One Minute Longer, A Personal Story of my Dog Teddy
I had a fox hound named Teddy. If I am alive today it is because of him
Teddy my dog Saved me.
When I was in school, the Stanes at Coimbatore to be specific, the thing or animal I most loved was my dog Teddy. He was a fox hound and one could not have seen a more handsome dog than him. The best part was that he was real pal and he went along with me where ever I went.
It soon came to pass that my father announced grandly that he would be taking the cadets for a jungle trip. Coimbatore has a lot of reserve forests all around and the famous ones are Top Slip and Sherwani. Elephants are a common sight in these forests that are thick and dense, nestled as they are in the foothills of the Nilgiris. Come to think of it, the dacoit Veerappan spent 25 years roaming in these jungles before he was shot dead. But I am talking of time before that when I was in the 4th standard.
My father who was an instructor at the Air Force Administrative College also told me that I could come along.
“But” he announced “Teddy, is not to come”
I was dismayed but resolved to take Teddy with me. The next day cadets and the Instructors assembled outside the Officers Mess and started boarding the Bus which was to ferry, all of us to the Forest Rest House. I got in last, but quietly allowed Teddy to also climb in. He was an obedient dog and made not a whimper at all, as he realized that I was doing something illegal. One of the cadets saw the dog and smiled “take him along” he said in a forced whisper” It will be fun!”
My father and the other instructors sat in the front of the bus and noticed nothing as me and my dog Teddy sat in the last row of the bus. The bus moved forward and soon we were on our way to the forest rest house at Sherwani. As all of us trooped out of the bus, my father saw teddy. He was really angry and announced “get home, I will teach you to disobey me. Dam it, this is no place for a dog “.
As the cadets and the Instructors started their classes, I quietly lit out with teddy into the Jungle. Suddenly the heavens opened up as if on cue and it began to rain. I was not unmindful of the rain and I continued into the forest. Teddy was in a boisterous mood and with small yelps followed me. The rain now quickened and thunder boomed and boomed again, as the rain came down with a vengeance. I took shelter under a large tree and hugged Teddy to me.
“Looks like Teddy” I said “The rain is a spoil sport. Let’s go back”
Teddy gave a small yelp and conveyed that he understood what I had said. I turned to go back and then perhaps I took a wrong turn in the Jungle and seemed lost. The rain made visibility poor and then I slipped. Yes! I slipped and began to slide downwards. A roar below and I could see a mountain rivulet as it moved swiftly through the jungle. As I slid downwards, I clutched at what ever I could catch, but I continued to slide down. I was a bit scared now, but providence took a hand I clutched and caught a tree branch. This arrested my fall, but I was hanging half in mid-air. I couldn’t do much except hang on for dear life as the rivulet roared below me.
I looked at Teddy who had stopped and shouted “Go, Teddy, Go! Get help”
Teddy however just stood there and gave a small yelp. It was apparent he didn’t want to leave me. Dogs do have a sixth sense. Again I repeated “Go, Teddy…”
Teddy now understood and dashed off. I could from the creaking branches make out that Teddy was on his way to the camp. I held on, fearful that the branch may break and I could fall down. I couldn’t pull myself up as the branch could still break. At that time, I remembered my English teacher Mrs. Thorpe had taught us a story titled ‘one minute more’. It was the story of a man on a burning deck who held on by just thinking ‘one minute more…’
This is what I did and waited for help to come. Teddy I learnt later ran to the Forest rest house barking loudly and ran and caught the trousers of one of the instructors. This unnerved the Instructor and he wondered what had come over Teddy. Barking loudly Teddy now lunged and caught the pant of my father. One of the Instructors hit teddy with a stick saying “the dog is mad.”But teddy would not relent, till one of the cadets said “Sir, The dog is not mad; he wants us to follow him!”
Teddy barked louder and soon my father and some cadets headed into the Jungle with Teddy leading the way. The rain continued and soon I heard the welcome bark of Teddy and I knew help was on way. My arms were aching as I continued thinking ’One minute longer.’
I looked up and saw Teddy and the cadets.
“Hold on man” one of them said “we are here.”
As we reached home, I found my father carrying a large bag of dog biscuits. He handed them to Teddy.
“Well son! “He said “Teddy deserves it. Bless that he was there and I am sorry we hit him with a stick”
I felt happy as Teddy cuddled up to me. It was a bond that I can never forget. God save his soul.