Rati Ram is my street dog friend. We met last year and for many months saw each other every morning. I wrote about him and our meetings for many weeks. Then, suddenly, I lost contact with Rati and wondered if he was dead or still alive.
Many months passed. To my joy, the other day, I noticed him, went close, and said hello. Rati is not exuberant like my earlier dog friend Kalu. He wagged his tail indicating that he was glad to see me again. But he did not jump at me and ask where I had disappeared. Knowing him, I too did not ask where he had been. We were together and that was good. We accepted the break in our meetings as a thing that happens in life. We traverse different routes and our paths sometimes do not cross. Now we are together and feel good about it.
Rati Ram began to appear regularly to walk a small distance alongside my friend K.T. and I. But he would stop at an invisible line. On our return from the newspaper stall he would often be gone, but occasionally still waiting. K.T. has been keeping dogs for years and is more familiar with dog behavior than I. He told me Rati Ram seems now to move within a narrower territorial boundary. This perhaps relates to his getting older and weaker. He is wisely avoiding conflict with younger, stronger, and more assertive dogs.
K.T. felt that perhaps Rati Ram would like me to give him some food. So I began every morning to buy a bun from a bakery and feed it to him slowly by hand. He liked the gesture and began accepting the offering with grace and love. I noticed that he receiving the food from my hand with perfect dignity and great care.
Now he takes each morsel from my hand taking care that his teeth would not touch my finger and accidentally hurt me. He is also careful not to wet my hand with his lips or tongue. I also notice that he relishes homemade bread or Roti more than buns.
For some time out meetings were irregular because Rati was not in his usual place. Now I find him in one specific spot outside a little meditation center waiting for my arrival with healthy whole wheat bread.
I am often amazed to notice how intelligent Rati Ram is. He makes it clear that he likes and appreciates my gift of food every morning. But he does not think of it as something extraordinary. He seems to take the whole thing naturally. We are friends and visiting each other. He is hungry and has to wait till someone comes along to feed him. I have access to food and I give him some. This is the law. Food is for the hungry and the two aught to meet when they are near. And that is what is happening.
Rati Ram knows we are friends. He wags his tail to show happiness when he sees me. He accepts food from my hand. He walks short distance with me often. But he never indicates a desire for to be taken to my home and adopted.
May 8, 2010