Friday, August 28, 2009

How to Play Tug of War with your Dog





There is no better stress buster, health tonic and joyful activity than playing with your dog.

Here are a few games I play with my pet girl Sherry. [Her mother is pure Doberman and father the Caravan Hound, who prowled next door]

Sherry is not a cute cuddly indoor lapdog, nor is she merely an excitable watch dog who only barks at intruders – she is a superb guard dog, strong, fast, active and ferocious, ready to attack in order to protect what she considers her territory, which includes our house and family, especially her Master – woe betide anyone who comes menacingly to close to me for her comfort, particularly approaching joggers, cyclists et al.

Whenever Sherry wants to play, she invites me to play by adopting the “playful pose” – her front legs lowered, her butt raised up in the air, her tail high up in the air wagging friendly, her eyes looking upwards invitingly into mine, her ears up alerts and her mouth is open in a "grin".

Normally I respond immediately, but sometimes if I am preoccupied and inadvertently do not notice her, Sherry will some near me, raise her paws, giving cyclic shake hands, beckon me with friendly entreating sounds, and if even that doesn’t work, she will run and get her ball [to play “fetch-the-ball], her toy bone [for the “ bone game”] or just run round and round at top speed in our garden [for the chase game] – now all these are vigorous outdoor games.

Indoors, our favourite game is “tug of war”, for it too is a spirited, energetic, rough and tough game; robust mental and physical exercise both for Sherry and me.

After a long hiatus, it is raining incessantly out here in Girinagar, so we’ve had to call off our evening walk up the hills, and Sherry is getting restless, so I suddenly command: “Pusa…Pusa…Gheun Ye…” [Now, Sherry is a Maharashtrian Doberman, and in Marathi, Pusa… Pusa means “wipe… wipe” and refers to her towel…when Sherry was a baby I would give her a bath and then say Pusa…Pusa while wiping her vigorously with her Turkish towel so she associates Pusa…Pusa with a towel or any such cloth].

Sherry rushes off delightfully and brings her towel in her mouth and offers it to me to start the tug-of-war game. A thick Turkish towel is the best tug of war toy – it is sturdy yet soft, good for her teeth and easy for me to hold, and even when the going gets rough, Sherry loves the vigorous feel of the towel rubbing against her neck, head and body.

It is a rough and tough game of strength and skill – you just don’t pull – actually it is not a tug of war, but rather a jiggle, wiggle, waggle, jerk, squirm, twist and turn, and shake of war so I do all sorts of manoeuvres, shaking, teasing, loosening and improvising; in fact Sherry thinks up numerous ways to win this tug of war.

We play in a large area without distractions, clutter or dangerous objects. Outdoors is great, but the beauty of tug of war is that it can be safely played indoors if you have a bit of space. Make sure there is room for you both to move about and that there is nothing in the way should one of you back up.

As the game of tug of war hot up, Sherry [and me too] gets highly excited, wags her tail briskly and mock growls, so I rub against her and say in her ear…baba la gurr…baba la gurr – dogs love body contact and speaking in their ears.

With experience I learnt tricks of the trade – you cannot always win by pulling alone – it is like flying kites – you have to give dheel sometimes followed by a jhatka – and then jittery shakes – the possibilities are endless.

Conventional wisdom says that the “owner” must win all the time to assert his dominance in the “pack”. But I let Sherry win sometimes. I don’t need to “establish” my place in the “hierarchy” – do you need to establish your place in the hierarchy with your daughter, or son, or wife?

A tough dog needs to bite. Biting is in a dog’s natural instinct and temperament and it is one of the best natural ways for dogs to release pent up stress and energy. It is better Sherry happily releases her pent up stress and energy on the inanimate tug of war towel than some hapless animate object, isn’t it?

Also I don’t want my Sherry to be a sissy – she must be her natural aggressive self – after all she is a top quality guard dog and I must not curb too much her natural preying instincts. That is why I simulate quite an energetic tug of war game with a lot of growling, grunting and shaking on both sides.

If things get too rough, or I am tired and want to end the game, I just softly say: “Drop it” and Sherry lets go of the towel and then I give her a tit-bit.

I love playing tug-of-war with Sherry – it is a mentally and physically stimulating game for Sherry and me and is a great form of aerobic exercise too. And it is so much fun – playing tug of war with Sherry is a most enjoyable and satisfying pastime.

Tug of War is a rough game so only I [or my son who is also a tough guy]play tug of war with Sherry – I never allow small kids near Sherry, let alone let them play tug of war with her.

As I write this on my laptop, Sherry is calling me to play tug of war, enticing me with her Pusa…Pusa towel in her mouth rubbing against my thigh, so here I go to play a vigorous bout of tug of war with Sherry.

Play a lot with your dog.

You dog will be happy and healthy - and you too!

Bow Wow!


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time to Move On in Life




Here is an apocryphal funny teaching story I heard somewhere.

Dear Reader, please read it slowly, then have a good laugh, carry the story with you and let it perambulate in your mind, and suddenly you will understand its true meaning and feel enlightened.

A distinguished man bought a lovely bungalow at a scenic place in a nearby hill-station.

From time to time he would take a break from his work and escape from the hectic life of the city and go to his bungalow in the hills to enjoy relaxed solitude.

He would always tell everyone that he was going away for a month but invariably he used to always return much earlier - sometimes within ten days and sometimes even earlier - within a week itself.

When asked the reason for his erratic behaviour, the distinguished man explained:

"I have kept a caretaker woman there to look after my house in the hills. She is very ugly, probably the ugliest and most repugnant woman in the world – she looks absolutely hideous and is so terribly revolting that just one look at her and you will feel like vomiting.

Whenever I go to live there, at first the ugly woman looks terribly repulsive and dreadfully ghastly.

But slowly, after three, four days, she doesn’t seem so horrible.

Then, as time passes, maybe after six, seven days, I start seeing some beauty in her.

The day I start seeing beauty in her is the day I flee from the hill-station and come back to the city – because that means enough is enough – I have lived away from the world too long - now even this utterly ugly and horrible woman has started looking beautiful – I may even fall in love with this horrendous woman – that is dangerous warning signal and I know that it is time to move on. So I pack up my bags and rush back to the city."

Please tell me, Dear Reader, what is the moral of this story?


Saturday, August 15, 2009



[Short Fiction - An Inspirational Story]



“How was your day?” she asks.

“Terrible,” he says.


“Everything is rotten out here! This country is going to the dogs because of this bloody corruption! They must do something about it.”

“They? What they? Who is this ‘they’?”

“I don’t know. And I don’t care, because I am getting out of here once and for all.”

“Sanjiv, come on, how can you be so sure things are better out there? At least here, in our country, we are treated properly.”

“Treated properly? My foot! Only the corrupt and powerful, the rich and wealthy, are having a ball. If you’re honest, life is hell. They treat you like dirt. But one thing is sure. Once I’m an NRI, I’ll be treated better. Look at way they pamper these NRI chaps – the top jobs, the dough, the recognition, the honors – it’s pathetic, the way we put them on a pedestal - they enjoy best of both worlds and we even bestow them with all sorts of accolades and awards!”

“What rubbish! They must have done something for the country.”

“Oh, yeah! Sure. But which country? All they’ve done is make money for the company they work for over there, earned glory for themselves. But what have they done for India ?”

“Come on, don’t be so bitter. Just forget all this Sanjiv and think positively; you’ve got a chance to stay here and do something, haven’t you? Sanjiv. Don’t go. Please!”

“Don’t go? Please? Come on, Nalini. What’s wrong with you? Why the hell should I stay here?”

“The IAS is the best thing in the world.”

“Oh yeah! Tell me. What’s so great about rotting away in some back of the beyond town like Jhumri Talaiya, or Beed, or Marwar Mundwa, which you only hear about on Vividh Bharati?”

“Come off it, it’s not all that bad.”

“And the bloody groveling and kowtowing the powers that be all your life?”

“The pay, the perks…”

“Pay, Perks? What are you talking about? I’ve told you about the mind-boggling amount I’m going to get out there, haven’t I?

“So it’s Seattle, not Mussoorie?”

“Yes. It’s final. I’ve nothing left here now.”

“Nothing?” tears start to well up in her eyes.

He puts his arms around her and says, “Please Nalini… don’t make it difficult for me.”

“I’m thirsty. Come, let’s have some chilled milk.”

Hand in hand, the man and the woman cross Marine Drive , and amble to the Jai Jawan stall, and order some chilled milk.

Suddenly a cop arrives, bangs his lathi on the counter and shouts rudely at the old man inside the stall, “Abe Saale, Hafta kyon nahi deta?”

“I am a war veteran disabled soldier,” the jawan says proudly stamping his crutch on the ground in anger.

“So what? Just pay up, you one-legged cripple, or I’ll shove that crutch up your…”

Something suddenly snaps inside Sanjiv and he is filled with rage. He suddenly turns, catches the cop’s collar, shoves him roughly, and shouts, “Just get out…”

The stunned cop slowly recovers, talks on his cell phone, and within seconds a police jeep appears and they are all whisked away to the police station.

“Saale,” the inspector says menacingly, “assaulting a policeman on duty…”

“Sir,” a constable interrupts, “this was in his pocket.” He hands a paper to the inspector.

The inspector reads it, looks at Sanjiv, and goes inside to his superior’s office. They discuss and reach a conclusion: No point taking punga with IAS types – even if he is just going to be a probationer.

“You are going to be IAS. You shouldn’t do these things,” the inspector says politely to Sanjiv, undergoing a total metamorphosis in his demeanor and sends his jeep to drop them back at the Jai Jawan Stall on Marine Drive .

“Thank you, saab. We need young people like you to sort things out,” the soldier at the Jai Jawan says gratefully, as they sip the deliciously soothing chilled milk.

“Hey, let’s watch sunset,” Nalini says.

They cross Marine Drive , run to the parapet and watch the breathtakingly beautiful spectacle as the tranquil blue sea begins to swallow the orange ball and the crimson rays dancing in the sky slowly dissolve into twilight.

“Your last sunset in India, isn’t it?” she says, tears in her eyes.

He takes her in his arms, and they kiss, slow and prolonged, as if it were there first and last kiss.

And when it is finally over, he looks into her eyes and says, “Nalini, I’m not going. I’ve decided to stay. Join the IAS.”

“Really? Why? What happened…?” Nalini exults in incredulous delight.

Sanjiv does not answer. He looks into Nalini’s eyes, then he tenderly puts his arm around her and together they watch the awesome metamorphosis at sunset.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.