a small school in a small village in the outskirts of a small town called Moran. Besides the students, my school boasts of an array of stray animals – dogs, goats and cows who are esteemed visitors to the school – only to be shooed out again. Life doesn’t seem normal without them. Nobody seems to mind them except for the ‘khadoos’ eccentric stuffy old landlord of the building , who is totally allergic to goats. The sight of a goat or a kid in his sacrosanct compound makes him see red and he comes charging like a raging bull at the school peon who has been given strict instructions to keep the school gate locked once everyone is in.

  Las year when the school reopened after the winter recess, I began noticing a goat family – complete with Papa Billy, Momma Nanny and their two li’l offsprings, standing silently and patiently at the gate, waiting for someone to walk in or walk out so that they could get a chance to hop in and have a go at the grass growing at the back of the building. They seemed to be a very determined and adamant lot who were quite sure that Lady Luck would smile on them and they’d get an opportunity to slip inside. True enough, they were rewarded many times a day coz the gate would be opened many times by unsuspecting parents who’d open the gate to go and pay the fees. The goat family should have been given some award for their opportunism!

  They were such an adorable foursome. Papa Billy was shiny black with his proud little goatee and pot belly . Mama Nanny was daintily spotted with black on a white background. The two adorable young uns were a splitting image of their mother and it was an absolute treat to see the little family hopping skipping scampering and gamboling in gay abandon inside the school when they’d achieve success at the gate . They were so bold that many a times I’d find them in my office, rummaging inside the upturned dustbin, looking for something to eat. Many a times I’d find the li’l ones fast asleep under my table. At times they’d enter the classrooms and the children would have a field day fondling the li’l ones. One day ,I was totally bowled over by Momma Nanny who stood in my office bedecked with a garland of orchids!. Investigation revealed that it was the peon’s work.

  The year went by and everyday I’d look forward to their antics and to see them waiting patiently for hours for the gate to open.. Towards the end of the year their visits lessened and this year when the school reopened after the winter recess I missed them waiting at the gate……………….

  February and March went by and there was no sign of my visitors . I missed them terribly . But lo and behold, I was beside myself with joy when today I saw two adorable little kids bleating and hopping about on all fours just outside my office. One of them even came and started rummaging in the dustbin! The two li’l, young uns of last year had produced offsprings and they too like their parents, were my esteemed guests of honour. My pot of happiness was ready to overflow !

The Indian stray

Now, you must be wondering what this bantering is all about, especially in regard to the ‘Indian dog’?! After all, what is the Indian Dog? Well, given the number of cross-breeding pursuits all around the world, no one really knows how the Indian dog came to be. All we know is that it bears the closest resemblance to a well-documented breed entitled the ‘Basenji’, formerly marketed or cross-pollinated from America, I believe. They share the familiar brown coat and those perky triangular ears atop a chiselled forehead. How gallant. But why our Indian dog beats the Basenji is for the obvious reasons and some of them are:

1) BEAT THE HEAT– They can beat the heat, and literally beat it. They can crawl into the most forlorn areas, into the most dangerous zones to beat the afternoon spell. Under the truck wheels, inside generator shafts, you name it. They also have this habit of creating what I call, ‘Cool Craters’, a small pit in the sand which keeps their body temperature cool, like a mini refrigerator.

2) YODELLERS– They have this uncanny habit of yodelling. So when you wake up in the middle of the night owing to the sounds of loud choir of yodeling pooches, be sure to pay attention to every azan at the Mosque.

3) PUPPY TRAILERS– Ever seen a mama doggy bounce along the road with a trail of tiny tots following her udders? The dedication and the commitment seen on the faces of those puppies is hair-raising not letting them udders go out of sight even for a minute.

4) CRIBS– Indian dogs have the coolest cribs in the world. You have to see them lounging on one of khatias or those animal-drawn carts. Given the look of austerity on the faces, you’d feel like owning one of those instead of the big floppy mattress on your bed.

5) THE GANDHIAN PRINCIPLE– Indian dogs couldn’t hurt a fly. Any pedigree dog in sight, the maverick would exhibit a particular behavior termed as ‘frozen in time’. Let the pedigrees barks their muzzles off, this dog would silently continue doing what he does best. Unless there’s food around of course.

6) THE VAGABOND– Given his vagabond lifestyle, an Indian dog is an opportunist who tries to own everything he likes. For him, it’s like having to browse an entire catalogue of items that he sees every day and order his favorite. So don’t be surprised if you catch him urinating on your leg or your neighborhood scooter. He just wants you to know that he likes you.   

 

Strays

We all need to admit that the world would not seem the same without strays. Lets all be modest and admit that we secretly admire the ways these animals lead their lives with reckless abandon and sheer ignorance of daily nuances. Whether it is the pooch peering at you from the hood of an autorickshaw or the two cows canoodling in the middle of the highway. The pooch would be someone I would term  a ‘slumberjack’ and the two cows, given their romantic pursuits, wouldn’t care a hoot even if they were holding up the midday traffic. Hell, they wouldn’t even worry about the dalliances between LK Advani and Sonia Gandhi unless one of them was hell-bent on distributing free doggy treats or giving them soft gunny bags to curl up in. If you and I, are ever so perceptive, we would know that strays are the real bravery. They are the optimus prime of their species, dodging flying crackers on the roads, fleeing ruthless dog catchers, scrounging tasty bits out of an overflowing dumpster, knowing the well-hearted from the bad by simply looking at the face.

So whenever you see anyone raise a hand at any stray, stop him and tell him that you feel sorry for him. Tell him that you know that his life is so worthless that he is being forced to project his failures on to an animal without a home. Tell him that you pity his confidence of not being able to fight it out with someone his own size. And if he has tears in his eyes, buy him a happy meal from McDonald’s and report him to the police.

Unknown to the masses, the PCA Act of 1960 has enabled any individual to protect any ill-treated animal in the scene by reporting to the authorities. It was made in the favour of animals to prevent them from unnecessary torture and pain.

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