Most humans call them pets, dogs, animals, etc. To me, they are my kids. Well, yeah their species is different. They go by the scientific name Canis lupus familiaris which in my experience are far better than Homo sapiens sapiens.
They were born to a stray dog about two years ago November 2017, in a small corner of the housing complex I stay in. I had no inkling of what was going to happen in the future. I had known of their birth for quite a few days but didn’t bother to visit to avoid attachment. One day, my neighbour who also happens to be like my elder brother told me of the opening of their eyes. It was almost winter and the security guards of the complex had made a small home, covered in thick clothes for them to stay. Their mother was well acquainted with us and welcomed us by her usual wagging her tail in full rotations. Then we heard mild squealing. Four little creatures came out of their box wagging their tails, trying to gauge what were these large bipeds doing.
In a few days, the young ones had become familiar to our presence. I used to feed them milk two times a day but didn’t risk playing with them. I didn’t want them to get too attached to me. But that wasn’t stored in my future. Within a few weeks they could smell my presence and come over whenever I was around. Even I stopped resisting. I used to carry them in my arms, take them in my lap when I was sitting outside. Unfortunately, most in my housing complex didn’t like those dogs. I could never understand why. They never caused any harm, were always friendly. It’s a problem with humans. They don’t like what is different from them. That year February, one of the pups died by choking on a huge bone. I was out of station at that time and there was nothing I could do. I was saddened nonetheless even though the attachment wasn’t that strong back then. Three of them remained.
The pups grew larger and in a span of six months had grown quite large. It was fulfilling to see them and the way they used to run when I came back from work, felt nice. Certain problems came into view along with their growth. They started chewing whatever they could put their teeth in and scratched cars. This irked the flat owners and there was this common issue of other residents getting scared for their children. The pups wanted to play with the kids which was misunderstood by the parents as aggression. It was absolutely weird since everyone knows a dog wagging its tail is never aggressive let alone a small one.
Concerns grew as more and more people were in favour of sending them out. Me and my elder brother neighbour didn’t want that primarily because the dogs were used to a closed space and outside world is not conducive for stray animals. It’s ironic that the Indians will worship cows and kill in the name of religion which asks them to respect all of God’s or Allah’s creations but they won’t actually respect the animals or nature. It’s true for most humans though. I live in India hence I mentioned Indians.
So, I brought them in. But some things had to be taken care of before settling them in. I hadn’t mentioned, their elder, kind of an uncle was already residing at my home. I had brought him in June 2018 after he had a very bad accident. That’s a story to be told at another time. Me and my elder brother type Neighbour, Swaraj Da(Da is how we address elder brothers in Bengali) decided to get them neutered and vaccinated. A small operation theatre was arranged in my apartment and that day was an experience for me. The room attached to the bathroom was deemed the best. It was empty as it is. We brought in a table, large enough to comfortably fit a dog. It was covered with a sterile sheet. A stand was fixed to the table to hold the fluids that needed to be transferred. A light has hung over the table. The doctor came in the evening and did the operation. The whole affair was done cleanly. The moron who claimed to be a dog expert said that the scratching and biting stuff would stop after the dogs get neutered turned out to be wrong. After the operation I had let the young ones out when they were well enough. The scratching continued along with the complaints. It was getting too much for me and one day I sat down with Swaraj Da to decide what to do. I wanted to take them in but it was a big decision because there were four of them in all and I lived alone. It was not possible for me to take care of them alone. There were number of things:
1. Feeding them thrice a day. I didn’t even know what I could feed them.
2. I was away from home for work most of the time. How would I take them for walks?
3. The issues regarding their excretion. I lived in an apartment and the toilets were quite small.
I had no idea about the other problems that were going to arise later on. I brought them in. The first few days were absolute mess. I was as it is working for an average of eight hours a day and my home was in terrible shape. There was urine and feces everywhere. The dogs chewed on anything they could find. In a week I had lost my vacuum cleaner, wires, pieces of cloth, two tshirts. I was flabbergasted, out of my wits. I was always tired and the dogs kept on shouting all the day. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to get them adopted.
I remember one evening, I had gone out for some work. When I got back, I saw my bedroom ransacked. The PlayStation hanging from my bed, laptop was in a corner, it’s charging cable chewed up. My gaming headphones were in pieces. Apparently, my bedroom door was not latched properly and one of the naughty ones managed to open it, got excited and couldn’t contain his excitement. I was mad. I did something I regret even now. Later I realised that they were too curious about my room and that led to the attack. I started allowing them inside my room in my presence and slowly taught them what they were allowed to chew. They were not allowed on my bed though. I started reading on the internet how to handle dogs, how to train them to walk on a leash. I learnt that they have to be explained everything in a calm manner. Staying calm was difficult for me initially due to the pressure at work and I was still not accustomed living with dogs but I tried my best. I explained them that continuously barking wasn’t necessary. I still regret my mistakes. Initially they were not allowed outside their rooms which changed slowly. I allowed them access to other rooms slowly. They had a bad habit of urinating in other rooms which was irritating. I had too much work and cleaning different rooms every now and then was tedious but I accepted it. I taught them that they were not supposed to urinate in other places.
I still remember the day when I taught them their names. It was easy actually. I sat with each one of them and said their respective names quite a few times while stroking their heads. They understood. I tested after that, calling them individually. It worked. They are really smart. I wish I could teach them physics. So, the process of coexisting started. They compromised on their wild freedom and I compromised on my solitude. It was difficult for both sides and most of my neighbours didn’t support. As a matter of fact, a large section showed discontent at the fact that I took in stray animals in my home. Some were bold enough to bully me into ousting the animals calling me inconsiderate about others. I didn’t give in. I made it clear that I won’t budge. Once I contacted the ministry of animal welfare for assistance and Mrs. Menka Gandhi and her office bearers were helpful enough to curb the bullying. However, the lack of support led to an unfortunate outcome. I segregated myself from the rest of the neighbours slowly. I saw no point in keeping relations with people who don’t support adoption of animals. Apparently, Indian breed stray dogs were not good enough for keeping inside homes. I do appreciate those who supported me. Swaraj Da’s wife whom I call Boudi(means wife of elder brother) cooks lunch for them till now.
Things were going normal. I started increasing the duration for which the dogs stayed outside their room. Gradually I realised that I enjoyed being with them. Rather loved it. I used to be anxious of I had to stay away for long. They were still not allowed on my bed though. Then one fine day, I think I was sick and fell asleep. The dogs were outside their room(mostly they were allowed outside only when I was awake). When I opened my eyes I found Dushtu(means naughty) on my bed, sleeping besides me.
In pic: Dushtu(means mischievous)
It felt nice. I didn’t ask her to move. Slowly it became her habit to sleep on my bed. She is the most perceptive one by the way. Doesn’t eat enough though. Used to be the leader of the pack before.
After a few days Lali decided to climb on the bed. She investigated every inch and then settled in a location.
In pic: Lali(meaning reddish glow)
There were fights between the two initially regarding their respective spots on the bed. Then I explained that they need not fight. They understood slowly. Lali used to be little insecure maybe because she thought she is given less attention. Now she doesn’t though. Lali is kind of a pack leader now. She is well behaved, likes being cuddled unlike Dushtu who prefers only being patted or scratched on the back.
Kalu is a black male. He doesn’t climb up on the bed, prefers to sleep on an old shirt of mine.
He is an attention seeker and very curious. He would follow me everywhere and try to understand what am I doing. When I am cooking, he would just sit and watch. If I am studying, he would stand near my chair and would just sniff around till I start patting his head. He is generally joyful and is kind of a loner, doing things on his own or simply looking out of the balcony.
The fourth and the eldest, Ghontu is like an uncle to the three kids.
In pic: Ghontu(He is camera shy)
Ghontu and me go way back. I had observed him since the time this residential complex was being built. I used feed him when I moved in. As I had mentioned before, he started living with me after a bad accident. That accident has left a big scar on him, both physical and mental. I used to sit besides him at nights when he was healing from his wound. He used to cry in pain and then I patted him to sleep. Him and me have seen pretty bad times. He has been pretty scared of almost everything since that mishap.
Every evening, when I get back from work the way they receive me makes me smile. What they show is pure love, with no expectations and that melts me. Every evening, I look forward to seeing them. Dushtu and Kalu are the most excited ones. Dushtu especially likes to jump when she is excited. Lali and Ghontu stay at back wagging their tails waiting for their turn. They are so smart, they know exactly what I am saying most of the time but at the same time they are extremely naughty. Their favourite game is to jump on my bed, come to me sniffing. Then I’d pat their heads and they would leap off the bed running wildly to the drawing room. They like fruits especially bananas. They have stolen quite a few bananas from my stock even. It’s funny to look at their expressions when they realise that I know about their little thievery. I love staying with them and it hurts when I have to go away for a few days. Fortunately, I found a responsible fellow who takes care of them on a regular basis.
These kids, from a different species became my sons and daughters and taught me quite a few things in life. They have taught me to not expect anything from the offsprings, how to love without expectations, how to perform duties towards children. It’s now normal that I consider their basic needs over mine.
Well, that’s all I have to say about my kids who make my mornings and nights worth living.
In pic: Dushtu, Ghontu and Lali enjoying their evening nap.