Devil came to us when he was all of one month old. Diva was already 12 by then, and was suffering from cancer. The boys who happened to be home for their summer vacations, insisted that we get another pet – it had to be a German Shepherd so that there would be no vacuum once Diva passed away. Ashray made it known, that this time around, he would be the master and not his dad. Although we knew that Ashray would be home from boarding school only during vacations, we agreed. In hindsight, it was perhaps not the wisest of decisions, but since it had been agreed upon, we let it be.
The day Devil came home
I vividly remember the day when Devil joined us; a small ball of fur, curled into Ashray’s arms, with eyes that could barely open. It had been 12 years since we had welcomed a baby so small into our family and instantly fell in love with him. Within the first week we could make out that he was quite a handful, always up to mischief, and so it didn’t take much effort or thought to come up with a suitable name for him – Devil! Ashray, of course, ensured Devil was with him at all times; on the bed and off the bed, 24/ 7. Devil dutifully followed his master all over the house, the lawns and even to the washroom.
Diva refused to allow Devil to encroach on her territory
But it was when Devil entered our bedroom that there was trouble. Our bedroom was Diva’s domain; she ruled there. And Devil being Devil, he would aim straight for Diva who would be lying quietly, jump all over her and then onto the bed – my husband’s side of the bed! Diva would get enraged, charge at Devil and seeing him in danger, Ashray would scoop him up, out of harm’s way, and glare at Diva. Diva would glare straight back, snarl at both of them and growl that threatening low growl of hers, and continue doing so, till such time both Ashray and Devil left the room.
A week went by, but Diva refused to allow Devil into her domain and it appeared as though the family was splitting into two camps with neither side budging. Ashray was distraught at what he felt was a step motherly treatment being meted out to Devil while Diva viewed Devil as an intruder into her family. Matters came to a head when one day Devil ran to Diva’s bed and relieved himself all over it!
Devil found himself another master, only to disown him later
A month later, when it was time for the boys to go back to boarding school, Ashray made us promise that we would allow no harm to befall Devil while he was gone. We tried our best to keep Diva and Devil away from each other but it was easier said than done. And then, Diva passed away two months later.
With Diva out of the way, Devil immediately took on my husband as his master, which came as a pleasant surprise. But our surprise was short lived; come October, the boys were back home for the diwali break and as soon as Devil smelt Ashray, he immediately disowned my husband.
Devil was fiercely protective about the boys
Devil perhaps understood the close bond the two brothers shared and never once barked at Armaan; he shared their bed and slept between the two brothers. He was very comfortable with Armaan being constantly around Ashray, but with us, it was a different story altogether. My husband and I could never hug Ashray or go anywhere near him, in Devil’s presence. We had to be very cautious when sitting down for dinner together and in the mornings were scared to enter the boys’ bedroom as he would start barking ferociously the moment he heard footsteps outside their bedroom door.
Strangely enough, once the boys left again for boarding school, Devil was back, at my husband’s beck and call, as though all was normal. This blow hot, blow cold treatment continued for many years, although as time went by, it seemed Devil had started accepting us in Ashray’s presence.
So, who did Devil bite and why?
It so happened, that one summer, the boys had come home after a long gap of almost six months; by now they were in college. As usual, Devil would sleep with them, or rather between them, bum to bum, head to head. One Sunday morning, when my husband woke up, he went straight to the boys’ room, sat on the bed and ruffled Ashray’s hair. In a trice, Devil charged at my husband and attacked him, not once, not twice, but three times on his abdomen! I sensed that something was wrong when I heard Devil’s loud growls and ran to see what had happened.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the sight that awaited me.
My husband’s clothes were blood soaked, Armaan was standing as a barrier between his father and Devil, who in turn was being restrained by Ashray. It had all happened in such a jiffy that neither of the boys had sufficient time or warning to prevent the attack.
Everyone was stunned into silence! Without a word, my husband got up and went straight to the washroom to clean up. He refused to take any anti-rabies injections saying Devil had been regularly vaccinated and applied a local dressing instead. Ashray had by then given Devil a couple of whacks, and he now yelped and slunk away to a far-off corner. The boys spoke in hushed whispers and decided that if Devil could attack their father, even after he had grown up with us for five years, then it was not safe to keep him with us.
Devil is family
When my husband heard their plans, he just said one line, “Devil is not going anywhere, he is family.”
It has been seven years since that incident and Devil is now used to the fact that the boys don’t reside with us permanently. When they are away, he is constantly by my husband’s side and loves cuddling up with him on his bed at night. However, whenever either of them comes home, Devil immediately shifts into the boys’ room. He is still very protective of Ashray and we are careful to maintain our distance, as a mark of respect for the special relationship the two share. In lighter moments we tease Ashray saying that Devil has exacted revenge for Diva having bitten him!
Devil is now more than 12 and a half years old and for the past year has been suffering from arthritis. Ashray has been making it a point to come home every second month, so that Devil can meet him; he is convinced and so are we, that with every visit, Devil’s life span receives a boost.
The pandemic has been a boon
One positive impact of the pandemic is that Ashray is on work from home status and so for the past three months, Devil is united with his master. He follows Ashray’s every move with his limpid eyes and calls out to him whenever he finds it difficult to stand up. More than medicines, it is Ashray’s presence that has helped Devil regain strength in his legs.
This is the second part of this article. The first part can be read here.