“Excuse me, can I share a ride with you,” a gruff voice bellowed out of the dark.
“I need to get back to town and I’ve lost my friends,” he said looking impishly at his feet. “It’s just, they took the bike and I don’t want to walk through the jungle myself because of, you know, the dogs.”
As if on cue, a piercing howl sliced through the silence, followed by another and another. The howls and growls gathered momentum as the dogs whipped themselves up into a rabid barking frenzy.
The man jumped. “They’ve got us cornered,” he said, his voice trembling as the sound of their bite snapped in our ears, circling the spot where we were huddled. “Quick, let’s go.”
Baffled, we followed him, tripping on the invisible knotted fingers of the aging roots that twisted below our feet as he stepped up the pace through the Goan mango and coconut grove.
As we saw the faint light of a taxi ahead, relief washed over us replacing the adrenaline that was by then pumping through our veins.
OK, so this guy’s reaction was a tad over the top but anyone who’s been to India will have encountered the stray dogs and they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with.
The dogs chill on the beach, mostly alone. They sniff gently at the legs of bikini-clad passers-by, let off simpering whimpers and stare with big brown eyes, pausing in their plight for pity only to scratch at one of a thousand tics embedded into their matted fur.
Desperate for a scrap of food, a fumbled stroke of affection, they slip into the suit of the much-loved pet pooch left at home.
But as the sun sets and the suffocating heat is cooled by the refreshing breath of the sea breeze, a transformation takes place.
Snarling, like vampires they draw their fangs before the leader asserts his authority, arching his scrawny body and snapping at the hind of those who dare to challenge him.
Like predators prowling the beach, under the blanket of dark these once-friendly dogs take on a gruesome form as the pack sets off into the jungle to hunt its prey and terrify travellers trying to make their way home.