Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Remembering Shakthi

He was brown, well built with bright eyes, always energetic, sometimes ferocious. He protected females around him as if they were his own. He was the KING in the house. He got the first morsel of food. He didn't even sniff yesterday's food, rejected it outright!
Children were sometimes scared of him... sometimes wonder at him, sometimes talked to him. Very few times played with him though.
He was our first family dog. A proud Alsatian. Our Shakthi.
My periyappa (Uncle) had 3 dogs. Shakthi, Rani and Pavan. Interestingly the three of them were aptly named though we had no idea how they would turn out to be after they grew up. We bought them as very small puppies.
Shakthi was all manly and clearly the leader of the group. Everybody used to be scared of him. He would listen to only my periyappa and nobody else!
Rani was as womanly as a dog can get. AH! You should have seen her walk.. what gait! what grace! She was a Pomeranian. Always had sparkling white fur. Licked and cleaned herself almost every now and then. She is the only dog till now I have seen who never used to stink! Nopes not even a little bit.
Pavan, true to his name was never stationary! We really had tough time feeding him. He would eat one morsel and run around the house for at least 4 rounds ;-) He was also a Pomeranian and madly in love with Rani. We have had 12 puppies from them :). He never used to eat until Rani was fed. He would howl and cry when Rani was giving birth to puppies.
Generally during the mating season, lots of stray dogs used to come for Rani.. after all she was very attractive ;-). Though Pavan was hero types, he was extremely terrified of other dogs. He would just run as fast as he can from there into the house. It was always Shakthi who came to her rescue. One big bark from him.... all the other dogs would just run away with tails tucked behind their legs!
I used to study in Bangalore, but used to go to my periyappa's house in Mysore for summer holidays. 2 full months of pure fun with my cousins and these dogs! We adored them... we never used to go to the park in the evening without taking them. We refused to go to anybody's house or any function, lest we loose those few hours of playing with these dogs.

There was a special bonding between periyappa and Shakthi. He used to eat only when he fed him. He never failed to accompany him for his morning and evening walks. Sometimes periyappa used to simply sit in the sit-out and keep patting Shakthi. It was as though they were having a secret conversation. Shakthi was very docile during such sessions.

The last day of the summer holidays were the worst... all of us used to cry, not willing to go back. We missed them so much. I wonder if they felt the same too? But we never knew. They were their normal self from the next day :) Maybe we were just some flying-friends to them.

Then came the bad times. My periyappa fell ill. Age was taking it's turn. He was very ill for almost 15 days and then he was in the hospital for some 3 days and he left us for his heavenly abode.

When he was ill, we noticed a drastic change in Shakthi. He stopped barking. He would just come and sit near my periyappa's cot. Just sit there for hours together. It was almost as if he sensed what was going to happen. He ate only what we gave to periyappa. Rave Ganji, buttermilk and some milk. He refused to eat the "normal" food. The ferocious Shakthi was now so down in the dumps, it was hard to even imagine for us.
Hospital days were unbearable for him. He could not see his master. He started crying, literally. He acted mad.. it was as if he was begging us to take him there. He would just keep licking my periyappa's walking stick and cry. It is believed that dogs generally don't cry as we humans do but they rather howl. But Shakthi cried, we could see tears in his eyes.....

The dreaded day came. Periyappa didn't come home alive. The moment Shakthi saw his masters body he knew what had happened. That was the end of all his "Shakthi". He wept with us. He mourned with us. He just didn't stop barking until we let him in the van to go to the crematorium. But that was the last bark we heard from him.

When he came back home, he was unusually silent. He refused food. Yes. He stopped eating. He would just sit in periyappa's room all day.
Periyappa was very orthodox and pious. He performed sandhyavandana 2 times a day in detail. As usual Shakthi was a companion to him. He would simply watch my periyappa do everything.

4 days after periyappa's death, Shakthi went to the pooja room and just sat there. He did not respond to any of our calls. Just ignored all of us. By 4pm he had left us, to join his master. It was really amazing (I know it's not the right word!) to see that! A dog who knew he would die, and went and sat in the pooja room to be one with God!
Soon after Rani got some disease, maybe because Shakthi was not there to protect her.... she died too... devastated by the loss of her, Pavan ran away from home one evening. A week later we found him dead in front of our gate! It was as though he could not live in the house which haunted him with memories of Rani and Shakthi, but came home faithfully to die.
This makes me think... Dogs have a lot of sixth sense. They bond with people more than how much we bond with each other.
I miss Shakthi.....
P.S: This post was inspired from I Failed The Don post by Kavi.

22 comments:

pavan kumar said...

very touching indeed! animals exhibit what humans sometimes dont: "loyalty" and we use naaye/kutte to rebuke/curse!

Vin said...

Very Very touching....

Never knew animals had such intense emotions until we had a dog.
We hade a dog Ceaser. Since it was a pup it would eat whatever it found. Fedup, my mom stiched a small bag and tied it to his mouth. The dog got really wild and refused to even look at my mom. Whenever it would see my mom, he would turn his face away.

Sojourner said...

i got goosebumps reading this one.
animals do "feel" huh?..

GuNs said...

Thats a really well written, touching post. I've never had a pet and have almost always despised of people with uncontrollable pets. My take has always been "If you cant rear it to behave, you shouldnt be taking care of it".

I've seen some military sniffer dogs who are as well behaved as men or even better. Its such a beauty to see these beasts have a sense of intelligence alongwith the natural instinct.

Even then, the love between a pet and its caretaker (I rather not use the word "master") is something nobody else can understand. As a 10 year old, I dreamt of having a tiger for a pet. LOL...maybe I'm TOO MUCH like Calvin !

-PeAcE
--WiTh
---GuNs

Sunil Parmar said...

Love is an Universal phenomenon...

mysorean said...

Well written! :)

Dogs and I don't exactly bond well. But we do know how much distance to keep from each other! ;)

bellur said...

i really believe that dogs are very attached to humans. my uncle in hubli had a dog. my uncle was suffering from heart problem and had to go to madras for operation. even before it could be done, he passed away by noon. but it seems the dog in hubli had started barking and crying since the morning when my uncle passed away. i can never stop wondering how did the dog come to know that his master was in danger?

btw, a very happy deepavali to you.

Hardu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hardu said...

Dogs do reciprocate the love they are showered upon. They will be extremely loyal and faithful. No human will be like that.

Me and the dogs don't bond well but we keep our distance and then things are fine. :)

shark said...

@pavan: How very true!

@vin: Specially dogs, among all other domestic animals have such intense emotions I think!

@sojourner: Oh yes! they feel... and they show it also in their own unique way:)

@guns: Thanks:) You are Calvin Incarnate...;-)

@sunil: Yes! Love is in the air...:) Everywhere!

@mysorean: Thanks :) My father is your category! That's why we never had pets at home :(
He used to say "when you both (me and my sister) are here why do we need dogs"! ;-)

@bellur: Yes. Dogs can see death. This is very true, not only of their own master but in general. Once, out of the blue a stray dog kepy howling (crying) in front of my neighbor's door. After 2 days that uncle passed away :(

@hardu: Humans can never even get close to being as loyal as a dog!

Sojourner said...

Happy Diwali :)

doomofhades said...

goosbumping and touching...
one of the many tht men can learn from a dog...

doomofhades said...

goosbumping and touching...
one of the many tht men can learn from a dog...

Sunil Parmar said...

Wish you a very beautiful Diwali. :)

Jo said...

This was a very touching post..I am too scared of dogs to really feel these kind of emotions towards them !

Anonymous said...

aha! alsatian - don't use the word here, not many will understand what you are saying (i mean, in the usa not the blog). the word(s) here are "german shepherd" (you probably already know that).

i have noticed many words that are of common use in india are never used here and vice versa. the other day, i started to compile a list; unfortunately, that list needs to be re-created - i only remember one off the top of my head:

"facile" = easy, as in "sri lanka scored a facile victory over the kiwis". i have never heard that word being used in the usa.

talking of dogs (back to the original topic), i agree with pavan, the human (not dog or god).

- s.b.

shark said...

@sojourner: A very happy Diwali to you too :)

@doomofhades: But do humans ever learn?

@Sunil: A very colorful Diwali wishes to you too.

@jo: I am also extremly scared of stray dogs. Only pets I am comfortable that's all :)

@s.b: I don't think I have any videsi readers... so this will do ;-))
And oh yes there are lots of such different words like we use "lift" for an "elevator" or that we generally call "aunty" anybody and everybody elder to us. The way we pronounce "anti"..the list goes on :)

Kavi said...

Shark !

That was touching. Accentuated and alleviated my intense emotions at the same time...

Don we hear is doing ok. But am not able to continue living with such intense emotion of loss...

Thanks for standing by me !

Viky said...

I always had this aversion to pets. I like animals, I feed an occasional stray, but I keep my distance from them.

But, I have friends who always tell me how they bond with their pets, how they become an integral part of their lives.

A touching post, indeed.

shark said...

@Kavi: It's going to take you quite some time to get over Don I am sure.. take care. Just think as though he is under better care now.

@viky: Animals respond to us by the way how we treat them :)

But then not everyone likes animals around... so it's fine :)

Eroteme said...

Dogs have a way with human beings which can only be experienced.

Very touching recollection. My aunt had a dobermann, Bruno and I simply adored him. We used to eat from the same plate (well, I was just about 5-7 then) and had a ball of a time... God knows where he is.

There is such intimacy between man and animals that it makes me wonder why that is lacking in other associations...

Vijay said...

Amazing post... very nice the bond between a dog and his master.