“Don’t ever lose shape, always try & keep your formation”  this is technical terminology from the legend who made football into a beautiful game. Johan Cruyff… my all time favourite footballer/coach.

When we have three high energy dogs, the monsoon season i.e the three months from mid June to end of September is the most difficult for me to navigate. During these three months they cannot come to the farm with me, because reaching the farm with Magic, Mia & Laila is next to impossible in the heavy rains.

I am sure they miss their freedom, with no collars, with no leashes & very minimal interactions with me. While we are on the farm, they only remember me when they are hungry, or if they need some TLC & yes, they feel happy & secure when i am around in the night. Otherwise they are minding their own business & i am minding mine. More importantly for me, i don’t have to do this nonsense of “taking them for a walk“.

During the monsoon season we get cooped up in our apartment for three months, they are dependent on me/partner for their mental & physical exercise, for their toilet jobs & it does become cumbersome for them & for us.

Some dogs don’t mind getting wet, but Caravan hounds don’t like  rain, slush, muck nor slimy water. So here is a brief interface when we are out for a walk in this city called Pune:

Now lets imagine:

I am the Beanpole, i don’t require any space to walk, lets imagine Mia & Laila are cycles. the two cycles are usually on my left hand side & Magic is a motorcycle, he is on my right hand side. If we walk abreast we need at least 8 ft to 10 ft of space to walk. Sometimes the shape changes, the motorcycle will be in the front, the beanpole is behind him & the two cycles are behind, sometimes we are a triangle in various angles, sometimes a square, sometimes a rectangle, sometimes a straight line. Whatever shape we are in; it is important we keep the shape & keep the formation.

otherwise, we end up like this every other minute:

grey pole

It also depends on what is in front of us, what hurdles we have to cross, what sights we encounter & what smells we find interesting. If we lose shape, surely a car will hit us, some scooter or motorcyclist will hit us. Keeping the shape is most critical when we cross the road. It’s not just traffic which we have to take into account, because suddenly a cat will dart across or a not so friendly dog would suddenly appear, sometimes even a pig, or a cow or even a herd of goats.

Imagine losing shape in the middle of the road, gosh…. NO.

The two “cycles” & the “motorcycle” do not like too much of wetness on their feet, so they are always pulling the “Beanpole” to the middle of the road. The only reason why we tend to get out at 4.45 am in the morning is because, then we have the road to ourselves, there are no vehicles, so the road belongs to us & we can rule the street for more than an hour.  M, M, L will inspect every lamp post, every tree, they will read all the messages left by other canines & they also leave behind their messages.

However the toughest walk is in the evening.

To navigate the traffic, to cross the road, accepting the friendly or sometimes not so friendly greetings from the stray dogs in the area, there is a continuous stream of people to navigate, then if some cat pops up from nowhere…. “the two cycles & the  motor cycle will unite together to become a Jeep & the beanpole is the Jeep driver who has to try & apply the non existent brakes.”  There are some dogs which Magic just cannot stand, they may have barked at him sometime before, so he wants the settle the score. If we happen to come across them, then suddenly Magic will start becoming more tall, from his 3 ft height he will zoom himself up to a imaginary 6 ft. Its quite funny & even funnier to see his hair standing up, like how iron particles stand up when we hold a magnet above sand.

Then we have to put up with a few dog walkers who are constantly speaking on the phone or watching something very intently on their phone while they are walking with big dogs like Labrador’s, German Shepherd’s or Rottweiler’s. He/she is obviously oblivious to our oncoming presence. Sometimes we come across a child, yes a child walking a big German Shepherd who cannot stand the sight of Magic & vice versa.

Now anything can happen, isn’t it ?

Just imagine the scene:

“…… the German Shepherd pulls at the leash suddenly, the child falls down in the impact, hurts his nose, ‘has broken teeth & the rampaging German Shepherd in its fury to reach us gets hit by a biker, the bike slips, the biker has serious injury & the German Shepherd is also hit & has serious injury, there was car behind the biker & in trying to avoid the biker, it swerved to the left & hit us…..”

Listen, I am not not exaggerating. This is something which can happen anytime. We’ve had similar close shaves.

With a 70 kg plus Rottweiler this has happened three times as of now. Because the dog walker isn’t aware of our presence, since he is busy on the phone. Its natural that the  dog will charge at us & then there is a mad scramble by the dog walker to hold the dog, his phone would’ve fallen down, maybe a car has run over his phone ! If by any chance that dog got loose, it could be mayhem. One of my friends who stays in another part of town in Pune, was recently an eyewitness, when a Rottweiler managed to come out of a house & chased a passing biker, the biker lost balance & fell down, then he was bitten. People were running for their lives & it was pandemonium !

There is also a Lhasa Apso which we come across & of course the dog walker is so busy, so busy & so busy on the phone. Sometimes we wait for even 10 mts to catch her attention, with no luck. The Apso will be barking & barking, lunging at its leash, he would be in mid air, scratching the pavement continuously & claiming its spot etc. The dog walker hasn’t even bothered to see why the dog is behaving like this. Actually I find these small dogs really scarier than a Rottweiler, because when i see a dog doing all these things, any moment this Apso is going to come off the leash & god forbid if that happens, in a jiffy Laila would pick the Apso by the neck & thrown her 20 ft above. End of the story & that’s exactly why i am scared to be near any of these small dogs.

Absolutely nothing wrong with the dogs, they are all fine, barking at us or charging at us etc is all fine, it’s normal dog behaviour. What shocks me is the sight of the dog walker carelessly walking as if he/she is on a walk on a beach & not aware of  the surroundings & the possible dangerous situations involved. Now i understand when i hear stories of people run over by cars, even by trains when they were talking on their mobile phones !!

Then, of course there are a few people in our colony who insist that they will walk their dogs without the leash. I really don’t understand their logic. What are we supposed to do, if by chance their dogs comes charging at us ….  ?

Forget it.

Magic, Mia & Laila are no innocent, they are real rascals, they also do provoke other dogs. Laila, is like a “Kungfu panda” itching to settle a few arguments with a couple of dogs & Magic is itching for a full-on street fight with a couple of others. But one thing is for sure, i know how to hold them & there is that confidence that none of the three will do anything stupid. Having said that, walking the dogs in the evening is like driving. ‘Being a careful driver, doesn’t guarantee anyone’s safety. Anything can happen on the road, isn’t it?

A few months back; a speeding car lost control & hit the barrier at the pavement just 10 ft behind us & the impact took the car to the right side median & when it came to its halt, the front wheels of the car was on the other side of the median. The screeching sounds of the brakes, the sound of the impact on the barrier, the flying particles, the yelling passenger’s inside the car, the dust which it whipped up, the people running towards the car to see what had happened, it was mayhem for a few minutes.

When all this happened, we didn’t lose shape, ‘like a mother hen spreading its wings to protect its chicks, i could quickly sit down & get hold of all the three close to me. Then again, once early in the morning on the bridge a Truck tyre burst, the sound is like a bomb. Before M, M or L could bolt i managed pin them down & hold them close to me, till they became calm.

Of course. I have also had my bad days, especially while crossing the road. Due to mis-judgement on my part or someone pressing the horn too loud & once when i didn’t see a Pig which also wanted to cross the road towards us at the same time, or sometimes when i didn’t notice there was a dog was waiting to charge at us. Basically it was only good fortune that nothing untoward happened & none of us got run over.

I never use the phone while i am out with my shadows. I understand what is coming our way not just by been observant, but also by feeling the different pulls on the leash on my wrist. If they have spotted something, its a different pull, if they want to pee its a different pull, if they want to do their pooh its a different pull. We are always in constant communication through the ‘leash’ and we also exchange looks. Magic, is the most talkative of the three & he usually has a lot to say. He is always nibbling at my elbow, at my wrist, sometimes he arches his body in front of me, stops me on my stride & when i bend down to him & lend him my ears, he would nibble & whisper some very important information into my ear. He is also the only one who does ‘trancing’. There will be cars going up/down beside us, but Messrs Magic would have found his favorite bush where he dunks his head in & does his trancing, then he allows all the leaves to feel at his back & we three will be waiting patiently hoping he will come out of his trance with some deep meditative inclinations !

The other problem with all these walks is that one becomes too visible. In present day India it is always better to remain invisible, unknown, untraceable & anonymous.

Actually i can’t wait till October, when the season changes & the rains subside, so that we don’t have to bother about all this nonsense of keeping shape/formation/ walks etc & we can remain invisible.

Peace & love !!