Byra, the keeper

The way he dived to catch the ball with his mouth was nothing short of an IPL show.

As the popular saying goes, we cannot choose our relatives because God has already given them, but, we can always choose our friends. And man rightly chose, among other good pals, the canine pet as his trusted friend. But this chum cannot express his love by greeting you on your birthday with a thoughtful gift and make you understand his feelings for you by such acts of love. 

At the most, he can step up the frequency of the oscillation of his tail the moment he sees you, which indeed is more than the expression of choicest words right from the heart. This is the mysterious chemistry of genuine unspoken love nature has gifted to emotionally bind two different species.

A few days back, a heartening report appeared in this paper about a fearless woman fighting off a 16-foot Burmese python in the Sai Kung West Country Park, Hong Kong, after it had attacked her two-year-old dog by coiling itself around the canine’s body, neck and head. Risking her own life, she repeatedly punched the monster’s head with her fist and later, pulling out her husband’s pocket knife from his backpack, stabbed the reptile several times till it released her pet and slithered away. This stunning instance speaks volumes for itself about the power of love between man and his pet.

I had the good fortune of growing up with pet dogs of various pedigrees all through my life that were like extended members of our family, playing and indulging in several adventurous outings with them. It has always fascinated me  that this particular species of pets bear a striking similarity to human responses and feelings, which they are capable of expressing through their appropriate body language. Probably, things would have been different had nature given them the gift of speech.

As a youngster, I enjoyed playing cricket with fellow children of the locality in the nearby field and Byra, our young German shepherd, invariably accompanied me and watched the game keenly and with great relish. Whenever the ball was hit for a six, he would stand on his hind legs and pirouette like a ballet-dancer while others clapped. Once it so happened that our regular wicket keeper Subbu fell ill and not many were eager to take that position where upon we entrusted that task to Byra, who readily jumped and took position. The way he dived and moved swiftly to catch the ball with his mouth (we played with tennis balls then) was nothing short of what we see in today’s IPL matches.

After a few days, when Subbu returned to take his position as wicket keeper, poor Byra had to vacate the post. I can never forget Byra’s sullen expression of protest against the injustice meted out to him as he sat quietly watching the game. Deeply touched by the sight of the sad-eyed Byra, we decided to include him as one of the slip fielders, which opportunity he gleefully grabbed with the fastest-ever swings of his tail.

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