In this guest post, Amrita Paul reminisces fond memories of a pooch whose paw prints would never fade and laments over not having any photograph of her furry friend. Like a nascent time warp that refuses to fade. Never to be forgotten.
She took to us like a fish takes to water.
One evening, when I returned from a walk with my pet dog (then around a year old), a stray dog (I later realised that she was female) came up to the gate of my house and started whining to get in. Not knowing much about dogs then and being totally ignorant about stray dogs, I started shooing her away. I didn’t want a stray dog to interact with my house pet…how ignorant and silly I was back then!!!! Anyway, she refused to leave me. Feeling sorry, I went and got her some food. But she refused to eat that. All she was interested in was to get inside the gate and meet me. This happened for two weeks continuously, when she would meet me after my evening walk every day.
Finally, I gave in and started giving her some attention. My father started doing the same by then. She enjoyed all the love and affection from us. And, slowly, she even started to accept the food we would give her. This turned into two full meals a day and small snacks or biscuits whenever possible and a bowl of water that was always kept for her outside the house. She became our beloved outside pet. And, my father’s darling!
Apart from food, she would get shelter by being allowed to sleep on a mat at the end of our staircase. We would even get her treated for maggot-infested dog bite wounds (which, by the way, she got quite often and always on the neck) at the nearest animal welfare organization. We even tried to get her sterilized but got to know that she already was.
After a while, we got to know that there were few other people in our area from where she got food. Not with the kind of love and attention that we gave, but just the kind of people who leave food outside their house for any passer-by dog to eat.
She was known to be the most docile and calm stray dogs in our area. A dog who never barks, attacks, or creates a mess. She had beautiful hazel-brown eyes and a lovely brown-red colored coat. She had broken teeth, so could not really defend herself in front of other dogs which probably explained the frequent dog bites. My father often told me that when he defended her in front of other dogs, she would do a small doggy summersault…as though showing her excitement on being protected.Sometimes, it was very difficult to get her caught and sent for treatment for her wounds, but we managed somehow. I distinctly remember one time when we were out of town and she got bitten again. I returned before my father and panicked so much on seeing her. But the only way to get her caught was when she came for her night meal. I begged everyone from my mother to the animal welfare organization people to take her for treatment at 9:30 in the night. It was easier to catch her then; I guess she was just too exhausted from the wound that had badly deteriorated. That was her last visit ever to the animal organization.
She would follow me on my walks with my dog most of the times, and it was a pleasure to always have her around. Aunts who saw this would call her my bodyguard and that made me so proud! Many times, she would come and greet me when I returned from work and follow me to the local grocer and patiently wait outside the shop while I bought things.
One day, one of the ladies who also used to leave her food started having issues. It turned out that they just had a grandchild. They saw this dog as a threat because she would sit outside their house all afternoon and sometimes evening too. So they stopped feeding the dog, thinking that she will stop coming. But she continued to sit there.
One day, the man of that ‘horrible’ house complained to my father about this and told him to stop feeding the dog. When my father retaliated, this person threatened to file a report. My father retaliated again. Just few days after that, when I was walking my dog in the morning (and she was with me), this man complained to me too saying that I should have the dog sent away. I told him this was illegal to do. When he complained again, I tried to explain why the dog might be sitting in front of his house. Now, these people had a driveway where they would keep plants and their cars. Both were perpetually watered all day, which always kept the driveway nice and cool. So the dog just liked to sit there and cool off in the scorching summer heat.
But this man ignored my logic like I was some dumb person just blabbering away.
Two weeks later, when I woke up in the morning and went to our front balcony; I saw the dog lying motionless on a side across the road. I had never seen her lying in that position, and never in that place. I knew something was wrong and woke up my father. We checked her and realised that she was dead. Upon enquiry, a car washing man said that he had seen her struggling in the middle of the road late at night. When she became motionless, he dragged her body and placed her on the side. I was of course very angry with him. Since he knew that we were taking care of the dog, he could have rung our bell to inform us about all this. We may have done something to save her if it wasn’t too late.
Our only assumption was that she was either poisoned or bitten by some venomous thing. But I keep getting inclined to the fact that she was poisoned.
Two reasons for this:
(a) She died on a Sunday, and all day I did not see a single person come out of that ‘horrible’ house…in fact the man of the house who had complained about her did not go for his morning walk on this day and for few days after the incident
(b) Her water bowl mysteriously disappeared on this day, and reappeared the very next day…she was not the kinds who would eat or drink from anywhere, so it was quite possible that whoever poisoned her had put the poison in her water bowl with 100% guarantee that she will drink from there.
I didn’t know much about burying dogs back then, so we called the MCD to pick up her body. Until then, we covered her with newspapers. Daily workers in the vicinity also enquired. I could barely control my tears and explain to them what had happened. Some of them even mourned her death, saying that she was one of the best dogs they had ever seen around the area and this seemed like a sure shot case of poisoning. One kind driver even rushed to put stones on the edges of the newspapers to stop them from flying away.
The MCD person came by afternoon, and took her away in a sheet that we gave him. That was the last I saw of her motionless, hard body that he picked up as though it were a rock.
It’s now been almost 4 years since her death and I still remember her and cry. No one knows her age, but I’m assuming she must be around 3 or 4 when we met her. She stayed with us for around 4 years, so that makes her around 7-8 when she died. Later, we got to know from a neighbour that she was born right in front of his house and she had lived in our area ever since. Another neighbour told us that once she had littered behind their house, before she was sterilized.
The amazing thing is that the night before this happened, after feeding her, my father spent a good 10-15 minutes playing with her…something that he usually never did very late at night. It’s like this was meant to happen because she was leaving us!
I still miss her. Sometimes I think about her motionless body lying across the road. I will always regret not taking pictures of her, but at times I have images of her standing on the road and looking up at me in my balcony with those amazing brown-hazel eyes.
“Any grand plans for Valentine’s day?” quizzed Kaalicharan’s baritone voice.
“When have I had any?”
“But,” smiling sheepishly he added, “You aren’t a dog”.
“Who knows if I am” with a sigh, the pseudo philosopher in me heaved, “a dog inside this human flesh”
“Too early in the day to turn to Nietzsche, Calvy boy” with a smirk he added, “Why don’t you rant about the Valentine’s day like last year?”
“Kaalicharan, why are you sounding like Moe?”
“Ok, let’s talk of girls! What about Susie Derkins?”
“What about her?”
“Hah! Agreed that we are a little twisted, but mustn’t you forget that you are La Panza and I, Don Quixote.”
Kaalicharan seals the last word yet again.
Another year passed by and it’s still Waterson’s magical world which makes all the sense:)
A cursory glance on facebook and it’s easy to delve in the wave of wedding updates. The delirious setting gets still creepier when the question gets popped out to you of unassuming corners. At office cubicle, over a cafeteria conversation or an impromptu conversation, there is always someone who wishes to inquire ‘when’ as if the gyrations of the planet depend on a matrimonial.
Fernfly has never asked me on these lines. So it did came as a surprise when she chose to skirt around the same as an answer to my post on penning a hand written letter. Advising me to keep my eyes open for Susie Derkins, she painstakingly scribbled down Rosemarie Urquico’s essay on why one should date a girl who reads. Adding in post script with a different ink, “Must love dogs remain the primary clause. And why only date, you should marry her.”
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hoursbut she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.
PS Images sourced from the internet.
“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they have lost their way.” ― Rollo May
What makes a human being?
The rhetorical question is as easy and yet as hard. Down the rabbit hole or up in hornet’s nest, the wilderness has a viewpoint which varies from valleys to the vagaries.
It is no secret that I don’t believe in humans with a halo over their head ― the ayatollahs, sacrosanct religious gurus and Swami Holier-than-thou and the Ulema Ulysses.
It is the hound I trust in. Period.
Always have. Always will.
Down go the religious connotations.
Science, ah you tricky magician! From Darwin to Dolly, the sheep, you have come a long way but pardon me an answer that summarizes humans as a motley of chromosomes, cerebrum and cervical. Genome and Gnome spell the same to me.
Art however is a paradigm shift; from Shelly’s Frankenstein to Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) the answers keep coming. Hesse’s Sidhartha shows the way while Carroll’s Alice reveals how the greatest gifts are found on getting lost.
Amongst answers many, one is sure; it doesn’t take a t-shirt that proclaims the same to make you human. Take a leaf from Jack London on his idea of charity, an ounce from Gandhi on kindness and those dozens of saints walking all around you changing one life somewhere in their own way and then my friend, give it all back.
Happiness is a strange unit that multiplies when shared. Together we shall divulge to forget all over again.
Don Quixote lives!
PS All images belong to their respective owners, source: Bing.
I love all animals, no matter what size or type, even those that scare people, like rodents. I had guinea pigs and cared for them as if they were my children!
But among all the animal kingdom, dogs hold a special place in my heart. I’ve always had dogs growing up and sincerely cannot imagine life without them. We, as a family, took care of them as if they were our own relatives, because in a way, they were. They would get the best canine food, the best medical care and of course, affection with no end. This is not a difficult thing to do since what they give back to you is so much more. You will never find a more selfless being, that will be there when you need someone and not ask anything in return.
We, as a family, had a particular affection for Rottweillers. People, however, seem to be really scared of them. You can’t really blame them, they are ferocious looking, but have great hearts. So it’s really no wonder that when it comes to dating and finding a life partner, someone that likes animals is a plus, and someone that loves dogs is a must. A lot of people in dating sites claim that they like dogs but it turns out that they just click on a box to make themselves sound caring. The real feelings will come across if you’re on a date and you come across a dog and you can see their real reaction to them.
I currently live in Argentina, and unfortunately there are a lot of stray dogs. I was out on a date with a man that claimed that he loved dogs, but when it came to the real deal, he failed the test.
On our way to the restaurant, we saw a car hit a stray dog and not stop. I screamed to the sight of this (I think anybody would have done that, even if you don’t love dogs as much as I did) and in tears I went immediately to see what the dog’s state was. Luckily he had only hit its leg, nothing too bad but he was in pain and there was no way I was going to leave him there. My date looked confused and not helpful at all. He mentioned our dinner plans, which were the least of my worries. I began to hail a cab to take the dog to a vet. He mentioned the reservations again. I did not listen; I was comforting the dog, trying to let him know that he would be taken care of. A cab finally got there and I climbed in with the dog wrapped in my coat. It wasn’t until I was already in the vet’s waiting room after the doctor had taken the dog in, that I realized that my date wasn’t there.
Had he been a person that really loved dogs, he would have hailed that cab and climbed with me. I lost a date and won a friend since the dog is still with me to this day.
Guest post by Eugenia Sincovich, an Argentine writer who can’t seem to stay in one place! She loves everything that reminds her that she’s alive and does her best to convey those feelings into her texts. She currently writes for iNetGiant.