Of old dogs and wild hogs

by - September 17, 2010

Old Dogs

She's the oldest living member of the house. She's 75 years old... in human years. That's 10 and a half in dog years, of course. But that's still plenty of summers gone by. She was the first pup to be born in our house. I was still in school back then, which really is a long, long time ago. She holds a special place in all our hearts, of course and she knows it. If there is a dog better than her at emotional blackmail, I haven't met her yet.

Over the years, she's been an integral part of the family. With both kids off to college and then work, she's been the one source of entertainment for my parents and has endeared herself more than any of the other pets from the past.
She has her quirks, of course. In 13 years, she never drinks her milk in the morning unless the first drop is placed directly in her mouth from one of our hands. She still expresses anger with family members by finding their clothes from the folded laundry and using it as, well, a chew toy.

She still only eats Danish butter cookies, Swiss chocolates ( white, not dark ) and pistas, while I still get the local pastries, poppins and peanuts. And she has worked her way, from being left outside at night, to now opening the door and sleeping in my parents bed before they arrive.

Sadly, age is catching up. The gold in her fur is now white. Where once she chased mongooses and cats up the tree, now, she just lies down watching squirrels run by and looks at me with a "You wanna get that one, or shall we just warn them off with a mild bark ?" She gets tired easily and rests throughout the day.

But occasionally, I do get to see a glimpse of the puppy I left behind when I joined college. Last week, she lay around having her afternoon siesta, with my mother trying to coax her up with calls of "Shoo..Shoo..Pashu !! Poocha !! Elli !!" ( Basically animals like cow, cat and rat which usually antagonise her to go chasing them ). Ruby just stared at us without moving a muscle.. she was used to our old tricks. I simply said "Roadille Poah ?" ( Shall we go on the road ? ) It was an old favourite of hers while I was at home years ago - long walks all the way to the beach and back.

The transformation was amazing. Suddenly, she was up and running, barking wildly at me, her tail wagging like a samurai sword in action. From that moment on, till today, I've never been able to wear my slippers at home without her getting up and running to the gate, blackmailing me to take her for a walk even at 4am !! And of course, we have gone for many a walk since then with her still having no clue of how to avoid traffic and still barking at Dobermen twice her size, safe in the knowledge that the Doberman will probably eat me first if it gets loose from it's chains.
But nothing compares to the joy, for however brief a moment in time, of watching this old lady enjoying herself and reliving her younger carefree days.

[ Earlier Ruby posts over the years include : Dogyears@Godyears, The trial of Ruby, Take a bow and Dog Wars ]

Wild Hogs

Of course, she was not the only one taking a walk down memory lane this month. I and my friends too decided to catch up once before life takes us all in different directions.

We were in Mangalore before it started it's make over. We were there as a funny coffee shop where you could sit throughout the day was inaugurated. Today, Cafe Coffee Day has 6 branches in this small town. Heaven knows we've contributed enough to it's success after bunking college innumerable times, just for hours of random gossip sessions.

In our days, there were DVD theatres which played DVDs in A/C halls for Rs 25. People would go there, pay Rs 25 and sleep in the A/C during the summer. Now, you have multiplexes sprouting right next to the colleges – man, I’d love to see the attendance registers now.

Initially, mobiles were banned in our college when they first arrived. Back then, you had the sturdy Nokia model, with no colour screen and whose ads used to show off that the mobile also had “alarm clock” facility. Well, sure.. now you have your touch screens and your Blackberrys and ones that’ll probably do your cooking for you too, but I ask you, in an age when mobiles were banned, would you have been able to hide your Galaxys and Corbys like we had to – in our shoes, beneath our soles. The warden must have thought that we were suffering from “group elephantiasis” back then ! Of course, laptops were unheard of and computers had a royal 4GB of hard drive space back then.

That was an age where everyone went nuts over the new hero who danced better than SRK, acted better than Aamir and looked better than Salman. Hrithik Mania in 2000 swept the city, with Kaho Na Pyaar Hai playing for nearly 5 months... many of us still blame him for failing our first internals. Girls wanted his posters, stickers and T-shirts. Guys wanted his physique and even wore their pants higher for awhile, because he did so in the movie. Naturally, I picked the wrong horse and famously declared Amisha Patel would end up the bigger star in years to come. ( I swear, I could pick the wrong ticket in a one ticket lottery. )

It was an age where I and my pal slept on the shores of a beach ( where we were doing rural service, mind you ) only to discover the next day that there was a red alert in the area due to the tsunamis that ravaged the coasts that year. We discovered the joys of watching a new kid born and the pain of watching a patient die on the same day.

It was a time when there was no college cultural activity without us in it.. be it skits, cartooning, commentator for the football tournament, dumb charades or besurdas ( worst singer – I won it for the college, they banned it after that year, so I’m still undefeated ). If there were people who backed down saying the skits were too embarrassing for their stature, rest assured we’d step in – be it waxing the legs and turning a bearded guy into a mini skirt wearing blonde or getting millionaires to dress up as beggars. For those 2 weeks, we’d be living on lime juice from morning to night as we ran for outfits, created wooden props and rehearsed for various programs. Those were some of the roughest days of our lives... and they were the best times we had.

Time has caught up with us all. Family ties call... the girls we bunked class with and who demanded to be in every photo we shot back then now have adorable kids whose pictures adorn their facebook profile. There are no more late night calls to decide what prank to play the next day. Where earlier, there were first day first shows, now there isn’t time for watching Avatar even when it re-releases, due to the avalanche of patients who need us more.

We started out in '99 as 18 year olds. We're now pushing 30 and age has taken it's toll on us all. We can never relive our past glory, we know. But it felt good to be back together; reminiscing about the past, being with each other and feeling, in our mind’s eye, like the kids we were back then... free, if only for a brief moment in time.

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  1. Hmm...poor Ruby. Pets can be so emotionally attached to us..just like another member of the family. I am scared to own a pet due to this reason...cant bear the pain when it leaves us ..:(

    College Days... yes..all my friends have their kids pics on facebook and orkut profiles too :D Miss my school days so badly...:( and so much after reading this :(

  2. duh!!!!

    i am gonna kick u doc... for a moment i tot Ruby had passed away... don't you frighten me like this anymore...

    and yeah yeah u have been talking abt nothing else other than your glorious college days :D

    P.S # i deleted my twitter/FB profile.. the same old anti social phase that strikes every year.. drop me a mail, if anything :D

  3. Ah nice post..reminds me the good old days too!

  4. Anita, true... losing a pet really really hurts. but I have to say, the happy memories of having one around cant be measured either..dont think i even remember life before pets.

    Ratzz, hehe.. noted. no more college capers for you, lady. and will drop a line soon.

    A, that was the general idea, i guess.

  5. Nice post doc! It has inspired me to bunk (more ;) )!! Otherwise after 5 years i'l end up nostalging about d fun in the class which usually never happens. .

  6. Two posts in one. Ruby is adorable and I could see her come of age quite chronologically in the post. It's wonderfully wise and matured of her to simply lay back and watch the little squirrels play. I've never been a pet owner but have seen the love people carry for them despite their pee-and-poo- everywhere nature. May she live on for another 94 human years !

    The other one - en route nostalgia, I think should be saved for the prospect of a 'doctor diary' in future. Beautiful 'Good old times'.

    But seriously, you didn't watch Avatar ?

  7. rohan...yexactly :)

    Purpleheart - dogs can be trained.. though ironically my dogs never learned even "sit".. but they make for a great companion.. which is often more than we can say for many of our fellow humans :)

    and actually, ive seen it.. i was talking about my batchmates who i caught up with.. all chronic movie goers like me, who sadly now cant find the time for it even now...

  8. Good one .... inspires a nostalgic feelin abt the good old days :)

  9. that really was the aim, Mayank.. glad I could achieve that

  10. Great post - surely makes any person yearn for the good ol days. 2000 was only 10 years ago but certainly feels ancient to think of Hrithik and who was that person who you backed?! (Just kidding).

    Wish you many more years with Ruby as well..


  11. indeed, seems like so long ago.. for me, an eternity :)

  12. Every person has such a nostalgic phase of life.Reminded me of our college days.

  13. sometimes, when the future is a mystery, it seems safer to fall back to a safe place in the past...

  14. So much of FB updates asking for a good place to hang out in and you end up in ccd :)

  15. ankita, haha.. Guilty. In my defence, we did visit a few new spots but for old times sake, we were mostly at our frequent haunts of yesteryears.

  16. Updates on the new spots plz...


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