My daughter lives in Washington DC near Capitol Hill. Close to her house is the Lincoln Park. This Park is frequented by the young and old in the neighborhood. The young come to jog and the senior and old walk with their dogs. It’s great to see how the dogs interact with each other, chase and jump around. But of course then there are snobs like Savannah
Savannah is a “she” dog and a hybrid of beagle and akita (the mountain dog). She is perpetually hungry. My daughter brought her from one of the dog shelters a few years ago and since then Savannah is a part of the family.
Savannah’s Graduation Day (her report card was not good)
I was visiting my daughter to be with our little 7 month old granddaughter. One of my duties was to take Savannah out in the morning and walk her to the Lincoln park.
Savannah is a difficult dog to take out for walk. She continuously looks for any rubbish in the grass especially poops of other dogs. I used to have a tough time walking her as she would simply halt all of a sudden with a stubborn look or zig zag on the side road looking for her “treasures”. Most of the time, I had to keep pulling her and sometimes even drag her. It was impossible to train Savanna to behave like other dogs I used to see in the Park. Each time the trainers had given up. But still Savannah has been the most favorite and adorable dog to us.
Savannah on the road to the Lincoln Park
One day, we were crossing over a two storied house on our way to Lincoln Park. Like many houses in that area, the house was more than 150 years old. There was an old woman at the gate. I could see that she was amused to see how Savannah was “torturing” me with her crazy behaviour. “Hey Good Morning”, she called out in a friendly tone. “You need some help Mr”. I stopped. I was a bit embarrassed and looked at her rather helplessly.
The mysterious house
“Why don’t you simply tell her to behave?” The old woman advised me. She sounded so easy.
“Oh, I wish I knew how to converse with dogs”, I said this in a lighter tone.
“In that case Mr, you got it” The old woman sounded like a magician or perhaps like a good witch with her untidy hair. She smiled, waved and went back inside her house.
I was just amused and once again started pulling and pushing Savannah towards Lincoln Park.
Savannah always decided where to go
We circled around the Park. As usual, Savannah, being a snob, was not interested in interacting with other dogs. I decided to go the Wine and Butter Café bang in front of the Park to have a hot chocolate.
Wine and Butter Cafe
The weather was good and there was sunshine. All tables were occupied except one where there was a woman sitting alone. She was working on a laptop and had put on headphones. Her dog, a bulldog, was squatting under the table. For a while, he reminded me of my Professor Friend. He had all the experience and the sarcasm on his face.
Buddy the bulldog
The woman saw me standing with a mug of hot chocolate and managing Savannah. She removed her headphones and invited me to take the chair next to her. “Come on in” she said warmly “And Buddy, please behave and don’t show off” The latter was said to Buddy the bulldog. And Buddy seemed to listen.
I think Savannah knew Buddy. Buddy seemed to be one of those senior dogs respected in the neighborhood. According to Bulldog Club of America the modern Bulldog is gentle, intelligent, affectionate, strong and determined dog, just like our Professor.
“Hi Buddy”, Savannah “spoke” (murmured) wagging her furry tail. I actually heard her. “Hi Savannah”, Buddy responded with a dry bark. I heard him “speak” too
The woman on the table put on the headphones. Once again, she was disconnected to the world of sound and voices. I thought this was the best time that I try conversing with Savannah and Buddy – just to test the supernatural power of dog conversation that the old woman blessed me.
“How is life to both of you?” I asked.
“Well, usual. Boring”. Said Buddy. He was brief. Savannah however had happy stories to tell, especially to Buddy. She talked about how life has been so wonderful after our little granddaughter joined the family. She spoke about my wife and described how she took extra care in giving her a bath. She also told Buddy that how I give her the morning breakfast on time at 530 am and open the back door to go to the rear garden to pee. Thank you so much Dr Modak, she ended her long conversation.
Buddy then asked me why I was there and how long will I be staying with my daughter. I realized that telling him that I travelled from Mumbai didn’t make a sense as Buddy’s knowledge was limited to 2 km zone around the Lincoln Park and nothing more. For a while, I thought that this must be good for him to stay happy and focused. Why bother about the national and global issues when we hardly have a control? Initially, I thought of explaining to Buddy the COP 27 but then decided to keep him happy.
I told Buddy why I was there and that I have to go back in the next two weeks.
“Why don’t you stay here forever?” asked Savannah. “I see you and your wife happy to be with your daughter’s family. Your daughter will take good care of you just the way she takes care of me. And I am sure you can find a job at the counter at the Trader Joes nearby. Buddy can help as many of his friends (dogs) are well connected and their masters live in big houses around the Park”
I loved Savannah’s innocent proposition. I thought it will be difficult to explain her the system of different countries, passport and visas, difficulty in getting medical insurance especially for old people like me and the long and impossible queues for a green card and US citizenship. I remembered the song “Imagine” by John Lennon and the lines “Imagine there’s no countries – It isn’t hard to do”. Of course we know its so hard to do!
Buddy didn’t say a word. May be he had an uncanny power to listen to the mind, just like my Professor Friend. He must have thought that there was no point discussing such things.
Buddy said that he has seen his master shop toys for his daughter to make her happy. He said you must have done the same for your daughter when she was a child. Now why don’t you do it again by spending more time here. She will be really happy. And don’t worry about the health related issues. Your little granddaughter is now a reason for you to live longer and stay healthy.
I thought his advice while not very practical, was as profound as the advice of my Professor friend. Both dogs seem to really care for me.
We three continued chatting for a while and I kept thinking about how I can visit US more frequently and beg my friends to get me some work in Washington DC. I decided to work on this possibility real hard and give my daughter a big surprise the next time I visit. Life is too short I mused to myself. I knew I was already missing my little granddaughter.
We decided to leave when the woman sitting on our table removed her headset and started packing her laptop.
“Bye Buddy”, both me and Savannah said almost at the same time.
On our way home, me and Savannah continued chatting. When I advised her to be a good dog, and that we love her even otherwise – she listened to me. “I will Dr Modak from now on”. This time she barked a bit loud showing her commitment.
We crossed again that old house. The old woman came to the gate as she saw us. She smiled when she saw Savannah walking with me like a good and disciplined dog.
“Great Mr, well done! I don’t think you now need the power of dog conversation”. I saw her wink.
Savannah whispered “Dr Modak, hold on. I must tell you more about this old woman, something uncanny that you won’t believe”
But as the old woman winked, I think that amazing power seemed to have disappeared – because what Savannah spoke next sounded just like her usual bark – something we never understood and will never understand.
Now don’t tell me that this is not a true story.
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