Don, a 12-year-old Labrador might go down in Indian history as the first dog who is a co-accused in a case of domestic violence. Lipika Mitra alleges Don attacked her at the behest of husband, AAP MLA, Somnath Bharti, 41. If the theatre of the absurd is real life as art, there was live drama when Bharti marched into a police station, dog in tow, to prove how friendly he is. The Delhi Police, meanwhile, observed Don is overweight, sleeps a lot and barks only when the AC is switched off.
One hears of children getting caught up in nasty divorce cases but the family pet in a pivotal role is rare indeed. Has Don been framed? I’m the proud owner of a golden Labrador too. He spends his day snoozing, eating and when he’s very bored, he’ll make a half-hearted lunge for a pigeon. It’s never occurred to me to set our dog against my husband though I really wouldn’t mind if Nawab gave him an occasional nip. I also haven’t tried because there’s the very real possibility Nawab won’t listen to me. Sadly, dogs don’t have the human capacity for reason. They’re not about to think, hey, my masters are fighting, I’m on her side, so let me bite him.
It’s crucial the police get to the bottom of this claim since Mitra has cast aspersions on Don’s character and Labradors in general. Those of us who have them know they’re gentle, kind, even tempered dogs, an absolute delight to have around.
I could have believed an accusation that Don is racist, or extremely status conscious. Like in the army, my Nawab believes in keeping the distinction of rank preserved. He only barks at the poor. The istriwala who comes to my house seems resigned to his fate. In addition to all his other problems, it’s also his lot to endure senseless humiliation by a snooty canine. Very often I find myself mumbling an embarrassed apology to an innocent on a cycle since Nawab seems contemptuous of this humble vehicle and lets loose a torrent of barks. I worry they might think it’s at the owner’s bidding. Any pet owner will attest to the bizarre way dogs slot humans, sometimes, eerily accurately.
India may be home to the largest population of strays in the world but it also has it’s share of devoted owners who treat their pets like privileged children. Sometimes, losing all perspective. A hotel owner friend of mine would allow his dogs to swim in the hotel pool during low season. Sure enough, a lone guest spotted the dogs frolicking in the water and posted a photograph on Trip Advisor. Guests were outraged and his ratings plummeted. To do some damage control, he was forced to change the category of his hotel to ‘pet friendly’. A few people have come with their pets posing new challenges like not losing clients whose idea of a holiday is to be very far away from a noisy animal. Not everybody sees dogs as man’s best friend and that’s perfectly fine. But the bark is worse than the bite — unless they’re caught in the crossfire between two warring individuals. Then Grrrr.