My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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23 March 2005

Heavy Petting

Never again complain that my posts are few and far between. This is the third daily post I have put up, and as you can probably tell--I have a lot of free time on my hands! (Not really, it's just that these days I've been waking up earlier than I normally do, which gives me some time in the mornings).

Today, I want to talk about my dog. Her name is Cookie, short for Cookie Monster (I used to be a huge Sesame Street fan). But she's not blue. She's golden actually--cookie coloured with floppy ears and eyes that beseech you to love her and want her and give her some food. She always looks like she's starving. I'm serious, the cocker spaniel blood in her has given her the most melting eyes you could possibly imagine. (Spaniels and labradors, people. Never trust their eyes).

Cookie is a one-family dog. She hates strangers, especially strangers who look like they're scared of dogs. Them she has a little party with, barking her head off and making mock-nips at their ankles. And of course, she never listens to me. (But then no-one does. I bet if I have kids I'm going to be the kind of mom who will hover over them hopelessly, going, "Please do your homework? Please? Mommy needs her vodka, now!") She will listen to my mom though. (Again, everyone listens to my mom. Even the hopeless internet guys who think it's fun to fuck with me and cut off my internet connection for days on end. Everyone that is, except me!)

Cookie actually started out as my dog. We got her when I just returned from boarding school--in class 11, and a colleague of my mother's happened to mention that his spaniel had just had puppies. They also had a mean tempered mongrel, who had sired the kids, but said my mom's colleagues, the puppies had all thankfully taken after their mother. Cookie was the runt of the litter, the littlest one, so their family had kept her for a couple more weeks till after all the rest were taken. And, my mother's colleague was a little afraid that his family was getting attached to her and he sure as hell didn't want three dogs in his house.

The summer prior to that, Doogie, my lovely mongrel with a labrador face had died. She was constantly out and about, having much sex and getting pregnant--so fast, that each time we took her to be spayed the vet said it was too late, because she was already "with puppy". She died of toxemia, very suddenly one summer and I had made up my mind that I didn't ever want another dog. "Just go have a look at this one," my mother said gently, "We need another dog, it'll be fun." So I went, with my dad and Leela, just to have a look, mind you, nothing else, because no other dog could ever replace Doogie. And then while we sat in the living room, I hardened my heart when in trotted a powder-puff on legs. I cannot explain to you how adorable she was. Her fur was incredibly, heart-meltingly soft, it dissolved under your fingertips. And her little mouth opened in the most perfect yawn--her tiny salmon tongue curling for just a second. Hard heart be damned, I thought and picked her up and she licked my knee.

We took her home, amidst tearful goodbyes from her family and danced attendance around her. I wanted to call her Biscuit, I remember, but the name was shot down and so Cookie it was. I remember she refused to eat for the first week, even the Cerelac that I painstakingly prepared. And at night, she'd sleep in a box next to my bed and I often woke up around three am, to hear her whining and lift her into bed with me. (My mother wasn't too happy about that, because many mornings there's be a little puddle on the mattress). I even gave her middle-of-the-night feeds and not be able to function the next day, because I had stayed up for so long.

Before long, we realised she had quite a feisty spirit. Attempts to cuddle her for too long would lead to violent pupy-snarls and nips, which really hurt much more than you'd expect because they have these little-little needle like teeth which nip into the tenderest areas of your body. Your toes for instance. We'd be sitting, watching television, and then without warning the Attack Puppy with Super Teeth would latch herself onto your big toe. Not a pretty sight. She was also teething, so all shoes had to be kept well out of reach or relinquished to her domain.

I guess it was when we moved that she really became my mother's dog. I loved her and all, but the hand that feeds and not the hand that plays is the one that most dogs are loyal to. She looks upon me as a rather annoying sibling, if my mother and I are fighting, she gets most upset and starts jumping at me, snapping and going, "Shut yo mouth before I bitch-slap you!" Nowadays, the one person above all that she loves is our driver/cook and she will say hello to him before she deigns to talk to us.

I've always had a dog, I can't remember one point in my life where I had no pets. There was Bobo, my alsation in Trivandrum, a cat called Catso we had in Nizamuddin along with a beautiful pure-bred spaniel who died as a puppy of silent rabies. (We all had to get shots, even my friends who couldn't resist Puppy's charms).I even had a couple of rabbits, a parakeet who would whistle back if you whistled at him, a kitten called Charlie in my dad's government house in Gaya (who died of pnuemonia, but he was the sweetest. I remember waking up before everyone else and sitting in the living room and then suddenly hearing, "Rrrr-rrr-rrr" as he delicately stalked me from the sofa to crawl into my lap). I even had a baby squirrel once. And then Doogie. And now Cookie.

When I am able to have a big house with a garden and plenty of space, I will have many dogs. And many cats. And a donkey, called Gerda.


  1. Alright Viggy, you got first. Don't fuck it up this time...

    I used to have a dog. A huge freaking german shepherd. I have a picture of me sitting on it (when I was very young, of course) like Im riding a horse. My mom tells me I cried a whole lot after he died, but I can't remember.

    Dogs can sense fear in me. Even little bitty ones, they detect the fear and lunge for the jugular. As you can see, not a very dog person.

    And hope there is some room left over for people in that house of yours... ;)

  2. My family and other animals! or is it birds, beasts and relatives :-)

  3. hmm.. my didi has a black lab called Cookie and two german shepherds in her farm house, Laila and Nawab.. and you are right about the labs eyes..
    I always wanted a St Bernard.. maybe someday i'll be able to adopt one too..

  4. eM, you're like a regular Dr Dolittle! My father and my sister are both vets so we always had an endless parade of pets. My favorite was Elmo (he came with that name). Elmo used to let out exactly 2 barks when any of us would try to sneak in the house after curfew. It was like he knew we were 10 minutes late and he just wanted to mess with us. His bark would trigger my dad to get up to use the bathroom just as we tried to sneak up to our room. In the end, Elmo had an endless list of ailments including cateracts. The poor thing had no depth perception and would run into walls on a regular basis.

  5. Vignesh: Why are you scared of dogs if you rode one when you were a kid?

    Motheater: It's both actually! Gerald Durrell would be the man I would marry if he was still alive :)

    Invictus: St Bernard's just aren't suited to our climate. I know a few people who own them, and those poor animals are miserable unless you run the A/C all the time.

    Elf/RR: Are you kidding? I think the doggie love is the best part! :)

    Mint: A dog that knows when you break curfew? Now, that's pretty cool! Though Cookie now knows my car locking system and comes to the door whenever she hears it.

  6. Vignesh, dogs are very perceptive of fear. My wife is really scared of dogs. She used to go walking in the mornings and would regularly end up getting chased by dogs. Now, nobody, I mean NOBODY, messes with my wife. So I went walking with her a couple of occasions and the dogs were better behaved than a classroom full of kids being taught by the cruel, scritch headmistress. Dogs can sniff out fear. Sometimes, just to test people, they bark at them and observe their reactions. If you cower or change direction, you are in for rough treatment.

    That was a long treatise on dog psychology. I LOVE dogs. One of these days I am going to have a Golden retriever or a Labrador, who I will name Laddoo.

    eM: Gerald Durrell, huh? I love his books. He has the subtle humour which is really becoming. And I used to pamper my dog no end -- it used to sleep with me, wake me up in the night when it was hungry, wake me up in the morning when it needed to go. In the end it got mauled by strays and died at a ripe age of 12.

    Mint C: maybe your dog wanted to break the curfew with you.

  7. Well.. as a child... I didn't care much.. now... its not like Im scared to death and won't walk into a room... its just that.. a barking dog makes we wary...

    Anurag, yeah, what you say makes sense. But having to walk through an area where one encounters about 25 dogs on the way back home, mostly rabid, one tends to start having thoughts of getting that air rifle one used to own...

  8. Oh eM,

    I so loved your posts on pets - we are slaves to our cocker spaniel - Pappa.

    Thanks for these lovely posts.


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