I am not sure why his brethren disliked him. Maybe it was his superior strut, the way he showed off his fancy accessories or perhaps they just hated his guts. Whatever it was, they made no bones about it. Once he tried to join a group discussion but was summarily dismissed. Another time he was walking down the street, minding his own business, looking debonair in a red scarf when a rival grabbed him by the neck and rattled him like a rag doll.
I think they detested his ambition for he relentlessly strived to increase and consolidate his land holdings. As his empire grew so did his troubles. All territories had to be guarded against invasion and took up most of his time. He would take a round of his empire at the crack of dawn and once again before retiring at night. After a vacation he would rush to assess any loss and reclaim lost ground. It was surprising how he would be dozing peacefully in the car and would switch to high alert as soon as we swung off the highway. Maybe he could sniff it in the air, the smell of betrayal. In any case he had a sixth sense for his native land. He would gaze out of the window, his body taut with tension, ready to pounce on any squatters. As soon as the car stopped, he would rush out and push encroachments back.
On our outstation visits he frequently got into arguments with the locals. Once I dragged him away from a street fight and he spent the entire night plotting revenge against those who had tried to ridicule him. At the first sign of daybreak he ran out to settle the score. Unknown to him, his rivals lay waiting. They surrounded him and tossed him around till he was miraculously rescued by our driver. I thought the incident would change him, slow him down, stop him from taking risks, getting into scuffles. But that didn’t happen. He was shaken, not subdued by the experience and continued to take on adversaries larger than himself.
One day as we emerged from a friend’s house he marked it and then dashed across the road to lay claim on the other side. Enroute, he was hit by a motorbike but luckily escaped with just a bruised ego. I was so angry by his recklessness that instead of asking if he was hurt I scolded him. That was enough to disillusion him. He refused to look at me. He withdrew, became disinterested in food and stopped the territorial marking. Eventually the little land shark recovered, forgave me and resumed his task of sniffing and pissing. Then a couple of months later he vanished, never to be found, leaving a dog shaped hole in my heart.
Pogo, my lost Lhasa, was an embodiment of dreams and doggedness. He taught me the basics of Ambition, Bravery, Consistency and that the size of the fight in a dog matters more than the size of the dog in a fight!
( published in Spice of Life, Hindustan Times on 16/1/2018)