Friday, November 18, 2022

The Life and Love of Akela

 Akela has one true love - this big, serious-looking, mature dog called Shiva (I think). Shiva lives in the new apartment block that's being made close to our house. He is the alpha in the colony, the one who acts like the head man, surveying all he sees, trotting out every now and then to check on his kingdom. Brown, majestic and dignified, there's no reason why Akela should not fall in love with him.

That's the direction where Shiva lives

Akela completely goes nuts when she sees Shiva - a strange transformation happens to her. Joy descends on her and she forgets all else (including the hand that feeds her) and she runs off like a teenager who has got access to her mobile phone. The way she prances after Shiva and the way those two walk off - he all serious like Amitabh and she all fun and playful like Jaya Bhadhuri (pre-Sholay days). It irritates the hell out of me to see her run after Shiva like that - completely giving herself to him. I suspect Shiva was the one who took advantage of her and made this young lass pregnant last time (and tried many other times too before we got her spayed). Anyway, they like their strolls and their little dalliances every now and then when the fellow comes out of his lair and their times coincide.

But there's a catch.

Shiva has a primary girl friend. A dog that's as big as Shiva (they are twice the size of Akela who is pretty small). This one has white fur, is big and matches Shiva in size and style, manner and lineage perhaps, and often they come to survey their kingdom together. And that's when the jealous lover in Akela wakes up and she is in so much pain - whining away, running at the gate and making almost human sounds of pain - emotional pain. Shiva consciously and smartly avoids engaging with Akela during these walks because he does not want to upset his queen and that upsets Akela some more.

Sometimes she cannot control herself and despite her small size attacks them out of plain jealousy. The white queen has attacked Akela savagely many times - their battles are epic in the colony - this small dog fighting a dog twice its size and not backing off. Every one thinks Akela must be nuts to fight that big dog but what they do not know is the reason for it - her true love. The fights are so bad that people gather to watch and find it difficult to separate. Cuts, bruises, blood are all par for course for Akela and she just comes away licking her wounds and looking past us to see where her lover and his queen have gone. The pain in her eyes much more than these bleeding wounds.

And what's worse is that Shiva joins in attacking Akela with the Queen. That I find is the unkindest cut of all. I wonder why Akela puts up with that fellow - ok let her attack me but why are you attacking me, I would think. But no, the next time he comes sauntering by she wags her tail and forgets all of us and his attack and runs off happily with him. Those few moments with him are pure bliss for her.

These days the fights have reduced in frequency and intensity. I can see that the white Queen is carrying some sort of a wound on her leg and is limping. She is not as aggressive as before.

And that perhaps made Akela more aggressive. She is picking fights more often and I can see the white Queen actually ignoring Akela and moving on despite provocations.

Until yesterday.

Something in Akela's jealous heart seems to have triggered a huge fight. Normally most fights are near our house where she feels safer and attacks them - prompting a backlash. But this fight happened some distance away which can only mean that Akela went after them.

Again - epic it must have been.

I was stepping out for a walk when I heard sounds of a vicious battle. A bunch of fellows were trying to split the dogs. The two big dogs attacked Akela. It came out of the melee and as the two dogs were trotting off, turned again and chased them. The person who was breaking up the fight had a tough time keeping Akela off. Then she came trotting back. Something in the way she was feeling her mouth made me suspect she injured her mouth. 

Meanwhile Anjali heard the sound of the fight and came out. She is so tuned in to Akela and many a time she had stood in between Akela and these bog dogs and fought them off. Anjali does a good job of nursing Akela who seemed fine except for whatever was on her mouth so I went on my way.

In ten minutes I get a call from Anjali. 'Her tooth has come out with the root and is hanging from her upper jaw,' she said. 'We have to take her to the vet.' I rushed back home. Akela looked wounded, not from the physical wounds but her emotional ones. 

'She does not whine despite so much pain,' observed Anjali. I nodded. The only time she whines is when she sees them together. Then it is difficult to pacify her. 

The injuries were bad. Akela looked on stoically, shivering like a feather in pain and fear but not whining a bit. At the vet she was pretty much the same - shivering but not whining. Her eyes, terrified, at the vet clinic. 'She has high fever,' said the doctor. 'I cannot sedate her to see what is wrong with her. She may need surgery.' He was going out of town so he referred us to another doctor. He stuck her tooth back in and put a bandage that shut her mouth.

Three visits,  X rays, medicines etc and it now seems that it might heal by itself - collar and muzzle required though for a week. Akela looks a sad sight with his collar and muscle. But she will suffer willingly. Quietly.

After all its for her love. Have not seen such madness but yes, if one has to love, one must love like Akela I feel. With all its heart.

I have a new respect for her.        

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