A dog at Chikmagalur – and for all dogs out there

Gushing waterfall, with green trees and foliage behind. Water is frothy.
The waterfall at Chikmagalur. There’s a photograph somewhere of the dog but I can’t seem to find it.

We stopped by at the waterfall on our way back from Chikmagalur to Bangalore. It was June, and everything around us in that landscape was in various shades of green.

There was a tea stall, and before we headed upwards to see the waterfall, we stopped by to say hello at the stall. A young man at the stall offered to lead us towards the waterfall. Just like that. He didn’t ask us for any money – not before or afterwards.

This was in 2013, but I still remember most details of the day. With the man, a dog who was also resting at the stall, accompanied us.

I was wearing slippers, and the route to the waterfall was slippery and really, slippers were absolutely not fit for the trail. I do not recommend doing a waterfall trail in slippers or flipflops at all.

To ensure that I don’t slip and fall, my steps were careful and slow. I realised that with each pause that I took along the way, the dog stopped as well. He only moved or resumed walking when I did so. If he were a little ahead of me, he would pause on a stone and look back and wait for me to catch up.

He accompanied us all the way to the waterfall. We took photographs, spent a little time at the scenic spot, and then started making our way down to the base and the stall.

This time too, the dog would stop for me, adjusting his pace so that he was always with me.

When we reached the base and sat down for cup(s) of tea, I realised that my husband had also noticed what the dog had done.

He was now resting near our feet as we were sat on a bench made of a log of wood.

We called him, and he came promptly and we patted his head. We asked the shopkeeper if we could buy some biscuits to feed him.

And when we offered the biscuits to him, he would take them so gently from our hands, it was as if he didn’t even let his snout touch our fingers. He then ‘called’ another dog who was at a distance, and stepped back so that this other dog, which we assumed was his friend could eat biscuits. The other dog wasn’t as gentle or perhaps didn’t have that gentle grace about him but he was no trouble either.

When it came for us to resume our journey, both my husband and I gave one, final pat to the dog. His eyes had a most kind, and loving expression – I do feel to this day that he had something special about him. Something that I can’t quite articulate in words.

In all these years, I have never forgotten him, and his gentle demeanour.

Here’s a toast to all dogs on National Dog Day – for the love, loyalty and joy you bring us all. Whether you are a stray or a pet. I don’t have a dog of my own, but all those kind humans who let me play with theirs – thank you so much. So full of gratitude always.

And to the dog at the waterfall near Chikmagalur – you will always be in my heart.

A stray dog is sat on a chair (tattered) outside an apartment complex.
This lovely stray I found in Baroda, my hometown, perched so daintily on a chair!

6 thoughts on “A dog at Chikmagalur – and for all dogs out there

    1. I can so relate to that. In India, we have many stray dogs (and cats and cows). The strays have a hard life but they are so resilient and loving. My father used to carry a small packet of biscuits on his morning walk every day to feed the strays. Once, he witnessed a beautiful scene between a stray dog and a cobbler. I will copy paste it for you in a comment (it’s from another blog that I have written.)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The dog and the cobbler

      In Baroda, my father went to the Gujarat Electricity Board’s (GEB) Gotri Road office every month or two to pay our electricity bill. It was just off a gully on the main Harinagar road, and it was about a 20-minute walk from where we lived.

      My father always walked. One summer afternoon, he came back after paying the bill and he had a story to tell us. It was about the cobbler who was a regular in that lane. He would usually lay out a flat sheet of plastic on the road and deposit his tools and open shop for a couple of hours everyday. But my father noticed something unusual that day. As the cobbler sat around doing his work, a street dog came up to him and held out his paw. The dog’s leg (the front-right one, I think) had a thin strip of wooden board attached to it and there was also a bandage of some kind.

      The cobbler examined the dog’s foot, patted him on its head, and the dog hopped away. It had caught my father’s attention and curiosity. So he went to the cobbler and asked him – what did you just do?

      So this is what had taken place. A couple of days ago, the cobbler had noticed that the dog was limping. It was a stray dog but one that frequented the area. The cobbler knew a bit about bone setting. I think he told my father that he had picked it up from a traditional bone setter in the old city. So when he called out to the dog, it came to him. He could make out that the dog had a broken bone and also a few open wounds. He set his bone in the way he knew it would heal, also applied a paste of turmeric to fight off infections and gave him a biscuit. And the dog came every day – it would lift his foot to be examined by the cobbler, get a pat on the head, something to eat and then go away on its business.

      The dog knew he could trust the cobbler. The cobbler knew the dog trusted him and wouldn’t bite him when he was examining his leg or changing the bandages, even though the foot hurt and it was in pain.

      My father was touched by the compassion, skill and kindness of the cobbler. Something about the incident must have made a great impact on me, because I have told this story to my husband several times. It is as much about the cobbler as it is about my father, and to me it is a way of introducing my father to my husband – they never met, but I think they would have loved to.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What an extraordinary, beautiful story. It tells us so much about humanity’s capacity for compassion, as well as dogs’ ability to put complete trust in another – potentially very threatening – species. Very moving indeed. Thank you for sharing.

        Liked by 1 person

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