There's one thing even my closest friends (from my adult life) don't know about me, and that is that I am a hopeless dog lover. I come from a family where everyone, grandmother downwards, loved dogs and had their own theories about them. When I was 3 years old...we had a handsome, furry cross breed. Everyone in the house adored her and even played Holi with her, dousing her with colourful love! After this dog died, we had a Dachschund cross - Sheba - given by my aunt's friend in whose house there had been a litter. Sheba grew up and gave us eight puppies one stormy night, and pretty much like the 101 Dalmatians story, one of them almost died, washed away as it had in the open drain. Oh no, we only have seven puppies, we thought sadly. We found the pup in the garden in the morning, with a couple of black ants holding on to its skin. It was shivering and barely alive. We removed the ants with a forceps and covered it with a blanket and revived it, yes, pretty much like in the movie. And then there were eight puppies once again!
There were others - Shwetha, a Pomeranian given by a friend; the Labrador Blacky, who wasn't happy in my maternal grandmother's house, and so we brought him home. Something told me he would run away, and he did...but not before I wrote our address behind its collar. Sure enough, someone found him and called us. We went and brought him back. Blacky was big brother to Swetha and then became her puppies' uncle, and let them climb all over him! It was really cute watching them...
As an adult, I've never had dogs. One, I live in a flat, and two, Vijay has always said with finality, 'Either a dog or me'. So far, it's been him! :)
The children did ask for a pet on and off, but for the general peace of the household, and the fact that dogs needed space, the 'I-want-a-dog' demands were, sadly, discouraged. To prove her need for a pet, 6-year old Malini even had a pet ant in a box! The box was soon antless and that made her sad. When she was little, someone once gifted Ragini a small bowl with three fish. I don't like fish in a bowl or birds in a cage. So the fish soon swam free in the murky waters of Indira Park.
Now is a great time to keep a dog, I think on and off. Once in a while, when I forget Vijay's 'dog or me' statement, or when we have a fight, I am very tempted to get a dog. Those cute puppies videos on FB are difficult to ignore. A friend posts photos of her dog, another narrates a heart warming incident, yet another posts a slow motion video of his dog running towards the camera...aaah! difficult to smother the temptation; it is sheer torture. I too want a dog!
So once in a while, to please myself, I visualise the whole scenario of my getting a dog. "What breed should I get?" I ask myself. "I always wanted a Golden Retriever!" Excitement! I imagine a cute puppy in my house, me playing with it, training it, taking it for a walk. My children coming home and making friends with it and loving it...my heart overflows with joy at the thought.
And then the voices of my conscientious street-dog-supporting friends criticise and scoff me for thinking of getting a dog of a certain breed and not picking up one from the street. Oh, no...what will they think of me? I ask myself horrified. I open the newspaper. "Adopt a pet" columns come every week, offering dogs and cats. They don't look very cute to me because I want a Golden Retriever. They make me feel that I am a cruel person to want one, and that makes me feel worse. Then someone posts about traumatised Beagles rescued from scientific experiments, and they're up for adoption too, and I have to pass an eligibility test to get them. I am sure I will fail that test because all I really want is a Golden Retriever. But then, I look at the photos of the science dogs and my heart melts, and I begin to feel very noble...this is not for long, and I feel like a terrible, cruel, very bad person for not wanting to adopt a handicapped or a street dog.
Ah, life has become very complicated since the time I had dogs. Nothing is simple any more, neither the choice of a dog nor the way one looks after it. One friend tells me they cancelled their holiday because the temporary home where they left their dog was full up because they did not book in advance. And when I heard of what it costed to leave your dog there, my head reeled in shock. Back then, there was always someone at home to take care of the dogs while you were away.
I snap out of the reverie, and ask just for the sake of asking - "Hey, Vijay...how about getting a dog?" "Either a dog or me", comes the predictable answer, this time somehow making me relieved that I don't have to take a decision about which dog to get!
And I see my Golden Retriever run in slow motion, far away from me.