The one that has been causing me a lot of grief lately is a certain impulsivity. I’m not impulsive in little things like food or money.
I keep a good budget and can get in and out of the store with only the items on my list.
But there’s another kind of impulsiveness, or maybe it’s illogic. It’s the kind where you decide on something, then put on blinders and go about doggedly pursuing what everyone else around you can see is a really, really bad idea.
I excel at that kind.
My latest one is this dog I brought back from India.
Let me rephrase that. I brought two dogs back from India. Four-month-old brothers, rescued from a New Delhi garbage dump with a story to break your heart.
Since I already have a dog, I planned to foster them both until I found them homes.
Zorro immediately found a home with a nice family by the river. Yogi is still with me.
At first he seemed calm, but that didn’t last. He’s stubborn. He’ll listen when he wants to, which, fortunately, is more often these days.
He’s smart, as you might expect from a line of dogs that have lived wild for generations in India’s crowded cities.
They’re known as Desi dogs, and are believed to be descended from the original domesticated dogs in Asia.
Dogs were my first impression of India. When I landed in Kolkata in the early morning of a sultry monsoon, the city seemed overtaken by dogs. As my taxi drove through the dark, damp streets, dogs ran singly or in packs, scavenging through piles of garbage, sleeping in the awnings of stores.
And, thus, was born my first photography project of my six months in India: photographing India’s street dogs.
One of the good things about foolish decisions is the hindsight that comes with it.
Now I can look back and ask myself what was I thinking?
Just at a time when I’m simplifying and bringing my life to a calmer, more centered place, why would I bring a half-wild Indian street dog into it?
Why couldn’t I have been satisfied with photographs?
I don’t know. Maybe I wanted to do something for the country that showed me so much warmth and hospitality. Maybe I was just impulsive.
My other dog, Radar, is a sweet, even-tempered, obedient mutt that my son got a few years ago in San Diego. I thought Yogi would follow her example, learn from her, but he had other ideas.
For instance, one morning at 3:30 a.m. I got up to take Yogi outside to do his business. He just sat and stared at the moon. I took him back inside and he immediately squatted on the floor and started to pee. You can fill in the expletives here yourself.
I grabbed the leash to haul him back outside, but before I could get it on, he bolted.
A few minutes later I heard the neighbors’ dogs baying and I knew Yogi was racing around their pen, stirring them up. I ran after him.
My backyard is juniper, scrub oak and lots of rocks. I have more scratches and bruises on my legs than I’ve had since I was 10.
I’ve now alienated my neighbors. The last time I chased him down there, my neighbor threatened to shoot him. I suppose I can understand his frustration.
And just as we humans have a propensity for attracting into our lives the very thing we say we’d like to avoid, so does Yogi.
After a plane ride from New Delhi to Dallas to Reno in a crate, he’s traumatized by small spaces. He seems to have a knack for locking himself in the bathroom. Short of installing dead bolts, I’m not sure how to keep him out.
I’m also not sure how he manages to get in, but I suspect the cats, who have a collective mean streak, are helping him out. Regardless, several times a week I’ll suddenly hear anguished howls and have to go release Yogi from where he sits quivering, the room as torn apart as a cubicle made of tile and porcelain can get.
I realized I’d never find a home for him without some basic obedience, so I’ve been working with him regularly and now my life revolves around Yogi. Even my reading habits have changed. Caesar the Dog Whisperer has replaced Henry Miller on my bedside table.
Caesar says puppies need a lot of exercise; so two to three times a day I take him out for a run.
To my consternation, this includes early mornings. I have nothing against mornings, but I think they are best spent with a cup of coffee watching the clouds change colors.
Now, by 7 a.m., the dogs are in the pickup truck and we’re headed for back roads so Yogi can race through the mountains.
The plus side is he’s learning.
He’s now housebroken. He’ll sit when told and he’s getting better about coming when called. But he still likes to roam, and my neighbors are still angry.
While part of me hates to let him go, my working hours just don’t leave me the necessary time to train a dog properly, and he’s young enough that he’ll have no trouble bonding with the right person.
He’s sweet, eager to please, but high energy. He gets along well with cats, other dogs and children, although he does need a fenced yard or room to run without neighbors to bother.
I like to look for meanings below the layers and this past week have spent a lot of time thinking about what I have to learn from an Indian dog named Yogi. Maybe it’s as simple as understanding when to hold on, when to let go--another character trait I’ve struggled with.
So this week Yogi is featured as pet of the week. Takers? Check out Pet of the Week and give me a call.
If you’re curious about India’s Desi dogs, you might want to check out the Youtube video: youtu.be/qwoe91Aofrs.
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