City Moment – Two Dog Walkers & Two Dogs, Sector 15
A perfect Delhi instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Both Guddu and Chuck are brown. They have the same flappy ears and exactly the same size.
They must be twins, no?
“They are step-siblings,” says Dinesh. “They have the same papa, but their mummy is alag alag (different).”
Guddu and Chuck are dogs. Dinesh is a human. He is holding on to Guddu’s leash. Chuck’s caretaker is another human, SS Rawat.
This afternoon, the four folks are briefly lying in a public park in Gurgaon’s Sector 15 in the Greater Delhi Region. Dinesh and Mr Rawat are otherwise walking the dogs as part of their job. The dogs live with their employers, a human family, in a house nearby.
“They are a little over a year,” says Dinesh, affectionately embracing his Guddu. Patting Chuck’s back, Mr Rawat explains the young dogs’ huge size, saying, “Some dogs grow very fast.”
It is the two humans’ assignment to escort the dogs every afternoon in the neighbourhood park. “We love Guddu and Chuck,” says one of them. Indeed, some personal histories linger on behind their fondness for dogs.
Dinesh, to start with, has always been fond of animals. He grew up in a village in Madhubani, in Bihar. “As a child I used to play with rabbits… had them as pets,” he says, a faint smile clinging on to his face. “Though we didn’t have dogs at home, there were a few strays who would always be hanging about the entrance, and we would feed them daily with milk and roti.”
Mr Rawat confesses that he isn’t fond of animals as much as his colleague, “but I’ve grown attached to Chuck and Guddu.” Coming from a mountain village in Pauri, in Uttarakhand, he has a less friendly childhood with animals. “We would often see cheetahs and baaghs in the jungles.” Sometimes a baagh might appear at night in the village, looking to attack a goat for food, “and then we all would gather and scare him away by beating drums and by shouting.” The baagh would run away, back into the forest.
Both Madhubani and Pauri are far from Delhi, and the only intimate link to animals for these two men remains with their employer’s dogs.
By now, Guddu and Chuck are jumping over each other and one doesn’t know if they are fighting or playing. Dinesh and Mr Rawat affectionately but forcefully restrain their respective charges, and get up to make a round of the park. It is a beautiful moment.