For a retard, my dog sure knows the difference between his collars and belts. Putting on each involves a ceremony. Not a dignified one, agreed, but a ceremony just the same.
The yellow flea collar is a badge of honour. After the flurry of the bath (Boo loves baths. He’ll magnamiously lay down on the floor of the bathroom on hot days, and let you do all the labourious soaping and scrubbing), when we bring back the flea collar, he sits down promptly, hangs his head somberly and we award him the medal for Bravery in Bath.
Compare that with his reaction to the choke collar he wears to go down. The minute I reach for it, he jumps up and starts barking. At me. Our boy has missed a lot of memos, and the *significance of barking is one of them.
The barking is accompanied by jumping and general excitement. “DOWN? WE’RE GOING DOWN? OMG, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! I GET TO GO DOWN? NOW?”
I wrestle him to put the collar on, try not to trip over 35 kilos of wriggling dog and tail and reach the door. The minute it’s open, he bolts down, flying down the stairs, three steps at a time, skidding and banging on the landings and a jubilant leap over the last few steps to greet the Downstairs. He can’t believe it’s still there, just where he left it.
And because I don’t have four legs or enthusiam, by the time I reach the landing before the last flight of stairs, he’s watered the plants and is heading right up to get me. The only way to reach down safely is to cower in the corner till he leaps up and heads back down again.
And the routine would replay if I took him down immediately after I brought him up.
Unless I carry the leash, which is attached to his mind. The leash means we’re going for long walkies. And only good puppies go for long walkies. So instead of hurtling down, he’ll run down a few steps, remember himself and come back, walking mostly by my side. All the while, he’ll look at me expectantly, tail set on Vibrate.
“Are we going to the outside? Huh? The outside of downstairs? Huh? The same outside we went to last time? Are we? I like that outside. Look! I’m the good boy. The good boy who should go outside!”
No barking is aimed the leash.
We usually put it on leash when we reach the compound. So he’ll keep circling me, running away a few steps, but always coming back to remind me who the Good Boy is who should be Going Out.
Sometimes, when I think about other handsome or beautiful dogs who’ve walked me, farted in my room, snapped up a finger and then eventually died, I remember that some day I’m going to say good-bye to this boy too. He’ll grow old, diseased and I might have to be the one to hold him and let him go.
But that day is not today. Today I have a fool who will bound down the stairs into the bushes. And when we come up, I’ll let him try to crawl into my womb.
* He does not bark at doorbells or cars. He barks at me when we are not magically teleported downstairs the minute I touch the collar or put on my shoes. He barks when we hug (he runs up like an enquiring pandu, “Kay chalyet he dhandhe? Laaz nahin ka tumhala?”). He barks when I dance or sing silly songs to him (Boozie-poozie tell me love what to do?/I’m half crazy all for the love of Boo!; Fat bottomed pup you make the rockin’ world go round). He barks at me when I hide his ball.