I used to find it hard to think of many reasons why some people love and adore dogs to death. For whatever reasons beyond my imagination, I did not like dogs as much, nor cats. On the contrary, I was mostly afraid of them.
But many people who are afraid of dogs have a tragic unfortunate experience with them like being bitten by a street dog or being chased or howled at. But none of it applies to me. I have just heard stories from parents and friends about their misadventures with dogs. Maybe that had shaped my view about them.
We live in a residential colony in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India (I know I am very lucky!) and so do some street dogs each of which has a tacit understanding with their fellow creatures regarding the demarcation of their territory.
From very early onwards since we moved to this place, we had made a habit of sharing our food and other eatables with dogs (guilty of sometimes giving them leftover food as well, thinking it's better than to waste it). Still, I would be hesitant to touch them on their forehead or caress them but rather just put the food in front of them and walk away.
I don't know why but I am built this way - just not comfortable around them.
But an incident that happened yesterday night stirred me and made me rethink my perception of them. All this while, I have just heard about how loyal and faithful they are to their masters. But yesterday I had experienced it firsthand.
I along with my wife was taking a stroll after having dinner. Unlike other nights, this time we ventured into the adjacent street. The dogs from our street, let's call them friends which by now recognize us very well, followed us.
Upon entering the adjacent street, we were greeted with harsh stares from the foreigner dogs. But before they could register their complaint against us by barking, our friends who were right behind us issued a stern howl against the foreigners.
I mistook this exchange of howls between our friends and foreigners as a routine affair regarding the division of territory. But when I noticed that our friends followed us back home and then quietly rested themselves in our own street, I couldn't help but realize that they were following to safeguard us from foreigners.
This simple yet profound incident impacted me a great deal. It made it amply clear to me how faithful, loyal, and protective dogs are of their masters and lovers alike. They can now expect me to be more affectionate towards them and less afraid of them.