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How a Golden Retriever changed a young boy's life for the better

'Baby and Dubdub' is a heartwarming book about friendship between a young boy, Rohan, and his pet dog

This chapter from 'Baby and Dubdub' chronicles the first ever meeting between Rohan and his pet Golden Retriever. Illustration by Aaryama Somayaji, courtesy Talking Cub, the children's imprint of Speaking Tiger
This chapter from 'Baby and Dubdub' chronicles the first ever meeting between Rohan and his pet Golden Retriever. Illustration by Aaryama Somayaji, courtesy Talking Cub, the children's imprint of Speaking Tiger

Rohan was beside himself with excitement the next day. ‘The impossible is happening! I’ll get my pet dog today. Yay!’ he kept telling himself. He pinched himself too. He had read somewhere that you must pinch yourself to make certain something unbelievable is actually happening. But not too hard, he was too smart for that.

It was a Saturday and he was glad he didn’t have to go to school. He knew he wouldn’t have paid any attention to lessons and would have got all sorts of punishments from his teachers. His Maths teacher would have given millions of extra sums to do for sure. Rohan hated Maths. Doing one sum was like doing millions of sums. “Rohan, write this poem out three times. And neatly.” His English teacher always chose the longest poem for this purpose when there were beautiful three-line poems at the end of every lesson in his textbook. There was a two-line poem too, but teachers never considered such options.

“Rohan, will you pay some attention, please? Listen carefully. Write the capitals of any twelve states of India twelve times.” His Geography teacher loved the number twelve. It would have been much more interesting if he had had twelve heads. “Rohan, can you hear me?” His Science teacher would…

At this point Rohan returned to the present. How stupid he was, wasting his time thinking of what might have happened when he had something very important to do now! He had to choose the breed of his pet dog. His father had asked him to think about it and make a sensible choice. How nice, that one could choose one’s dog!

Babies couldn’t be chosen that way, he thought, happy to score a point over babies.

Rohan decided to consult his faithful friend, his good old, well-thumbed, dog-eared encyclopaedia of dogs. He didn’t want a dog his friends already had. He spent a long time poring over the book and made a long list starting with the aristocratic Afghan hound. After great thought and much research, he knocked off most of the names and shortened the list to four—alsatian, bulldog, doberman and golden retriever. He went over the four again and, with some reluctance, rejected three. ‘Alsatian or German shepherd? Too ferocious. Out you go. Sorry, boy! Bulldog? Looks like Roger’s pug and frightfully expensive. Have to say no to you, but you are so cute! Doberman? More of a police dog and less of a pet and very expensive. Aw, too much going against you, so you are out too; but I really like you! Golden retriever. Yes, sir, you are the one for me!’

The name itself was very attractive. Golden, like the rays of the sun. Retriever. He had looked up the meaning—retrieve meant to bring something back. A golden retriever would find and bring back something. Rohan decided that was just the sort of companion he needed, for he was always losing things. A pet that would help him find things would be a great help indeed. He noticed that the golden retriever was rather expensive but the more he read about it the more he set his heart on it. Besides, it was considered an excellent family pet because of its friendly and gentle nature. He hoped those qualities would make his father choose that dog over the others even if it cost him a lot of money. Ashwin returned late from work that day to find Rohan waiting impatiently at the gate for him.

“Dad! You’re so late!” Rohan greeted him. “It’s seven already. The shop will close soon.” “Ah, Rohan, I’ve something to ask you,” Ashwin said. “But first let me get into the house.” Rohan’s heart sank. The words didn’t sound encouraging. Was his father going to say dogs were very costly so would he mind having a cat instead? Or a fish? He walked behind Ashwin into the house with heavy steps like a schoolboy who had been caught putting a frog into his friend’s lunchbox and was being marched to the principal’s room now.

“Rohan, have you decided on your dog?” Ashwin asked. “A friend said he knows someone who wants to give away a dog. It’s…”

“But I know which dog I want Dad…” Rohan protested in a rush before his father could complete what he was saying. “…a golden retriever.” “…a golden retriever,” Ashwin said at the same time.

Father and son looked at each other and began to laugh. Meeta had gone to the kitchen to get Ashwin a cup of tea. Hearing the laughter, she came to find out what was going on and joined in the merriment.

“Saves us a lot of trouble,” Ashwin said. “I was talking in the office about getting Rohan a dog and my friend told me about this golden retriever. The guy who has the dog is my friend’s neighbour. His dog had a litter of seven puppies a year ago. He sold all except one but now would like to give it away. He had been offering it to my friend who says he doesn’t want it. So looks like Rohan will be the lucky owner soon.” “You mean you’re getting it FREE?” Rohan was stunned. “Golden retrievers are expensive, Dad.”

“Yes, I know, Rohan. That’s why I am going to insist on paying for it.”

Rohan was relieved. Both because his father was going to pay for it and because he was sure he wouldn’t have to pay much.

Rohan and his father went to the friend’s house at 8 p.m. The friend, Xavier, took them to his neighbour’s. Two dogs, both evenly golden in colour, came bounding to the gate. One was big while the other was much smaller. The smaller one made straight for Rohan as if he was a long-lost friend and began circling him with welcoming woofs and wet licks around his ankles. Rohan fell in love with him at once.

“This is the dog I told you about,” said Xavier to Ashwin, pointing to the smaller dog that was now leaping on Rohan as if practising for the dog high jump meet. “Do you like your dog, Rohan?” “Of course! My dog! You are MY dog!” Rohan hugged him and heard his heart go ‘dub…dub…’

“Dub…dub, dub…dub, dub…dub! Your heart is beating with joy,” he said to the dog. “Dub, dub! Why, I think I’ll call you Dubdub.”

That was how Dubdub got his name and came into Rohan’s life, his house and his heart.

Excerpted with permission from 'Baby and Dubdub', authored by Khyrunnisa A., with illustrations by Aaryama Somayaji. It has been published by Talking Cub, the children's imprint of Speaking Tiger.

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