If you are walking from the Mookambika temple in Kollur, Udupi to the Sabarimala shrine in Pathanamthitta, it will take you about seventeen days. That’s a long walk! But if you make that journey with a companion, it will probably feel like half as much. Thirty-eight-year-old Naveen, from Kozhikode in Kerala, knows this because he’s walked the walk—over 700 kilometers (435 miles) on foot. Naveen’s companion was Malu, a stray dog who took a liking to him, and joined him for nearly the entire journey. When Naveen made his return journey in late December, Malu came back home with him—this time on a bus.

Naveen said the two had never met before.

“It was after nearly 80 kilometers or so, that I noticed her. She walked towards me from the opposite direction and stopped when she reached right in front of me. I did try shooing her off many times, but she would just not go” Naveen told The News Minute. It seemed Malu had her own plans.

Naveen began his pilgrimage in the early morning hours of Dec. 7. He did have other dogs approach him and attempt to follow him, and he felt threatened and somewhat concerned about his personal safety at times. But when Malu approached him on the second day into his walk, she would not be swayed or discouraged by Naveen’s attempt to shoo her away. She stood out from the others, who were less persistent.

At the time, Naveen had no clue about what this dog was about to do in his life. Malu had a mission of her own, and for the first several days, she kept her distance from Naveen and walked in front of him.

“She would regularly stop and look back at me, probably to make sure I was still following her. After a few days, she began to walk behind me, constantly sniffing at my feet. I let her stay,” Naveen said.

Naveen, after seeing that Malu was clearly in for the long haul, or at least perhaps was in for that same endeavor, gave Malu her name. Malu is the nickname for “Malikappuram” and is a term used to address female Sabarimala devotees.

Naveen said,“After we crossed Kozhikode, I was positive that she would not leave my side. She is a very persistent and clever dog. She would patiently wait for me when I went off to have food or take a bath. She would safely guard my thirumudikettu (a bag of worship items) and sleep beside me at night,” Naveen says.

Averaging about fifty kilometers of walking per day, Naveen started the next leg of his journey consistently at 3 am. When he slept, Malu became his protector and his alarm clock. “My phone’s display had stopped working and I had overslept one morning. She tugged at my mundu, and repeatedly barked at me so that I [would] wake up,” Naveen explained.

Naveen had gotten so used to Malu that he was shocked when he lost sight of Malu for several hours. That was when they were near Pamba, close to the shrine. However, just as before, Malu had gone ahead of him.

“She was waiting near the steps that lead to the shrine. For the next one-and-a-half days, Malu waited there for my return. A few of the devotees who had accompanied me from Kozhikode called me on my phone to tell me that Malu was standing near the steps, sniffing at every man who passed by. She jumped on me the moment she spotted me in the crowd,” Naveen said.

Naveen met a bus employee in Pamba who urged Naveen meet a special officer to make special arrangements to bring Malu along.

“The special officer was glad to hear our story and readily agreed to let her on the bus. I bought a ticket for Rs 460 for Malu and she fell asleep the moment we boarded. She did not wake up until we reached home late in the night,” Naveen recalled.

Before Naveen and Malu first crossed paths, he would never have expected to find someone like Malu, a loyal friend for life. Malu is a special dog, indeed. And now Malu has her very own large cardboard box in Naveen’s home in Beypore. She also wears a brown beaded necklace as a reminder to herself and other of her amazing journey.

Source: Heartwarming story of a dog who walked 600km to keep a Sabarimala pilgrim company by the MNews Minute and Dog Walks 600 Kms With Sabarimala Pilgrim to Keep Him Company by Tv9 Kannada on YouTube.