Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Special Needs Dog and Other Stories*

I am sorry to say Nike has a special needs dog. I am sorrier still that it was I who discovered that it was a special needs dog. I’ve been living in this house for over two months and yet the silly dog barks every time I come down the stairs or go up. You’d think a dog would get used to a person in two months’ time, but not this dog. I confided to Nike that I felt the dog was rather underdeveloped mentally, and he agreed with me, but we decided to keep this to ourselves so as not to hurt the sentiments of the others in the family.

But the events of the last weekend led to this sad truth coming out in the open. I was alone at home, and the dog R kept howling continuously. Thinking he was afraid of being alone, I went and sat near him but the howling continued. I finally started talking to him in a soft, consoling manner, and that seemed to calm him down somewhat. I then decided to pat his head. If you knew what an absolute phobia I have of animals, you would realise this was a very brave move on my part (you’d also realise the extent of frustration brought upon by the dog’s non-stop howling); but as soon as I reached out to pat its head, it jumped angrily at me.

This was of course sufficient incentive for me to turn tail and run upstairs, and shut the door to drown out the howling. When everybody else came home in the afternoon, I described the dog’s inexplicable behaviour, and Nike pronounced “R is retarded”. We then googled for ‘how to tell if my dog is retarded” and proceeded to try out the first simple test. It involved calling out the dog’s name and observing if it responded consistently. Of course, R decided not to respond at all for the first 10 calls of its name; it then responded at the 11th call, but then it also responded when we called out ‘mango’ and then lost interest and went to sleep.

We were very discouraged by this and didn’t have the enthusiasm to try out the next test – also what was the point. The next day, the dog barked the daily maid – this poor maid is devoted to the dog, walks him all around the place, keeps talking to it while she’s doing her chores, carries him in her arms like he’s a little baby, and even buys him sweetmeats from the corner store. And R bit her!

It’s the Dog, not the Doorbell!

In the ensuing debate about whether R was a special needs dog, or simple a badly behaved dog, the MIL told us a story. When the moved into their new home, the dog went berserk every time the doorbell rang. My MIL assumed that the dog didn’t like the sound of the doorbell and changed it. But the insane barking continued. My MIL, who is given to thinking the best of others, continued to replace doorbells, hoping that when she found the right doorbell, the dog wouldn’t go mad every time it rang. It took over a dozen doorbells before she finally gave up and accepted that ‘it was the dog, not the doorbell’. (And yes, R still goes into a mad frenzy EVERY SINGLE TIME the doorbell rings, irrespective of who is on the other side of the door).

Despite all these events, we still want to give it the benefit of doubt – that it’s just a badly behaved dog. Next week a trainer is going to come to meet R and assess if he is a badly behaved dog who can be trained, or if he is incapable of being trained. I will keep you updated on the verdict. Till next week then!

* I wanted to title it ‘The Retarded Dog and Other Stories’ but I was afraid that wasn’t politically correct, and I didn’t want to offend anyone. But throughout the text, you can replace special needs with retarded, if you wish.

Where are the other stories, you ask? Well I did have two other stories to tell, but I was so carried away by this story that now I don’t have the time for the other two. Maybe some other time (Your sigh of relief came a tad too early, dear reader).


Anjana said...

Hi Ramya,

Not sure how i came here, but this is a nice post. my family and i have experience with canines and many of these dogs have issues remarkably close to what humans have. One of my professors adopted an abused dog and when animals are abused or are witness to it, they either become tough to handle, develop personality issues, or become really terrified and timid (like my profs dog). im not sure what exaclt is the case with your dog, but i do feel sympathetic towards its situation and hope you are able to find some way to make it better for the poor doggy and your family. it needs love and sympathy too i guess. all the best. :)

Abhishek Ghosh said...

nice post. dogs are really strange animals. I once had a dog who i'd cuddle when really young, we were fans of each other. then i went to Hyd for my semester and in 4 months time when i was back he'd refuse to recognise me and bark at the sight of me, more sinister was his conatant growl when we shared a room. once he was unleashed and was having a mango, while i bent down tie my shoelaces which was not very far from his mango. he/ it thought i wanted his mango so started chasing me. i sprang from one safe spot to the other. chair, table, stairs... that was the end of our one-sided admiration. btw, the breed also matters. Labradors are friendly to absolutely anyone. Pomenerians are fickle and cantankerous.

I sighed when i read u referring to your MIL with a 'the' the first time then the subsequent warmth of my was pleasant!

Preeti said...

I should be the last person commenting on this, considering my phobia of dogs and anything else that moves on four feet.

But, to lighten up your mood, here's a hilarious post about an adorable, little "special needs" dog. I read this a while back and thought it was damn cute!

Ramya said...

@Anjana: Thank you for your very kind comment. :-) This dog was brought home when it was a tiny little puppy, and has lived with the family ever since. It's 7 years old now. It's showered with a of love and attention - it stays in the house, it is never left alone for too long, family members are constantly talking to it. In my opinion, its behaviour is much like that of a spoilt kid - its howling and barking and yelping is usually when it feels enough attention isn't being paid to it. Apart from which, it seems 'slow', and may have eyesight and hearing problems. Though of course I am in no way qualified to comment on this. I am torn between getting irritated with it for being such a pain and feeling bad for it because it clearly has some issues. Either way, I hope the trainer can address these.

@Abhishek: should make a blog post out of that incident. :p I have a similar dog story myself, which has probably scarred me for life! This one is a Lhasa Apso - I think closer in looks and behaviour to a Pom. I wish it was a Lab though - they are the only breed I have so far felt truly comfortable with.

@PReeti: I wish Nike could meet you. He thinks I am strange for having such a phobia for animals, and keeps putting me in scary situations in an effort to 'help me get over my fear'. I wish he could meet other people who are scared of animals too, so he'd know I'm not the only strange person out there!

Ooohh...and Allie Brosh is HILARIOUS. I discovered her recently and was slowly working my way through her archives but hadn't yet come to the dog post. Its beyond funny. That girls makes me laugh so much I end up with a stomach ache.

Nuttie Natters said...

Am i allowed to find this funny..what a cute post...!! Poor little doggy being judged so

Apoorv Gawde said...

Very Wodehousian! Louley!

AJ said...

the post's 'label' made me laugh like anything. It was great to read this having randomly come to the blog page. Good one. Liked it.


Ramya said...

@Nuttie: Your sympathies wouldn't be with the dog if you lived in this house, and were driven slowly to insanity by its constant howling :p

@Apu: That's the wonderfulest thing one could say to me. Thank you - you just made my day!

@AJ: Welcome here! And thanks :-)

smartassbride said...

want more stories.

Ramya said...

@SAB: Coming up (I hope!) ;-)

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