This Valentine's, we're moving beyond puppy love. How about love between two real dogs?
Tashi Sir used to belong to a Japanese expat living in Patan who decided to leave behind his Tibetan Mastiff when he left the country four years ago. Thinking the dog would feel more at home in the mountains, he drove his pet out to Ramechhap and left him there with a friend.
One day three months later, neighbour Bihari Krishna Shrestha and his wife, Hira, noticed an emaciated and scruffy dog walk up their driveway and immediately recognised Tashi. The dog had walked 200km from Ramechhap along the Khimti Highway, crossed the Tama Kosi bridge below Charikot, then headed down to Dolalghat, up the Arniko Highway past Dhulikhel to Kathmandu, and found his way to Patan Dhoka.
"It is an amazing story, but not that uncommon," explains Jan Salter of the Kathmandu Animal Treatment (KAT) Centre. "We have had dogs and cats return to the shelter after they've left. When an animal becomes attached to a place, its instincts can lead it right back."
Tashi, now 12, lives happily with three other dogs. His girlfriend passed away a few years ago, and Tashi is now going out with two of Shrestha's pets. Says Salter: "Stories like this make you realise how intelligent and emotional dogs really are, something that we don't acknowledge very often."
Tibetan Mastiffs are traditionally bred as guard or sheep dogs. They prefer the great outdoors and like places that are cooler than Kathmandu. Tashi Sir has a calm and understanding temperament, but his eyes tell of the loneliness of the long-distance hiker. One can only imagine what he went through as he walked the two hundred kilometres
A dog's best friend, MICHAEL COX