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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