TDWS | E17: A Quiet Street Flows North

Pathu is busy making notes on her Mr. P. Rao beat.

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

In the world outside our balcony, beyond the tree, nonchalant Mr. P. Rao and the quiet street flowing north towards a deadend, lies a bungalow from the 1900s. There, in the bungalow where the past hides, live many kinds of tails attached to dogs. I’ve counted nine when the house owner, a man in his sixties, takes one of them along on his daily morning walks.

There is Little Lily, the white one with faint cream patches and the classic upturned tail. Look at her wade up the street in elegant, easy strokes all the way to the main road. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Tuxedo Parade, a quartet of black dogs with insignificant splashes of white on their tails. They are practicing their tightrope stunt along the low compound wall that’s given up on life, and sways like a drunkard under their weight. The Brown Sugar Siblings, Jaggery, Molasses and Demerara are what your mother warned you about. They behave like junkies, dangerously impulsive and yet enviably carefree. Their tails tell tales of fights lost and won. Finally, there is Pirate, the three-legged tailless German Shepherd who has retired from a lifetime of adventure.

Our balcony and the bungalow stand facing each other, desperate like lovers on either banks of this peaceful street. The sharp silence of the tarred street breaks each time someone veers off the main road into this cul-de-sac. Little Lily is at her station by the lamp post where the street joins the main road. With the incoming movement detected, she runs back to the house to alert the pack. At this point, Pathu is busy making notes on her Mr. P. Rao beat. Before Little Lily can reach her peeps, from the vantage point on our balcony, Pathu is the first to sound the alarm. But Echo is curled up under the human’s work table, dreaming of dehydrated neck discs of beef. And he is not keen to be the first to react. He waits for the momentum to build before moving a muscle.   

Meanwhile, Little Lily has gone up and over the compound wall though most of the crew is already out on the street. The Tuxedo Parade has lined up on the precarious compound wall. The Brown Sugar Siblings are charging up the street, unmindful of the nature of the problem. Pirate opens the gate and walks out peacefully, to be present when the problem presents itself. Little Lily, having informed everyone concerned, unable to contain her thrill, pole vaults over the wall and lets out a final call. That’s when Echo switches on. From his spot under the human’s table where he is warming his bum, he leaps out, sending the human’s laptop, table lamp and work screen into a giggling fit. He picks up pace running towards Little Lily’s voice, fur raised like a porcupine and a bark gurgling up his snout, ready to be released. 

When he hears Echo and Pathu deliver their duet, he looks up at our balcony to see the new entrants in the sky.

The scooter is fitted with a steel trunk painted green. The driver wears a green plaid flat cap. The bread and baked goods seller who turned the corner is in the least affected by their cacophony. He goes about his business as usual. The slow rhythmic whir of his two-wheeler suggests that he knows that these are just dogs protecting their territory. When he hears Echo and Pathu deliver their duet, he looks up at our balcony to see the new entrants in the sky. He stops to wave at them before offering up baked treats to the ninepins. The sky siblings go berserk with anticipation.

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TDWS | E16: A Dying Breed of Rationalists

A surveillance state

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

Echo and Pathu left from home as sworn enemies but returned as best friends. Since I believe in magic and he believes in ‘packets landing in buckets’ we didn’t question the whys and hows of this miracle. Understandably, as cynics we are amazed at this unimaginable transformation. For the first week or so we don’t believe that they have actually become friends. We wait patiently for ‘normalcy’ to return. 

Meanwhile, if I call either one of them, they have begun turning up together! They sit next to each other on the couch peacefully, respect each other’s playthings and share custody of us amicably. But it is when we see them do things together that our faith in the indescribable is restored. 

Their idea of quality time spent together is chasing Mr Parivala Rao, the pigeon. It’s their favourite daytime activity. Only because Mr. P. Rao roosts in the nighttime. The siblings begin their surveillance early. As we wake up our brains by injecting black coffee into our veins, these two stalk Mr P. Rao who lives in the tree beyond the balcony. Mr P .Rao is an elderly gentleman with a dash of grey in his wings. His life seems uninteresting to the untrained eye as he sits on a branch day in and day out, staring into the vast expanse of the universe, muttering to himself “guttr, kuttr. puttr”. 

But to Echo and Pathu, his constant chanting is a valuable source of agitation. An agitation that gives their day a sense of purpose and vengeful drive. Mr. P. Rao comes a close second to the aunty next door who rubs them the wrong way with her periodic ‘Om’s accompanied by a cacophony of bells. They spend hours watching him, surveilling his movements and the lack thereof. Pathu does two shifts pacing this balcony: mid-mornings and dusk. Echo takes over from her in the afternoons, spreading himself on the balcony table, like chocolate on toast.

My theory is that Mr. P. Rao is a dying breed of rationalists who hears out the opposition and uses his judgement to reserve comment.

When it rains, Mr P. Rao puffs up his feathers and takes refuge closer to the main trunk of the tree to keep dry. The main trunk is closer to our balcony than Mr. P. Rao’s branch. And something about him preening drives Echo and Pathu crazy. She paces the balcony willing Mr. P. Rao to notice her. When he doesn’t, she barks out expletives and encourages Echo to join her. To Mr. P. Rao’s credit he is never perturbed by their sentiment. 

My theory is that Mr. P. Rao is a dying breed of rationalists who hears out the opposition and uses his judgement to reserve comment. And though he can hear every single word these two are shouting at him, he chooses to ignore them. That or he routinely forgets to turn on his hearing aid.

Another theory I am commonly known to propound is that through hate my wards have come to understand Mr. P. Rao’s circumstance very well and this has led to them empathising with his motivations and are on the beautiful path of learning to co-exist.

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Next Episode | A Quiet Street Flows North

TDWS | E15: A Secret Wish Comes True

She touched me. He looked at me.

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

That Sunday in June when Pathu arrived on the scene, we took Echo for granted and assumed that he would adjust because he is a well-mannered gentleman. We were right but we were also wrong. He did tolerate her just as he tolerates my bear hugs. But it took many extra snacks, many hours of alone time and many belly rubs to bring back our sulker from the corner to which he had withdrawn. 

To Pathu, Echo was her pet toy, as many elder brothers tend to be. When she got bored, she would turn to trouble him. When he ignored her calls to play, she would pull his ear or fake bite his hind legs or sniff his tail, making him uncomfortable. She always remembered to keep enough distance for plausible deniability, in case we were watching. When he walked away from her, she would follow. If he sought refuge on a chair, she would stand there, smelling his nose, till he abandoned his perch. This would go on till he lost his temper. Following that inevitable yelp that cut her to size, they would disband instantly as if they were never there.

“She touched me. He looked at me. She sat on my tail while I was asleep and now I am awake and I do not like it!” 

They maintained peace for our sakes though they were incredibly jealous of each other and hated each other’s presence. “She touched me. He looked at me. She sat on my tail while I was asleep and now I am awake and I do not like it!” 

Meanwhile, after much hunting, we managed to grab a house. Though it was practically next door to our old house, we could not move houses with these two wreaking havoc on moving day. We decided to counter their surveillance by packing them off to a boarding facility.

“We’ll board them for a week”, I said. 

“Yes, gives us enough time to settle down”, he agreed.

“Hmm, a week might be too much for her”, he said. 

“Yes, she’s still a puppy”, I agreed.

“Maybe we could leave them there the day before and get them back the day after”, I said. 

“Yes, three days then”, he agreed.

Finally, we boarded them for a single night! Now you know why we are Pathuminions. Negotiation is not one of our core skills.

When the day arrived, we were complete wrecks. In the car, on the way over, we overdid the mollycoddling. We petted and we fussed. We even told Pathu to behave well and do us proud! Owing to Covid season, humans were not allowed entry into this boarding house. They opened the gates and took the dogs in. We were left standing there on the street. And our wards did not even turn back to wave at us!  

We stood there, outside the secured gate, like parents on the first day of school. Should we have filled their water bottles with Horlicks, we wondered. We searched for gaps along the compound wall, through which we imagined Pathu was calling out to us. There were none. 

The owner of the boarding house had asked if they were friendly dogs who could be left with other dogs in the yard. “Yes, of course. Echo is friendly. He will hang out with everyone, for sure. Pathu, I am not entirely sure off”, I had answered confidently. They tried to keep packs together at night, she said. “Yes, these two could be left alone with each other through the night”, I replied.

We got home and got busy with packing. Couple of hours later, I got a puzzling message from the boarding house. “We are leaving them upstairs in the room because they don’t seem to want to socialise. They are sticking to each other”, the message read. Wait, what? I reread the message. “We are leaving them…”

“You mean to say that my dogs, Echo and Pathu, want to hang out with each other and with no one else?” I handed over my phone to him, and asked him to crosscheck what I had just read.

Ha Ha Ha Ha! We burst out laughing. They had got what they deserved! Each other. Our secret wish had come true. 

At home they were always eating our brains or at each other’s throats. Half our energy was spent settling their disputes. “She touched me. He looked at me. She sat on my tail while I was asleep and now I am awake and I do not like it!”   

Here they are now, best of friends!

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Next Episode | E16: A Dying Breed of Rationalists

TDWS| E14: The Last Civil Liberty

Couldn’t hurt a fly!

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

Pathumma warranted a biography because she is no regular dog. She is a royal canine! Not a misspelt plug for the dog food brand, I promise. It’s just a bad joke, a brain fart if you will. It had to be released. This is precisely why all writing must be edited before seeing the light of day. Go editors! 

Anyway, we first noticed Pathu’s royal tendencies when she refused to sit on the floor. Every evening after dinner, we would head to our study that moonlights as the TV room. This makeshift arrangement afforded only two chairs. Since Echo was happy being belly up on the floor, we had never really thought of seating for our furry friends.

Pathu refused to sit. She would just pace around the room. At first we thought she was uncomfortable being in that small room. We would leave the door open for her to leave but she wouldn’t. However, when one of us got up to get ourselves a late night snack, she was quick to capture our seat.

That’s when we began noticing this royal tic. If our rears never left our seats, she would act cute till we let her get onto our laps. Of course there was the entitlement. If we sat together on the couch in the living room, she wouldn’t relent till she got to snuggle between us. Basically she had to be in the epicentre. Echo on the other hand has always been a sulker. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he goes away. He sits by himself in the corner, sighs, sulks and refuses to make eye contact till we go over to pacify him. Pathu will stand her ground and demand that she be given what she wants.

On principle, she does not beg for our food. She demands it. She does not raid the dustbin sneakily. She attacks it as if it were her birthright.

We are not the most disciplined people you will meet but Pathu most certainly is. She has her routine and nothing can change it. Ever. She wakes up at 7 am and proceeds to wake up the entire household. No one must sleep once she is awake. At 7:30 am if her breakfast is not served she will raise hell. Two hours later, it is time for her morning nap. For this divine event to commence, the rest of us have to get ready for the day and settle down so that the Begum can sleep. Because she won’t go to sleep if any of us is going about our business elsewhere in the house. We need to be at our stations. Of course, if you diverge from this path, she will first grumble and then yell till you fall back in line. 

We have finally taught her to sit but when she does, her bum never truly touches the floor! Her blue blood manifests in other places too. She looks down on everything. When I exercise she stares at me, judgingly, “These squats aren’t going to help you”, she seems to say. If I am on the couch, she will snuggle up next to me. But if I as much as breathe out of sync, her death stare will pierce my soul. On principle, she does not beg for our food. She demands it. She does not raid the dustbin sneakily. She attacks it as if it were her birthright.

Similarly in the evening, her dinner time is sacrosanct. Post dinner I need to be available on the couch for her to cuddle. Around 10 pm, she begins to get cranky. She needs to retire for the night but she needs to make sure that our day ends too. This is our final frontier against her absolute dominance over our lives. And we are determined to hold on to this last civil liberty. We will win or die trying.

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Next Episode | E15: A Secret Wish Comes True

TDWS | E13: The Great Escape

Echo, sit. Stay.

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

The house hunting season was not going well. House after house wriggled out of our grip proving that we were lousy hunters. One time, after we had begun making arrangements for the deposit, we were told that the house owner was uncomfortable renting to us because we had two dogs. One dog was okay but two was too much! In the small room in the back of my head that’s filled with comebacks I said to myself: one is a pup, so technically we have one-and-a-half dogs!

Do you know how difficult it is to find a house for rent that allows two dogs? House owners ask questions like what breed are these dogs? Will they destroy wooden fixtures? Will they be a nuisance? The room in the back has great answers for these questions. 1) Both my dogs are from a ‘good Nair family’ 2) They haven’t shown any traits of being woodpeckers in the past 3) How much of a nuisance are the other children in the building?

The hunt worsens when you add brokers to the mix. Their no-problem attitude is out of this world. Most of them assume that our dogs are invisible and that no one will see them if we don’t talk about them. And that is how we began taking Echo and Pathu with us on our house hunting expeditions. 

The reason why Echo is not a good team member to take on a heist, is that he is a rule follower.

A typical house hunt unfolds like this. Where possible we would park right outside the building. If that’s not possible a parking spot near the scene would be found and the tailed ones would be left in the car. Of course we leave the windows cracked. We don’t want to kill them—just yet!

We would then head up to the house under question. Here again, Pathu didn’t appreciate being left behind. She would sing a song of deep sorrow in a pitch that could raise the dead. What irritated her more than not being able to go with us, was that Echo didn’t seem to care either way. He would sit straight on the seat, watch life go by outside with not a care in the world.

One such house hunting mission took us deep inside a residential area where the roads were lined with trees and the streets were quiet. And there were houses everywhere. Since we had been to a couple of these before, Pathu knew the drill. She would sit with me until we parked, he would hold her while I got out of the car. Then I would distract her so he could get out of the car.

Only today, she was prepared. As I opened the door, safe in the knowledge that he was holding her, she shook him off and through a sliver of open door, jumped out and ran away. As I stood still, stumped, he got out of the car on the driver’s side and ran in pursuit. We were parked towards the end of a street where it joins a larger street with heavier traffic. Pathu was beelining towards oncoming traffic!

What we didn’t notice in the commotion was that as he got out the car and shut the door, Echo had held out his paw to soften the impact. The car door on the driver’s side had not closed. One of Echo’s only concerns in life is playing. He just couldn’t bear the sight unfolding before him. The human was chasing after Pathu without including him in the game. “For all the grief she gave me about sticking to the plan. And not playing with the human. And doing this for the freedom of our species. Look who’s playing with the human now!” he whined. 

As I stood on the passenger side of the car, deciding whether to stay by the car or chase Pathu, I saw a big brown form slip through the door on the opposite side. A split second later, ahead of me I saw Echo in full sprint towards the game that was proceeding without him. Now I was running after Echo. Anyone would refuse us a house if they saw this scene, I thought.

The reason why Echo is not a good team member to take on a heist, is that he is a rule follower. I simply jogged up to him and said Echo, sit. Stay. And that giant fellow, plonked his brown ass on the ground. Pathu was seething as she saw what was happening. Her plan was to cross the road on to the railway line and catch a train out of here. For a second her mind lost focus of the mission at hand. And in that moment, the human was there, hovering over her, picking her up. Another escape bid had failed. That too because of this squirrel-tailed monkey.

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Next Episode | E14: The Last Civil Liberty

TDWS | E12: Humans Say, No Means Yes

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

On second thought, before I let the human continue, a quick note on my love for insects. It’s true. I am partial towards insects. If the choice were between eating mud out of pots in the garden and chasing insects, I would choose insects every day of the week!

The thing with insects is that they always have a story. Sure, the mud tastes nice and I get to leave my pawprints on the carpet and the couch. If I am lucky enough to have the humans chase me yelling, “Noooo Paaathuuu”, then I even leave some cool paw designs on their bedsheet! 

But the perks of chasing an insect are under researched in my opinion. Since most of them can fly, chasing them is incredibly eventful. I get to jump on the sofa, sniff the kitchen counter, peer down the bathroom drain and hike through the wire jungle under the TV. They disappear from their spot on the wall only to reappear on the handle of a chair. True magicians, they are.

Insects are gypsies who have been everywhere. They have incredible stories to tell. Some have just returned from a flower, some live in the tree outside, some live under a loose tile in the bathroom, others appear when it rains outside and still others live in the bottle prisons that hold provisions.

Just the other day, I was in the kitchen minding my own business when a moth, a yellow one with shiny brown dots came by my nose. Careful not to startle him, I slowly lifted my bum off the floor to a standing position. There I was, standing in a downward dog pose, with my nose to the ground. The humans began laughing instantly but I ignored them as it was paramount that the moth didn’t think I was moving. Also the humans laugh at anything. Including when I yawn harmonically. I’ll never know why they find things funny. 

Anyway, back to the moth. The moth flitted around, landing on a cabinet handle, now on a washcloth, without a care in the world. I followed him with my nose, wagging my tail furiously to indicate my interest in playing with him. Then I lunged at him and missed. He was a sly one. He smiled back at me as he flew up onto the counter. I am not allowed to look on the counter. I don’t know why. The second my paws touch the kitchen counter, one of the humans will begin chanting, like clockwork, “down Pathu, Pathu down.” But I was not one to give up. I channeled the ninja warrior within me and stood up on my hind legs like a circus dog and eyed the moth. Technically, I was not touching the counter, you see.

He was a pompous moth who liked the attention and wanted to show off his flying skills. He was soon airborne again, only to lower himself onto the dustbin this time. I didn’t miss a heartbeat leaping at the dustbin. The next thing I know, the dustbin is rolling on the floor, its contents spread across the floor, jeering at me.   

Without warning, the humans get angry. “No Pathu!” One of them yelled across the kitchen as if that would straighten the dustbin. I was sent out of the room immediately. As I settled down right outside, counting all the kitchen wonders I was missing out on, I noticed a yellow movement through the corner of my eye. He had flown out of the kitchen with me! I didn’t care about the kitchen anymore.

If the hours I’ve wasted watching TV with the humans has taught me anything, it is that people say ‘no’ when they actually mean ‘yes’.

He smelt like whiskey. Like old barrels with a hint of wet wood. He told me that he lived in the tree outside my balcony. He flew around me, showing off his colourful wings in slow motion. Politely, in the universally accepted language of the paw, I asked him if he wanted to play. He turned up his antennae and ignored me. 

I wasn’t asking for much, was I? All I wanted was to be friends with him. If the hours I’ve wasted watching TV with the humans has taught me anything, it is that people say ‘no’ when they actually mean ‘yes’. So I taunted him by hitting him lightly. I missed him the first time but the second time I hit him, he fell to the floor. Now he was ready to play with me. We were playing a game of tag, where he would try to run away from me and I would catch him. I loved this game. But he wasn’t very good at this. I guess the humans were wrong. ‘No’ does mean ‘no’. Always. 

Before long, I was bored. So I ate him.

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Next Episode | E13: The Great Escape

TDWS | E11: This Is An Intervention

Hello World!

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

Hello world! Begum Pathumma here. And this is an intervention. I feel that I have not been represented well enough by this narrator. She has portrayed me as a cute little puppy with gravity defying ears and cute mannerisms. Be that as it may, I am primarily a fierce warrior who knows how to get her way in this human world. I don’t understand what is with humans and infantilising female individuals. The good fight cannot be won unless all female kind unite. And when I try to tell her this, she thinks I am behaving like a grumpy old woman and tries to videotape me!

First things first, she has no right to be writing my biography. She has no right to be a self-appointed representative of my truth. And she certainly should not be calling me ‘beaglesque’. It is 2020 and this kind of name calling is insensitive and in bad taste. How dare she!

Human, here’s what I want you to say about me. Start with, “there is something else you need to know about Pathu. She is not The Begum for nothing. She never sits on the floor. Ever. She stands or paces, if a suitable seat is not available. If the situation is not rectified to her liking and on time, Pathu will proceed to make her displeasure known and demand action. She never slouches. She sits up straight on her throne with her head held high. 

We have no doubt that she is the queen bee of this hive.

The night we got her, we made a makeshift bed for her. With enviable confidence, she fought Echo valiantly and conquered his bed. Echo is over thrice Pathu’s size. Her other victories include the Battle of the Carpet which ended in the killing of the psycho duck toy that squeaked. In record time, she has also single handedly cornered the lap market, establishing her monarchy. No other living being, dog, child or person, is allowed on any of the laps in the house at any time. By now, you know about her stellar EQ. Her IQ is so high that she has the entire neighbourhood mapped without ever having stepped out. She has managed this by analysing 8 data points on Echo’s body, post his daily walks. We have no doubt that she is the queen bee of this hive.”

Manipulating this human is child’s play compared to the bloody battles I’ve fought and won. I will now let her go on with the little plot she has planned out for you.

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Next Episode | E12: Humans Say, No Means Yes

Two Weeks Of The Dog We Stole

How far we’ve come!

I am writing this post to consolidate The Dog We Stole series so far. But it is also about remembering what’s been lost, relishing what we’ve got and appreciating myself for staying the course.

I started this blog in 2011 but I’ve never ever written as consistently on it as I have in the last two weeks. Of course, I have come a long way as a person since 2011. I have also grown in confidence as a writer, gradually easing into the idea of sharing my writing for others to read. In this time I’ve had many jobs, travelled, published my stories, lost loved ones, gotten married and lived with three dogs.

Writing about Pathu, my youngest pup, was a momentary decision, a joke even. But I am so glad I did it. I find that I am savouring every moment with her and Echo much more now that I am writing about it. Possibly because I am subconsciously looking for details I can include in the series but nonetheless. But living in the moment with them makes me very aware of the loss of Maxu, my first pup.

Max was a senior dog we adopted when he was 11.5 years old. He lived with us for three years. He was a grumpy old man with patriarchal values. He loved to see me in the kitchen. He would get snarky if his meals weren’tt ready on time. And on principle, he did not cuddle. But he was my love-at-first-sight. More on him later.

For now, here is a compilation of The Dog We Stole series so far. And thank you for for you support.

The Dog We Stole

The definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma

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TDWS| E10: Fruits Of Her Labour

Enjoying the fruits of her labour

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

We were on our way back when the watchman called. The RWA secretary had asked him if we had stepped out. We knew that meant trouble. We hurried back, each step quicker than the one before. Truth be told, we did want Pathu to bark her head off. Nothing would be sweeter revenge than letting these assholes climb the walls in tune to Pathu’s riveting caterwauling. But you understand that we moved in polite circles where difference of opinion was buried deep and manifested only as acne which was totally treatable. Well, there might have been a spell or two cast while they looked away. For the uninitiated, ‘difference of opinion’ or ‘agree to disagree’ are ciphers for absolute abhorrence.

Logically still, we were moving out anyway and we had had enough with that RWA. But as pet parents we worried about Pathu. As we sprinted home, we waved at panic who was crossing the street to meet us. Why was Pathu barking incessantly? What was Echo doing? Did she hurt herself or get stuck somewhere in the house? You see, the vivid imagination is an occupational hazard. 

This sudden expenditure of energy is called a zoomie in the dog world.

We opened the door, out of breath from the running. The second the door opened, barking put a finger on her lips. As if she were waiting for an audience, Pathu began her zoomie workout. She ran laps around the room, legs askew, ears akimbo. These parkour laps followed the walls of the room, bouncing off the couch. Her nails made a sound very similar to furious typing of the laptop’s keypad, much like a writer on Day 1 of writing. This sudden expenditure of energy is called a zoomie in the dog world.

Pathu’s plan for us was perfection. Gleeful to see our puppers in one piece and blinded by our puppy love, we stepped into a giant puddle of pee, running after Pathu who was running after Echo who had lost the plot. Pathu of course, did not relent. Meanwhile, pee was spreading across the living room like Covid and we were the transmitters. Since I had to pee, I wore my shoes to the bathroom and back. The carpet and couch were already a red zone. He went to pacify his computer that jabbered on weeping black and white JSON tears. What followed was a lot of swearing and generous capfuls of Dettol. Her Majesty Begum Pathumma rested on the couch, leaning all her weight on her older brother, looking regal and pleased as she watched the fruits of her labour.

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Next Episode | E11: This Is An Intervention

TDWS | E9: Pathu’s Pee Protest

Thinking through the plan of action

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

“I am mad at being left alone at home with this useless big fellow. Not only are they denying me the right to go outside because I am still getting my vaccines, I am being told off for peeing where I want. Apparently, one does not pee in the house. One has to pee on a newspaper in the balcony or hold it in all day like that furry shithead. When they heard that he had peed on the staircase, they had applauded his audacity. But when I do the same thing?” The monologue in Pathu’s head was riling her up. 

Without much ado, Pathu peed right by the main door. The strategic position of the pee ensured that upon our return we would definitely step in it. She then proceeded to daintily dip all her paws ever so slightly in it and walk around the house. She knew exactly why this would trouble me. I would worry that we didn’t know for sure where all her pee-dipped paws had travelled and proceed to clean the entire house. But first she walked right up to Echo who had gone back to sleep with not a care in the world. Casually, she walked a circle around him. It had the desired effect. Like a spring-loaded male Labrador, he sprung up as if a grave injustice had occurred and leapt across the living room to Pathu’s tiny pee puddle. Lifting his leg with the grace of an entitled man, he let out his virulent stream with pride.

…she knew how to use subversion as a tool of resistance.

Pathu’s calculations were on point. She had assumed, rightly so, that her pee protest and Echo’s involvement would have given us enough time to walk away from the building after having waited around for her separation anxiety to manifest. Little did we know the drama that was going on upstairs. We were 87 steps away from home when she took a deep breath and began her wail in a sharp glass-shattering falsetto. As a politically aware dog in this oppressed society where women were expected to sing in a falsetto, she knew how to use subversion as a tool of resistance.

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Next Episode | E10: Fruits Of Her Labour