Ricky walked into us one bright Sunday morning. Just strolled in like he owned the place, and settled beneath the sofa, facing the TV. He was a black native-dog, with one eye. Essentially one and half— the vet said he could see a little through the punctured eye. For us, he was old man Ricky, the pirate dog. Grrr!
Papa has a habit of playing with dogs anywhere he saw one. Strays, pets— he never bothered. He had kept dogs till he was well into his teen years; until the whole medicine education thingy came up— it bothers him no less. Now that he was well settled into his life as a professor, he was all set to explore the animal world. He says the more he came to know humans, the more he loved other animals. It was with these background thoughts that he picked up Ricky from Lord-knows-where, bought a collar from the nearest shop, and dropped him on our verandah; much to the displeasure of mom. He's been family ever since.
Ricky is a bit unconventional when it comes to guarding us. He doesn't. At least not during the day. He's extremely cooperative with other canines. He doesn't bother them, and if an extra-energetic dog tries to play around him, he gets up and leaves. His version of slamming the door I guess. He's wary of cats, doesn't trust them at all. Cats, to be fair to them, don't even act like they care. So again, it's a peaceful world.
The pirate dog has a thing for tools though. He hates people wielding instruments of any sort. He barked his life out at the workers who had come over for plumbing work. That's probably the first time my dad had to shout to subdue him. He eventually did, but we took notice of the pattern when the next day it recurred. The culprit this time was a farmer walking home through the road. He had a spade on his shoulder. The poor chap was accustomed to the cheerful and sunny dog in our house. But this time he was treated as though he was the Devil with the Trident.
The only emotion that I associate with Ricky is happiness. It’s so automatic when he's around. The unquestioned loyalty. The ever cheerful nature. He's incredible! A few months back, one of my friends had come home. Ricky took to him as though he had been around for decades. Took food from him, responded to calls and even obeyed instructions. It was as if he understood human bonding— friends of friends, are my friends too. Grrr!
He's my first dog. I haven't kept any other. But he has ensured that I'll love dogs, and nature forever. That's the greatest gift that anybody could have given me.
I have thought about why we love dogs so much. I wouldn't go for any far fetched Freudian analysis, because I think it isn't that complicated when you think about it. We look at them and we sense our inability to be selfless. That is as close to divinity as I've ever come to in real life. We cannot help but fall prey to something as pure as their love and affection.
I wish they could live as long as humans do. I don't know about other men, but if at all anyone deserves to be immortal, it's Ricky.
Photography By: Kanika Narang