To Shaka on his 6th Birthday…

It was October 2009 and I was back from my last trip to India where in the jungles of Bandipur a new safari lodge of a different kind was taking shape. Get yourself a hound my consultant and organic farmer Raju had mentioned to me on one of his visits to my farm. Upon discussing further he told me that he hounds per se love their master. The hounds tend to love their master just that extra bit more than other dogs do.

I had done some reading on hounds and found that India had some very rare kind of sight hounds whose origins were thought to be the Arabian lands or as some other sources put it they were the indigenous breed and were later taken to the Arabic countries.  Well whatever the origin or the destination that was immaterial to me. I had arrived at Bandipur in the jungles of Karnataka looking at some place to call home and having chosen that path and having chased a dream or fad whatever I chose to call my idea, was bent on making a home where others could spend a holiday.

I was quite excited and proud of the things that we had put together and boarded the flight to Chennai and upon arrival told my parents what my plans were and that we were not just getting one but two dogs. My parents were excited yes and waiting to see what would come to our home.

The next day after work and having managed to buy the necessary things like his food bowl I set off to get him home. I had done a bit of reading in Germany with my wife Ingrid and I having bought books like 50 important questions for dog owner, thinking we could carry it off with this information in our heads.

There I reached nearby Guindy taking the new ring road and reached the place. It dawned upon me that this was a centre for rehabilitation for the mentally ill and was received by Sethuraman who I had been in touch over Email. There was Vetri and I saw the hounds in the distance. A couple of Rajapalayam pups came forward and I was told they were blind and I heard Bonzo the Kanni male  and realized it was he who sired the pup I was going to bring home.

There stood Vetri in his lungi and his assistant the lady…and he held a small 2 and half month old pup dark with white marking on his paws and a short tail with a white tip and that pup just looked into nothing.

There and that instant I called him by the name he is called today: Shaka.

The duo looked at me strangely as I tried to explain that I had read that the pup needs to be called by its name so it can relate to it. The pup in my hand, I placed him in the car and devoted myself to the official stuff. Paid the remaining amount for the pup and asked questions as to what he was to be fed and how and when etc. etc. I didn’t want to make any mistake after all I felt as if I was taking responsibility for the first time in my life. I was married and was responsible for my family but this feeling was different from what I had known before. It now seems to me that it is a similar emotion experienced by possibly a new father looking at his child. The realization comes across to me stronger than before as I understand what a so called animal expects from us:  Responsibility and care, having sometimes no way to express what it needs, but giving us what we need: Love.

I returned to the car only to find what loneliness and fear of separation could do to a young pup. He had marked the back seat with all that came out of him. Well of course he was alone for the first time. I learnt from my discussion that he wasn’t micro chipped and needed a vaccination too. There I walked into a practice in posh Adyar with ladies and their pets in the waiting room. I had a simple and short leash and a new small red coloured neck belt for him. I took a seat and one of the ladies almost immediately started a conversation.

Oh that’s a well behaved dog said one of them who was sitting next to me.  Shaka inspected the place in his own puppy way. There I sat with two Labradors and one Labrador lying outside with a bad skin infection. The vet arrived chipped him, made a book and entered his weight and signed off. I had a whole lot of questions and he a whole lot of patients waiting outside.

We drove away with one of my employees driving the car and as we proceeded towards my parents’ home and it grew darker, his eyelids seemed to grow heavier and so did mine seeing the endless number of vehicles going somewhere and after a while I found his nose placed just where my seat was and he rested there placing his head just behind me.

Somehow I knew that instant it was friendship and his first show of trust and his small safe haven on his first day out separated from his pack. And yes I felt a sense of pride. This day was different.

We reached my parents’ home and I climbed the stairs with Shaka on my arm. I had read and discussed how the first evening was to be and to my surprise it was so.

I had read the dog needs to find its place to answer nature’s call and mark territory.  Thus I chose the balcony on the first floor for that day. Tiny he was with large paws giving me an idea what he would grow to he sniffed the floor and sat down. That job done I was ready with the bowl of water for him and some food in another. He ate the food and drank the water. Looked up to me and at the apartment he was so suddenly put in. He entered into every room as if to check things out.

It was getting late and I decided it was time for him and me to go to bed. We were looking at a long 600 km drive to Bandipur and we needed to be ready early.

My mother took out bowls for him and small rugs which were handmade for the children of the house for Shaka. There he lay in his basket at hand’s length from me and we soon dozed off, I planning how the next day was to be and he perhaps clutching to the memories of his mother…


To be continued…

To you Shaka who made me what I wanted to be:  Happy Birthday!  Alles Gute und Liebe zum Geburtstag!