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Dog's biking adventures make him instagram-famous

New Delhi: Exhibit One. Ragnar on two legs was a Viking legend who sailed on wooden long-ships with a carved dragon head prow to raid and pillage Britain and France, logging so many nautical and land miles that no Norse-speaking booty-hunter before him thought it was possible. Any challenge that dared cross his path was brief against his gleaming blade of Viking steel.
Exhibit Two. Ragnar with four paws is almost as famous as the legend after which Shiv Shankar of Ranchi named him. He saw a likeness in character between his German Shepherd pet and the Nordic hero of many centuries ago depicted in the part-fiction streaming series 'Vikings: Valhalla. "Bothe are oddball personalities and fighters to the core," says Shankar, an engineering graduate, part-time tattooist, and astrologer who, stifled by the material world, sought spirituality in travel.
For the last 350 days, the sprightly two-year-old guard dog has been traveling the length and breadth of India with his master (@thebanjaaraboy) on a motorbike. That's 27 states, 3,000-plus places. Ragnar, indeed, is going places and turning into a social media celebrity in the process with more than 72,000 Instagram followers, who follow his motorcycle adventures that began in the spring of 2021 during the pandemic. Sequestered in his home during the lockdown, Shankar, 29, had all the time in the world to reflect on his life, "I was trying to prove my worth by chasing wealth just as other Indian kids are taught to do. I was losing peace and sleep in this rat race."
So, one fine day, he packed his bags, put some cash in his pocket, tanked up his bike, and off he went "into the unknown" with Ragnar. They first headed south- Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu until they hit the country's southernmost tip, Kanyakumari. They traversed western and central India, went to the northern states, and traveled as far east as the Northeast. Ragnar, by now, has developed a fondness for the wind brushing his soft sable-and-tan hair.
They slept rough, mostly in a tent or sometimes well-wishers took them in. Food would be handouts, again from well-wishers and kind roadside eatery owners, or from soup kitchens. There's little money and no sponsors yet. They went where the road took them. "I took a wrong turn once in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand and ended up in a desolate place by a waterfall. I  had no warm clothes, food, or shelter. Then I caught a small light shining farther up. We trudged towards the light and found an old man in his hut. He took us in for the night." Shankar says that in this past year, he has collected a lifetime to love. "Someone gave me a laptop, another gifted me a GoPro camera. Sometimes, people give money."
Social media has made Ragnar instantly recognizable. Children flock around him, letting out whoops of joy at his woofs. But Ragnar had his bad moments too- people trying to kick him just for the heck of it being attacked by monkeys in Himachal. Monkeys swinging from tree branches slapped poor Ragnar, and pulled his hair and tail until the poor dog recoiled into one angry, frustrated furball.
Shankar says he now sleeps like a baby, even on a footpath, secure in the knowledge that Ragnar will guard him. "If anything sounds or smells odd, he scratches the tent to alert me."

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