Two years ago, a little more than a furry face, wag and a cold nose entered my life. Not for the first time, the Chand family had a furry baby. Dogs have pretty much been a constant presence as we navigated our way through various army cantonments from Devlali to Gopalpur -on-sea to Delhi.
Yet, there was one thing very different about this little one. Officially, my birthday present was meant to cheer me up after a long illness and a period of arid dog-less years, I fully expected, like all our previous dogs that this one too will be daddy’s dog. All our dogs have a way of firmly aligning themselves with my father, the rest of us clearly secondary.
This bundle of pure mischief decided that I am the chosen one. What I thought would be a matter of regular hugs and belly rubs while someone else took care of the walks, was NOT what Linus had in mind.
Learning to walk
Kicking and protesting I found myself taking Linus for regular walks. Linus decided I was his person. From someone who couldn’t wake up before 9 am, I became the person who woke up at the crack of dawn. Now, I even know why they call it the crack of dawn, it’s the shock of being awake so early!
So, I have a balance disorder called Menniere’s Disease which can cause sudden intense vertigo and spinning. I had been told by my ENT specialist (Menniere’s is an inner ear disorder) and by my psychiatrist (sudden bouts of vertigo cause a lot of anxiety) to improve my confidence up by walking more, and being active.
Linus entered my life, or rather I was co-opted willy-nilly into his decisions about my life. This, while I was just about getting out there after a bad relapse of Menniere’s which made me house-bound for months, filing PRmoment India stories from my bedroom.
At first, I would walk him around the colony lanes of Gurgaon, with my emergency vertigo medicine tightly clutched in my hand, his leash in the other. In my pocket would be my mobile just in case I felt dizzy during the walk. I would walk tentatively, like a puppy myself. learning to walk.
I don’t know when it happened, but at some point, the 500 steps turned to 1200 steps-a-day. A year later I was hitting 5-8,000 steps a day, walking Linus no less than 4 to 5 times a day.
Crack of dawn
(5 am to 6 am – a winter concession)
Linus wakes me up with great tact. At first, he gently licks on my foot, usually. If this doesn’t work, it would turn to soft barks and mild whines. If I don’t stir, this escalates into full-fledged scolding barks. By this time, I usually resign to my fate and wake up. I am allowed just enough time to fetch his leash and the gate keys, and we are out in the front lawn.
You may think that given the urgency that I was woken with, we would be straight out of the gate for a walk. But no, playtime comes first! Linus will hop, skip and jump (the word prance and frolic come to mind) around the lawn, tossing sticks, biting mom’s precious plants and generally saying good morning to the world. After a vigorous game of ‘Capture the dog’, I finally manage to put the leash on him and we are out to a running start.
The ‘Fancy’ Retriever
We walk like drivers on the mean streets of Gurgaon, zigging and zagging this way and that with whatever takes Linus’s fancy. Being a Golden Retriever, his efforts to retrieve an amazing range of objects is truly sensational. At any times he can be spotted:
- Chasing squirrels, with disappointed looks at me at for not being able to run at the same speed!
- Chasing birds, with disappointed looks at me for not telling him that birds can fly!
- Matkas and diyas are a special favourite. After Diwali he went on an unprecedented Diya stealing spree from neighbours leaving me cringing and apologizing to people.
- On one occasion he even picked up a Bira beer can someone had thrown!
The Nap-work time
After the morning antics, it’s my work time, with Linus’s barks expertly timed for my most important interview call of the day! He helpfully tries to cross off my to-do list by trying to bring down the office white board!
Evening is further walks and a play time with everyone in the house. As with parents sleeping when babies sleep, I work when the furry dictator deigns to play with others in the house. By 9 pm, he is sleepy, but is also game for one last romp outside. Then its good night and sleepy time from all of us.
The Life Saver
Linus has not only changed my life, but saved my life. Over the last 14 months or so I have become much more active, shed close to 10 kilos and barely ever get stressed over stories to file or content to market. If you want to do one thing good for the new year, get a dog. It will transform you.
We are a bunch of hardcore news junkies who also happen to be pet parents. Our world revolves around our kids and that’s how we know!