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|| Today, something strange happened ||

Today, as my wife and I started our morning walk, a stray brown dog joined us. For many paces, it walked close by. My wife, who thinks animals are better companion than human beings, was amused. But, it deserted us soon, and moved ahead at a brisk pace. That was an ill-concealed ploy, just to make me feel relieved. After putting a decent distance between us, it stopped to steal a sly glance at us, to check whether we were coming along. Then it got busy sniffing things, till we caught up.

It fell behind; it caught up; it moved ahead; and it stopped to let us catch up. The game continued.

My curiosity was aroused. The dog, let us call him Braun, almost knew the way we took in our morning walk, and did not hesitate when it came to a crossing. Braun smartly moved ahead or took the right turn at each crossing. I remembered pet dogs being taken out for a walk – how they run ahead or fall behind. Braun behaved just that way.

Soon, we were passing a temple and a couple of its dogs came running. They encircled Braun. It hid its tail, dug in its heels and bared its teeth. After exchange of some angry growls, both sides piped down. Braun continued on.  I noticed soon that it hardly walked close by. It was either ahead by several yards, or behind us, how far I dared not see. The only time it walked alongside, it crossed to the other side of the road and walked, sniffing along nonchalantly. Only when ahead of us, it stopped once in a while to steal a glance, just to make sure we were following.

At the point where we turn off the main road, Braun rightly took the left turn ahead of us. There it met a brown bitch. There was an exchange of sniffing each other’s tail end, going round and round. I was relieved that at last Braun had found its companion. But, no, Braun left the bitch and moved on with life.

At the next side road on the left, Braun had moved straight ahead by at least fifty yards as we normally go. I seized my wife’s arm and smartly turned into the side road. I told her this would get rid of the dog, because it had not seen us take the turn. But, lo, and behold! In two minutes, Braun had come back to overtake us and move ahead.

But, now Braun was more circumspect. At the next crossing, it waited for us to see which way we would go. Obviously, it was now careful not to lose us anymore.

We reached the park, the most enchanting part of our walk. I certainly did not want the dog anymore. The park gate has two openings for the two-way road and a heavy swivel gate for pedestrians on one side. Braun ran to the swivel gate and tried to push it. The gate did not budge. It then tried to squeeze through its grill. Failing to do that, it went round and ran through the gate for vehicles, almost getting run over. We pushed through the swivel gate.

Inside, the road divides the park into two unequal parts. On the right is the major part, with carefully maintained lawns and flower gardens. On the left is a veritable unkempt forest of tall trees covered with symbiotic creepers, and verdant grass teeming with wild flowers, glowing in the filtered shafts of sunlight. A side road leads into it. Just where the road begins, there is a small clearing with a litter of park benches. Here morning walkers laze around or do silly exercises. Braun ran towards them.

That is the last we saw of Braun. At the end of the jungle-trail we saw one brown dog, and I thought it was Braun. But, this one was younger and had two siblings.

On the way back we kept wondering how Braun had known our route. It had stayed with us for almost two miles, and wherever we had tried to shake it off, it had managed to catch up with us. It had never sniffed us, not even come too near. I kept asking my wife, how the dog could follow us, particularly, when we shook it off.

Back at home, as I was taking off my sneakers, I asked aloud for the umpteenth time, “I wonder how the dog knew how to follow us.”
My wife said, “Now, you should know that!”
I said, “I don’t get you. What do you mean?”
Pinching her nose, she cried out, “Have I not been telling you to wash your sneakers?”
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© mikupa / 23 February 2015

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