By Shaheda Rizvi, Canada 

Editor’s Note: Shaheda Rizvi lives in Montreal, Canada. She remembers how a 3-year-old boy reached her house in Westridge, Rawalpindi in 1950s and later reunited with his father through the announcement of Radio Pakistan.

A dog (not Tommy).

A dog (not Tommy).

We failed our dog Tommy but Tommy never failed us (Editor: Shaheda Rizvi wrote about Tommy in her previous article, Rawalpindi – Landscape of my Dreams). It was a soft, silent, airy and pleasantly warm evening, sort of evening when children play outdoors and older folks reflect at the beauty of flowers, trees,  sunset and the distant snow-covered mountain tops—Yes the mountains that we could see from our house were snow-covered even during warm months.  For some reason, the evening that I am to reflect on, in this story  was not a story book evening. Tommy had barked more than usual, causing great indignation from many members of our family plus my Mamu’s family who were guests from Lahore. That he would have to forego his usual crumbs and a few bones was undoubtedly one part of his punishment. That Tommy lost his head right when we had settled for dinner was not going to go down lightly.

Tommy was a gift to us from Yousef, a Pakistan Railway employee who along with Tommy lived at 125 Westridge Road, even before we arrived and occupied it. Tommy came with the house, fully trained, ready to spread his faithfulness and sweetness on all of us. But we were not ready or perhaps needed lot more training. What a blessing, however. Once a month or so, my father inspected Signals work on the Railway line, along with another Railway officer, and  Yousef and a few other employees pushed a Railway Trolley.  For some unknown reason, the photograph below remained safe from the chaos that hit our home a few years ago.

Yousef, the man who gifted us with Tommy is right behind my father(in glasses) – 1955.

Yousef, the man who gifted us with Tommy is right behind my father (in glasses) – 1955.

But I am getting ahead of the story or digressing.

Back to the evening when Tommy lost his crumbs. This unstoppable barking without any signs of an obvious intruder was very puzzling. Finally Mamu decided to step away from the dinner table and out onto the veranda to inspect the cause if any. The barking stopped.

Mamu: “Who are you ? Come here, Come here, don’t be afraid. Come…”

This went on for a while.

Sound of soft sobs was heard. We all rushed out, and there in the dark, on the front Veranda stood a child of not more than 3 or 4, afraid, alone, scared and yes LOST.  Mamu, being a very affectionate man, comforted the child and the child responded with more sobs, and slowly climbed into his arms, to be led into our house. Not only we forgot to thank Tommy who was patiently waiting to be patted for his good work, but deprived him of one night’s dinner. All that to say, our senses were limited and we could not quite grasp a dog’s dance to the mystery of life. Our Tommy was very much like a gentle soul or a scholar who’s never moved by praise or blame but remains focused on his spirituality or his discovery.

Front veranda, 125 Westridge Road. Picture taken by Brig. Tariq Saeed - 2013

Front veranda, 125 Westridge Road. Picture taken by Brig. Tariq Saeed – 2013.

For the next two days, we talked of nothing but this lost child and how to connect him with his relatives. Telephone rang many times during the day. Did he have any relatives?  Where was he found? What language does he speak? Clothes? Is he wearing shoes? Name? Walked all the way from the railway tracks in the dark!!!? Surely, he had a father, for he had attached himself to Mamu and called  him “ABBA”….

All  our neigbours knew that we had found a young 3-year-old on our Veranda, and they too worked  and hoped to find this child’s family. Rawalpindi Radio Station announced, many times during the day that a young child had been found  at a house located in the Cantonment area, and the parents were to contact via phone. We hovered around the radio and listened to the announcement very carefully. And Lo!! Our prayers were answered. Child’s father and uncle lived near Bohr Bazar. Grief-stricken and exhausted from two days of search were eating their meal at a local eatery, and suddenly, their world was transformed. The radio announcer had just finished announcing the contact information for parents of a lost child!!!


On the third day, Tommy announced with his friendly barking that someone unknown to him was on his way to the front of the house. Those were the young child’s Abba and uncle. As I piece back parts of this story, I recall that what we learnt through the father and uncle was much more sinister than we could have ever imagined. Hints of family feuds; rivalry among brothers for inheritance; stealing the child with intentions of murder, perhaps by the railway tracks, and some more dreadful pieces. My hope is that this child is now a happy grown man with a family of his own, and if he ever happens to read the Native Pakistan Blog, he might just say: “OH  THAT’S ME!”

And in gratitude to Tommy: “What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.”  Chief Seattle.

Related Articles:
Nostalgic Articles about Rawalpindi 
Photos of Rawalpindi 
Rawalpindi Memorabilia
Nostalgic Memories of Rawalpindi

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  1. A beautiful sketching of Tommy’s faithfulness and your humanity. God bless you. I am reminded of ‘Shelly’ my Pomeranian pet who saved a big theft in my neighbourhood at Chandigarh (India). For your information I am a child of Rawalpindi. I read your last story also but could not comment.
    Deep regards.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Yashpal Sethi,

      Thank you so much for your comments. I can just imagine your love for your birth-city, Pindi. Childhood stories remind us of our roots, our emotions, our thoughts and something that is deeper, fascinating and mysterious, I think. Much of Pindi including Tommy, have a deeper, larger than life connection for me. Chandigarh– what a lovely city to live in, and what a nice story regarding Shelly.

      Sincere Regards

  2. Lt Col Masood Alam (retd) says:

    An excellent written work highlighting the intelligence of Tommy, the human care in Mamu and the cruelty, and greed for money and material by bad elements. But the best of all is the feeling which one gets after accomplishing a good work. The joy on uniting of a lost boy with his parents can not be expressed in words. This moment of happiness remains throughout with one’s life and always brings smile on face whenever recollected. Your article has brought happiness and smile on my face. I also remembered my pet Risky and the girl who was saved from drowning and the girl who was united with her parents. I strongly believe that these small incidents whether you read about them or it happens in your life, they keep you going.
    Thank you very much for sharing and making my day happy and bright. Please keep writing and sharing. Best Regards

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Lt Col Masood Alam,

      Thank you for your comments. Indeed, it’s just this: “I strongly believe that these small incidents whether you read about them or it happens in your life, they keep you going” Such incidents connect you to the mystery in each of us and align us with our spiritual side, I think. They remind us of the eternal, that which is always within us.

      Sincere Regards.

  3. Albert Dean, Mississauga, Canada. says:

    A brilliantly presented article concerning an act of true humanity. I appreciate very much the affectionate character of Madam Shaheda Rizvi’s Mamu. It is folks like these who make this world a better place to reside.
    The intuition and actions of Tommy were indeed impressive. In my early life I did not think much about dogs. I now realize that this animal when properly trained is of immense benefit to man. Trained dogs guide blind people on the streets, they track and help rescue people trapped under rubble after an earthquake, and dogs are very faithful to their owners as was evident in the case of Tommy.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Albert Dean, so many thanks for your heart warming comment. Yes, my Mamu indeed had a heart of gold. I had sort of forgotten this story but in 1999, when I revisited Pakistan, Mamu reminded me of that time and felt that it was a remarkable experience for him– the dark veranda, a lost and lonely child and somehow he was given a divine opportunity to save him.

  4. Very Nice. I also remember the railway trolley and the phooey radio. My father was working in Pak Railway as an A.I.O. W. He was posted in Rawalpindi and used the railway trolley to visit some surrounding areas of Pindi.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Saqib Malik, I have lived in so many places and have never seen the Railway Trolleys and Railway Saloons of the PWR/PR. What an experience!! What about Central Africa? Thank you for your comment.

      • Dear Shaheda Rizvi,
        I had been so many experiences on Railway Trolley with my father, during my childhood when he was posted to his home town Malakwal. He used to visit Chak Nizam, Bridge on Jhelum River and I accompanied him. He did his official work and I did hunting of “Teliar” and ” Doves” in the forest of Chak Nizam near Railway Bridge.
        in Malawi (Central Africa) a big set up was done during the British rule, but now a days we see only some tracks and very few luggage trains, passenger trains are almost disappeared. People who are residing here since long time they narrate the story, how their forefathers were brought in to Central Africa from India during the era of British for the set up of Railways .The current generation of those people are now very big businessmen in this area.

        • Shaheda Rizvi says:

          Is that the condition of Central African Railways or Pakistan Railways? I mean no goods & passenger trains ….

          • I don’t know about the exact situation of Pak Railway, just heard on the news that condition of Railways is not good and most of the trains have been stopped, but in Central Africa now a days other means of transportation are much better and faster than Railways, that’s why people are not taking interest in Railway and there are very few goods trains in the country but heavy and huge goods are used through Railway for Export and a new track is under construction between Malawi and Mozambique.

  5. Dear Madam,
    The story is really very touching. I happened to read it the first thing after the fajar prayer. I am also big lover of dogs along with my son Sohail who is rather mad for dogs. We had been keeping dogs since the time of my father who loved “Hounds and Terriers” One of my “Russian Husky” fell sick and became quiet and dumb; and the Vet suggested that he should be killed. When he was shot my son did not eat or drink for may days. There are so many instances recorded in history when the dogs saved their masters. St. Bernards are supposed to be more humane than animals when they are busy on the heights of Alps rescuing people buried in snow.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Honourable Rafique Khan Sahib, is how I ought to address you, after reading your marvelous stories .

      So many thanks for your comments and what is most touching for me is: “I happened to read it the first thing after the fajar prayer.” — What a lovely story of your Russian Husky. That dog is a man’s best friend is the penultimate truth. Maybe you’ll share one of your dog stories soon.

  6. Major (R) Munir Ahmed says:

    Shaheda Behan,
    As ever, a fantastic article to read. Allah has blessed you with remarkable memory. Keep it up & keep sharing.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Major Munir Ahmed, I always enjoy your comment and the suffix “Behan” — very endearing, and I am very grateful.

  7. Maj (R) Khalid Saeed Shah says:

    The dog and horse remain the oldest companions of human beings and reliable and faithful as well. A well known American author of Western literature Louis L’Amour once comments in one of his stories that “blood matters a lot in men, horses and dogs”.
    We appreciate Tommy showing sense of duty and belonging to a good breed/ pedigree. A very well written article, many thanks for sharing.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Maj Khalid Saeed Shah, Many thanks for your comment. Thought provoking point: “blood matters a lot in men, horses and dogs” – — Journal of Science reported: “A complete blueprint of the domestic horse’s genetic code has revealed remarkable similarities with humans, say scientists”. I wonder whether they’ve found the same link among dogs, cats and man.”

  8. Mem, A wonderful article. Unfortunately we have very few animal lovers left- rather very few animals to love. The other part of your story vis our social culture of human intolerance has abounded. But all is not lost. We still have wonderful people around. Keep up the good work.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Brig Zafar Iqbal,

      Thanks so much for your sincere comments. I agree that all is not lost and that there still are wonderful people.

  9. Shahid Salam, Canada says:

    The story brings out the humanity of your folks.
    Wonder how many missing children are reconnected to their families in Pakistan today?
    Here in North America they issue an ‘Amber Alert’ any time a child goes missing.
    Shamanism, the belief system of the native Indians of North America has a long tradition of working with animal spirits: http://www.animalspirits.com/index1.html

  10. Madam, Amazing capabilities of your dog Tommy, really deserves a bouquet of symbolic flowers, as suggested by Azam Gill. A very well written story.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Sajid Baig,

      Thank you again for a very insightful comment, that is Tommy’s abilities. Tommy could have easily chased the little one off the grounds, he did none of that, but sat in one place and barked many times. It’s only now in my old age, that I seem to recognize Tommy’s wisdom that which appeared as madness, then. That’s why I wrote, that Tommy came fully trained and we needed training.

      On “Bachon Ka Programme”: Was it on Sundays? I do remember that we all listened to that program with great fondness. Great job!! Pindi Radio Broadcasting and so many programs + Cricket commentary was totally outstanding.

  11. Tariq Masud says:

    It is well past midnight and I was half asleep when this beautifully written and moving story about human goodness woke me up. Please keep writing. We need such stories to raise our morale in Pakistan.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Tariq Masud,

      Thank you so much for your kind comments. Encouraging comments such as these + the Editor’s efforts are great motivators.

  12. Azam Gill, France says:

    “a dog’s dance to the mystery of life”: in itself deserves a bouquet of flowers and more for the rest of it. Please accept my symbolic flowers, Shaheda Rizvi, and advice from a fellow-writer. These three articles on ‘Pindi are also a ‘synopsis’ for a 50,000 word short novel. Thank you for another enriching read.

    {Editor: My friend Azam Gill is a famous writer. He has written two novels, ‘Blood Money’ and ‘Flight to Pakistan’. Two other novels are in the pipeline.}

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Azam Gill,

      Thank you ever so much for your most sincere comments. OK…‘Blood Money’ and ‘Flight to Pakistan’ are on my reading list. Thank you Col. Cheema for your note re: Azam Gill’s literary works.

      Shaheda Rizvi (accepting humbly those symbolic flowers)!!

  13. Madam, it’s a nice story.

    • Shaheda Rizvi says:

      Dear Editor,

      Thoroughly indebted to you for publishing my article and then followed by kind comments as well.

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