Daniel Webster Korula was third in the line of family dogs. His life was filled with adventure, travel and quiet loyalty. Danny – a big black Labrador was as head strong as he was gentle. Here are just a few snippets from his very rich life.
As a puppy Danny was always very naughty. When his parents were away on a night out they would return home to find that Danny had found the secret stash of cigarette packets and there he lay grinning in the middle of a field of tobacco and shredded cigarettes. When teenage angst hit it was hard to keep Danny from running around the streets looking for that lucky lady. For days we squeezed in and out of the front door trying to keep Danny from bolting out, while stray dogs in heat on the streets outside tempted this Casanova. Danny was clever, he knew who amongst us was weak. He asked the 3 year old daughter of a close family friend, Tara, to let him out which she of course obliged. We all screamed, “Don’t let Danny out!”. Tara, devastated by what she had done, buried her head in her mother’s lap wailing, “Danny runned away…”
And for a while Danny did run away. He went missing for weeks. That was the beginning of one of Danny’s great adventures. My husband, all of 25 at the time was convinced that the local pet store owner had lured Danny away for the purposes of breeding him as a stud dog. He and a friend, hooded and disguised skulked around the streets behind Raja Talkies hoping to catch the pet store owner red handed but had no such luck. Eventually we got a call from a nice family in the Lakshmi Theatre area of Vellore who had found Danny romping around in merry delight with a pack of street dogs. He had been on a shagging spree! Danny was returned to his family washed and cleaned with his vagabond days buffed out of him. We call this episode the day Danny ran off with the “Brumbees” (wild horses). Having had his fun with the ladies, Danny was ceremoniously put on the operating table and his manhood taken away from him. But his legacy remains – to this day one can occasionally see dogs in the neighbourhood who look a little bit like Danny. After this episode he let himself go and became a “gundu nai” (fat dog).
Before Danny ran off with the “Bruambees” comes the story of 3 yr old Tara and Danny. Danny lived with Tara and her family for about 3 months before he went to join his own family in Oman for a few years. In this time they became inseparable. Danny was not allowed on the bed so when you came downstairs in the morning you’d see Danny sleeping under the dining table and Tara sleeping next to him. And some part of Danny would be touching some part of Tara – Danny’s tail and the tip of Tara’s toe, an outstretched arm and a paw. They did everything together. Tara would eat a spoonful of ice cream and then she’d give Danny a spoonful of ice cream, then she’d have a spoonful and so on.
Danny travelled all the way to the desert kingdom of Oman where he spent a few fun years and had new experiences like camping at the wadis . The day Danny came back to India his mother demanded that he not be kept in quarantine and be released the same day – she can be very persuasive. So along with the rest of the luggage, Danny came round on the baggage carousel in his crate ready to go home that very day. As his mother opened the cage and just about put a lead on, he came bounding out, running out of the airport, his mother flailing behind him. If you’ve ever been to an Indian airport you’ll know there is a sea of people at the arrivals gate with banners and placards all craning to see who the next passenger coming out is. For every single traveller leaving or coming back to India his whole family, ten to fifteen strong, cousins, second cousins and grandparents included will all come to the airport making up the swelling crowds. But then on catching a glimpse of this big black animal bounding out of the airport, someone screamed, “A bear!” “A bear!” to which the throng of Indians fled in every direction, grannies and all. The crowds parted and out came Danny in to the Indian sunshine.
Danny was an important presence through the births and weddings in the family. Danny was the most loyal companion and absorbed the family’s grief when my husband’s father died at a young age. He stayed by his mother’s side through the most intense periods of sadness. When the children had left and friends returned to their lives, Danny was there to fill the void. As he grew older and even though signs of age caught up with him he refused to give up the mantle of authority he had earned in the house. He would always make his presence known and demand to be petted by all visitors.
As a dog owner you make a dreadful pact that your dog’s life is short, ten to 14 years at the most. Danny saw generations come and go and in the end he died with his family around him, drifting into a peaceful sleep. I hope that he went bounding down a leafy path in to the outstretched arms of his father. The extreme adventure that was his life can never be eclipsed by his death.
Danny – loyal friend. 1998 to July 2nd, 2011.