Category: Animals

The Mother And Her Calf

My father once revealed to me about a cow in his household during his childhood. Given the nature of my paternal roots, this was not particularly surprising. What I didn’t quite understand was that the cow he spoke of was more than a pet or an animal. She was a ‘part’ of the household.

About fifteen years ago, I was visiting a family function in a city in central India. Taking a stroll through the streets, I came across a  calf (bovine), perched on one side of the street. Such sights are not uncommon in India, and the rest of the world now has come to terms with how Indian streets have all kinds of animals on the loose. This isn’t about whether that’s right or not, so I will stick to the story.

The calf caught my eye. (S)he was probably a few months old, light brown and had a distinct white patch running through his/her forehead. With legs folded, this beautiful creature melted me inside. I drew closer, lowered myself and gently stroked him/her with my fingers. (S)he seemed to enjoy it, raised his/her head, and soon I was an itch machine for this being.

About two minutes into this interaction, a young boy appeared out of nowhere and struck the calf with what appeared to be a bicycle tire (rubber) tube. The blissfulness of the animal transformed to a loud shriek, as his/her legs recoiled and carried it away. As for me, I was thrown off balance and almost landed on the back of my head, if it wasn’t for my hands.

This kid though, laughed hysterically. The humor didn’t escape me either, it was rather comical to see the calf take off like road runner. Sadly, this humor was not going to last for a second more.

From way across the street, as I pushed back on my hands to get up, a double-beat waltzing grew louder and more prominent in what seemed like the smallest packet of time that could pass. A raging cow ran towards us, and the only sensible course of action was to match it’s velocity vector. After I had gone maybe ten leaps out, I turned around to see  the poor kid pinned to the ground by the cow with her forehead. I rushed back to help him and loudly hushed the animal away.

A bystander came over, scolding the kid and intimidated me by asking, “Why were you running?”

“You mean, I should have just gotten hit by this train?” I replied, maybe I said something less sarcastic, but I was definitely sarcastic.

“That cow was not going to hurt you, it was watching you playing with her calf. You had no reason to run.”

This was a very unusual thing. Part of me wanted to believe what this guy was saying, because it made me feel good. The other part of me didn’t, mostly because this is some random guy on a street and didn’t quite look all that vested in my self-esteem. Before I walked away, I preached to the kid, “You reap what you sow; don’t do this again.”

I reflected on this episode, mentioned it to a few folks, and almost everyone believed the projected behavior of the cow; that she wasn’t out to punish me. It was pretty much universal, except for the immediate people who really cared about my well being, like my mother, who was just glad that I got out of the cow’s way.

Thinking back though, I do believe that that the cow was just out to teach a lesson to someone who needed it. The logical reason was the fact that she wouldn’t have just walked away with me hushing her away. If she really wanted to hit me, she could have  when I came back to help the kid.

Cows are emotionally intelligent beings, and this Psychology Today article has an analysis from a paper on bovine behavior. Yet, a large part of the world eats beef that comes from farms where these intelligent creatures are abused. You don’t eat dogs, or breed them to be grown into adults for meat. Doesn’t happen for cats either.  

Many of these farm animals are sentient beings. Consumption of sentient beings by humans is inhumane, because we’ve got the brains to recognize intelligence and emotions, as well as replicate this intelligence and these emotions. We are able to grow past this. With time, I hope that our future generations will loathe the idea of beef and pork, not just for their religion, but for their humanity. 

Dogs

Was wondering about all the dogs I’ve had either as pets or just good friends on the road (thanks to my better half for reminding me about them). Soni wants to have a pet for herself and I am quite adamant on not having one, even though I don’t love any other creature as much as a dog. Seeing one on the road, I cannot resist my temptation to caress them though it’s not something advisable.

For the record, I am not a certified dog trainer, but I have assisted in dog training sessions for about three years. Though it’s not much, but it did tell me something about dog psychology and how they generally would behave and function in a set of stimuli-response sets. As such, please do not touch any stray/street dog however friendly you think it is. This is especially more true in case there’s a gang. Stay away.

I have had 5 dogs as very close friends and have fond memories of those guys (all gone now). One of them was a pet we planned to keep at home – but it passed away in about two week’s time. That and other sad instances have kept me aloof from the idea of having or developing relationships with dogs any more. Though I should have learnt to live with the idea that they are not indefinite, I have not been able to cope up with the grief that strikes every time. I love them, but would not prefer to keep them home.

For any one reading this, who has known the buddies I am talking about, I hope you have the same memories and cherish them.

Frisky

Quite a while back, both Soni and I were getting back home from a dining out. Just as I took the final turn towards home, Soni shrieked out seeing a kitten on the road – which would have been under our vehicle if it weren’t for the alert. That 20cm/10cm thing was drinking water from a pothole on the road. Taking pity, we picked her up and carried back home.

I am not very keen on cats around. After a sip of water and milk with lots of cuddling around, I sternly ordered for its removal. Emotions ran high. Much debate later, I filled in for the kitten’s mother who would be searching for her and it would be really necessary to put her right back in where she came from.

The three of us went back around the corner of the road – all quiet with nobody around. An apartment stands right across the road where Frisky was found (the kitten got a name by then). Pushing Frisky behind the gates of the apartment, we started walking back. A “meow” from her felt like ‘thanks’ to me. As we turned heads to acknowledge, there was shock and terror!

Two dogs rushing towards Frisky from far across while the ignorant thing was wandering out of the gate. A rush of adrenalin got Soni all the power to reach Frisky before those dogs. Street dogs are pretty infamous for what they’ve done often in Bangalore, and this would have been yet another slaughter. Those dogs had surrounded a Soni with Frisky while I rushed to pick up a stone and hurl at those bast****. I hit one, and the cowards they are, both of them ran. But they kept on howling as every other dog of the area got on track. Thus began my first real life Super Mario reach-home-safe-with-the-kitten stage. I picked up as many stones as possible and Soni kept Frisky cuddled up in her arms.

Barking dogs were all around us. I kept on sermonizing, “Don’t run, keep walking straight. Don’t look them in the eye, look straight.” Until that day, dogs were my favorite animals. Status change – not anymore, and my hate for them increased with every dog crossed. The final stage arrived. A big beast ahead had gathered all the courage and grouped two more of its kind, waiting for us to come up. I had only a few stones and if I missed, they would pounce on us and the pack would have a Frisky meal.

Life is a game. All games have special powers. Ours arrived in the form of two men who realized what we were doing. They ran behind the dogs, distracted them and broke the pack. I took a shot at one of these dogs and hit (generally I couldn’t have)! That was it, the squeal was music to our ears and a psychological nuclear attack on every other dog around. The track was all clear and I used a loud “Thank you!” for the special powers.

Always remember, dogs are strong only in packs. When you see a pack, stay clear or try and break it (if you can). Also, there is no way you should stare at a dog unknown to you. They really hate it. Friendly or known dogs will never look in your eye though.

Frisky was home. The rest of the night went by in a lot of cuddling. She peculiarly ran all around the house and followed Soni everywhere. Though I felt for her, I still couldn’t get my acceptance levels up for cats. So I wanted to fix it somewhere. I took out an old TV carton and put Frisky into it. She did meow for a while, but would have gone to sleep later.

Next day, there was a lot of research done on what cats like, dislike and how to groom them etc. But I, researched for just one thing, an animal shelter. I found out one (further ahead from Mekhri Circle) and called them up. They asked how old the kitten was. Disregarding the questionnaire, I convinced them that she was supposed to be with them and not with me.

Back at home, Frisky was being dried up in the sun. Apparently, Soni thought that the little one was very dirty, so bathed her. Pretty well done, but Frisky wasn’t pleased – no meowing or eating anything. Especially, if it came from Soni. As I put my head into the TV carton, a meow came out. Soni shrieked with joy and laughed heartily. We enjoyed the anger we saw and I was quite amazed to see such reactions.

Cats do not like to be washed up often. For that matter, both dogs and cats are given a bath at most once a week.

Frisky had quickly become a pet. Soni had made up her mind to keep her in. It wasn’t to be – and though there was a lot of resistance in the air, we drove to the shelter and let Frisky join a lot of other cats. Once inside her new home, she quickly forgot about us and got engaged with the others. Once again, emotions ran high and Soni kept on cuddling with Frisky in her thoughts. It was a nice experience, especially the running behind I saw on a night and then the “not-talking-to-you” the next morning (because of that water drill)!