Hope comes Home

hope - dog with Blog, story of adoption
Hope comes home. 

It’s an early Sunday afternoon and we are rushing to reach the place where we usually had our breakfast. We wait at the signal and a regular sight from Indian roads meets our eyes – an Indian ‘stray’ dog struggling to cross the road, wagging its tail tentatively at each passer-by and gazing up at every vehicle in an attempt to reach out to those inside. The definition of “stray” in the literal sense, applied to this dog – she looked lost, wandered around, drifted from one corner of the footpath to the other and clearly seemed direction-less. Yes, that in totality is a ‘stray’.

Anyhow, we stopped by on our way back, noticed her yet again and fed her. This continued for about 3-4 weeks, every Sunday. One Sunday, 21st July, 2013, we decided to stop a while longer. After feeding her my husband and a couple of our friends who were with us, decided to interact with her. She had a three-coloured coat, a gentle lamb-like demeanour, golden eyes and no voice. She was comfortable with human beings, seemed to be well-trained and knew a lot of the basic commands. And we knew that afternoon, that she was an abandoned dog.

You will probably sympathize with her and shake your head in resigned acceptance that this was becoming such a common thing these days. Since you are reading this on this blog, you love or like dogs and will also be angry that yet another such story seems to be emerging.

But what is the first thought that hits you when I tell you that she is an abandoned dog aged 9 ½ years old, with some teeth already fallen. In dog years, she’s extremely old and the abandonment had made her weaker. She couldn’t seem to fend for herself and had a bewildered look in her eyes trying to make some sense of what was happening to her.

We got her home and named her Hope, because we felt that her spirit was far stronger than her physical condition and her age belied her underlying strength of character. We had debated about adopting a second dog, but our plan for Hope was to try and see which shelter she could be sent to so that she is able to spend the twilight of her life in love, comfort and warmth. But she was too old to survive in a shelter and deep in our hearts, we knew that we would yet again fail – in giving her up to a shelter. Because, we don’t abandon those we love and we don’t give up on them.

She didn’t bark for the first one month that she was with us. My domestic help analysed it as trauma due to being left by her family and she was right.

Imagine your emotional state if you didn’t have a voice, were almost 70 years old and frail, left on the road by your family, without any money and every time you returned to your house where you’ve been since birth, someone would stone or beat you, till you were too frightened to return.

To add to that imagine your physical state, when you have to scavenge for food without knowing where to find it, avoid fights with others who are battle-hardened by spending years on the road and try to learn how beg for food.

Imagine your mental state, when desperation hits you to such an extent that you cannot find a dry or warm place to sleep even on the footpath, or your vision blurs due to age and so you cannot dare to cross the road for the fear of being run over.

All these 3 states, each day without any end in sight – Get the picture?

To be very honest, I don’t recall my immediate thoughts when I realized that Hope’s family had abandoned her due to her old age, except for the shock, anger, pain and helplessness. But when I sit back today, after a year, I know my thoughts- such an offence should be punishable by death.

Too harsh a sentence? I urge you to go back to the three states I shared above, create those states for one single day of the year in your life and think again how to deal with such a situation. I believe your soul will answer your question, in a split second.

For me, when my 20 month old son hugs her or says “Hopey” my heart fills with pride – because I think in a small way, we have probably taught our son that no home is complete without Hope and sometimes getting that second chance in life, is far more beautiful than the first one itself, no matter how old you are.

Hope completes a year with us today – our little old girl barks with relish at other dogs, loves her chicken and rice, jumps at the chance of a quick walk and growls back if Elsa (our other canine girl) tries to trouble her. It has taken her a year to revert to her “doggy-ness”, but we are very happy she made the journey.

~Guest post by Simran.

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Humans of New Delhi

In this great city brimming with a billion breaths, every day is a story, every night a poem. Some make sense. Others wait to be deciphered. Lost in the vast bleakness of urban diaspora, sometimes I have come across humans too. Dust specks dance. All you need is a stray sun ray.

Mile-aging a longer day in the cubicle, it was dark by the time I left the office premises. The punctured tire mocked me and I waded through the darkness for a mechanic. A sly smile greeted me at the makeshift workshop. Never a fan of the cigarette smoke, I strayed a little far off the nicotine periphery only to catch a glimpse of a bright red car and dogs running towards it like moths to fire.

feeding stray dogs, Delhi feed a dog, Humans of New Delhi
Summer isn’t always cruel. Feeding homeless dogs.

I followed the cue and witnessed bowls laid out on the pavement, milk and biscuits being served. I was too late to be anyone else but an audience reveling in the kindness around.

Supper with four leged friends
Supper time! Ashish feeding his four legged friends.

Belonging to that rare breed of humans who make a difference for good and yet prefer not to bask in spotlight, Ashish shares a special bond with the canine. Driving a car stuffed with bowls, large cartons of milk and biscuits, his sight propels a wagging tail synchronization.  Far from the madness of men, it was peace as good old lord would have envisioned it.  No monastery could have matched it for me.

Red is the warmest colour. dogs
For these dogs, Red is the warmest colour for it spells, a friend.

Summer isn’t always cruel. Here’s raising a toast to the few good men and women, toiling in other corners and cross-roads for a greater dream. They are to me, the true humans of New Delhi. And they don’t need a t-shirt to proclaim that.

These little discoveries, I long for. I hope to see on one of my wayward trips, dear reader, you.

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The Dog who knew no tricks

rusty dog with blog, dog who knew no tricks
The Dog who knew no tricks but one, love.

The damp Robinson Crusoe redolent of escapades from my younger years sits aloof in this cubicle that smells of dull deadlines and the ledgers of loss. Sometimes I see myself floating along the diagonals of the wooden cabin, just a faint shadow passing through, trying to escape whatever I am engrossed in.

Stupefied in the urban diaspora, the lost lad that I am, takes treasure troves through the days of yore, for memory remains my favourite drug, a peck in the epoch, being all along the periphery of pandemonium and yet not quite in the notes. Sometimes it takes a considerable time line to realize that the closest we will ever experience friendship is necessarily not with humans.

I never set out to teach her any tricks, fetching newspapers or paw greetings. I tried to be the dog myself, the only self improvement exercise I still undertake. Sometimes fascinated by how Rusty would twirl and twist her tongue to lap up water from the bowl, I would slurp water from my tumbler only to be put to etiquette chagrin by those around.

Running berserk in Soar valley, the wilderness in me found resonance in Rusty who tip toed all along the paddy fields with me. On odd evenings when stars glinted through the canopy of banana leaves, I would persuade her to gobble up my mathematics teacher but to no avail. Her ear gyrations however, would lead me to believe otherwise.

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to experience the camaraderie of woofs, please don’t let the vagaries of world take their toll on this friendship for girl friends , wives, jobs would come and go but a loving dog is forever. (BTW holds true for boy friends and husbands too) So let go of the vitriol around you, leave that phone and squish across the wet football field with your dog.

To the naysayers Rusty remained the dog who knew no tricks. It is partly true if your definition considers fetching inland letters but for those who know better every dog is gifted with love waiting to be discovered.  Dogs have learned many a tricks from humans. It’s time we learn a little from the dog.

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Silent Companions

Silent companions Dogs
Dogs are our true but often silent companions. Puerile of spirit and kind of heart, they are the closest to divine that we can ever be.

A few months back, work got tedious. Rather, the workplace did. I was so detached from the people around me that I would get restless spending each hour in front of my computer. I almost got up every quarter of an hour, climbed down the stairs and met the dogs. One mother and her two pups, the guys I named Hachiku and Chiku. Their father, Blacky would sometimes come back into the building complex after pursuing some fight or the other, gladly meet up, wag his tail and then leave. The mother and the kids were more of the stationary kind. I could come down whenever and find them there. They became my silent companions.

This also had something to do with the fact that the mother was suffering from a kidney problem and was dying, something I got to know soon thereafter. But more on that later.

Anyway, I would meet the three, often accompanied by a beautiful albino female dog, obviously named Whitey by me. She had a beautiful gait, the grace of a dancer’s, and each time, she wagged her tail, it was like an elaborate dance move. The best part was, however, the ease with which she played with the puppies. She let them bite her, bother her endlessly. I assumed she was the aunt. These four completed a strange void within me.

I am a romantic of the tragic kind. I like to believe, like most people, that I am especially tormented with thoughts of loneliness and misery. I find reasons to alienate myself from people, I derive reasons galore to let go of people, and often find myself utterly incapable of judging the real from the painfully unreal. These dogs filled that void.

A camaraderie without any noise, a friendship without any give or take; some days I fed them and some days I didn’t. A love based on just that, love. You will think these are the ramblings of an obsessed animal lover maybe, but no. They were as important to me as I was to them.

The puppies were my kids too, I felt responsible. And the initial problem that I was suffering from, the restlessness or the lack of friendships at the workplace, became the gaping loose ends between the times I went and met the dogs.

The three are gone today. One puppy was found dead in the parking lot, with its tiny legs tied. I assumed one of the housekeeping staff did the deed, as the pups dirtied the staircase often. The mother, soon died due to a disease my intervention couldn’t cure on time.

The third was Hachiku, who grew up in the next few months like the apple of my eyes and of Whitey’s. He was street smart, lanky yet capable and very naughty. I knew he would survive. But one day, he disappeared. I was later told by yet another staff that Hachiku had been seen walking the meaner roads quite boldly. I don’t believe this.

I am now left with Whitey, as she is with me. We meet every day, sometimes for ten minutes at a stretch, when I keep petting her, while she stands there, lightly touching my foot with her paw. Recently she fell sick too, and I brought help, this time, I won. She recovered and has since, been my friend/my person.

This story needs to be told for two reasons. One, because they did for me what good friends do; they kept me company in my self-proclaimed loneliness. And secondly because they are beautiful in the way they came and went, taught me lessons in death, and yet added to my story, in their silent ways.

~Guest post by Runa Mukherjee. 

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It has always been Dogs

As a child she didn’t believe in best friends but teddy bears. And then one day she realized it was stupid to play with a stuffed toy.

Filled with dust and longing, in the attics the teddy bear waited for her till rodents and ruthlessness consumed it.

In a long enough timeline, the best of friendships run dry.  Either I don’t know humans or I know them too well.  And every time I find dog fur on my blazer, the assurance resurfaces – sans gimmicks of all that’s said and sung in the name of companionship, tucked on the shoulder blade rests my own private totem that can never fade. For me it has always been dogs.

Charles Bukowski - too many people
The drunken genius Charles Bukowski on the conundrum that is crowd.

Often I think of Rail drivers who get up each morning to retrace the same path yet reaching nowhere, sans joy of arrival or pain of leaving. Forever alone yet never lonely; sometimes I wish I could be them. Then I wonder if I already am.

Perhaps that’s the closest I can be with humans. A co-passenger in the journey called life, sharing an occasional laugh, an approving nod or a breathing space.   With age you realize that volume knob also turns left and there’s more to madness than men. For these little self discoveries happen in a subtle manner and when they do, dogs always make more sense.

Teddy bears don’t hug you back, dogs do.

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Light – Poem for dog

Not all girls crave a diamond, some prefer a dog.

Not all girls crave a diamond, some prefer a dog.

The room is dark,
The night is darker

I wake up in terror,
inside a nightmare, in sweat

Quietly now, I call out his name
and feel the soft paws rest on my face

A kiss on the tears,
and I swear, I feel the dawn break

Warmth seeps through my clothes,
my skin and like a shot of adrenalin,
goes straight to my heart

He is a piece of heaven walking earth,
he makes the monsters under my bed go away,
and hunts down the demons inside my head

The night is dark
But he is bright,
he’s made of light

And If he’s here with me,
the morning, too, shall be

Author’s note: I dedicate this poem to my angel, my love, my life -Feedoh, who makes my life better in every way and to the countless other dogs who’ve brought and continue to bring comfort and unconditional love to those who are lucky enough to have them.

Dog with Blog is proud to feature the first (in a series of many, hopefully) poem for dog courtesy Mahima, our poet laureate. 

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Birds in cages

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”

― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

From pets stranded to the periphery of chains to birds in cages, the notion of freedom and love is a tainted image. As summer creeps in and the sight of pets tied to iron gates becomes a common sight, I wish those relaxing behind the gates in their air conditioned rooms spare a thought for the life that is there in vigil guard. As they feed the love birds in that silver cage and post the picture on Instagram or facebook, I hope in the flurry of comments someone shrieks and lets them know that there is neither poetry nor grace in cages.

Visited for years by birds, dogs and cows alike, my grandmother knows that it is not cages and chains that suffice but kindness alone. Feeding the canaries and kind for seasons on, birds have taken her shoulders for branches and sights like the image below aren’t rare.

free bird
Free birds

Coming back to the Stephen King quote, let’s replace ‘some birds’ with ‘Birds’.

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Noise – a poem

noise poem - dog with blog
Far from noise of the maddening world.

And it has always been
An uneven equation
Answers too many
Not enough question

Many authors
Few writers
A motley of DSLR
Photographers yet afar

Houses for sale
A dearth of homes
Tourists in torrents
Travellers long gone

Many a lost souls
Loonies too few
Ridiculed and resigned
Lives on stroll.

Often a bystander to the suburban mayhem, a dog on the loose, I witness life through forsaken corners. In the stark oblivion of all things clear and present, I accumulate anecdotes from lives that could have been. If you happen to see me sleep on the bed of leaves and plastic wastes, do say hello, for music is rare to find in this world of noise.

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20 Reasons Why You Should Adopt A Black Cat

To the skeptics this post might come as a surprise, here’s a black dog voicing his support for the adoption of black cats. For reasons I can’t fathom,  why would anyone  regard a beauty as elegant as a black cat for bad luck. Black cats are statistically less likely to be adopted than their differently colored cousins. Superstitions have concocted them into a picture of black magic, witches and all that’s weird under the God’s green earth. As Groucho Marx aptly said, “A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere”. From being a deity in Egypt’s golden age to Edgar Allan Poe’s cerebral protagonist, Black cats have ruled like only they can.

20 reasons why you should adopt a black cat
Riya with her adopted black cat.

I may give them a friendly chase every now and then but I dote on cats. It’s another misplaced notion that a dog has to hate cats. Anyways I would quip on it sometime later. For those still at odds to adopt a black cat (or dog) here are 20 reasons why you should adopt a black cat.

1. Black cats take the longest to get adopted and need your help the most!
2. Black cats are elegance personified. Having them is like having your own style guru at home.
3. You’ll never lose a black cat in a snowstorm.
4. Black fur won’t show up on that chic black gown of yours.
5. Everything goes well with black.
6. Black cats are always appropriately dressed at cocktail parties.
7. Holding a black cat is very slimming. Go ahead, try it!
8. Black cats have a ‘black belt’ in cuddling!
9. Black cats are sleek and sophisticated. (Like cats of other colour)
10. A black cat will match any décor!
11. When you love a black cat, luck is on your side.
12. According to Scottish lore, a black cat on your porch brings prosperity to the owner.
13. Love is colour blind.
14. Black cats never look dirty. Their bright eyes and sparkling white teeth add to the aura.
15. Black cats make you look beyond the surface to find true love and beauty.
16. In England, giving a bride a black cat is believed to bring her good luck.
17. According to a Scottish lore, a black cat’s appearance at your home leads to great wealth.
18. In Britain, on the Yorkshire coast, wives of fishermen believe that their menfolk will return safely if a black cat is kept in the house.
19. In the south of France, black cats are referred to as “matagots” or “magician cats.” According to local superstition, they bring good luck to owners who feed them well and treat them with the respect they deserve.
20. Adopting a black cat may be lucky for you… and it is definitely lucky for them!

Believe the purrs and the paws.

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What the hills long to say

Encroaching upon every square feet that they could prey their sight upon, humans often suffer from this chronic illness of marking ownership on everything their lives touch ― from designations following their names to salutations prefixing them.  There however remains nature, illusive and yet so present, wild and yet riveting in her charms, reveling in its wantonness. You just can’t own her. The wild is too proud to be tamed.

collect moments not things, What the hills long to say
What the hills long to say.

Hill stations, wild life sanctuaries and all that’s now marred by men were once meant to be a retreat from the worldly noise until it became too crowded to be anything, except the victim of its tourists.

These voices that I hear have no face. At times they come like hazy lights dancing at a distance to the orchestrated noise of screeching tires and blatant honking. Oblivious or ignorant to the speed limits, they charge through these otherwise sleepy roads as a runaway prisoner. Many a times their headlights wear rabbits and squirrels in its wake.

There's more to this world than just people, you know.
There’s more to this world than just people, you know. – Calvin & Hobbes

What the hills long to say is clear and present, plastered on the marginalia in bright red and yellow,  perhaps it’s time to dwell upon tapping the mushrooming hotels, resorts, home-stays, camping sites and think of replenishment instead of revenue.   Perhaps the only vice these escapades long to renounce are humans.

In the Himalayan slopes villagers tell tales of how a mastiff would ignore the stones hurled at him without the faintest growl if you had once patted him with love. He chooses to remember the caring touch that once was, ignoring the grim today. The wag of the tail however is now but, gone.  The forests belong to the wild first and humans are but visitors who shouldn’t outstay their welcome.  Who knows if one day the mastiff realizes he has had enough.

Bring your wantonness
and your pain
soaked in the rain

Bring your poems
and your prose
barren pages
tucked-in rose

Take these ferns,
pine cones,
take the memories

But please
leave not,
your beer bottles and
cigarette butts.

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The world as the dogs sees it.