The Dog Who Loved Too Much
by Eva Bell
Forest Ranger Utpal Dravid lived alone on the periphery of Bandipur Sanctuary. Sometimes life became very lonely, and Utpal felt it would be good to find a pet on whom to dote. He had heard from his friends that a dog belonging to the Police Dog Squad was to be retired. So Utpal drove down to Mysore to meet the dog trainer.
“Samson is a very intelligent and faithful dog,” said the trainer, “He is also my favourite, and I hate to let him go. But sometime back on one of his assignments, he was injured and is now left with a limp. Our squad dogs have to be perfect, and the rules don’t permit us to keep him anymore.”
It was love at first sight. Utpal couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful German Shepherd. He was three feet tall and weighed forty five kilograms. What’s more, he wore his tawny coat like a monarch’s royal robe.
“He has been well trained,” the trainer assured Utpal, “Be kind to him and he will love you and protect you with his life. He is also obedient, and follows instructions faithfully.”
Five years down the line, the man and dog had become inseparable. Samson accompanied Utpal into the forest when he went on duty. He learnt to recognize the growl of a tiger or the trumpeting of elephants. He watched with interest how the herds of deer scampered away at the sound of the approaching jeep. Oh how he would have loved to give chase! But Utpal had trained him to respect every animal and bird in the forest.
“Boy, you’re a great companion,” Utpal would whisper to him as he brushed Samson’s brown coat until it shone.
The dog was intelligent, over protective and could guage his master’s moods. When he was sad, Samson’s wet snout would brush his cheek to cheer him up. When he thought Utpal needed to be praised he would thrust his paw out and shake his hand like any gentleman would do. Utpal too learnt to recognize Samson’s ‘woof, woof’ whether hungry or playful or cautious.
One day as they were getting ready to drive through the forest, Utpal’s loaded shotgun had been kept on the back seat of his jeep. In his haste to be off, Samson had jumped on to the back seat inadvertently setting the gun off.
“Ouch! Ouch!” Utpal screamed, as a bullet shot through his left shoulder.
Samson was panic stricken as he circled his moaning master.
“Call for help,” Utpal cried in pain.
Then like a bolt, Samson darted indoors to the telephone. He knocked the receiver off the hook and tapped the red button that was connected to an emergency call number, just as Utpal had trained
him to do. When he heard a voice at the other end, Samson kept on barking and whimpering.
“That’s Samson’s bark,” thought the operator, “Utpal must be in trouble.”
The Sanctuary ambulance arrived within ten minutes. Utpal had blacked out with pain while Samson hovered around him not knowing what to do. The ambulance staff saw tears in the dog’s eyes as they drove his master away.
But Samson was not to be left behind. He raced after the ambulance and sat outside the hospital until Utpal was discharged three days later.
“Don’t worry so much Samson. I’m fine,” he said, looking into those large black eyes so full of remorse, “It’s not your fault. I know it was an accident. Now come close and let me give you a hug.”
Then one day a few months later, Utpal picked up a stray kitten that had wandered into his compound.
“Oh no,” thought Samson, “I’m not going to share my master with this intruder.”
He sulked and growled at the kitten until Utpal scolded and asked him to behave.
“Don’t be so grumpy Samson. She’s a darling little Snowball. You must learn to play with her. When she’s old enough she’ll rid this compound of rats.”
Snowball was a little terror. She loved to come dashing into Samson’s front legs when he was least expecting it, and make him stumble. Sometimes she would spring on his back just when he had settled down to his siesta. Because of his massive frame, he was always afraid of hurting the kitten. So he usually dismissed her with a sullen grunt. But Utpal was sure that when he was not looking, Samson would threaten to pounce on Snowball or nip her tail. Every time there were bad vibes between them Snowball would scurry up to him and hide in his lap.
One day something unusual happened. A hawk hiding in the treetops suddenly swooped down intent on carrying away little Snowball. Even before Utpal could get up from his seat, the hawk dove at the kitten. Suddenly like a flash of lightening, Samson with hackles raised, came charging towards Snowball, and placed himself between the hawk and the kitten. The hawk ripped Samson’s cheek with her talons, but his heavy paw knocked the bird off. He would have probably chewed off her head had the terrified bird not fled.
Since then things changed between Samson and Snowball. They grew so attached to each other that Utpal felt a wee bit jealous.
“Am I the odd one out now?” he wondered.
But Samson was by his side. “Don’t you know that three’s better company than two?” he seemed to ask, as he pressed his wet snout reassuringly against Utpal’s cheek. The End