We had always wanted to have a dog at home, but Dad wouldn't
approve, as there was not much room. That problem was now
solved as we lived in an independent house and the colony
was a great place to walk your dog. But still, it was difficult
to convince dad. Getting a dog was no problem for him as
he worked in the veterinary department and most of the vets
were his friends. After considerable pressure from Suresh,
Mom and me, he finally gave in to our pestering.
" Meet Uncle Salim tomorrow. His house is near Darga
Circle. His dog has littered, so choose a pup," announced
dad one morning.
My joy knew no bounds. I was supposed to pick the pup up
after school. I was restless in school, as every minute
seemed to drag on. The torture ended when the final bell
rang. I had asked Siva, my desk mate, to come along, as
I wanted someone to hold the puppy when I rode on the bicycle.
I pedalled hard under the late summer sun. It was one in
the afternoon. We reached Uncle Salim's house that was situated
in a small side-alley.
The moment I saw Mickey, I knew that he was the one. He
was bouncing around like a ball of wool. His body was tan
all over and he had a shock of black fur around his cute
mouth. He was four weeks old and he was chubby. His Mom
was an Alsatian and his Pop was a street dog. A wonderful
"I'll take him, Uncle," I announced.
"Take him, he'll all yours!" said Uncle Salim,
beaming a huge smile.
The pup was a bit scared. When I tried to grab him, he
ducked and ran under a stack of old furniture. We waited
for another thirty minutes before he finally emerged, cocking
his ears and hanging his rose-pink tongue out. He bounced
along towards his Mom and Uncle Salim caught him and handed
him to me. I asked Siva to ride the bicycle and I sat behind,
holding the puppy close to my chest. I was talking to him
and cuddling him while he was terrorised by the noise of
the motor vehicles rushing past. Every now and then he let
out a squeal - a desperate outburst at his rather helpless
situation I guess.
A big plastic bowl filled with a soft bed sheet was ready
to cushion our cute canine arrival. Mom was so excited about
him. Everyone loved him. Sethu, Biju and Basha took turns
at cuddling him. Mom shouted at us.
"Leave him alone. He just had his milk and he needs
We left him alone and he managed to drift into a deep sleep.
His small head was resting on the edge of the plastic bowl.
I couldn't help staring at him every now and then. The boys
were arguing over the name for the pup.
"It is Mickey. I have already decided." I said.
All agreed, including Suresh and Mom. "Nice name,"
they all exclaimed.
We waited for Dad to come home. He arrived at six, in the
evening. He liked the pup as soon as he saw it. It curled
around his legs and Dad lifted him up and stared at him.
Mickey licked Dad's nose.
"What are you calling him?" asked Dad, delighted
by Mickey's show of affection.
"Mickey!" Suresh and I shouted in unison.
We thought that Mickey would grow up into a cuddly, chubby
and a cute doggy. He had a surprise in store for us. Dad
and Mom treated him like a son. We took turns walking him.
Dad walked him in the mornings and I did it in the evenings.
After two months, Mickey learned to hop onto my cot and
sit on my chest and wake me up. We bought him a collar,
but he perennially tried to get rid of it, so we removed
it. He grew very fast into a big dog. Within five months
he outsized all the other dogs in the neighbourhood. He
was very naughty as well. He chased the birds that visited
our guava tree. He hated flies. It was amusing to watch
him try to swat a fly. He would wait, with his tail between
his legs, for the fly to settle down and then with one amazing
swift movement, he would try to catch the fly. The fly would
escape and Mickey would growl to himself, irritated. He
became famous in the colony for his high octave, deep throated,
rumbling bark. His yelps sounded like canon shots. He didn't
bark like the street dogs, which sounded more like a wolf's
howling. His barks were distinct, each bark echoing and
resounding. He barked at the milkman who delivered the milk
to us in the mornings, at the kindergarten kids who passed
by our home. And at the hawkers.
I was proud of Mickey. I walked him with my chest up and
we never put him on leash. He never misbehaved on the road.
The street dogs respected him and were very friendly to
him when he passed them by. He never bothered to give them
an acknowledging glance or a nod. That evening, I was walking
Mickey as usual. I took him to the open space in front of
the Turtle Neck. I settled down on my favourite boulder
just below the hill from where I could watch the highway
below. The shepherds were, as usual, calling out loud to
their homes. The cooking fires began to appear slowly, down
below at the granite quarry. An evening of calm and serenity!
I rested my back against the boulder, devouring the tranquillity.
A few minutes later, all hell broke loose. From out of nowhere,
a kid appeared and was calling Mickey, who was resting at
my feet, that was normal, kids always barked at him, trying
to mimic him. This kid, who must have been around six or
seven, started striking stones at Mickey. Even before I
could warn Mickey, he was on his feet and he lunged in the
direction of the kid. The kid was shocked and he took to
his feet. I ran after Mickey, who was after the kid. The
kid ran like crazy and hopped onto a boulder, screaming.
Mickey was on the boulder in one simple leap. He barked
at the kid and the kid did the inevitable. He wet his pants.
"NO!" I shouted at Mickey. He obeyed and sat
near my feet.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?" some
female voice boomed from behind.
I turned around and there was this girl, standing with
her hands on her hips. Her eyebrows were locked together
in an expression of absolute anger and her nose twitched
every now and then.
"You teach your stupid dog some manners!" she
"He is not a stupid dog, otherwise he would have had
this boy for his evening snack. Ask him and he will tell
you the whole story," I said.
"Akka, it was my fault."
The kid explained what had happened. Mickey kept out of
this enjoyable tussle. He cocked his ears as if trying to
figure out whatever that girl said.
"Sorry for the trouble, and I take back that remark
I made about your dog," she said.
"That's ok, happens all the time. I am Sunnu, by the
"I am Vandhana."
"He's a cool dog. You can shake hands with him,"
I said, smiling.
They were scared, but after my assurance that he would
not bite, come what may, they shook hands. Mickey initially
refused to shake hands with Nikil, her brother. But I insisted
and he obliged. He turned his face away and extended his
foreleg to Nikil.
"I am sorry, Mickey." Nikil said.
I loved Mickey for what he did for me that day. Vandhana
was a beautiful girl. She had a glowing complexion. She
had a boy cut and the shock of raven black hair bounced
around whenever she moved her face. I liked her. We exchanged
the usual information. Which school? Which class? Where
do I stay and so on. She was in my school and she too was
in the eighth standard, but in Section 'C'. We became good
friends after that. We rode back on our bicycles from school
and I went to her place to watch T.V. Her dad was in the
commercial tax department. She had no elder brother, much
to my relief. We got along fine. We went for walks in the
evenings with Mickey trailing behind us, knowing not to
invade my privacy. I now had what most thirteen-year old
guys only dreamt of. A girlfriend, though not in the true
sense of the term, but whatever it was, she was a girl and
she was my friend.