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Roadside Encounters: Raj and Hug

Names: Raj and Hug

Age: Hug (the dog) is three.

Breed: Hug is a Rottweiller-German shepherd mix.

Encountered: In a trailer park in Norfolk, Virginia.

Backstory: I was taking Ace for his after dinner walk, when — as we passed through a parking lot, behind a mobile home park — a car slowly pulled up alongside us.

“He looks just like my dog,” the driver, speaking in a thick Indian accent, said. “He lives right over there,” he added, pointing at a mobile home that backed up to the parking lot.

He introduced himself as Raj, and we talked for five minutes as he petted Ace, who’d stuck his nose through the open car window.

After Raj pulled away, I circled the block, and walked back along busy Military Highway, headed  to my Motel 6. From out of nowhere, Raj pulled up alongside me again, this time with his daughter in the passenger seat. He stopped his car in the traffic so she could meet Ace, through the window, as well. Then he insisted I come see his dog.

“I’ll meet you there in two minutes,” he said as a long line of cars backed up behind him.

I went back to my room, grabbed my camera and returned to the mobile home park. As Ace and I walked up to his home, Hug came out, pulling the slightly built Raj behind him.

Ace and Hug hit it off fine. And they are remarkably similar in appearance — same eyes, same ears, same curly tail.

They both enjoyed some water and treats, supplied by Raj’s wife. She works at a nearby McDonalds. Raj, who moved to the U.S. 30 years ago from New Delhi, used to work at a McDonalds and drove a limousine until he got sick. He can’t work anymore, his wife explained.

Raj and his family adopted Hug from a local shelter about two years ago. Raj says he has always had dogs and can’t imagine life without one. He shook hands with Ace before we left and gave him a prolonged hug.

“I love dogs too much,” he said. “Yes, I love dogs too much.”

Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.


Comment from Lisa
Time August 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I can’t really put my finger on why, but your roadtrip stories are probably my favorite thing on the internet right now.

Maybe it’s just the daily reminders that overall, people are good, dogs are awesome, and life can be fun.

Whatever it is, thank you for this feature, Joe. I’m loving it.

Comment from jwoestendiek
Time August 21, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Thanks, Lisa.
(It’s John, not Joe), but with compliments like that, you can call me anything.

Comment from Anonymous
Time August 23, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Wish I’d known you were coming to Norfolk. I would have at least fed you and Ace, and hopefully saved you from the Motel 6. If you’re in Norfolk again, please look me up.

Comment from siren
Time October 5, 2012 at 3:44 am

I’m an animal empath and I don’t know why, even tough I read here that Raj loves hug, there is such utter sadness coming from him. He must have been hurt by someone, or he misses someone very much. I hope Raj treats him very kindly. That is rewarded in afterlife!