Have you noticed that every dog-loving family with multiple furry companions across generations tends to have a favourite one, whose tales become legendary? Julie was our family’s favourite doggo who has become quite the legend across generations. She was incredibly fond of my grandfather. She would follow my grandmother around everywhere, almost like her shadow. She was a loyal friend and sweet playmate of my youngest aunt and uncle. Although she had crossed the rainbow bridge much before I was born, my grandparents’ fond memories of Julie meant her stories became my everyday staple as a child. Julie became my favourite childhood story.
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Since Julie’s stories would be on repeat mode every single day, I had picked an all-time favourite. How Julie used to hop on to the rickshaw (a three-wheeled passenger cart, for ease of understanding) when it arrived at the main gate to ferry my grandfather. The rickshaw puller would inevitably run away intimidated by the full-grown German Shepherd dog, although she would not even bark. My grandfather would then have to change into home clothes to bring Julie back into the house. As a police officer, my grandfather had to travel a lot, which Julie did not like. This was like her last-ditch effort to keep my grandfather at home so she could lie around him, while he did his readings.
My grandparents often spoke about Julie’s protective nature. During his career, my grandfather was often posted in high conflict, sensitive areas. So, there used to be a lot of security personnel around their house. One night, Julie – an otherwise calm dog – was exceptionally agitated. “She was barking non-stop that night,” my aunt said. “We realised something was wrong. On inquiring, we found out that a large Indian cobra snake was trying to enter the house beside us. That night, Julie saved many lives.”
Julie’s tales of obedience are also legendary. I remember how my grandmother used to beam with pride about Julie’s “military-like discipline.” Apparently, Julie never touched her food bowl even if it was placed before her until she was given a cue.
When Julie grew old, she used to sleep near my grandmother’s cot. One night she crossed the rainbow bridge peacefully. “In the morning, we were totally grief-stricken to find Julie gone. But we also noticed how peaceful her face was and how it faced the cot, as if Julie bid her final goodbye to everyone quietly,” my aunt remembered.
Julie’s passing away was heart-breaking for our family. She was buried with flowers in the courtyard of the house where my grandparents used to live at that time – a place called Sainthia in West Bengal, India.
Julie was our family’s loyal companion for many years. My grandparents, I am sure, must be reunited with their favourite companion. To this day, I think of Julie fondly and she remains my favourite childhood story.