What you lose when you lose your dog? – RIP Kaali

  • By: Abhishek Joshi
  • May 19, 2016

Kaalu dog with blog

I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

~Pablo Neruda, My dog has died

On the eve of Ruskin Bond’s birthday, Kaalicharan died.  14 winters young, she exhaled for the very last time, late last night. She didn’t push the daisies or kicked the bucket but died. No euphemism can conjure, conceal or cure this pain.

Far off in the bleakness of a summer night in Delhi, I heard her last cries – the muffled barks, so unlike her. And the clock hasn’t been normal since. The cruel hours wouldn’t just pass. It is all quiet in the cold cellars of my heart. And once every few seconds, pain plays a cacophony I can’t bear.

When you lose your dog…the outside world moves on as if nothing happened.

With a calm indifference, the pines and the berries, and the gurgling Gola river were all the same as Kaalicharan was laid to rest near Rusty’s shrine. The twin rosebuds from Rusty’s resting place caressing the wind to greet her little sister. The cruel hands of May, took in turns, both my furry friends.

And everyone keeps reminding me of the long happy life Kaali led. They say that I of all people, the Dog with Blog guy should know how to handle this grief. But I know no better. It feels as if my life force, the elixir has left me. Like mercury in May, this pain in my throat shoots up to the center of my head and wouldn’t just die.

when you lose your dog
RIP Kaalicharan

14 years, truly is a remarkable life span for a huge mountain dog-like Kaali. But why it can’t be 30, wasn’t there a dog who lived that long? What you lose when you lose your dog to death? Is it just your composure or an entire childhood melting away like ice cream scoop in the midday sun?

I don’t have pictures from Kaali’s pup days when my father rescued her from a garage. Her proud dark face with a snow-white French cut looking at everything around cautiously.  How I hid her in my denim jacket as we came downhill. How she looked at the sun, unflinchingly. How she saw me through my heartbreak, unlike those who promised they’d stay but never did.


Unlike the world and worldly common sense, a dog’s happiness isn’t defined by square feet. Not measured in spoons or bowls but even a tennis ball is happiness. So often, she would come running and throw herself at the freshly mowed grass and if you happened to be sprawled on the lawn reading Bond or Bukowski, you’d feel her bear weight on your limbs or back. Ain’t no massage like that! 


Over the seasons, her eyes turned from the honey shade to a cloudy vacuum and I could no longer see myself in them. No, she wasn’t blind but the signs were telling. Age and all the ailments it brings. Yet, she remained a hermit.

When you lose your dog, the one who has seen you mature (or not) from your childhood fancies, you lose the scale that pits you to reality and relevance. You lose the glue that bound everything for you.

And now I see her coal-black fur everywhere, as if looking for me- winter coats, books shelves, TV rack…maybe if I could just collect enough of it, Kaalicharan would come to life.

Kaali, I wish there was a secret frequency I could call you at and you’d come. But no matter how many times I give voice to your names Kaalu, Kaali, Kaalicharan, please?… I know you’d never return. Your paws would not come dancing to where your lad stands now. Alone. In dead silence. 

Himalayan mastiff dog and vet
People from all over the world called a friend in Kaalicharan, be it Virve in Sweden, Virginia in Greece or Cathie in Canada, the Himalayan scent called them all.

She always loved me, even when I didn’t deserve it. And she loved me more than I’ve ever managed to love myself.

I wish I could have been a better boy to the wonderful friend that she was. Pulled poles apart in this grist mill called life, I saw her way less than I should have. With choked tears as I think about her at this moment, I can smell her coffee bean breaths, her glistening black fur, like that of a stallion. My own private dire-wolf.

Why do we always learn a little too late?

Love at the end of all things should be like this. Like how a dog loves you. You may be lost to the world’s design, little goals, planning that blueprint for life while standing patiently, the dog waits for nothing or no one but you.

I’m sorry Kaali, for all the vacations, I didn’t come home. For those lost chances where I could have slept beside you, putting your giant paw on me, the weight that always made me light at heart.

As another stray gust of wind brings her fur, coiled like cotton candy, I know no vacuum cleaner can ever wipe her memory. Ever.

Dogs never die.

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    10 Replies to “What you lose when you lose your dog? – RIP Kaali”

    1. My goodness, I am saddened by this news, Abhishek. As you recount what’s lost and what goes on, I visualize exactly how the valleys look like, with the unbearable silence.
      I am so very sorry for this loss… and yes, dogs never die.

    2. I have followed Kaalicharan quite closely, thanks to your large than life posts! Every single one of them has conveyed to me a deep association of not a dog and a man, but of two beings who were destined to be companions. And today, i attribute our association to this stellar being

      I cannot express in words and i do not want to say anything, merely because my words will have no meaning and your sorrow will be no less. Like you said, the outside world moves on undaunted as if nothing ever happened and one is left to fend off the grief and angst, which is truly an uphill battle

      But here’s what i should tell you, something so common that we share as individuals who have been blessed to have been loved by those dear and kindred souls; our lives have been better, happier and purposeful because of them. We have learnt compassion and kindness in their light. We have known what it means to be unconditional, in whatever small measure that we have been, and the world that we have been in, and will continue to inhabit, has been a better place because of them!

      May those memories and times make you a more definitive and kind individual. May her love make you more purposeful and may you celebrate her life at all times. In the times to come, i know for certain that you will establish a home for destitute animals in this country. Let her memories be a beacon of hope to steer you forward in that direction and purpose

      And yes, bears do not die, they only change form!

    3. Takecare. He’ll will be always there in our hearts.
      Rip kaalicharan
      Dogs really teaches us what real love is.

    4. I dont really understand what to write… my hands shivering…. i am literally sobbing… my dogs are worried why m i crying that bad… but u took me back to the memories of my two dogs, one with whom my childhood was spent, without him life is really difficult and the another one who has very recently passed away, he was a kid… just 4 years old… What i lost whenever I lost my
      dog… I exactly know what this pain is… I am unable to control my emotions alongwith the tears.

    5. I lost my darling 3 years back… maybe in physical presence, but he lives on in my heart till I myself die. He was a 15 year old Pom cross breed and the love of my life. We grew up together and now it feels as I have lost a part of me.
      I am just posting a small write-up … you may relate to it. I sure did.

      “For those of us, who have loved them and lost them. And then picked up the courage to love again, this will make sense. And it will soothe.
      ”Some of you, particularly those who think they have recently lost a dog to “death”, don’t really understand this. I’ve had no desire to explain, but won’t be around forever and must.
      Dogs never die. They don’t know how to. They get tired, and very old, and their bones hurt. Of course they don’t die. If they did they would not want to always go for a walk, even long after their old bones say:” No, no, not a good idea. Let’s not go for a walk.”
      Nope, dogs always want to go for a walk. They might get one step before their aging tendons collapse them into a heap on the floor, but that’s what dogs are. They walk.
      It’s not that they dislike your company. On the contrary, a walk with you is all there is. Their boss, and the cacaphonic symphony of odor that the world is. Cat poop, another dog’s mark, a rotting chicken bone ( exultation), and you.
      That’s what makes their world perfect, and in a perfect world death has no place.
      However, dogs get very very sleepy. That’s the thing, you see. They don’t teach you that at the fancy university where they explain about quarks, gluons, and Keynesian economics. They know so much they forget that dogs never die.
      It’s a shame, really. Dogs have so much to offer and people just talk a lot.
      When you think your dog has died, it has just fallen asleep in your heart. And by the way, it is wagging it’s tail madly, you see, and that’s why your chest hurts so much and you cry all the time. Who would not cry with a happy dog wagging its tail in their chest. Ouch! Wap wap wap wap wap, that hurts. But they only wag when they wake up. That’s when they say: “Thanks Boss! Thanks for a warm place to sleep and always next to your heart, the best place.”
      When they first fall asleep, they wake up all the time, and that’s why, of course, you cry all the time. Wap, wap, wap. After a while they sleep more. (remember, a dog while is not a human while. You take your dog for walk, it’s a day full of adventure in an hour. Then you come home and it’s a week, well one of your days, but a week, really, before the dog gets another walk. No WONDER they love walks.)
      Anyway, like I was saying, they fall asleep in your heart, and when they wake up, they wag their tail. After a few dog years, they sleep for longer naps, and you would too. They were a GOOD DOG all their life, and you both know it. It gets tiring being a good dog all the time, particularly when you get old and your bones hurt and you fall on your face and don’t want to go outside to pee when it is raining but do anyway, because you are a good dog. So understand, after they have been sleeping in your heart, they will sleep longer and longer.
      But don’t get fooled. They are not “dead.” There’s no such thing, really. They are sleeping in your heart, and they will wake up, usually when you’re not expecting it. It’s just who they are.
      I feel sorry for people who don’t have dogs sleeping in their heart. You’ve missed so much. Excuse me, I have to go cry now.”
      – Anonymous”

    6. Really sorry for your loss. Words can’t express what one feels when one loses one’s dog. Its not just a dog – its your friend, philosopher, and guide…

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