Silly question, but do you remember your first birthday – not sure if you would remember the exact details, what dress you wore or what cake you ate or who came…but even as a year old you probably do remember how it felt, right?
18th September 2011, Satbir and I made the decision that we felt would lead to a heartbreak finally…but at that time, we really didn’t know, did we? A close friend called up to share that there was a 25-day old motherless puppy, found under a car…shivering, alone and lost. We loved dogs, but getting home one was really not in the picture, because we had hectic jobs and it was a big responsibility…you couldn’t take them out with you to most places, you couldn’t leave them alone for long, you knew they had shorter lives and their suffering was unbearable for you to watch…many, many valid reasons to not get one home.
But only one single reason to get a dog home – we loved them! So we decided on the middle path – we shall foster the pup since she would not survive in the shelter due to her age and delicate condition, but when we found a loving home that wanted to adopt her, we would give her away.
On a nice bright Sunday, we met Simmy, our friend at Connaught Place and we got Elsa home…as the days were to pass we realized that she was true to her name – a little lioness from Born Free! Small indications such as the never–bending, white-tipped little tail and her anger at being force-fed Cerelac (she actually hide in the corner for 2 hours and refused to look at us!) should have given us clear signs of what was to come
Of course, since neither of us had managed such a tiny pup, our bewilderment at the massive task of doing the right things for her was natural…my biggest worry was like any other baby, she needed her natural mother to give her a sense of safety and no matter what I did, I might not be able to create the same sense of comfort in her little heart and soul…but I underestimated the warmth and openness that she had – without any reservations or hesitation she adopted us as her parents.
As we kept debating which home would be best for her since we had got calls for her adoption, I started dreading the day she would go away..and whether her new parents would let us meet her in the future, would they understand our love for her, would she even remember us after some months…after days of conflicting thoughts, we decided to adopt her ourselves. At that stage, it seemed like an impulsive decision which perhaps didn’t seem to involve assessing the responsibilities it entailed, but to be very honest, all we knew then was that we loved her and there was a reason she had come to our home in this manner…we also discovered that we were never meant to be foster parents because that takes courage to be able to give up the puppy you rescued for his or her betterment and we didn’t have it !
Our life actually did a 360-degree turn once Elsa came – we now had to reschedule our pre-planned holidays, work out our timings since she was too small to be left alone at home, become more active since she needed to exercise and to top it all, plan how to shift cities with a dog!
But we did all those things and more – because we loved her and she was our priority always, and we could do it because we had a supportive family…we could go on our holidays, because Elsa had a home to stay in with my parents and sister comfortably, rather than a boarding… We could shift cities because my mother was able to travel with me so that we could ensure that Elsa doesn’t get uneasy (it was her first train travel)…
A lot of people might not understand it, especially in the world we inhabit today where human life has no value (so the life of a little dog probably means nothing to several people)– but as Elsa turns a year old, I can proudly say that she taught me what it was to be a mother…the anxieties when she seems unwell or upset, the unconditional love, the pride when people love and praise her for her behaviour– but most importantly, the undiluted, unadulterated and unspoken bond that often gets lost in the noise and clutter around us. She made me realize that bond did not get defined by the boundaries of whether one was a human being or an animal…
I know that many of us think of getting a pet dog, but are deterred by the responsibilities, the changes it will require us to make in our lives, space constraints and also because we genuinely do not want to neglect him or her, due to our hectic work schedules.
But you may want to ask yourself the question I still often think of – what might have been Elsa’s life if she was left on the road that day? Think of the possible answers and perhaps those will remove all the deterrents….there are always solutions to these worries we might have, they might not be the perfect solutions, but weigh those against the daily struggle that an Indian dog undergoes on the road each moment (to survive getting hit by cars and kicked by people, to scavenge for food in the darkest corners, to live in infection and disease, to just be picked up randomly one day by government authorities because someone complained that his or her friendly behaviour was a “menace”….the struggle is beyond our comprehension)
It really might be time for you to check – a little Elsa is also waiting right outside your house, perhaps under a car, you may want to bring her home.
~Guest post was written by Simran Oberoi.