Canine language

April 17, 2007

Photos: Courtesy Usha & G Lacz


One day, during my morning walks around my colony, I noticed a huge dog, which was a Saint Bernard, a breed of Swiss dogs, traditionally trained to rescue the mountaineers. They are loyal and vigilant. They  sniff out the ‘lost’ mountaineers who are trapped in the snows and avalanches. They, with a casket of brandy tied to their necks, offer immediate relief to the trapped ones. Now, of course, modernity seems to have taken over their role.

The dog, ‘Scooby’, was tied to the chain through out the day. It would remain silent for most part of the day, even when it saw acquaintances, strangers and dogs. I had hardly heard it bark.

The owner, Bijju, was taking Scooby for a walk (rather it was the other way round, Scooby was dragging Bijju off the road.) It was a struggle for Bijju to keep himself on the road. All other dogs kept a respectful distance from Scooby.

Bijju would talk to Scooby in English thus: “You are taking too much time, why can’t  you move on, you are delaying!” Yet another day, he would say: “Come on Scooby, don’t keep disturbing  other dogs.”

I was always tempted to ask Scooby, in filmi style, ‘hey !, what is a beautiful dog like you, doing in this hot and sweltering Chennai ?

Yet another day, Bijju’s daughter was taking Scooby for a walk. After a few minutes Scooby decided to sit on its hunches, refusing to budge. As it sat in the centre of the road, it became an attraction to the morning walkers. The daughter spoke to it in Hindi, at first pleading, then coaxing, later goading, then threatening and finally abusing, all without any effect on the dog. Only the garbage cycle wallah’s pattering of Telugu words succeeded in moving Scooby. I imagined that the canine was being stubborn only to show the lady that it too could act funny the way its’ householders did.

Bijju’s household helper would occasionally take Scooby out and give commands in Tamil. I started imagining, if Bijju had a Spanish speaking grandson/ granddaughter, then Scooby would have to hear that too. Oh, La!

It left me wondering as to how Scooby was coping up with all these languages. I really admired the dog since it appeared to be well versed in several languages. Its vocabulary must have been pretty good I thought.

Despite all these, the dog always appeared to be morose. It appeared to lack something. It let me wondering,’what is scooby really lacking in and which is the language scooby really likes’. Like many of us urbanites, it lacked physical activity of running, chasing and playing around.

Three days back I had been to Bijju’s house. He was expecting another friend too. Shortly the friend arrived with his son who was around 9 years old. The moment the son entered the house, his eyes turned towards the dog and he lunged towards the dog. Scooby in turn jumped on him and the boy hugged the dog and both started rolling on the carpet. The dog licked him all over the face while vigorously wagging his tail .The boy was enjoying its company and so did the dog. It took a few minutes for the father to peel off the boy from the dog.

I then figured out, this was the language Scooby liked most. It was the language of affection and love!

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8 Responses to “Canine language”

  1. greatunknown Says:

    Very well-written.
    Bow wow to that!

  2. This confirms what my spouse was commenting after seeing all the dog killing kids – “they all have spoken to each other and started off like this – killing people”.

    I second a bow wow to anands first bow-wow.

  3. usha Says:


    Too good… St Bernard is my favourite dog… My dream is to have it as a pet one day :).

    Bellur do we have an option to share a pic here? let me know how? I hava cute pic of this wonderful dog with kids.

  4. shark Says:

    wow! what a nice story…
    I think irrespective of what animal it is…including human beings..
    everybody instantly understand only one language. The language of love! 🙂

    Have a lovely day!

  5. pArijAta Says:

    Nice post.
    It reminds me of the dog Joonu . I was really attached to the pup, and because of the callousness that is so characteristic of us Indian public, he died.

    I feel sick when I see how some people treat animals. I am sure such people are mentally ill.

    “The dog, ’Scooby’, was tied to the chain through out the day.”
    How would the master of Scooby feel if he was tied to the chain throughout the day?
    Sometimes I feel I should become a militant animal-lover like Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: Nature calls .

  6. greatunknown Says:

    My aunt, Aruna, has seven dogs in her house… all strays. Whenever she sees an abandoned pup she brings it home. Cats are on the list too! The animals are vaccinated and well-taken care of.

    A little distance from my aunts’ house are a pack of strays whom she feeds, come rain or shine. I have often asked her why she does it; to which she replies: “It’s the greatest joy in my life.”

    My aunt is among the more die-hard animal lovers, here’s why: In 2002 she built a beautiful house worth a whopping 45 lakhs. It was the envy of all who set eyes on it. Aruna, her sister and my grandma moved into the house following the gruha pravesham; but quickly decided to shift back to the old house which was two streets away. Reason? Brownie, one of the older dogs refused to budge an inch and go to the new house.

    Aruna sold the house after staying there for just one night!

  7. Mysorean Says:

    Superb piece of writing here!

    I am an admirer of dogs, but from a distance.

  8. TSSM Says:

    Anand Balaji
    Thanks comments.
    Lucky Brownie I must say. Even humans may not get such an affection, some times.

    send us your own pix when you acquire one

    Thanks. You are right. It applies to all


    Your concern is very true. But in this case, the dog is fine.
    I have noticed a lot of pet dogs, chained for most part of the day, which saddens me.

    Great 1, but, do the canines treat you likewise?

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