C for Chinese or Indian?


CMy little dachshund was called Ladoo. Over the years, I’ve come to accept, albeit grudgingly, that not everyone will love Ladoo as whole-heartedly as I do. Still, I never saw what was coming one afternoon in July 2006. I was on the telephone when someone rang my doorbell. I put the call on hold and answered the door. It was my neighbour (I still don’t know her name. So I’ve named her Saw Phan Nee). She shouted at me then stormed off to her flat. Stunned, I closed my door, ended the phone call and went outside to speak with her.

What brought this on? Everything had been fine so far.

When I rang her doorbell, she answered the door, but kept the grille between us locked, thereby, making it obvious that I was not to enter her flat.

“What is wrong? Why are you so angry?”

Phan Nee hesitated before saying, “Your dog barks.”

I frowned at her. What did she expect my dog to do? It was a dog. Dogs bark. I was tempted to ask if she expected Ladoo to talk to her in English.

“You must take your dog to a specialist.” It was a statement, not a request.

“Why are you so angry with my dog? You are always complaining that security is bad. With this dog, there is more security.”

“I don’t care. Your dog has problems. You have to take it to the specialist.”

“But why? What do you mean?”

“You take to the doctor. He can … you know, cut.”  She lifted her chin and pointed to her throat.

I gasped. “Are you telling me to have my dog’s vocal cords cut?”

Phan Nee shrugged before responding confidently, “Many people do it, what?”

I didn’t say a word. Instead, I listened as she continued to complain about Ladoo. Had she really been keeping all this anger to herself for all these months?

Then, she said this: “I’ve told management to shoot your dog.”

“You went to the management?” I gasped.

As though she’d revealed a prized secret to me, she took a step back and said, “I’m warning you Aneeta.” She wagged her stubby finger at me and shut the door in my face.

Ten minutes later, at the management office, I demanded to speak with the manager. She was a lady who appeared to be harassed by the fact she had to work at all offered me a seat at a table. She introduced herself as the manager and, with an air of arrogance, confirmed that a complaint had been made against my dog. The management would be taking action. She recited the provision in the by-laws which prohibit residents from keeping pets in the house. I listened for a while longer before I lost my temper.

“Your by-laws say people cannot keep pets, yes? The word is ‘pets’, yes?”

She nodded, startled by my harsh tone.

“I swear, if you take action against me, I will go knocking on every single flat in this property and tell them that they have to get rid of all their pets. This includes every single cat, fish, bird, cicak and biawak. And I will say that this is because of you and that neighbour.”

Sabar, Cik Aneeta. Sabar.”

I put my hand up to stop her talking. “Don’t tell me to have patience. If you touch my licensed dog, I’ll sue you, I’ll sue the management and I will that stupid neighbour.” And I walked out.

I spent the rest of the day pacing in my flat. In my paranoid state, I wondered if my neighbour was capable of enticing Ladoo to the front door, prising it open and, thereafter, harming my baby. I talked the matter over with my parents and friends. We came up with a plan, which didn’t seem to make sense at the time, but would do the trick of keeping Ladoo away from the door.

The next morning, I bought a child safety gate and planned just how and when I was going to install it. For one, I knew that if I did not make a big hue and cry about installing this child safety gate, my neighbour would give me even more trouble. I also knew that she left her flat every afternoon at about 2.30 p.m. to pick up her children.

So, I asked the management if they would allow one of their staff members to help me install this gate. One kindly Malay man arrived about 2.15 p.m. Throughout the 45 minutes it took for him to install the child safety gate, Ladoo did not bark at all except when my neighbour walked past.

5 days later, I received a formal notice of complaint from the manager. She also told me that my neighbour made complaints at the drop of a hat and asked me to forgive her. Tongue-in-cheek, the manager attempted humour by saying that my neighbour was probably going through menopause. I stared at the manager then left without a word.

When the door to the lift opened on my floor and I stepped out, I could see my neighbour cooking in her outdoor kitchen which faces the corridor. Unable to resist a confrontation, I stood outside my flat and said, “I want to talk to you.”

She pretended to ignore me. I called out to her again. Above the hiss of water being added to a hot wok, she responded with, “What you want? I very bee-see one, you know.”

I lifted my left eyebrow. “You’re not busy enough to complain to management. Why did you do it? You saw me putting that barrier so that the dog doesn’t come near the door.”

Phan Nee placed a plate next to the stove and dumped all the contents of the wok on it. Some of what looked like black bean sauce splashed on her housecoat. Picking up a cloth from the sink, she raised her voice and said, “You cannot keep dogs, you know.”

“The dog is not going to come near you. So, what do you want now?”

Still rubbing the black bean sauce off her clothes, she repeated what was now a mantra, “I don’t care. You’re not supposed to keep dogs.”

“Why are you so bothered about my dog? There is another dog on the other side of this corridor. It barks more than my dog. Why are you complaining only about my dog?”

Phan Nee threw the cloth into the sink and looked directly at me. Pointing in the direction of the other flat, she said, “That dog is O.K. That dog is Chinese.”

I stared at her for quite a while. Then, I turned away and entered my flat. I sat on the sofa trying to digest what my neighbour said.

Soon, Ladoo was at my feet and I saw the confusion on her face – she could not understand why I was laughing so hard. How was I supposed to explain to her that my neighbour’s hatred for her was because, in her eyes, Ladoo was an Indian dog?

(This story is a modified excerpt from my book, ‘Ladoo Dog’)

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12 thoughts on “C for Chinese or Indian?

  1. While I was reading I was looking for a connection between Chinese / Indian / dog… By the end it had me floored. A lovely piece. I am in love with ladoo :).
    Best wishes.

  2. Pingback: Great Storytelling Network Newsletter – 18 May 2016 | How To Tell A Great Story

  3. Dog discrimination ! Ha ha !! …I really enjoy your writing…keep writing…

    • Thank you for the encouragement.

    • Dear Aneeta,

      First, thank you so much for including me into your “How To Tell A Great Story” News Letter and Storytelling World. I missed you so while you were gone.

      I love dog stories and particularly this very funny dog story that shares much more about people than dogs. I have five, “Rescue Pups,” dogs. Having no idea of their cultural heritage, I unconditionally love them anyhow. Here is a “little” one thousand word dog story for you.

      “We Loved Sissy While We Had Her”

      This is a celebration and love story where love triumphs over adversity. It all started with “Prince Michael De La Rossi”, “AKA Mikey”, a seven year old AKC certified Silky Terrier, who came to us through Jeans Sister, Jill, in October of 2013. Michael was part of a Puppy Mill group of three; Mikey, Harley and Sissy. Mikey and Harley could not get along and Mikey was summarily discarded from the group. Harley and Sissy evidently had difficulties too; as Harley chewed and deformed Sissy’s ear during an altercation. Jean brought Mikey, a very shy and timid dog, home to Sarasota from West Virginia. It took a day or two but Jean and I were both convinced that Mikey came from an abusive environment.

      Mikey was thrust into an environment with three other dogs; Mesha, Miley and Mille. Mesha, Miley and Millie were two, one and one years old, respectively, and all are rescue pups. After more than a year, we have gained Mikey’s trust and love. It took that long for Mikey to get used to caring human contact and not being locked in a crate twenty-four hours a day. Mikey is part of the extended family now, Jean, Mesha, Miley, Mille and Steve. This is where Sissy enters the picture. By the way, Sissy is an alias. Sissy’s real name is “Lady Kiwi Luccia Magnifique” and now you understand why we call her Sissy. Sissy’s demeanor confirmed that both she and Mikey were abused. Jean immediately asked the Vet to put Sissy on what I call “Crazy Pills”.

      Months earlier Jill tried to integrate Sissy, dog number three, into her already two dog family. From the “Get-Go”, Jill branded Sissy the “Bitch from Hell.” Jill had difficulty keeping two sixty pound dogs from shredding eight pound “Sissy – Bitch from Hell.” Therefore, Sissy too came to us through Jeans Sister, Jill, but not until October of 2014. Both Sissy and Mikey became available because of the untimely death of their previous owner. Nothing more needs to be said as this sets the stage for what is to come.

      Like Mikey, Sissy immediately bonded with Jean’s care and attention during the eighteen hour travel time between West Virginia and Sarasota. Perhaps neither dog had ever been extended the human hand of kindness, care and understanding they found with Jean and me. Within a week of Sissy’s arrival, she began squealing in pain each time she was taken outside to do the doggie things. The technical term for what resulted from straining so hard to evacuate is called “Prolapses.” A prolapse is a serious condition that occurs when the anal intestine protrudes during defecation. Sissy’s condition uniformly deteriorated for a period of almost three months when we asked the Vet to recommend a specialist who might help in such matters. After our regular Vet and two additional specialists Jean and I learned that Sissy was suffering from a urinary tract carcinoma.

      We are now continuing with our special handling for Sissy and waiting on a Veterinary Surgeon opinion to see if Sissy can be saved. Jean and I have both become attached to poor little Sissy. The amazing story that goes with this story is about alpha dog Mesha keeping an eye on Sissy when we are not in the room. Mesha knows when Sissy is going to pee or poop and barks to let Jean and me know before Sissy starts squealing in pain. We have already had the prolapse condition corrected via what they call the “Purse String Procedure.” Basically, the second Vet Specialist stitched Sissy’s anus up so the rectal intestine can no longer protrude. Sissy simply strains now crying and screaming in pain to pee because of a narrowing of her urinary canal. As of this moment, Sissy is exhibiting Early, Late and Crisis Stage Symptoms of Transitional Cell Carcinoma.

      We expect to learn about Sissy’s prognosis on 2-11-2015, from the latest expert and surgeon. Surgery is connoted as being very high risk and a follow-up of chemotherapy is always suggested. The chance of Sissy’s surviving six more months, given that the surgery is successful, is even questionable. Surviving beyond six months has no guarantees either. On the evening of 2-12-2015, Jean spoke with the Oncologist who indicated that chemotherapy without surgery is not recommended. On the early morning of 2-13-2015, Jean received a call from the Surgeon who recommended that nothing can be done in a surgical manner to help Sissy. The only other option is to consider radiation therapy which is doubtful and Sissy would require follow up surgery anyhow. The Surgeon recommended that we put Sissy to rest soon. It is now just a matter of time for Jean to make her final decision.

      On 2-13-2015, Friday the 13th, Jean and I made a decision to keep Sissy alive as long as our special care allows her to have a reasonably comfortable existence. Sissy is alert and no more lethargic than the other dogs. Her problem is pain when she tries to urinate and she screams out for about one second at a time, once or twice, three or four times a day when she pees. We feel that this is not so painful that euthanasia is preferable. Jean and I are willing to take the extra time and make all of the necessary accommodations for Sissy. However, Sissy’s cancer will eventually overwhelm her and she will have to be put down. Our best guess is six months or less.

      Our local Vet has made all of the consults with the specialists and surgeon and the collective recommendation regarding Sissy is gentle and humane euthanasia. As soon as Jean is able to overcome her reticence to act, we will order the procedure and have Sissy’s ashes placed with our other loved ones Muffin and Chipper in anticipation of crossing the Rainbow Bridge ourselves. We cherished and loved Muffin, Chipper and Sissy while we had them. Sissy’s life peacefully ended on April 22, 2015. We loved Sissy while we had her.
      Steven J. Choby – 2-11-2015 – Revised 2-21-2015 – Revised 4-22-2015

      • Hello Steve. I am so sorry it’s taken me this long to reply to your message. Welcome to the newsletter/site.

        What a poignant story you’ve told about Sissy. Thank you for sharing it. I look forward to reading anymore stories you chose to share with us.


  4. This was really hilarious!!

  5. Scarlett and adh,
    Thank you for stopping by.
    Well, Scarlett, there’s a first for everything.
    adh, no, I haven’t adopted any more non-Chinese ‘not allowed’ pets. Maybe, it’s time I think about it, though. Hmmm…

  6. “Soon, Ladoo was at my feet and I saw the confusion on her face – she could not understand why I was laughing so hard. How was I supposed to explain to her that my neighbour’s hatred for her was because, in her eyes, Ladoo was an Indian dog?”
    Wonderful story with a funny twist to the end. How far some will go with mistrust due to ethnicity! Makes me wonder if you adopted any more non-Chinese “not allowed” pets

  7. Aw who would have guessed? I think this is the first story I’ve read about dog discrimination. How funny people can be. Enjoy the A to Z!
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

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