“Couscous! You do have a strange way of naming your dogs” exclaimed a friend.
“We call him CC,” I explained.
It sounds much more dignified when we take him for a walk and I have to call after him. People think I am standing on the middle of the pavement and shouting: “Khakoos!” as a means of toilet training him.
Or maybe hoping for a Porta-Potty for myself.
My earliest dog was called “Bumble”. He was a dachshund. I can’t really recall him as I was three at the time. My parents lived in New Delhi in a house on Rowse Avenue and there are pictures of me trying to train Bumble holding a stick. It’s quite obvious that even then that no dog would ever listen to me.
This has also been a problem with CC. One morning, I found that he had crunched through a pair of my most expensive power lenses with a designer gold frame. This was after he had chewed through the mother-board of my I-pad, which thankfully the company replaced, no questions asked; and the sandals of 15 pairs of Crocs. He only chose to destroy the left foot. I now have 15 singles of the right foot Crocs, if anyone is interested.
“Beagle?” asked my very sympathetic optometrist when I took my specs for repairs. “They tend to behave badly”.
“Oh, then you never met Rasputin, my black dachshund. He was evil.” But as Raspy we adored him.
“He once climbed up on a dinner table and ate up all the Christmas chicken roast sneakily from under the lid, while we sat drinking our mulled wine a few feet away.
I then remembered all the dogs that were part of our family life through the years.
One of the most glamorous ones was called Kim Novak. She was a champagne blonde Silky Sidney with beautiful mascaraed eyes. For most of the time, Kimmy was a princess amongst dogs. If I could feed her caviar with a silver spoon, she would know how to eat. She however had a secret life when she came into heat. She would run off and find a male Silky Sidney ten streets away in a seedier part of the colony. It led to many unwanted puppies and true to her superior nature, she never looked after them. And I had to spend nights feeding them with ink-fillers and tiny doll’s feeding bottles.
When my parents lived in Bangkok, my Mother got herself a local breed called Fluffy. She had a white curly haired coat and pink eyes. She would insist on having a bath every day while my Mother had hers. She was either a Malayali in her former life, or had a fondness for mud baths. Whenever my Mother had guests, Fluffy would roll herself in the muddy pond that all Bangkok homes had in those days, called Klongs to harvest the rain-water; and appear in the all-white silk upholstered drawing room. The guests left immediately.
We then had a Lolita, or Lolly, another dachshund. She was given to separation anxiety and died young. From that time, I resolved never to keep a female dog again.
We then had the Count of Monte Cristo, a black water spaniel, Caesar, a black spotted Dalmatian, who like his namesake did not live long; followed by Simba inherited from a cousin. He was the King amongst dogs.
I did try getting a trainer for Couscous. He laughed as only Beagles can do behind the trainer’s back.
“It’s the name madam,” the trainer explained on the last day. “If you had called him Courage, he would have been a better dog!”
CC went up to the trainer. He lifted his left leg against the man’s shoes and left his mark.
“I am Khakoos the Courageous dog!”