Can’t help myself when it comes to these three mutts. The loves of my life – Chingoo, Kajal and Chokli.
There are moments when Chingoo’s killer instinct surfaces and then he surprises us with his gentleness. Once a troop of 30 odd Rhesus monkeys decided to party on our tin roof, antagonizing the dogs to no end. I let them lose; Chingoo went berserk. Next thing I knew, he was pursuing the simians round and round the house with an infant monkey in his mouth; with me yelling “Drop it” in hot pursuit while wondering if the last Rabies shot I took was still valid. Things quickly turned around. It was the turn of the monkeys to act tormented. They screeched the place down and finally, Chingoo let go, of ‘baby-in-the-mouth’, without so much as a scratch. Reunited with their kidnapped ilk, the hysterical primates promptly did the disappearing act in a blur of grey.
[Watching the Langur watching him]
Langurs seem so gentlemanly compared to their Rhesus cousins. The dogs seem to agree. I’ve had Langurs foraging in the oaks with Chingoo sitting quite complacently below. It’s quite a picture; Dog and Langur in the mist! There is an exception, though. If the Langurs get on the roof and look at Chingoo through the skylight, he considers it an unforgivable invasion of his privacy. It’s quite comical as the curious Langurs will stay put, shade their eyes and peer this way and that to have a better look at the dogs from their high perch while the latter bark their heads off.
Chingoo used to love chasing Khaleej pheasants back in Ranikhet. When we moved to another hillside, for want of a Khaleej, he chased and killed a neighbour’s home-range chicken. Luckily the owner, a generous and kind-hearted woman, forgave him; even let him visit again. What Chingoo would really like to get his paws on are the pine martens. I always thought them adorable till I saw one attack a Woodpecker’s nest and eat the fledglings alive. Years ago, I saw Chinogoo and Kajals standing guard over a dead porcupine. I can’t say if I was more surprised or aghast. I thought it would be the end of them. Porcupine quills are known to infect and even kill tigers. Both the dogs had deep holes on the top of their heads and they looked quite stunned by the strange encounter. I flushed the wounds out with bottles of Betadine and they survived though they look a long time healing.
[Chingoo and Kajal] Except for delivery guys, Chingoo takes kindly to humans. He used to take it upon himself to escort dog-friendly folk to their homes or on their walks. He returned home one day, brutalised, the bone on his leg showing through the wound and two of his teeth missing. He was pretty shook-up by the experience and wouldn’t leave my side for days. It took him a while to get over his fear of people. Perhaps, ‘absolute’ freedom is not such a great scheme in the long run.