I’ve never seen a dog like Simba. We are not sure what breed he actually is, possibly a cross between a Labrador and Blood Hound or Great Dane. All we know is that my mother-in-law got him as a puppy when she lived in Oman to keep her other Labrador, Danny, company. When Simba arrived, she thought of calling him Casper because he was milky white like a giant polar bear. But on seeing how ginormous his paws were and his leonine features, it was pretty obvious that his name would be Simba.
Simba isn’t the sharpest tool in the box. He’s a bit of a middle school drop out. He’s very sweet and gentle but not too quick on the uptake. He’s more brawn than brain. Most dogs when they bark are fairly fixed to the ground, their body weight thrusting downwards. But Simba’s bark is so powerful, it lifts his entire forward half upwards, with his front feet almost leaving the ground. His bark is just so big that rather than a “bow owww”, it’s more of an “Arrgffhh, Arrgffhh” .
In his younger days, Simba was hot tail around the expat community neighbourhood in Oman. Simba attracted a lot of attention on his walks and people invariably stopped to look at him and talk to him. One French couple in particular,who had a fawn female lab were clearly smitten and came home after presenting their credentials (their dogs as well ) to ask if Simba could be ‘borrowed ‘ for a couple of days since their bitch was in heat. My mother in law was of course delighted and agreed, but her housemaid Lata was not pleased. Anyway Simba was summarily dispatched after Danny had primed him on the what and how of things. You see, Danny had been quite a Don Juan in his hey days as I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Two days later Simba came back all quiet and subdued. He wouldn’t eat and moped around and we just didn’t know why. Lata was unhappy too. Apparently the couple had dropped him off saying that though the two dogs had got along well, Simba had not ‘ performed” and he was probably just depressed. Danny cheered him up and the episode was eventually forgotten. A year later the couple returned and thought they’d give Simba another go. Simba was packed off again, much against Lata’s wishes, and once again, he came back, his ego much bruised. It was concluded that Simba was a one dog dog – Danny was the love of his life and that was that. No more proposals for him have since been entertained [Story contributed by my mother in law]
Simba unquestionably and with unfaltering loyalty followed Danny’s lead. Danny was without doubt, the boss. Danny on the other hand had a sort of indifferent attitude to Simba’s presence. But towards the end, Danny relied on Simba to keep his spirits up. As Danny got older, he was not as agile as he used to be and Simba would have to coax him to get up and join him for lunch. Simba would bark and bark until Danny finally heaved his achy hips up and headed to lunch. Simba wouldn’t eat until Danny was there. For a few weeks after Danny died, Simba continued to call out to Danny at lunch time. Somewhere beyond the deep, perhaps Danny replied.
Simba is ten years old now and moves in slow lumbering long strides. He doesn’t trot like our Abroozi, his size just won’t allow it although his heart is probably leaping ahead. He’s a simple soul, his life is without complications. Unlike many dogs, he has no desire to be The Boss. He’s happy to be led. He hates dog fights and human arguments and always tries (mostly ineffectively) to intervene. I imagine him saying, “Lets not fight, why are you fighting. Hey, no fighting please.” He would get very distressed when Danny, the patriarch, and the new kid on the block, our Abroozi, would bark incessantly at each other, I assume in a challenge to the pack leadership. With his powerful physicality, he could be quite a leader but inside he’s just a pussy cat and it’s there for all to see.
As a testament to distaste for enmity, Simba has a unique bond with his feline friends. Simba loves cats. When he was younger, cats would come and nuzzle in between his front legs and curl up in the curve of his body as he slept. He would jump up and pull down the door handle to allow the cats out. I have Simba (and the cat) to thank for saving my husband for me. Before we were married pictures and biodatas of prospective girls were arranged for my dear husband’s viewing. Similarly I was being told of an investment banker in Ipswich and one in Sydney with great prospects – I wonder what the Lehman Brothers had to say about that. Even the idea of a life long companion being “arranged” for you is unpalatable. Both of our parents had “love marriages” so the concept is even more alien to us. So when my husband was asked if he wanted to peruse the pictures of prospective girls, he flatly refused telling his mother that he wasn’t interested. Thinking she’d deal with the pictures and biodatas later (perhaps even hoping her son would change his mind?) had placed the pictures of these future brides on top of the fridge, and headed out to work. When the coast was clear, Simba told the cat to jump up on the fridge, bring the pictures down and the two of them ripped it to shreds; and so the chances of my husband and I getting married got better.
But sadly Simba has always been plagued with illness from Leptospirosis to a severe tick infestation and recently a serious ear infection. They say that with one hand the Lord giveth and with the other he taketh away. With one hand the Lord gave Simba his size and gentle demeanour and with the other he took his health. He’s been rescued from the brink of death by his mother’s steadfast medical care and despite his many setbacks, Simba soldiers on and I think it’s his kind, gentle soul that keeps this loving creature strong in his heart.