Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Caeser's reign

"I will stay home and look after the pup. When you all go on holidays, I will eat canned food and feed the puppy too. I will walk him, clean up after him. I will study hard." ..All these were promises made by my then nine year old son, Sidhant. It was 2001 and he was ready for a birthday. He also claimed he was ready for a puppy of his own.

As most parents know first hand all the promises fall into the category of 'famous last words' . The first day after they get what they want, they fly around beaming and doing your bidding. On day two, there is a slight time lag in the command and it's execution and the smile is missing. By day three, there is a definite air of civil disobedience, which turns into defiance by day four.They discover that they have a lot more work than they ever realized and all of it needs to be completed pronto. You would have to be a truly uncaring parent to expect them to keep the promises they assure you, they fully intended to honour.

Thus it was, based on promises, even I knew were made to be broken, that Caesar entered our lives. The fact that he peed on my lap in the car, on the way home, should have been an omen of things to come and a realization that he would be one more dimension to my already crazy life. We already had a kennel ready for him and things were to go smoothly. As a virgin pet owner, little did I realize that Murphy's law applies wholly and completely to pets. We did all that we were supposed to do and retired for the night with a chorus of bright 'goodnights'. A little later it was obvious that either no one had bothered to educate Caesar on the meaning of a 'goodnight' or he was choosing to ignore his education. The plaintive crying was enough to get me arrested by the SPCA and everyone could be forgiven for believing that we were indulging in some major abuse. To prevent any such misunderstandings and ensure that we all got some sleep, I volunteered to sleep in the same room as him.

With that he seemed to settle down better and his little sigh was echoed by all of us. Expecting to have to take him down early in the morning for all his morning jobs (the book said that was the way to potty train a pup and keep the house clean) I got up early. Then again, I need not have bothered. After a brief and enthusiastic licking of my face, he proudly ran to a couple of corners that were his chosen toilet spots. You could say that the house had gone to the dogs!

This was just a brief preview of how my life would go from then on....

Caeaer , in his prime

Eight years and several dog experiences and dog books later, I understand that pets are like children. You can expect the unexpected if you want to enjoy them and hold on to your sanity.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Enter Elsa

"She was abandoned in a bunglow premises. No one was feeding her and she was surviving on the stuff growing there and some food that we threw in till she fell ill. Then I climbed the wall and hoisted her out. She is a beautiful lab. Can you take her?" This was how I came to know of Elsa's existence. I had a three year old black lab, Caeser with me at that time and knew what it meant to have a dog. We were in the middle of moving into a bunglow and were considering getting a second dog.

It was a bit too early for us to actually have the second dog, but a yellow lab coming our way seemed to be an offer we couldn't refuse. We went over to take a look and while she was not a purebred, she sort of fitted in. We brought her home to meet our beloved Caeser and in the excitement, he yelped. Jayant, my husband, who adored him, decided that it was a sign that things were not right. He put her right back into the car and off they went. Her stoic acceptance of whatever fate was waiting for her was what changed his mind. Her first lesson for us, 'In the face of anger, keep your cool and things might go your way'.

Almost five years later, today she is Jayant's favourite. She has convinced him (all of us, in fact)about the value of the mixed breed, the value of female dogs, the value of stoic acceptance and many other valuable lessons. Not only did she win the first round, she has gone on to win many more.

Start at the beginning

Let us start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start, sang the young Julie Andrews in the very famous ' Sound of music' . Sound advice (bad pun) you might say. Sometimes though, it seems to be difficult to determine where the beginning is.

I have always loved animals. My mom says the first time my father ever rapped me on the knuckles was, when at age three, I picked up a dead puppy. ( It was probably in the land that time forgot) I tried hard to have a pet- picked up some live kittens, some rabbits and so on. But as dog lovers will agree, a dog is ...well, a dog!

My first dog was a black lab named Caeser, who taught me a lot before teaching me the final lesson about dealing and coping with the loss of a loved one, succumbing suddenly at the age of four to some congenital heart problem. Ideally, I should dedicate the blog to him. But he also taught me to live in the present. Elsa and Simba are with us now. Their stories are unique, beginning from how they came to be with us, to the present when their behaviour still has the power to entice, amaze,influence, amuse and pull at our heart strings. Dog lovers do not need to be told all this, but I hope I am able to tell their stories, in a way that does them justice. For today I will just leave pictures of them and let imagination do the rest.

Elsa, the Labrador mix. Simba, the German Shepherd.

To new beginnings!