Why my best friend Doginder can't get enough of Mishti: The Mirzapuri Labrador

Alas! She is in a book that weaves a beautiful relationship about a dog and her people.

 |  6-minute read |   14-06-2017
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The arrival of Mishti: a beauteous-looking, exuberant golden Labrador at my doorstep had my dog in a sulk. Let me elaborate: Doginder, as our canine is so named, would ordinarily have been falling over himself (literally as well — post a serious accident, he can’t keep his balance and slips often, a fact he forgets when excited) to welcome Mishti.

She is young, beautiful, and more importantly, she belongs to the right sex. She is a bitch. In most — and definitely weird — circles, the word "bitch" is derogatory – which Doginder, or even his best friend — I, can never, ever, understand. We have heard it spoken of with venom, spat out at a woman: bitch.

It’s malicious, slanderous, casts aspirations — and used for a woman who can be cruel, wanton, or with a nasty attitude — you get the drift? I don’t.

In my world, bitches are lovely, friendly, lovable souls, and for Doginder, their attraction can be summed up in a word: they are female. Plus, last heard "bitch" also implied "on heat" — hot with sexual desire. And how, asks the dog, can that be a bad thing?

doggers_061417084651.jpgDogs are family, not accessories; they are for keeps, not to be discarded once the novelty has worn off. Photo: Independent blog

Unless, of course, you are part of those anti-Romeo type squads, diligently patrolling the streets to arrest the grave danger that faces our nation: boys and girls who dare to stand near, talk and and even make eyes at each other! As my thoughts drift, I hear Doginder sigh, deeply — and I can hear him think: There she goes again, fretting about world peace, and state of the nation, while my problems go unresolved. And he is right (as always) I digress.

As I was saying, Doginder loves bitches. He is also very cool — even if not in sync with the current mood of the nation or the world. He cares naught for their looks or colour or race or pedigree. He adores Miss Grey, urf Missy, the resident desi mutt of our colony, and every morning when he takes me for a walk, we sort of end up where Miss Grey is. Only after they have said their hellos, and have had a bit of a playful romp, does he get down to his business. Doginder has to start his day with her. Evenings are for the love of his life — Sofiee Sood, a lovely golden girl — Labrador who rules his heart.

One would have thought the prospect of another lovely bitch would only add to his happiness and excitement quotient.

labooo_061417085031.jpgOne would have thought the prospect of another lovely bitch would only add to his happiness and excitement quotient. Photo: Petcollection World

But no, Doginder is upset, very, and it is because it's not Mishti, the lovable Mirzapur Labrador — who finally ends up in the very loving home of Mark and Gilly — who landed at our door and swished inside. It is only a book on her, about her. But the book is lovely, I coax Doginder, with amazing life-like sketches of Mishti in all her moods, smiling and running among a field of flowers on the cover, gleeful as she rides in the car, scared as she cowers under the bathtub in a bid to escape the Diwali bomb blasts, happy as plays with her human and doggy friends, and happier, eating. Yes, this should clinch it, eating.

None of it impresses Doginder. No, sir.

So, I start to tell him about the Mishti’s story. The book is about — as the sub-title says it — Mishti ke Karname. Her adventures, and misadventures, as beautifully and lovingly regaled by her adoring mistress, friend and mother Gillian Wright.

The book is delightful, brims with love, and artfully sketches Mishti’s character, her dogginess.

Sample this: "Mishti chased everything that ran. She chased balls, squirrels, cats. Once she was so busy sprinting after a cat that she ran full tilt into barbed wire. "Everything is an adventure to Mishti". Sticks are to fetch, and play tug. A clump of tree leaves had tremendous potential, "so good for shredding," skills she went on to practice on car seats. She also discovers digging: "Mishti dug faster and faster with her front paws the sand flew all over her face and head and nose! This is awesome, her eyes seemed to say, as she begun to run around the hole happy, and happier..."

mishtoo_061417085250.jpgMisthi, the Mirzapuri Labrador; Gillian Wright; Speaking Tiger

This is what the joy of having a dog is about: the fun and exuberance they find in the simplest of things (mine goes bonkers even a ball of rolled up newspaper – it rolls and rolls and can be shredded) and are a fountain of love and loyalty. Mishti is Gilly and Mark’s shadow, and has a full life accompanying them for holidays, to watch polo, to bird watch et al.

The book weaves a beautiful relationship about a dog and her people. Gillian brings Mishti (and her daughter Soni) alive, endearing us to this remarkable little golden Labrador.

It’s is a must-have for all dog-people who will delight in Mishti’s antics, and smile as it reminds of all that their pets' special idiosyncrasies. It’s a simple, easy read, for those not yet smitten by dogs but who, hopefully, will now cross the great divide between dog-lovers and those who are not.

While the book is light and fun, I find underlying messages — that dogs are family, not accessories; they are for keeps, not to be discarded once the novelty has worn off, or because you discover they do susu-potty in the house (only as their human hasn’t bothered to train them).

Isn’t that nice, I tell Doginder, who instead of feeling better after hearing a beautiful, happy story, seems to be sinking into further gloom, glaring at me belligerently with eyes that can only be called accusing.

I get it now, in fact I asked for it. Doginder now wants his own book too, the Facebook page: with only 600 likes - that earlier earned him bragging rights — is passé. A book is what he wants, and I, his best friend, call myself a writer, what have I been doing all these years? Huh?

Also read: A brief history of Indian dogs

Writer

Prerna Bindra Prerna Bindra @prernabindra

Though a city-dweller, Prerna Singh Bindra is at home in the forests she is committed to protect. Her book, The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis, was released in June 2017.

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