Random Thoughts

In the Matter of Territory

All the living beings are territorial. The human history is full of records of war of territories. Expansionism has been the hall mark of all the kingdoms. Lowly creatures like ants have a strong sense of territory. As the organisms evolved from single to multi-celled the territorial instinct became all the more powerful.

Having spent my life with dogs, I have been able to understand the meaning of the word territory more clearly. Dogs are strongly territorial. The moment a puppy reaches its new home, it starts sniffing around, trying to identify and record the smells within his territory. Then as a precautionary measure he starts to mark his territory with his urine. As the pup grows to an adult and goes on long walks with the master he painstakingly marks all the electric poles or any other projection on the ground. In the process he also sniffs and finds out how many 'hits' have been there on the pole and what was the physical condition of his predecessors.

It was just a chance that once I acquired a Long Coat Chihuahua , a real tiny and perky breed of dogs. Since she was born on the first day of 'Chaitra' month of the Hindu calendar, I named her Chaity. While I had to train other dogs to sit on a scooter or in a car, Chaity indicated her preference for a ride from the day one. She used to majestically sit near the rear windscreen of my Ambassador car, a place where normally people put a toy dog for display. She felt proud when a crowd thronged the car to have a look at her and wagged her tail at her admirers. Yet another place she loved to snooze was the small carpet used by my mother for performing her pooja.

Chaity grew into a 'graceful beauty' alas there was no mate for her. Sometimes I felt that she was being too much humanized and to provide her a company I brought a Miniature Pincher puppy bitch and named her Chotu.

The moment I entered the car with Chotu in my lap, I heard a growl from the rear. And lo it was Chaity roaring like a tigress. With some difficulty I managed to drive back home. Chaity's growls soon became barks and she started baring her teeth viciously at Chotu. As a precaution I placed Chotu in a kennel. Chaity marked the kennel from all sides and drew a sort of 'Laxaman Rekha' daring Chotu to come out.

Guerilla like attacks on Chotu became a daily routine, till she became powerful enough to retaliate. And by the time Chotu was one year old, she started taking perverse pleasure in marking Chaity's territory with her urine.

All attempts for peace between them failed. There was constant terrorism and there were constant attacks and retaliations. They had to be kept separated in different parts of the house. Chaity developed oral cancer at the age of 12. Doctors were helpless against the God's will and one fine morning I found her in her eternal sleep.

Thinking that the territorial war was over, we let lose Chotu in the house. She darted straight for my mother's Pooja room and marked the carpet with vengeance. Fortunately the Ambassador car had also left for her happy hunting grounds by then, but Chotu left no spot ever used by Chaity unmarked.

Now it has been four years since Chaity left this world, but for Chotu her smell still pervades and she still keeps marking the house.

Reading everyday about terrorism and attacks by one country over the other I feel we humans have perhaps not evolved more than Chaity and Chotu in the matter of territory!  


More by :  V. K. Joshi (Bijji)

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