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.