Babur is one of my favourite dogs, full of character and occasionally stubborn and ornery. Here his new master, Rory Stewart, accidentally hits him when trying to protect both of them from an attack by other dogs. It is sad to see the permanent effect this had on a huge, powerful creature, which no amount of subsequent kindness could undo. 

‘Swinging at another dog, I accidentally clipped Babur and he cowered whimpering at my feet. The day before he’d helped me by barking at the other dogs and trotting beside me. But from now on whenever I raised the stick to try to protect him, he lay down terrified, thinking he’d done something wrong and waiting for me to hit him. This left him vulnerable to the angry packs and I now had to drag his ten-stone frame with me as I backed up the street throwing stones.’ 

That said, they developed a close relationship while yomping across the winter wilds of Afghanistan. As he puts it:

‘My relationship with Babur was developing. He was never a playful dog and he growled if I came near his food, but he was beginning to trust me.’ 

For other examples of this splendid animal, see Stewart’s initial attempt to walk away when he is offered the dog, then the clinching moment when he decides against his better judgment to take him; his account of Babur as a kind of canine Alexander; and lastly, having had to cajole, carry and drag the dog a number of times, the tables were at one point turned, and Babur kept Stewart going.

 

Source: Rory Stewart, The Places in Between (London: Picador, 2014), pp. 174 and 215

Photo credits: jc112203 and rihaij at pixabay

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