Bridge over Laila’s pillow

Winters are very cold. Despite, Shimla’s many modern conveniences, central heating, and proper insulation have never really caught up here, and draughty buildings with inadequate heating are the norm. Wall Bukharis (fireplaces), however, form a part of British architecture.

  • Laila pushes through to be let in as if to find some solace in being with us.
  • She craves physical attention and loves to be close by; at times snuggled on the couch in a pile of soft blankets.
  • Munching on a bony piece with crunchy sounds, she curls up to sleep over a luxurious rug. Dogs also like to spend time in their humans’ favorite spots.

  • With Laila beneath the bridge table, over her pillow, I feel warm and comfortable. From behind the drop- length of the table cloth, she sneaks up on the groins, instilling a different sensation.
  • The cozy arrangement reminds me of the Japan days where, rather than heating an entire apartment, they simply sit over kotatsu (horikotatsu), a heated table – cozy little foot-warming device. It is about the same depth as the height of a chair; you can dangle your legs. Eating oranges is a welcome treat of a typical winter at home. Cats like to curl up underneath.
  • That is why, now I know, Apeem Baaba (I call my son with love) liked being with a dog under his study table.
  • Taking a clue from a study of the Hiroshima University that ‘looking at the photographs of baby animals helps in improving concentration level, I avail my ‘dummy –turns’ to take photos of Laila.
  • While she hovers around; “she also likes to join the table”, my partner says in jest.
  • The day she got neutered, the ladies of the ‘Gardens’ attended upon her, round the clock, paying total heed to doctor’s advice.
  • ‘Now 6 months old, Laila is mild-tempered, has hardly bitten on rugs, but for chewing his socks once; & now trying to be friendly’ says the lady of the Angelic Gardens of Shimla. Showing love, ‘baby talks’ to the pet.
  • I’ve had dogs from my childhood. I had known that- treating pets with human-like emotions & intention helped the dog to understand the difference between words and gestures & also that people experience less stress levels when a dog is around. The lifestyles and emotions of the people they live with influence dogs. Happy go lucky type; ever ready to greet with pleasing facial expressions; fox-like face & eye-catching markings all over; Laila with large eyes is a beautifully graceful and robust dog that’s dignified and calm. The mutual gaze sets off a warm sensation of bonding.
  • I have seen her growing and would enjoy the puppy stage and never want it to end when it comes to her playfulness. On ‘Dhantrace 2020; I admired those “look at me” eyes from below the dining table.


  • Jenny feels happier when I take her on occasional “sniffy walk” – letting her lead the way taking her own time smelling the track and the soil. Her shorter snout makes her breathing a little more laborious. She is quiet, alert, and affectionate, but rarely aggressive. Likes a car ride; and more than that Laila’s company. She often accompanied me to the ‘bridge’ by my ‘Nano’; until the day she declined to alight, perhaps, fearing friendly hostility in the ‘Gardens’ ahead.

  • Dogs grasp each other loosely when ‘play-wrestling’, expressing affection. Though, ‘Play-fighting’ is fun and helps them interact with each other with their muzzles, lest they use their tiny teeth excessively.
  • Most dogs will bark at times, Laila is being quieter, more affectionate & loves to cuddle. Happy and loving, but also has a streak of independence and stubbornness. Playing fast and hard, running out of the ‘Gardens’ gate onto the fore- way peeps into my car confirming Jenny’s absence.
  • This year, it has snowed heavily in Shimla. Because of her size, fear of sinking deep into snow keeps Jenny away, though Laila loves snow.

  • They perhaps thought -it was prestigious to domesticate pedigreed dogs ‘only; the ones who suffered were the poor Indies as we call Indian dogs. Many people in India are now warming up to the idea of community dogs. Most dog lovers are hesitant to take them in; adopted stray dogs take a while to adapt indoors. However, these dogs are highly adaptive and make excellent pets. They are playful, energetic, and relatively easy to train. They love their family and enjoy cuddling, and sleeping in your bed.
  • Best of all, when you make an Indian dog a part of your family, you not only save a life but also make a best friend for life. Mixed breed dogs give you the best of both worlds.
  • According to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), Stray dogs* multiply and overpopulate when municipalities fail to adhere to the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, which call for them to be sterilized; and because of exposed rubbish and slaughterhouse waste.

  • Indies have had a recent upsurge in attention and adoptions, during Covid -19. Researchers are training dogs to sniff out the pandemic.
  • Community dogs make wonderful loyal companions, and there are many, waiting for good homes at animal shelters across the country.
    *(compassionately referred to as “community dogs”)


Prof. (Er.) Chander P Mahajan is an art critic & a free lance journalist. The Environmentalist stays in Shimla and Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India.

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