By Dr. Kuhu Roy
In continuation with the ‘Their side of the story’ series, here is an episode of the only dog bite I have ever had.
The year 2005, 25th of December. I was returning from a friend’s place who had recently adopted an abandoned boxer pup. It was eight at night. Back then roads were less congested. On that cold winter night, the silence was broken by disturbing sounds. On the other side of the road, a mob of twenty-odd men with big sticks was after a scrawny stray dog who had no fur and was oozing blood from wounds. I went blank. Then, with a sudden rush of adrenaline, I took a U-turn. It was a tricky situation, I had to stop the mob, keep a tab on the dog, time was of the essence. As the dog ran towards a side lane, I managed to stop the mob. I screamed at them, “What do you think you are doing?” Their leader may be, proclaimed, “That dog is mad.” “How do you know the dog is mad?” “Can’t you see it has no fur and it is bleeding?” “What if you go bald tomorrow after itching from a skin infection? Would it mean you are mad?” There was silence for a moment and with all the courage I could muster, I said, “Dare anyone of you touch the dog and I will break your bones.” Although I was eighteen years old then, packed with energy, I was certainly no match for those bunch of vicious men. But my tone, authoritative enough, did the job and bought me some time. On that note, I began to pursue the dog. It was tough. He was in a panic; if one moment on the left, then the other on the right. After three failed attempts, I began to lose confidence. The mob then began to follow us; it was basically a do or die. On the fourth attempt, I finally managed to grab the dog from the scruff of his neck. Yet, he bit me. In that moment of excruciating pain, I could not afford to lose him, I threw him inside on the rear side of the car. My left hand was profusely bleeding, I was trembling, my pulse was up and we left that place for good. I cried on the way having realized that my own safety was actually in jeopardy. Period.
Close to two months later, in the wee hours, then named Harold, the kid and I drove back to the place he belonged to. He was unrecognizable, plump and with a shining brown coat. Before he got off the car, I kissed him on the forehead and said, “I will always love you.” Being able to see my reflection in his affectionate eyes was all I needed. He then got off and began to sniff his home ground. He settled back in no time.
Harold had walked into my life as a Christmas present. I have no picture though. Back then, I did not have a camera phone. But his memories are deeply etched in my heart and his teeth imprint on my left hand. A dog will only bite when he/she fears for its life, just like Harold did when he must have thought I was pursuing to kill him.
What about the other stray dogs like Harold who fall prey to mobs? When such stray dogs bite in a bid to save their lives, their rabid status gets a false validation and they are bludgeoned to death. And yes, such numbers add up to the concocted figures of what comprises the number of rabid dogs. Harold’s would have been a similar story had we not crossed paths. He would have bitten those men to save himself and the following day sensational headlines would have been, “Rabid dog bites twenty people.” Who would have known the truth then?