Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 07/20/13 6:12 AM

Humour: A question of pedigree

A question of pedigree

He was gifted to us, a week-old bundle of sable brown fur and unfocussed grey eyes. The resident pedigree took one  look at him and a look of sheer horror came into her eyes. Ever since, her only reaction has been a policy of cold ignoring interspersed with occasional snapping.

“Definitely traces of Alsation,” my mother pronounced with aggressive satisfaction. My sisters were vehement about gifting it back. The general consensus, snob motive  apart, was that we had a dog already and this one, we could do without.

Mom won the day, of course, with a series of arguments,  all of which crossed the boundaries of reason and seemed  ludicrous. Her main theory was that all her friends kept one street dog alongside their Dobermans and Pekingese, because street dogs made ideal guard dogs.

“They are so grateful, they’ll die for you,” Mom said, dramatically. We looked dubiously at the little chap currently wetting Mom’s carpet. We couldn’t quite see him growing up to be a killer. A carpet-wetter, yes; a food-devourer, yes; a killer, no.

As weeks passed ‘Hank’ grew, grew and under our horrified eyes, grew some more. He grew thin, he grew long but he didn’t grow tall. The truth is, he grew to be funny looking.

At first, all he did was sleep, waking up to attack his food bowl and its contents with gusto. After a while, he developed a hysterical nature, much given to continuous barking. Given that his voice sounded as odd as  he looked, this was indeed the Sleepless Age for the household.

It was decided that Hank was to be the outdoor dog. “We’ll bring him up to be a rough-and-tough dog,” Mom pronounced. “He’ll learn to eat anything,  sleep anywhere and survive everything.”

Except, as days went by, the rough-and-tough dog was found in all the softest spots, curled up on our best embroidered cushions.

He learned to eat anything — as long as it had meat, eggs and milk  in it. He had a fit when faced with his first thunderstorm and then, a canine nervous breakdown when a bandicoot crossed his path.

By this time, the family was resigned to having  this creature with the appetite of a Saint Bernard and the appearance of a permanently surprised giraffe,  as the blot on the family escutcheon.

And then Uncle Sudhir came visiting, all the way from Tonga.

Hank greeted the visitor with his usual twin-barreled attack, a volley of growing barks guaranteed to shatter the sturdiest eardrum, and exuberant leaps that usually  felled most people. Not Uncle Sudhir, though.

Open-mouthed, he stared at Hank. “Why, it’s a Norsation” Uncle gasped. “How did you get such a rare breed?”

Open-mouthed, we stared at Uncle, then swivelled eyes to Hank, who immediately sat back on his haunches  and grinned. His Golden Age had only just begun.

This ran in DECCAN HERALD sometime in the Nineties.

doghumourIndian hound

Sheila Kumar • July 20, 2013

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