Friday, July 9, 2010

My Guru - Kutty, India's first Therapy dog

They say, if you want to learn the good stuff, learn it from the master. A puppy learn to give a paw, fetch the ball, roll over, poop at the right place, not to chew the furniture etc, but I learned many more things that that. When i was just a frisky little puppy, I used to play with this super cool dog who used to come to a special school in front of our house. She was Kutty a big golden Lab. When I grew up I came to know that she was Kutty - India's first Therapy dog. The school had a big garden where we used to play. I was still very playful and naughty, doing crazy things like chasing my tail , running after butterflies etc. But Kutty was very patient with me, nudging me with her nose when I would stumble, bowing down on front paws calling me to play. They also had a pond in the garden which had little fish in it. As a puppy, once I got all excited and went to chase them. I don't know what got into me, but I jumped into the pool. I swear Kutty must have laughed at me, saying what a silly girl I was.

There were also many children playing around us. But they were different. They ran oddly, some sat on a moving chair and used funny sticks to walk. Some screamed and talked loudly while some did not talk at all. I used to be a little confused and would move back if a child came to me. But Kutty was a friend to all these children. She knew them and knew that they meant no harm. The kids would squeal with joy when they would see Kutty, they would run around and chase her. Some would come and hug her tight. Even while playing ball some could not hold or throw the ball properly. Still Kutty would fetch ball for them, every time with the same enthusiasm. Children who could not walk properly would hold her leash and try to walk. I was amazed to see who calm she was around these children, something that I had to learn big time. Slowly I learned to trust the kids and would play with them too.

But the most important thing that I learned from her was to understand human emotions and to respond to them. As dogs we have this innate quality of sensing changes in human emotions much before a human can even understand them. But not all dogs know what to do of this gift that we have. Kutty taught me to tune my senses to the changes in the emotions of the people around me. I would observe her connection with the special children. She somehow knew which once was about to cry. She would just go and sit besides him or lick his face and the child would break into a smile. She would look at a child with hopeful eyes and a waging tail and a child who would not speak would also try to call out her name. This was the Pawsitive effect of Kutty. Later when I did my first project at a special school, these teachings of Kutty helped me a lot to understand those kids and to bring a smile on their face.

Later we went on to do a program together which was very significant for me. It taught me a lot about how sad, unhappy and scarred humans can get at the loss of their loved ones. And what a big difference our waging tails and touch of our soft fur can do for them. It was rightly called Raahat Ka Ehsaas. There we met a lot of people who had lost their loved ones in a train blast. Some had lost their limbs, some were still in a state of shock and sadness. Before we met them, they were all sharing their grief with each other. Some were also crying. But as soon as Kutty entered, the mood of the entire room changed. Like a pro Kutty walked in the room full of people. From a dog's perspective I know how difficult it was to walk in a emotionally charged room full of strangers. But seeing Kutty, the emotional charge of the room changed. People came near her, hugged her, petted her, cried on touching her. When I came into the room sometime later, the people were much more relaxed. There were smiles all around us. I feel humbled when I think of the difference we could make in their lives.

Kutty is now seven years old and I am five. It will still take me many more years to be a super cool dog like her. She is truly an Angel.
To know more about our Angels log on to

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