I love dogs. Big, tall, small, wide, fluffy, gruff-y, labs, pugs, poodles, mastiffs – you name it. And because I have been deprived of owning one myself (thank you parents, my childhood will be forever incomplete), I tend to get quite excited whenever I see one.
Suddenly, I am 7 and can’t stop hopping and squealing, “pupppyyyyy….!” For all you know, I’m looking at a snarling Rottweiler.
Or a fully-grown, military-trained Alsatian police dog. At the Wagah border.
Now, if you’ve been to the Wagah border, you know that there is a whole ceremony that happens. On either side of the gate that divides India’s Amritsar from Pakistan’s Lahore, people come in batches and watch the fancy parade. On the India side, a compere with very well-endowed vocal chords bellows “Jai Hind” (crowd repeats), “Vande Mataram” (crowd repeats) and “Bharat Mata Ki…” (the crowd says “Jai!”). It’s all very patriotic.
Our neighbour’s choice of words were, however, more… colourful. I don’t think they liked their compere very much.
Anyway, people are invited to run up to the gate and back holding a flag. I honestly do not know the significance of or sentiment behind this, but kids get very riled up to do this. As they do for almost anything.
And then because we are Indian, we must dance. Again people are invited to participate in this. My friends and I were among these. There is no dance-off. Just a group of excited college girls jumping around to ‘Jai Ho‘ (we love cliches) at the India-Pakistan border.
Oh, it’s all very patriotic.
So after we have served our country in this Bollywoodian way, the show is over. People have started to leave and make way for the next batch that has queued up. My friends and I decide to plonk on the pavement and wait for the rest of our troop to join us.
This is when I see it.
Passing me by, on a leash held by a cop, is my furry-friend. To anybody else, the sight of this big boy read as ‘Ferocious Police-Dog, Do-Not-Touch’ but my brain is saying – you guessed it – puppy!
Before you could say Jai Hind, I reached out my hand – still seated – and called out, ‘Doggyyy!”. What happened after that was less Lassie and more Jurassic Park.
In one swift motion, the dog turned his head around and snapped. His big pointy teeth were just inches away from my hand. Fortunately, my reflexes were quite active after all that “dancing” and I got my hand out of there in time. I also made a small leap (for mankind?) into my friend’s lap.
The dog didn’t pursue my fingers after that. He went on his way and I sat there realising what the soldiers of my country must feel like everyday. Or Dr. Alan Grant at the end of Jurassic Park 1 and 3. Or Gru when he introduces the girls to his dog in Despicable Me.
What I’m saying is, I went to the India-Pakistan border and came back a survivor. Were my hands a little longer, I would not be typing this post as comfortably as I am now.