It took two-year-old Jack one day to learn swimming and lead family of four stuck in floods to a nearby shore at Srinagar's Shahanwar Colony on the fateful day of September 7, the day of unprecedented deluge. Now, Jack, a pet German Shepherd (Alsatian) dog of a doctor-engineer couple, safeguards the house from thieves and lives on second floor of this marooned posh colony.
"On September 7 evening, when water entered our house we ensured that Jack learns swimming as we were not sure what was in store for us. I thought we all might have to fend on our own. We were surprised to see Jack leading us to nearby dry patch on the Hyderpora Byepass road early on Monday morning. He swam like a pro," said Iftikhar Qureshi, a civil engineer with a government-run Economic Reconstruction Agency.
The family succeeded to move to a safe location. Just three days of devastating deluge, the reports of thefts had the family on pins once more. Jack came handy again. "We shifted him to the second floor of the house. He is safeguarding our house from thieves now," said Qureshi. The dog would get ration either by boat or through servants wading through chest-deep waters.
Jack lived off on dry biscuits only and no other diet was allowed because of fear of epidemic in the area.
But all dogs were not lucky. Irfan Ahmad, a resident of Rajbagh, saw his two dogs, German Shepherd and Pomeranian, dying in second storey of his outhouse. "They died in front of me and I failed to shift them to my house's third storey because of more than 20 feet water," he said.
Sheikh Naseer, a mechanical engineer with public health engineering (PHE) department, battled fast-rising water to ensure his dogs safety. He owned a golden and chocolate colour Saint Bernard couple, Morco and Polo. "Polo (female dog) delivered seven puppies on September 1. I was worried that water and cold weather will take a toll on them. All survived with great difficulty," said engineer Naseer, a resident of Hyderpora.
He carried the puppies in a willow basket on his head through rising waters and kept them warm for days together, while shifting from one location to another. "Water was chasing us everywhere. I ensured the dogs were comfortable. While parent dogs were ferried in a rescue Shikara (boat), puppies remained with me. Thankfully, my friend allowed their rehabilitation in an industrial area in Rangreth later, where they were provided with cushy and warm atmosphere," said Naseer, a dog lover.
He and the dogs are back in the house as water had receded from his lawns. Cold weather, however, took away three puppies.
The devastating floods have taken a phenomenal toll on animals in the city. While cows were caught up tied in their sheds, street dogs saw no place to escape the devastating deluge. Dozens of pet dogs in posh colonies were lost and driven into the currents of the Jhelum river, which roared on September 7 and left 70% of Srinagar marooned and more than 200 people dead.