For the Love of a Dog…

To Jabu and Simba on their 4th birthday…

Photos by Rohit Varma

Friends, I find the word dog being used as a very derogatory term and our so called exalted civilisation that we are so proud about, still uses this term to denote something that is not worthy enough of protection, care, let alone love.

Dog lovers I am sure feel otherwise and I am here today to share an anecdote with you today. It’s something that has taken place on Dhole’s Den.

For those who may be reading this blog for the very first time, I repeat for the record: Dhole’s Den is a safari homestay, home to me and my family which includes four large and highly spirited sight hounds. Guests come and go and enjoy the scenes that play around them and it’s a treat to watch these fine athletic and agile and emotional creatures. They are called Shaka, Zulu, Jabu and Simba. Shaka and Zulu are the parents and the latter two are their overgrown Boys.

So much for the introduction. Last week I had one of my closest encounters with a cobra on an evening walk. It was one of the largest that I have sighted and is resident in that area. That evening it was my pleasure to have surprise him. The hounds around me started moving around it. Jabu who already has a snakes smell imprinted in his brain moved away just as I did. Zulu was standing some metres away. Shaka who does see eye to eye with his son Simba was not on the walk that evening. Simba who was standing closest to me moved ahead and took up an attacking posture. My heart pounced out of my body as I watched him. I had to get them away from the reptile.  In my desperation but trying to keep my cool, I instead of trying to stop the snake, decided to move away and threw the stick at Simba so he would move away from his dangerous position. We did manage to get the three away but it made one thing clear to me I was more scared what would happen to Simba if he wasn’t stopped. After all he was born before my eyes in my very room by none other than Zulu the love of my life.

A couple of days later on a morning walk on the property and having prepared the hounds for their breakfast I let Simba out so he may have some extra time outside. He approached me where I was sitting and his legs collapsed and he wasnt in control of them all of a sudden. He looked at me but couldn‘t stand straight. I held him trying to see if there was anything around his room. He had foam around his mouth and I couldn’t open his jaw which had in the meanwhile turned immobile. I called for help and my staff rushed to where I was. We tried to look at his eyes and he was conscious.

My instantaneous reaction was a massage around the chest where his heart was and in seconds which seemed to be endless and full of agony he sat down near my legs. I continued the massage and prayed that nothing untoward happen to this fine boy of mine who not only has his mother’s eyes but smiles through them and sports an attitude that challenges if not matches that of his father, Shaka.

Simba then got up and by his movement I knew he was going to vomit and he did and in the seconds that followed was an almost instantaneous recovery.

We were all relieved that the worst was over and he had his breakfast to his heart’s content and has been fine. The following day we drove to Mysore for an ultrasound and a blood test. I was told by the veterinary doctor that my reaction was good and might have just helped him.

After the incident I see a total change in him. He now calls for me in the wee hours and wishes to spend every moment with me in my room and around me. As I write these lines he is on my bed resting and possibly dreaming of hunting all the birds that he sees in the sky during the day. There can be two reasons for it either he still feeling insecure from his experiences or the other is that both the above incidents have cemented a new relationship that was to be between us.  It’s a similar love that Zulu feels for me as she lays down in complete assurance that she is safe around me and next to me. It took seven long months before she allowed me to touch her and it has taken 4 years and the events that Simba and I experienced, to bring forth this wonderful friendship that is only possible when we so called humans lose ourselves. Lose ourselves totally in love that is so unadulterated, so unconditional, so pure, so complete and supreme.

On the occasion of their birthday I look back at their moment of birth, growing up and the all the love that I was fortunate to experience by just losing myself…

Happy Birthday Simba and Jabu!

PS: Jabu, Simba and Zulu along with the one and only Shaka can be met and seen at Dhole’s Den. All you have to do is be our guest and leave the fear of canines at the gate J- With an open mind we will gladly help you get a close view and spend time with them.