King Tommy, with his gold-coloured eyes and gentle soul, was living on the street outside my house in Goa, India. I took him to California; he landed there as a 2-year-old, never having walked on a leash, and only two months later he started winning dog shows. King Tommy’s a Canine Good Citizen in the US and the UK, and has won Best Rescue Dog titles and obedience competitions all over the world.
He also became the first Indian Native Dog from India to ever become a Therapy Dog in the US, quite an honour. It’s even more of an honour to see him interact with people who need love and healing. He’s always had that gift, as if he were born with it, to heal people and give them all his attention. We walk into facilities for people with special needs and he trots in proudly and starts doing his magic.
We needed a base in Europe and Villefranche seemed the perfect place. King Tommy struts all over Cap Ferrat and thinks that David Niven’s pink villa is rather nice, especially since Mr Niven’s love for canines resulted in the tiny dog-friendly beach in front of his villa. It’s still there to this day. More often than not, though, there a few “handbag” dogs there that Tommy loves teaching a thing or two about real dog life!
Our walks often take us further out on the Cap to Saint Hospice, while a favourite hangout in Eze is La Bananeraie, where the owner shouts, “It’s the King!” each time he enters. King Tommy immediately lies on the soft mats from the market in Mapusa, the town in Goa where he was born, smelling them as if he knows they are a part of his past.
Every so often we take trips to new lands: we went to Sweden and Italy, and, when qualifying for a competition in Devon, England, he met the actor Martin Clunes. Meanwhile, in India, King is pushing to change the attitude towards the Indian Native Dog (see www.indog.co.in).
Monique Gold’s novel, King Tommy and the God of Beginnings, based on a true story about how a street dog from India became the first Therapy Dog in the US, is available from Amazon.