The Old Dog And The New Dog

Submitted into Contest #148 in response to: Write about two neighbors who cannot stand each other.... view prompt

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Coming of Age Desi Speculative

1. Confrontation

The mere thought of going to an unknown territory excited the new dog to such an extend that his tail wagged as fast as the hand of a grandma with a folded newspaper on a hot summer afternoon of New Delhi when power's shut. His ears straightened like grandma's body on bed when power is finally back. Down the stairs and they were about to head outside, but the new dog stumbled to a door with a funny smell. The smell of an older dog! This made the new dog's tail wag faster than grandma's hand on the hottest day. But, his human companion pulled the leech to signal that he needs to go the other way. He put his tail behind him and obliged, taking a last peek at the door as he wiggled towards the exit.

The outside was a mystical place. There were paths built just for metal dogs, who carried their pet parents inside them. Then, there were sidewalks, reserved for flesh dogs and their humans and humans who forgot their flesh dogs and street dogs who lost their humans. In the big black eyes of the new dog, every human or street dog passing was a candidate for a new best friend. He leapt on them like a thirsty construction worker just found some water, only to be stopped by the leech, like it was all a mirage. His happiness was like a suitcase stuffed with clothes for a vacation at a hill station. You can't imagine there is space for more, yet you were able to fit another pair of denims.

On his way back, with an accomplished grin, he again stopped to smell the door of the old dog. But this time, he saw a pair of paws clawing at the side of the wooden door. The old dog in an impressive motion, pushed the door inside with his two front legs, while balancing his little white body on his rear legs. There was still a screen door between them, but now the two dogs were face to face. The old dog looked just like the new dog. It was like looking in the mirror, except one was a brown German Spitz and the other white. The new dog leapt to play with his new best friend, but the pet parent pulled the leech so hard he almost choked. The old dog was looking at them grumpily, judging them if they were fit to be his upstairs neighbors. The pet parent hid his glances at the old dog and he wanted to hurry back to his home at the first floor. The old dog looked indifferent. But, in the eyes of the new dog, the old dog clawed his way through the wooden door to just be his best friend. He wanted to tear down the screen door. But, it was not the moment of confrontation yet. As he was going upstairs, the dogs locked their eyes one last time. The old dog's eyes showed a bit of agitation this time.

The new dog couldn't stop thinking about the old dog. He kept thinking about him even during his meals, which was odd, because he generally thinks about the meal during his meals. So, he decided to make an opportunity to meet the old dog. He waited on the front door like school kids waiting for their teacher to sit on a chair laced with chalk powder. As soon as the door opened, he ran passed the pair of stumbling legs, to the ground floor where the old dog lived. He went to the door, but the door was open. Even the screen door. He heard a growl from the back of his ear. The new dog was naïve to mistake the growl as a friendly gesture and he plunged towards the old dog in glee. No more leech. The thirst was about to get quenched. But, the old dog didn't appreciate the gesture and sinked his teeth in the new dogs back, just beside the tail which no longer was wagging. 

A loud cry echoed in the hall.

2. The Old Dog

The old dog looked through the screen door. The humans on the first floor hired a man to train the new dog. This takes the old dog over a decade back, when his master used to train him. They called them "master" back in his time, nowadays they have come up with all kinds of names like "pet parent", "human companion", "brother from another mother" etc. His young master used to spend his entire evening after school trying to teach him how to say "Namaste" with his hands. It's a bitter sweet memory since he left the house a few years ago. The house felt a lot bigger without him.

The trainer asked the new dog's pet parent to go upstairs so that the new dog would not be distracted. The new dog did learn a lot of tricks real fast, but it wasn't the friendly way the old dog's master used to teach him.

A pity!

But, the old dog was mostly bothered because his humans locked the screen door more often now due to the small incident with the new dog. 

After the training session, the pet parent took the new dog upstairs. There was no hidden glance this time from either of them.

3. The New Dog

The dog market saw a boost at the start of the pandemic. A lot of now working-from-home humans craved a little companionship in their personal lives. And this was how the new dog was brought into the family at the first floor. 

It has been few months since his confrontation with the old dog. Between the trainer's abuse and his pet parent's pampering, he became afraid of getting friendly with new beings, humans and dogs alike. 

On his morning walk one day, he observed a new development on the street. A bunch of new puppies now roam the street. Work of a street dog. He pushed through his leech towards the roadside where they lay. The puppies saw the new dog and hid under a parked car. But, one of the puppy was excited to meet the new dog, just like how the new dog behaved on his first outing. But, as the puppy moved towards the new dog, the new dog got scared and pulled the pet parent the opposite way.

This went for days, but slowly the new dog started to get friendly with the puppies. Whenever he goes on a walk, a swarm of puppies would attack the new dog. The new dog's tail would wag like a grandma's hand trying to fan a newspaper towards her grandchildren during a hot summer's night. The new dog, on a pretense of indifference, let's them smell his mouth. 

On the way upstairs, he let out a small angry growl while peeking at the old dog from the corner of his eyes.

4. Confrontation II

The puppies were playing the double game. Those sons of bitches! They were even friendly with the old dog. 

One day when the old dog was playing with the puppies, the new dog appeared along with his pet parent. 

The old dog glanced at them. 

For about thirty seconds everybody was still. It was as if they were in a staring contest. 

Then, the new dog did something that the old dog never thought he would dare. He took a step forward. 

The old dog ran and hopped on the new dog. This time the new dog fought back and they both tried to sink their teeth in each other's back until one of them tasted red. But, before that could happen, the pet parent interfered and picked up the new dog in his arms. Frustrated, the old dog bit the pet parent for one fraction of a second and then backed off. It was enough to pierce his flesh and a drop of blood to escape. The pet parent walked quickly towards his house while the old dog followed, maintaining his distance, looking a bit guilty. The pet parent headed upstairs, giving a sad glance at the old dog. The old dog got irritated and went inside his home at the ground floor. 

The new dog looked at his human companion lovingly and licked the corner of his lips, with his ears straightened.

5. The Master and The Pet Parent

A few weeks later, the old dog ran away and never returned.

Nobody knows if he ran away or lost a fight with a metal dog. But, he was never seen again.

His master returned home a few weeks later. The pandemic has just started, so he would work from his parents' home now. 

But his parents have moved upstairs and rented the ground floor to some bachelors. A few months later he would get a new dog, same breed, different color. This time he would like to be his pet parent, not his master.

June 04, 2022 03:45

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