Custard, Kodaikanal

I woof you too

I have mixed feelings about pet dogs. While I want to kiss every dog I meet on its wet nose, I am unsure if it is a deep and purposeful bond.  It seems to be a symbiotic bond between two emotionally-needy creatures. The Homo Sapien and the Felis Domesticus.

I had a pet Pomeranian called Terry. We grew up in the same household for 12 years. We were family. He came to us when he was two weeks old. Instantly, we became best friends. Because I lived in a neighborhood where there weren’t any other kids to play with.

He was mellower than the average Pomeranian. A goofball despite born an animal without a sense of humor. I loved him because he gave me a lot of attention. I suspect that he followed me around because I was a recurring part of his ecosystem. We felt safe around each other.

Most of my favorite childhood memories revolve around our routines. Every morning, he would wake me up by licking my face. Even when the room was locked, he would scratch at the door, hoping I would open it to accept his best wishes for the day.

Terry was a junkie for cheese cubes. Whenever I opened the fridge to reach for them, he was always there right behind me. Somehow, he knew. And he snuck up on me – like a ghost child in an Asian movie.

During evenings, we would roller-skate together. I held on to his leash as he ran as fast as he could. He would turn back to check if I was having fun. Weekends saw us playing pranks on the neighbors by annoying their pets into barking aloud and then, running away. People never suspected us because they couldn’t think of us as troublemakers. We were known for being timid and unsocial.

Terry also helped me get through difficult moments. He would sit down next to me, with his furry head on my lap. He would listen to me whine and complain for hours. It felt therapeutic to share my vulnerabilities with him. I tried to be there for him too. Whenever he got hurt, he would come to me with his tail tucked between his legs. I would pat him on his head, and tell him that it would be all okay. We might have spoken different languages, but we could communicate our love for each other just fine.

One summer morning in 2001, while leaving to college, I saw him – wincing in pain – under the couch in the hall. He was in poor health. His mobility was limited. His eyesight had failed him by then. It was hard to see him in that state. Not that he was very energetic when he was younger. It was just painful to see him hurting. I couldn’t see him as being an old mutt. He was just Terry.

When I came back home from college, I whistled for him. My dad was sitting in the hall, reading some journal. My mom was unboxing some stuff in the kitchen. She had tears streaming down her cheeks. I was confused. So, I asked my dad if something was wrong. In a matter-of-fact tone, he told me that Terry had passed away. He went back to reading in the same breath. Only later that night did I realize that he had just put on a brave face. He was devastated. We all were.

I didn’t react much I heard about Terry’s death. I merely squinted and scrunched my nose as though I had smelled hot garbage. Politely, I asked for my dad’s car keys and promptly drove to the beach. I parked the car by the side of the road. I sat there and cried. It happened a few more times during the week.

Custard, Kodaikanal

I still can’t reminisce about him, without feeling emotional. I don’t have a single photograph of him. Sometimes, I worry about growing so old that one day I might forget how he looked. I know that he probably didn’t look different from any other semi-bred Pomeranian. But he was Terry. My Terry. That means the world to me. And as the saying goes, “We may be through with the past, but the past isn’t through with us”.

I have since become one of those annoying people who talks about how I really like dogs. And how they gravitate towards me despite what we know (or don’t know) about canine behavior. It is debatable. One thing is for sure – I want to see Terry one more time and plant a big, fat and awkward doggy kiss on his nose.

I grab a piece of paper
to make a list of things
to shelter from the rain;
I write down “awkward doggy
kisses” twice and fold the rest
into a paper plane.

(Photographs: Chennai & Kodaikanal)

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52 comments

  1. Aw, such a nice tribute to your friends. I love the roller-skating image! That one made me smile deep down inside. “That we didn’t have one other” friend I think is why my dog and I were so very close as well. She died when I was a teen, and I loved her so dearly that I promised I would never ‘marry’ again.

    So I adopted a couple of cats when my hubs and I were just married (http://wp.me/p28k6D-1pF), and they saw each of my children born and come home. Now that the cats are gone, the bunny rescues keep us entertained and soft-hearted (which you already know). One of them is coming back from colic hell at the moment…I hate it when one of my babies is sick, especially the fluffy and feather-y ones.

    The white and brown pooches with the perky ears are adorable.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like dogs too, sometimes they lick my arm and it gets itchy, and I go ‘oh, I’m itchy’ and then I keep patting them and do this pretend run to each side to rev them up so they bark at me, and I can bark back

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am not an animals-person, (sorry) but I have a lot of respect for animal lovers. It takes so much warmth to love a species different from ones’ own, doesn’t it? Very often I don’t even care for my own.
    That aside, I have a friend, a dog lover, who attracts dogs like a bone. All she does is walk on the road and all kinds of dogs run up to her to be petted. Towards me, however, they are either indifferent (if I am lucky) or positively hostile. Much as it goes against my grain of scientific thinking, I sometimes think dogs do have extrasensory perception of human feelings towards them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a sweet post this is! Is that you in all those pictures, Christy? And are those beautiful dogs all stray? In my life there have been 4 dogs but only 2 that I can remember my relationship with – one as a teen and one now who is my personal trainer and confessor. Walks are far more interesting with him because he attracts attention and people stop and talk. I’ve met more people walking the dog than I ever did walking alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I’ve met more people walking the dog than I ever did walking alone” Yeah that is true, Sus! I’d heartily walk up to a dog-walker than just a walker (unless t was chuck norris – sorry, couldn’t resist).

      And yes, those limbs are mine. These are some of the doggies I have met over the past three years.

      The strays in the post are “Suicide Blonde, Mosli, Tamarind and Tyson” (smiles)

      I am not fond as breed dogs. Not that I don’t want to awkwardly kiss them, but their existence saddens me. They are products more than they are animals, no matter how loving they can be.

      I’d much rather there were only strays and wild ones these days.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. <He was a barmy dog more importantly! And you are absolutely right, Elouise, I believe they can read us. Birds too, even if only for a moment (elephants in the wild are known for this, especially during attacks)

      Like

  5. Wonderful story…My adult kids and I still dream out our Zeus even though he’s been gone for a few years now….Now, I’ll think about him today too…thank you. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your post sparked a bad memory… I had a dog called Franky, he was more than a best friend. I still can’t get over that night when an over confident vet, didn’t take his condition seriously. Franky passed away that night… It still brings a tear to my eyes. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive that doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww drats Vimal, that must have been difficult to process, especially the anger and frustration. I am sure you have many great memories of Franky too. I think you should write about them (smiles) It just may overshadow the bad memory.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mine liked orange fruits, Papaya, Mango or Orange….there was no way one could eat one at home without sharing it with Pluto.
    He passed away when I was abroad and when I had cried myself to sleep that night, I awoke with a feeling that he was licking my feet, I will never forget that.

    Pluto was definitely more loyal to me than I was to him….
    Now my 7 year old wants a pet….and I cant explain to her how it can break your heart when they are gone and you remain….to cope with the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww a fruit lover of a doggie sounds like an adorable Dahl character! Pluto is great name too, it’s like meant a planet to you.

      Thank you for sharing such a moment, Viv. At times, I wonder if we domesticated dogs or if it’s the other way.

      I still can’t make up my mind if the heartbreak is worth the pain of the finale. Longevity is certainly on the good side of things. Pets or not, here’s wishing you and your family plenty of doggie love.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😀 I do feel somewhere, because of the star powers and the soul connections, he has been reborn in my house, as my now 7 year old….bipedal pet!
        Come to think of it, both like orange fruits, cannot sit still in one position, crawl under furniture, especially when I am throwing a temper and of course, cannot communicate sanely with me… hehehe….will have to do with a single pet at my home for now…. anyways, it’s a zoo most of the time!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Passports to instant as well as life-long friendships.
        Often I greet Independent Canine Personages (who abound in our cities) with a “chhhechcheechhh” or a clucking sound. They look at me with an expression that seems to say “now, who’s this weirdo and what does he want?”
        Others go so far as to take offence and let out a bark or few.
        Nothing that cannot be settled with a biskit or few.
        The expression on their faces — AND TAILIOS –is to die for:
        “Gah/Duh, this dude comes in peace/loves us… Ooops.”
        More tailio akshon!

        Liked by 1 person

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