Time was like on a flight as I got busy with my studies and my sports commitments. We had helpers at home for dishes, laundry and cleaning. It was a mother and daughter who used to visit us. Sometimes, they are together or sometimes the daughter would come alone and what I heard was that she is twenty six and need to find a suitable boy for marriage. Ranju bai we used to call her though her name was Ranjana.
In Maharashtra, Bai is like calling Madam – its called out of respect. One day Ranju bai’s Mom told us there’s this dog where I go for work and they really torture that dog and don’t give anything to eat. I was thinking if that dog comes to your house he will live like a king.
“If you pick up a starving dog and making him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” ~ Mark Twain
The moment we heard Dog, me and my Mom we both said please bring it we will take care. Our Bai brings this dog who is skinny with bones and a thread like tail which had some coal tar on it dried. He was smart, he just won our hearts with his twinkling eyes. Me and my brother decided to name him Tony. Those days we were fans of Tony Greig, the English Test Cricket Captain who later turned to be a Commentator.
I am known for being self-starter, so I took the charge in my hands and took Tony for a quick shower. He was scared for a shower but with my wittiness and care he made things easy for me. After a nice shower, we gave him some food, mind it those days there’s no dog food or so. Tony ate whatever we ate, and I made sure that he gets whatever me and my brother eats be it a chocolate or a candy or a laddoo. Sundays when Dad used to go to the market to buy vegetables and fish or meat, he would bring for Tony as well. In the mutton market they sell you for 25 paise pieces of meat, and things that we don’t eat and my Mom used to cook that in the rice with little bit of turmeric powder and its his feast on that day.
In a week’s time Tony completely changed into a handsome boy. He was confident, happy and proud to be with us. I remember, one of the family when they visited our neighbor’s house they started calling Tony with a different name and said this is our dog. Guess what, even before we react to that question, Tony barked and jumped on them and that was the end of that discussion.
Tony, I can say grew up with me. He was there everywhere, only when I am going to school, he knew he cannot accompany me but otherwise he will never miss any chance to be with me. I was also naughty and playful and so was Tony, many times while playing he would bite and later feel sorry for it and will put his hand on my hand as if saying I am sorry.
Tony taught me what is love? and how to be responsible. He also taught me how to be expressive whether it is love, anger or frustration he had his way. I almost felt like I have a little sibling in the house and we lived happily. Tony was like a shield to us. One day a dog bit my brother as he was picking the cricket bat, the dog got scared and in self-defense barked and tried to come and bite. Nothing much happened but since then he was Tony’s biggest enemy. It would be difficult for us to control him but later when we scold he would listen with his head down. During that fight, the dog bit Tony’s ear and hence he got wounded. As I was taking care of him, everyone else started giving my parents advise that the dog is wounded in the ear, it might impact its brain and he will have rabies and we all will get infected and die.
“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” ~ M.K. Clinton
To all this, one even suggested to call the dog shooter next day and put down Tony. The moment I heard that, I freaked out and I was the voice for my Tony that time. I said I will take care of him and he will be fine in no time so I begged my Dad to give time until then. He agreed but he said, the dog is not going to be in the house. He will have to stay outside in the backyard in our scooter shed. It was literally like a Bollywood movie scene where I am in tears, and taking care of Tony, every day and night I will wash the wounds with dettol (anti-septic) water and put some ointment that was from the Vet. Someone told me if you put Camphor powder it will extract all the worms in case he has one. Those days, everything was tried so that he can get cured fast and during my ten days Dashera holidays, I put all my effort and took care of him and guess what Tony was back in action except that he lost some piece of his ear but that didn’t take away his charm a bit.
After that day everyone came to hug Tony and I had to remind them how they treated Tony. I think by now everyone felt it was a mistake to do such a thing and Tony became more close to me as he knew I am there for him no matter what.
As old age came in when he was thirteen, he was not well and while I was helping my Mom with chores, I was sitting with him, talking to him and asking if he is in pain. He would look at me and did say goodbye to me before closing his eyes.
That bond was something very strong in my heart with Tony that I could never forget him, his love and his every incident with me and at home. Tony was so stubborn that if it was not me to give shower then he will not let anyone else give him shower. He was such a human!
Tony’s death made all of suffer a lot specially me and my Mom. We didn’t eat for couple days and were sad and Dad was more worried for us so he showed his love through his anger asking us to eat and now on no dog will come in this house.
As they say time heals and now we see a Cat started coming to our house since Tony is not there to guard the territory. My Mom started giving this stray cat food since it was pregnant and I was kind of trying to avoid any closeness with anyone as I have had the taste of losing them.
The cat would come home to eat food and one day the Cat brought a baby cat with it and that one was so beautiful with dark features that I immediately took it and claimed this is mine and the Mother is Mom’s. Since then we had cats – Mother and Daughter (Kalyani and Sundari respectively).
“Pets have more love and compassion in them than most humans.” ~ Robert Wagner
Life was back again as here I didn’t have to do much, Sundari would just come whenever she sees me or she will be on our roof lying down with her mother Kalyani. One day Sundari came home crying we didn’t understand why she is so much meowing but later came to know her Mother died. It was sad but I hugged Sundari and made sure she is taken care of.
One day we came to know that we are moving from this place to another and I had to leave Sundari as she was not our pet, and never lived with us. But she visited us before we leaving and that was it. I once came to see Sundari when I was visiting my neighbors and that time she had started to look like her mother Kalyani, the charm was gone, she looked like a matured one with a baby in her tummy. We both looked at each other from far, and said goodbye.
“Every stray deserves a chance at love, a home and a warm bed to sleep at night.” ~ Penny Reid
The journey from there to my home was in deep thoughts as learning about food chain in science class was terrifying that now I see how life revolves, a small pretty kitten turned out to be a grown, matured one to be a mother and life goes on.
We moved in this new house and everything was new, the neighbors, the surroundings and I was in college and guess what, one of my Mom’s colleague visits home saying our Pomeranian dog gave babies and now we have one left – no one is taking because she is a girl. I thought of your daughter because she would love to have her. My Mom said, no we will not have it and more over her Dad will not allow to keep any dog so please take back.
It was that time when I entered the house from college, and the moment I saw this tiny puppy who looked like a snowball I took in my arms and started playing and that was it. I said Mom. please let’s keep her and I gave the name Jimmy.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France
My Mom didn’t want to be part of this hence she said I don’t know let your Dad decide. When Dad came home, I requested and pleaded to keep her but Dad wasn’t ready and I being his daughter was not ready to give up either. Finally, the guys left but Jimmy was home. Dad wouldn’t look at her or pet her because he said we don’t want any more dogs.
Jimmy was smart, she would slowly go to my Dad and play with him, lick him and slowly Dad couldn’t turn his back to her and that was it, reunion of all.
Jimmy being a female dog, people didn’t want her because she will give babies and as those days neutering was not a common thing and hence my parents sent me and my brother to take the dog to Vet and get her neutered. We both were going with Jimmy on a two wheeler bike. As we were in the city, I asked my brother, how good is it to take away her right from her? Just because she can’t speak her mind, can we really do this? We both decided we will not be part of this sin and hence we turned back from there and came home, said the Vet was not there.
Jimmy was never neutered but we made sure she was on a leash whenever we took her out. She was a beautiful loving girl. When I left home after my marriage, I used to visit weekends and she would recognize the scooter far from home and would start jumping, wagging her tail, and Mom would tell seems she is here that’s why Jimmy is happy.
I know by that time Jimmy was my parents responsibility as I was not home as I had moved to Canada, but then this restricted them from traveling and hence they decided to give Jimmy and it was one loving family who always loved Jimmy at our place took Jimmy with them.
“Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot little puppies.” ~ Gene Hill
As far as I remember, she was a happy kid and remembered us till her last breath – no news is always good news and so we stopped checking about Jimmy as this would cause us also feel sad. I am sure she understands!
After that, I decided not to have any pets. When kids insisted I bought them fish but ended up cleaning the tank etc. But now, we have Reyna an English cocker spaniel whom we rescued when she was five and today she is eleven living a life like a queen.
“Rescue does not mean damaged .. it means they have been let down by humans.”
Note: Now you can listen to the audio version of my blogs in Hindi on the UshaDawn Hindi Podcast on Google, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Check it out and new episodes uploaded every day 3 AM Pacific Standard Time