Out for 2 Weeks?

KC in waiting

Year 2005 was rather hectic. In June, our older son, Deepak got married; our UK associate wanted me to set up their India operations in Chennai and that meant increased travel; in October, we went to the UK for 2 weeks.

KC wondered at what was happening. In all his 5 years with us, he’d never seen bags go in and out so frequently. It was the UK trip that saddened me and KC too. Two weeks? How would he manage without us? KC was used to one of us being around, so when he saw large suitcases rolling out that morning it probably dawned on his that these two are off somewhere for a long period of time.

We were flying by Jetairways from Bangalore to Mumbai and then to London. That day, I could sense a sort of sadness in his eyes and his body language reflected that as well. We petted him and as was usual with him, he wagged his tail and looked up at me as if to say, ‘don’t take too long’. At the corner of the street I looked back and noticed his long nose sticking out of the gate and I really felt very sad.

However, the consolation was in the fact that our domestic help and her family would be his interim care-takers, and since both our boys and daughter-in-law worked shifts, one of them would be at home at any given point in time. I think KC too realized that and from what we gathered whenever we called from London, he seemed fine and went about his usual routine. But I’m pretty sure that he’d look down the street every day in anticipation of our return.

As Directors of the company we had formed in Chennai, our trip to UK was a mix of holiday and business. On our sightseeing visits we’d pick up souvenirs always on the look out for something for KC. It was on our trip to Warwickshire we stumbled upon this Pet Store. Oh, man, the stuff they have for pets was unbelievable. That showed the immense value they attached towards pets. We ended up buying quite a few bagfuls of stuff for our dearest KC. As a matter of fact I almost added a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically meant for dogs, but the wife advised me not to. ‘He’ll get used to the taste of toothpaste and will want the same flavor which may not be available back home. So, you’ll keep coming to London each time he needs toothpaste?’ is what I think she said. Made sense!

We returned after 2 weeks and when the cab parked in front of the gate, KC saw us. He went wild with excitement and as I opened the gate, he was all over us – climbing, licking, muttering something which in doggy-talk must have meant ‘I’m so, so happy’.

We were too. The first thing I did after lugging our bulging suitcases to our bedroom on the top floor was to open the one which had KC’s presents. He was lying on the bed watching me curiously as I removed things one by one. “This is for KC,” I said and he jumped up instantly, his ears standing erect like an antenna, grabbing all that belonged to him and wagging his tail in delight and appreciation. I was so happy to see him happy.

We humans need to learn is that even animals have feelings and they say ‘thank you’ too.

Filed under: Ranting — Birbal at 11:17 pm on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

KC’s Doctor!

KC and Roshan

The unhygienic surroundings around our house had caused KC a health issue. He had constant stomach upsets and bouts of diarrhea. His appetite had reduced and he ate a lot of grass (people laugh at this but eating grass is an instinctive defense mechanism amongst all dogs). Vet after Vet came to treat him but none could set it right for KC.

One day I read about one Dr. Yatiraj, Professor and Head, Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine and soon to be the Dean of Veterinary College. His credentials were quite impressive – presented 60 research papers, 80 scientific papers at seminars and workshops in the USA, Australia, Bangkok, Sri Lanka, etc. We decided that this was the Vet KC needed to see.

He had his clinic in Banashankari and one evening we took KC there. The clinic was in the basement of a building and we had a tough time since our friend pulled and pulled; he wanted to get down the stairs as soon as possible because there were so many dogs in the clinic and he just wanted to mingle with his ilk. He’d be all excited each occasion a trip to the Vet was being contemplated.

When KC’s turn came, we had to carry this 30-odd kg, 4-legged fellow on to the examination table and phew, that was quite something. A few tests later, the Doc told us that KC had what is know as Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas which affects the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract. Besides giving him an injection, he prescribed ‘Pancreoflat’, a tablet that KC would have one a day for the rest of his life.

KC was fine ever since that visit. A couple of occasions the pancreas problem did occur but once the tablets started having effect KC was absolutely in fine shape.

In 2005, we moved to a bigger house just 2 blocks away from our #349 home in Koramangala.

KC loved the place. It was an independent house, 2 floors and 2 staircases – one from inside the house and one on the outside. We had our office in one room on the first floor which overlooked the street; a vantage point for KC. He got to watch who came or went and if any dogs were found lingering around, he’d charge down the staircase and bark them till they were out of sight. Once that was done, he’d drink lots of water and come up again, sit at the top of the steps and continue his vigil.

In the evenings after we’d shut shop for the day, I would sit out in the portico and coax KC to have his dinner. He wouldn’t eat unless he had some entertainment and an audience. There was a brown coloured stray who lived in the street. KC would look out the gate and if he found her in the vicinity, he’d come up to me to tell me that I must get some bread. I had to keep throwing small bits of bread or chapatti to ‘Browny’ and that would prompt KC to eat.

KC was just like any other kid. He was delirious with excitement about going for walks, going to the doctor, for a ride in the car, or whenever I came home a after a trip or even if one of the boys got back after work. KC’s vigorously wagging tail was his way of telling us how happy he was.

Petting KC was a daily routine. How we miss that; and I’m sure he does too.

Filed under: Ranting — Birbal at 12:24 am on Wednesday, August 24, 2011

KC, Time for a Bath!

KC, Time for a Bath!

In house #349, space was a constraint. Bath in the front portico was avoided because the drinking water sump was located there. So, bath was organized in the rather narrow, rear portion of the house where we had the benefit of a tap.

A Sunday a month – weather permitting - was usually KC’s bath day. Sitting on the sofa he’d watch my movements with great attention. The minute he saw me carrying two buckets, a mug and shampoo out the back door, he sensed what was up. I’m sure I heard him grunt a few times which I presume was equivalent to his saying, “Oh, shit!”

He wasn’t too huge then, so bathing him wasn’t too taxing as it did in the years to come. The strenuous part was to drag him out from the sofa, his favorite hiding place. A few growls and snarling of teeth later, we’d manage to get him around.

His fur was thick and therefore, the first few mugs of water (diluted with Dettol) had to be rubbed into his body. Then came the shampoo; again scrubbed in through his hair to reach the skin. And finally, a bucket or two emptied on him to remove remnants of the soap. In between of course, he’d shake away the water vigorously a few times and spray it all on me soaking me to the skin.

A quick wipe with the towel to remove excess water, and KC was all ready to charge to the portico through the living room for his customary 4 or 5 laps running round and round the limited space with intense joy. We made sure he remained outside for a while so that he was quite dry especially his underbelly portion.

A sumptuous lunch later, our friend would slide under the sofa, snuggle himself for a good siesta and in no time he’d be in dreamland. In the years to come as we moved houses, we had bit more space for his bath. But by then, he’d have grown up, become lot stronger and lot more difficult to handle.

Meanwhile, KC would pray to the Gods for inclement weather every Sunday. Most times his prayers got answered and it would be months before the shampoo was next used.

Filed under: Ranting — Birbal at 1:00 am on Thursday, August 11, 2011

KC Goes to ‘School’

Basavaraj knocked on the gate at 6.15 in the morning. Not our normal waking up time, but we got up anyway. It was KC’s first day at training school and like any other parent, we were all excited. No lunch box, no water sipper, and no school uniform – just the leash clipped on to his strap and KC was off. We watched him reluctantly walk down the street as he kept looking back wondering what this was all about.

Nearby our house in Koramangala 8th Block was the Police Training ground. Basavaraj lived in the adjoining quarters and besides being a constable on duty, he was also an experienced dog trainer. For 1500 rupees a month, 3 times a week we couldn’t have asked for more.

And KC was quick to pick up. In a few months he was responding to the trainer’s commands. “Roll over” and he’d roll over; “Sit” and he’d sit on his rear; “Lie down” and he’d be full stretch on the floor. Opposite our house was a park with a few benches. The trainer had taught KC to jump over and he did it with the elegance of a trapeze artist.

KC was 8 months old when his training started. But long before that, we’d take him out for long walks around the park, at least 5-6 times a day. This is when he learnt to do all his natural business outside and never inside the house.

KC SchoolHis ‘after school’ time was spent playing, eating and sleeping. He was very, very mischievous. My younger son had this habit of leaving his socks in his shoes. KC would sneak into his room, pick up a sock in his mouth and dart under the bed and chew, chew and chew. It was a lesson for all of us never to leave socks around. He had enough toys to play with but his all-time favorite was to chew up plastic bottles.

There were dozens of street dogs in the neighborhood and that kept KC rather busy. None dared wander around our gate. KC would literally fly out of the house and chase the stray away. No encroachment into his territory. First time visitors were in for a rude shock watching those snarling teeth waiting for an opportunity to dig into something fleshy and those loud barks that thundered from the house. In due course he understood who was who and familiar friends were welcomed with a wag of his tail. But, his aggression never waned.

We ensured that his diet was never compromised on. Initially it was milk and milk and then we started him on cornflakes and oats, and at times a piece of mashed banana added to his breakfast. Gradually, and in small doses we got him to eat a rice broth of fresh vegetables, and some mutton soup. We avoided bones since his teeth were still sharp and delicate. Later, as he grew his dinner had lots of flesh and once in a while, a marrow bone to chew on.

KC’s training lasted for one and half years. He was now very strong, extremely athletic, very, very alert, highly obedient and very, very lovable. Whenever he was being discussed his ears would stand erect. He understood every word that was talked in the house.

But there’s just one thing he detested – having a bath!

Filed under: Ranting — Birbal at 12:35 am on Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Day KC Came Home!

KC Puppy

If memory serves me right, it was sometime towards end-November 2001 that KC was bundled out of my Maruti van. He was about the size of a roll of cotton.

We were in #349, 8th Block, Koramangala and just weeks before our Pomeranian, Poksy, had died due to a Vet’s negligence. We had only Bruno, the mongrel we’d picked up from Russell Market when we first came to Bangalore in the year 2000.

So, we were on the look out for a good breed and one fine day my older son called me to say there was this German Shepherd pup available and he’s just about a month old. “Buy him,” I said unable to conceal my excitement.

Half an hour later, KC came into our lives.

The Vet who gave us KC said he was 33-days old; which put him as being born somewhere around end-October, but no precise date was mentioned. We wanted to him to have a birth date and for want of any memorable day, we decided 12th December would be remembered, because that’s my wife’s birthday. A month or two this way that way wouldn’t classify as a criminal offence; I mean people fudge birth certificates by years just to be eligible for school admissions.

Anyway, now that we had a new addition to the family, firstly, we needed to make suitable living arrangements. Secondly, Bruno was a ferocious fellow and a bit jealous too. Therefore, KC couldn’t be kept outside. The decision was unanimous – KC would stay inside and with Poksy no more, Bruno would do night guard duty.

Most importantly, we needed to give him a name; something we could identify with. I wasn’t for names like ‘Tiger’, ‘Pebbles’, ‘Jackie’ – so boring and uninteresting. This fella must have something different. The wife came up with KC, an abbreviation of Koramangala.com.

That settled, the next question was, where will he sleep? He was really so small and just about crawling. We couldn’t just tuck him away somewhere. I got hold of a sturdy corrugated box, cut open one side, made a nice cardboard roof to keep the light out, but is some woolen rags and that became his room. We’d feed him milk from a plate and put him in the box. The warmth of his make-shift bed gave him a good many hours of sleep.

Those were the days when we had many flower and gift deliveries to execute for the orders we received on the website. When our housemaid was around, we’d leave him in her care. On other days, we’d carry him in the box in our van and take him along with us.

Winter went by and KC had outgrown the box. A bigger carton would have been ideal, but I had a better idea. Why not in the bedroom, on the bed? My wife wasn’t so sure; what if he peed in bed?

That’s another thing about KC which many don’t know. He did wet the bed on a few occasions. To have him housebreak, I’d take him for walks and get him used to the idea. In no time he was house-trained. When he had the urge, he’d whine to tell us he wanted to go out and ease himself. He never dirtied inside the house ever again.

As a pup KC’s hair was mostly black. But as he grew, the distinctive German Shepherd colours gradually started to appear, the pug-like, small nose face changed, the nose got longer and KC looked taller. He was almost 8 months old and needed lots of exercise, but importantly, he needed professional training.

I called Basavaraj, a police dog trainer, who was referred to me by the Vet.

Filed under: Ranting — Birbal at 11:25 pm on Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thank You for Your Comforting Words!

kc.jpg

“When the Music’s over, Turn out the Lights”

Condolence messages on KC’s death have been pouring in since Monday. We’ve had emails from US, London, calls from friends in the US, and emails and SMSes from lots of friends and even from people who never met or knew KC.

KC’s passing away hit us like a thunderbolt and while we are still trying to come to terms with reality, each of these messages have been a huge consolation and immensely comforting, with so many of you sharing our grief.

KC had lots of friends indeed.

However, some who regularly enquired, “How’s KC?” didn’t bother to offer one word of condolence. Perhaps they thought, ‘After all it’s just a dog’, so why bother?’

KC was laid to rest in our backyard and a ‘Green Memorial’ is work in progress. Hopefully, it should be done in the next 4-5 days. The Memorial will remind us of the love and affection, the joy KC gave us all these years. We will miss his physical presence but his memory will linger on for ever.

My new blog series, “Memorable Moments with KC” – a recollection of the joyous and happy moments, some unforgettable memories with our darling son, KC – will commence soon. I sincerely hope you will read these blogs.

Once again, thanks to all for sharing our grief.

Filed under: Ranting — Birbal at 3:46 am on Thursday, July 21, 2011

KC, You’ll Always Remain in our Hearts!

kc.jpg

“When the Music’s over, Turn out the Lights”

KC passed away on Saturday night at 10.30. He died of a cardiac arrest, just minutes after he’d come back from his late evening walk, and which would be his last.

I was in Mysore that night when I got the call. I checked out and drove back in the early hours of Sunday morning to find my KC wrapped up in a rug, sleeping in peace. I was heartbroken and tears swelled my eyes.

Under normal circumstances he’d be at the door, wagging his tail to express his joy at my having returned. I’d go to the bedroom to keep my bags and he’d jump onto the bed, lie fully stretched and unless I petted him for 3-4 minutes, he wouldn’t let go off me.

He had been unwell the last month or so. It all started with a severe attack of arthritis. Then he developed kidney infection and later he contracted tick fever, though he never had ticks. We made frequent trips to the Vet and each time he showed signs of recovery, he’d be down again.

He was in obvious pain throughout. He had become so weak that he hadn’t the energy to chase the monkeys from our back yard something he’d do with alarming speed. He was a good eater, but in that one month he hardly had any appetite. Somehow we’d coax him and most times hand feed him so that he got some food into his system. In no time he’d lost 6-8 kgs of weight.

But off-late there were signs of improvement. His appetite had improved. He ate a bit more food and on his own, and was keen to go on short walks.

The last visit to the Vet was on Wednesday the 13th. The doctor examined him and said that his health was showing remarkable improvement. Based on that reassurance, I left for Mysore on Friday morning for a 3-day trip.

On Saturday, he had eaten well through out the day and after his walk at about 10.15 pm, he sat in the kitchen in his customary position watching his mummy - my wife - make chapattis. Suddenly, his eyes began to bloat and his gaze fixed at her. My wife dropped what she was doing and rushed to him, “KC, what’s the matter? Why are you looking like that?” He raised his head one last time and collapsed.

KC’s favorite spot in our back yard, where he would always sit when we had our morning and evening tea was chosen as his final resting place.

At 10.30 - 12 hours after he died - he was laid to rest, in the presence of half-a-dozen of friends from the layout, who had their share of love and affection from KC.

KC gave us 10 years of joy and happiness and his passing away has plunged us into grief. He was family to us. He went through bouts of excruciating pain these few weeks and in one way, he’s out of that agony.

Tears are rolling down my eyes even as I write this. While it’ll take us a while to get over the loss, KC will always be in the hearts of his Mummy, Daddy, two Brothers, his Sister-in-Law, and his 2 and half-year old niece Sagarika, whom he was so very fond off.

Sleep in peace, my son!

Filed under: KC — Birbal at 10:56 pm on Sunday, July 17, 2011