The question that hounds every pet parent.
I have a problem with every word in that question. A big problem.
You walk on the road. You open your house door. You enter a lift. You sit in a garden doing nothing. You chill on the beach - and perpetually you are asked this question by strangers giving cheeky smiles.
Anyone with a dog whatever size, whatever breed, whatever age is asked this question and every pet parent would know this very well.
Even Tiara, my Labrador with eyes that can make the hardest heart melt, is looked at with suspicion and then within seconds her integrity is questioned.
Let’s break this question into four parts.
It looks like a simple four worded sentence, but it’s far more complicated than you think.
First word- “Yeh”
What is Yeh? Is this an object? Is it like asking a shopkeeper the price of a soap? “Yeh” kitne ka hain? For God’s sake this is a living thing. I don’t expect people to refer animals with a dignatory “Aap” or slightly casual version like – “Tum”. In fact even a derogatory “Tu” would do in this case. But Yeh is something I just cringe when I hear. (I don’t expect people to come and say “Behenji Aap katate ho?”) So please people, back off if you can’t give it the basic expression.
Next word- Kutta.
It’s almost abusive. Maybe it’s the dictionary word for dog, but I still have a problem. Forget Kutta, I don’t even use the word ‘dog’, when I am talking about my pet. I’m not for banning the word, since banning things is in fashion these days. But this is my personal pet almost childlike (in many cases more than childlike), so please don’t call it Kutta. I refer my pet as doggie or by name.
Now when it comes to cats I am a little biased more towards dogs. Actually ‘little’ is an absolute downplaying. I don’t like cats. OK I’m saying it, I hate cats. (It’s my doggie instinct I think). So I don’t mind if your call a cat a cat, and not catty and even Billi is fine by me- but don’t call my pet Kutta.
“Kutte Kaminey” is something I wish Dharmendra didn’t make famous for saying in the same breath.
Dog is man’s best friend. A dog is loyal. A dog’s love and friendship is unconditional. It’s not with malice, or string attached. They aren’t rascals. So when did these both words come together in the first place.
In fact a dog will never drink your blood also. Unlike, what the famous dialog writer fathomed. I think he was a cat lover- that man, who made this loving animal sound like a Dracula like thing!
So does the dog have no other work besides biting?
When a stranger approaches my pet Tiara or any doggie for that matter, she looks at them endearingly. She wags her tail uncontrollably. She invites you to stroke her head. She will readily give a paw. She will also allow your little toddler to pull her ears. And you know what most dogs will even allow you to put you hand in its mouth – and not bite. You heard that right.
Most dogs wont bite and I know I gave away the plot in that sentence by using the word most. But that’s true. Most cats won’t like water. Most horses like running. But personal preferences and temperaments differ right. That makes us unique. But yes, most dogs won’t bite you if you don’t mean harm. And if he does intend biting you, he will let you know much before his teeth sink in your skin. There will be a growl. There will be a bark. There will be a warning snap and then there will be a bite.
Most ‘pet’ dogs won’t bite for any reason (Stray dogs are differently bred, and their circumstances and fears are different). It’s not that our pets will go around simply biting everyone and we’ll be sitting on a beach side with it - unleashed, waiting for them to find their next meal.
If someone means harm, I hope and I genuinely doubt that in some situation someday my doggie will rise to the occasion and - does bite. But most of us pet parents, will never know, because heroic stories is one thing, but we all secretly doubt that even if a robber enters the house, if our dear little pet will turn into The Hulk or will it just scamper away to the closest hiding place, waiting and hoping for the whole thing to end so he can wag his tail and give us company after it’s all done by begging for a treat.
In this context Hain is meant something between “Yes” and “All the time?”
Tu subah uththe hi pissab karta hain?
Tujhe rasgulley pasand hain?
Tu school jata hain?
For Dogs sake, why are you making assumptions? Do you walk to a cute little infant who you just can’t resist and say, “If I pull his cute cheeks, will he cry?”
I don’t recall any stranger coming and asking me this question before trying to get my daughters attention when she was in my or my wife’s arms.
Though most infants will cry on seeing a stranger approaching or giving a hand or pulling its cheeks. Yet strangers happily go around doing it, knowing that the child will - and will cry and then they cheekily walk away leaving the already hassled mother to complete the task and calm the child down.
So my answer in most cases when someone asks me that ridiculous question if Tiara bites is –
Haan! Bahut zor se katata hain. In fact who aapka hi intezaar kar rahan tha. Usse bahut bhook lagi hain. (She bites really hard, and has been waiting all day for someone like you to walk past by. She’s hungry.)
So just for the record- Dogs can bite and do bite.
They bite when they sense fear. Did you know Dogs are experts at reading body language? In fact they can actually and really smell it, because in fear, a human being's sweat glands get more active and produce a slight body odour, which a dog can easily smell.
If you don’t own a dog and yet like to walk up to strange dogs and pat them, ask a different question, like…
What’s his name?
Is it a male/ female? (Don’t stare at its privates to check).
How old is he/she?
What breed is this?
Is he/she playful is a more decent way of asking.
If you are a pet owner- and are hounded by this question every time you go for a walk- you know my answer, and there are no copyrights to using it.
PS: This article is going to piss off a lot of people I know. If you have a different point of view, I'm all ears. Apologies to anyone with a previous history of being bitten in childhood or later on behalf of the entire doggie community. Give them another chance please. Start with Tiara. Doors open always.