It was on the 26th of October last year that a dog bit me! I may have caught a reader napping but then the dog took me by surprise too. It is a dog’s world really. I was walking along, having just finished my college exams and looking forward to a relaxing evening, when the dog latched on to my left leg as if it were a juicy bone. Instinctively, I warded it off by hitting it with my bag.It was a small nick but nevertheless it was bleeding. I washed the wound and rushed to a hospital. I related the whole story to the doctor emphasizing that it was an unprovoked assault for which the dog deserved the highest possible censure. In fact I had been minding my own business and my conduct had been most honorable and thus I felt that I should be get off ‘lightly’. She looked rather grave and said that it was serious business and meant injections. She added casually that a dog bite sounds quite innocuous but then rabies isn’t something to be sneezed at and the patient could die a dog’s death. A shiver ran down my spine.
Needless to add, I took the first of the shots immediately. She asked me to keep an eye on the dog (it was a stray one from our campus) and hoped that it remained healthy. I was rather put off : ‘A dog bites me and I have to pray for its health. Well, I guess every dog has its day.’
My misadventure attracted a lot of notice and some people gaped at me as if I was an escaped specimen from the Calcutta zoo. I was greeted with a huge wave of sympathy as well. Still it was irritating to see people being wise after the event – much to my discomfiture. They all asked me the same question, “How did it manage to bite you?” I tried to answer with gesticulating arms and gestures stressing the fact that it has attacked from behind much like a coward. But it cut no ice and most of them were not impressed with my reactions.
Another aggrieved friend suggested that if I was to be bitten by a dog the least I could have done was to have chosen a domestic dog to do it – one which had been vaccinated and easier to keep under observation. Then the doctor too added that thanks to this exposure, if I were to be bitten again by a dog then I would have an easier time. Some consolation! I suppose they were of the view that I had invited the dog to have a ‘go’ at me and relished it enough to wish to repeat the experience.
Meanwhile when I tried to trace the dog, it was in no mood to oblige and had conveniently disappeared. Well so much to be said for a dog’s loyalty. I ended up taking the whole course of injections.
As a consequence I suddenly felt a ‘dog-fear’. And if you ask me I would say that there are way to far many of them let loose on our streets and most of them are pretty shady customers. They are sharp enough to realize that I am dead scared of them. And that nice little trot of theirs as they ran past me is enough to send me into hysteria.
Had Lord Tennyson lived to see me have my morning walk he might have penned the ‘ The Charge of the Dog Brigade’ –“Dog to right of him,
Dog to left of him,
Dog in front of him, Barked and snarled; Not-so-boldly he scampered through To escape them all”
Well to conclude, dogs are man’s best friends but undoubtedly they aren’t mine – at least not at the moment.
This article appeared under ‘The Middle’ column in Maharashtra Herald in Pune, India on February 3, 1997. Initially I remembered a few ‘Dog’ phrases that we use in everyday speech and then just built further on it as a theme.
Don’t get me wrong please for I am not saying that the world has gone to dogs. And well their bark may be worse their bite but even now I am still not one bit more pally with our canine friends. I feel that a ‘Slice-of-life’ piece peppered with mildly ‘self-deprecatory’ humor is bread and butter for most writers.