It was summer days, the schools had declared holidays and Ayush was having a relaxed time, waking up when he wanted, usually around 9/9:30 am and having choicest breakfast and dozing off once more only to get up for lunch. However, such laziness is enjoyable only for a few initial days. And it showed in his restlessness after sometime.

One day, some time end of May 2009, when I came back from office, Ayush was on the computer and seeing me he blurted out, “Dad, I want a pet. A dog basically.” I did not said ‘yes’ immediately knowing well that Deepika is mortally scared of dogs and will not agree to the proposal. Instead, I asked him to check with his mother and make her agree first. I am a dog lover and dogs irrespective of their lineage loves me back.

Anyways, after lot of persuasion, Deepika agreed on the condition that the dog should not be a large breed but small or medium. Although, my parents had a dog long back when I was an infant but later in life, we never had a dog as my mother was asthmatic and the doctor had advised against keeping one. The next step was searching for a suitable dog. Ayush had ruled out Labrador as it was very common in the neighbourhood. We checked the newspaper classified columns but could not zero on any of them. At this time our friend Sanjay chipped in, he always had a dog all his life and knew the whereabouts to get one. He suggested that we check the web and decide on the breed based on its suitability to our home.

So, on a June Saturday afternoon, all three of us plus Sanjay and his wife Nandini started operation search dog. While surfing the net, I got attracted to a photo of dog, it looked like a lion, a mini one!! The breed was Chowchow, a medium built guard dog. The site said it is family dog that loves grown up children but is little aloof meaning it does not like too much cuddling. I was sure, we will not find this particular breed in Delhi, and looking at, still hesitant Deepika, I said, “We will take this breed immediately if it’s available.” Sanjay suggested that we should go and see physically, a couple of places that he knew about. Our first stop was at NFC where the breeder had a Cocker Spaniel approx 8 weeks old but very feeble. The pup also did not show much energy, may be because of the heat. Ayush was not too impressed and said we should look at other places.

On our way to the next stop at RK Puram, Sanjay called up a breeder that he found in the newspaper and straight away asked him if he has a Chowchow pup and incredibly the guy answered in affirmative. He was based at Sainik Farms but gave an address of South Extension to see the pups. It was on our route so we decided to visit there immediately. I was curious to actually see a Chowchow in flesh n blood.

There were two pups, a Labrador and the Chowchow. It was a ball of fur roaming in the room that immediately caught our attention. The Labrador puppy immediately came to me wagging its tiny tail and licked my face as I picked it up. The fur ball kept at a bay initially and after a bit of cajoling finally came to me and sniffed at me, perhaps trying to size me up. I picked him up on my lap and instantly knew that I wanted him badly. The little one jumped from my lap straight into Deepika’s and settled down very contently. For once, I knew the chap has won over Deepika too.

 

It was settled that we will be taking the Chowchow but then arose a problem. We were scheduled to go for the movie – INCEPTION and there was hardly any time left to drop the Chowchow at home and then go. So, we decided to come back next day to pick him up even though the breeder said he will not hold back if another person came and paid for him. We had no choice but still requested him and left for Sanjay’s house to drop them.

Ayush was visibly upset at the thought of someone else picking up the Chowchow. We had reached the Moolchand crossing and waiting for the signal to turn green for us when Nandini offered to look after the pup for the evening and we could pick him up after the show. Without another word, I took the U-turn and headed back to Southex before Deepika could come up with a counter point. After we paid for him, Ayush announced that the Chowchow will be known as Rolf, which in Deutsche means Leader. Later, I added Adenauer to the name to sound more German!

Later in the evening, we picked up Rolf from Sanjay’s house and were told that the little one had made a ruckus there. The house pet Pepsi, a mix of Pomerian and Shitzu, a brave girl otherwise was mortally scared of him as he ate from her bowl shoving her out of his way. On our way home, the main concern was how our resident maid will react to the new addition to the family. Deepika was firm that if she objects, then we will have to forget about keeping a pet. To our delight she was just too happy to have Rolf around.

 

The first thing that Rolf did was size up his new abode inch by inch, corner to corner and in between peeing on the legs of the dining table and on the carpets marking his territory. He drank a little water and spilled lot more and settled down on the wet floor. We were first time pet owners with zilch experience of handling a puppy and here Sanjay and the Internet really helped us overcoming the initial days.

I never liked pets getting on the bed or sofas and at the same time detested the idea of chaining the pet. To my great satisfaction, Rolf was a quick learner as I had to tell him only a few times the dos and don’ts around the house. For example, he doesn’t go inside the kitchen from the very first day. He had jumped on the bed only once and had immediately climbed down realising his mistake. Yes, I had been a strict disciplinarian with him as I was with Ayush. As advised by his doctor, we did not take him out for a walk till he was 4.5 months and trained him to pee and poop on the balcony where we spread out old newspapers. However, once he started going out for a walk, he stopped peeing and pooping in the house on his own. In fact even today he poops at secluded corner spots far away from the house and prying eyes of strangers.

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We hired a dog trainer but the guy came only for 10 days out of promised 15 days, so the training of Rolf was bestowed on me by default. Over a period of time, I have ensured Rolf turn out to be a darling of the household without curbing his natural instinct. Today, no stranger can enter the house without permission. It has taken time but today, even if there is food (non veg) within his reach, he will not sniff or lick it let alone eat it up.

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We have taken him with us on vacations wherever possible. The first one was Jim Corbett, Ram Ganga Resort. It was a three day outing with friends along with their pets so that these guys too can enjoy each others company. But on the very first day, it was evidently clear that Rolf was born snob, he not only ignored the other two dogs but roamed around the resort as if he owned it. There were kids who wanted to cuddle him but he was not interested in them at all. We had tough time running around him as he would invariably wander to the nearby jungles. This jungle wandering almost cost him his life.

On the last evening, Rolf suddenly became a bit quite and snuggled upto me and sat down at my feet. We were having our drinks and playing dumb charade and it was Ayush who noticed that Rolf was giving out low cries now and then. I thought he wants to be petted, so every now and then I would pet him and he would calm down. But as the evening progressed his cries became louder and more frequent. Worried as hell, we looked for any visible injuries then felt for any fractures in the legs but nothing showed up. Not knowing what was the problem we could only pet him and wait for the morning to rush back to Delhi to show him to the doctor.

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In the morning, after a quick breakfast, we headed back to Delhi and called up the doctor once the mobile phone was in the signal zone. The doctor assured us that he will wait for us even if it gets late but I ensured that we reach Delhi as fast as possible. I must say that we were lucky to have such a young but experienced vet for Rolf. He asked where all places Rolf had roamed in the resort and immediately knew the problem. Somehow, while wandering into the jungles, some maggots had infested in his genitals invisible to us. The doctor immediately administered the localised medicine as well as antibiotics. The medicine continued for three days and Rolf was once again back to normal. Much later, the doctor confided that had we been late in reaching him that day, we might have lost him. This very thought losing him is very unnerving.

Thereafter, Rolf had been with us to Naukuchiataal, Nainitaal and Rampur on the hills, to those resorts that welcome pets with open arms. He had become instantly famous with his looks and amiable but aloof nature. He had featured in innumerable snaps that people around had taken with him. In some instances he enjoyed the adulation but mostly he allowed to be photographed out of courtesy to my requests.  I can say that having grown up together in these last eight years, we now understand each other to a great extent – Rolf my verbal command and I, his dumb charade.

Oh, yes he is wholly my pet now, Ayush having gone to the university and hostel.

We go for a walk in the morning and on more than a few occasions, the passing car would abruptly stop and the occupant would request for photo-ops with Rolf. I have had to give details of the breed, the origin, temperament etc but firmly refuse to answer when people ask for the price, and usually say “He is priceless.”

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