City Life – The Curious Case of Kaloo
The darling of Jor Bagh.
[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; pictures by Marina Bang and Mayank Austen Soofi]
The problem with Kaloo, a Jor Bagh resident, is that he bites. “But he doesn’t bite everybody,” says the new mother of this black mongrel. “Kaloo is very selective,” she says. “He chooses his victims in a seemingly random fashion.”
Though living in an upscale neighbourhood that is home to authors, publishers, artists and foreign correspondents, Kaloo knows no class divide. He has bitten his owner as well as the grocer’s deliveryman.
Patting his head, the owner describes Kaloo (“black” in Hindi) as “part German Shepherd, part Jack Russell Terrier, part wolf.” Sitting on her white sofa, she calls out to Kaloo, saying, “Engage, engage, engage with me.” Wagging his tail, he looks up at his mistress before being distracted by The Delhi Walla, at whom he growls with suspicion. Kaloo’s new master then enters the living room. “Kaloo has come a long way since he nipped me on my left ankle,” he says. The dog wags his tongue, as if in agreement.
Kaloo has lived in Jor Bagh longer than his new owners. He roamed the streets, barked at the residents and slept under the cars parked outside the bungalows. Infamous for being a biter, many people were scared to walk in front of him. However, Kaloo also succeeded in establishing friendships; to the colony’s chowkidars, he is a darling.
“Kaloo was obviously mistreated,” says his owner. “That’s why he is so mistrusting of people and that’s why he bites.” Ironically, the best thing that Kaloo did in his life was to bite the man who would become his father. “After that incident, we decided that the safest thing for us to do would be to befriend Kaloo,” his owner says. “We wanted to get near to him and get him his shots.”
Then the courting started in earnest. The woman won Kaloo with two pieces of chicken. He stopped barking and snapping at her and became a visitor to her house. She arranged for a vet to give him the shots. By looking at Kaloo’s teeth, the vet estimated his age to be six years old. Next, his new father got Kaloo a dog license at Motibagh NDMC Vetinary Clinic. It hangs around Kaloo’s neck like a medal so that municipal services do not mistake him for a stray and whisk him away.
In February, 2010, the black mongerel was made a fully-fledged member of this Jor Bagh household. “I think Kaloo has lived in someone’s house before,” the owner says. “I did not have to teach him how to lie on his bed. He was happy to have a collar and a leash. He also responds well to the affection.”
But despite being a good housedog, Kaloo hasn’t kicked the habit of snapping at strangers. So his new life has come with a life sentence. While Kaloo is free to move around the house and the garden, he is taken out for walks in Jor Bagh lanes or in Lodhi Road only on a leash. “Some people run away from Kaloo, some run to him,” the owner says. “People who don’t know us greet him by his name. He is so proud, grand and loving.”
Isn’t he handsome?
Look at him
Sleep well, honey
Come Kaloo, come
No more homeless
Kaloo doesn’t read
Look, Kaloo’s there
With Mummy Papa