Marriage or Mirage!

It is said that some hearts are a desert you can die wandering in; you thirst for love, but all you find is a mirage!

As a teenager, hooked on to Bollywood movies, my world centred on a complete romantic bliss with the inevitable and happy union, of the hero and heroine. As I look back on my life, never had I imagined that reality was so remarkably different than the handsome hero not only sweeping the petite pretty heroine off her feet, but also living happily ever after.

Just a couple of years into marriage and we were literally living indifferent lives. We didn’t even know if a term existed for relationships like these. Our marriage could be midway; neither loving and romantic, nor acrimonious and bitter. Apparently, a majority of people I have come across are married, but not happily married! Over the years their marriage had been reduced to a compromise. Couples stay together because they follow an unwritten code to be with each other, either for the sake of their children, or their families, or social reasons. Each has their own reason; but in most cases, the reason to stay together is definitely not love. I guess, I too was following the same footsteps. Casper’s illness, and, recovery from the jaws of death, had given birth to a mother in me. Under no circumstances, I wanted to lose him again. My husband was also extremely attached to Casper and he used to keep saying “come what may, Casper will always stay with me.” This fear of losing Casper gave me even more reasons to hold on to my marriage.

At a young age, I realised that so many people are living a life of sham. I had understood that marriage does not have a guarantee of happily ever after. It’s a process which needs constant nurturing from both sides. The fairytale world was a mirage and realty was shockingly different!  I had left my blooming career back in Mumbai and settled down with my husband abroad. To stand by him like a pillar as he made his career in Dubai. I was not only a well-educated and an ambitious woman, but I had dreams of my own which I had given up for my marriage. My husband never stopped me from doing anything or restricted me in any manner. But, ironically, whatever I wanted to do, he wouldn’t stand by me either. We were a married couple living our single lives.  As time passed, we became even more distant. We had no fights, no loud arguments, but we kept drifting apart and silently followed the mantra of “to each their own”. In fact, what remained was just SILENCE. I used to wonder, where does the initial euphoria vanish? Now I realize that as we age, both parties evolve and develop their independent thoughts. It led to overt or covert clashes and eventually living as partners was simply because it was a matter of convenience. Whatever activities we enjoyed together earlier like watching a movie, visiting a mall or even travelling was no longer an enjoyable pursuit. Yet, for Casper, we didn’t breakup.

One day, after weeks of pondering, I suggested to my husband that we should consider moving back to Mumbai. I told him that we both were extremely attached to Casper and it made no sense to live in Dubai and see him only once every couple of months or so. While my husband liked the idea, he wasn’t exactly supportive about it in term of timelines. So, we decided that I would return to Mumbai and Casper and I would live with my parents till we bought our own house. While in Mumbai, I kept searching for houses so that my husband also would move back as soon as possible. Somewhere, in the corner of my heart, there was always a little hope that our marriage would be back on track.  I had heard that Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. While imperfection is a matter of perception, all I knew was that I wanted my life and marriage to be the one I had dreamt off, and, I wanted to ensure I gave it my best shot. Soon enough, I found the right place for us. The apartment building had three other dogs. I spoke to my husband, told him about the place and literally begged for him to come down and see the place for himself. My luck hit the right cord; he too liked the place, and, soon he shifted to Mumbai, bought the house, and, after four months of renovation, we moved into our home sweet home.

What a lovely family, I would think to myself. Husband, wife and a dog. Casper was an Angel who ACCIDENTALY came into our lives and was bridging the gap between two lost lovers. The bond was getting stronger and it was Casper’s love that pulled my husband back to Mumbai and once again live like a happy family. We started building memories. Took Casper on holidays, to various destinations, which also gave us the time to trust and build a connection with each other again. Apart from that, Caspu (as we lovingly called him) needed consistent boundaries to feel safe. I and my husband started to mend our ways to ensure he felt safe and secure. We didn’t argue as much as before, we spent more time together and even started doing small activities together. Any activity that your dog enjoys is a good place to start in building a bond within ourselves first so that he has fun and feels secured. With all these developments, Caspu bonded more strongly to us and us with each other. My husband and I both were invested in giving Caspu the love and affection he needed, and, I was secretly hoping this would re-build our love and marriage too!

Dogs are sentient and feel joy, sadness, pain, fear and many more feelings. When they bond with their humans, they feel joy and happiness and only want to be with their human. Dogs respond to our feelings. If we are feeling upset or sad, they tune into those feelings. Dogs especially feel pain, both physical and emotional. When we embrace this fact about Dogs and their emotions, a level of respect naturally falls in place. This respect is a trait dogs build on and it’s a consistent process. Your dog needs to trust you; we were doing just that by keeping our differences at bay.

As life continued and continues with its ups and downs, Junior is relishing over Hunger Fills Carrot and Milk Treats. As a dog mom, I am very cautious as to what I feed my baby. A highly recommended treat made from superior quality ingredients and very palatable. If everything is going well, what’s the need to stop and dwell. Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well. I forgot what’s gone, appreciate what still remains and looking forward to what is going to come next. My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and always with Junior. As Carl Henegan has rightly said, “Adversity is a mirage. People, situations, and relationships sometimes change for the worst but inevitably clear a path for far better replacements. The continued journey will always find bliss.”

2 Dogs, Same Breed, Different Personalities – Casper & Junior

Different breed dogs have different personalities. But what about dogs of the same? Just like 2 humans, 2 dogs of the same breed are different as well. In my case, Casper and Junior are poles apart. Not just in personality, but even physically.

Dogs have different personalities, and this, any dog parent will tell you. But the people who do not have dogs, always tell a common thing – they are dogs, all they do is eat, poop, sleep and bite. Besides this, the most bizarre statement I have heard is – OMG! Your dog scratched/bit you, did you take an injection? According to general public, all dogs have rabies too; as if it’s a disease every dog is inevitably just born with!

Back to the point, Casper and Junior are Labrador Retrievers. They are a Father and Son duo, Casper the Father and Junior the son, same blood line, same upbringing, but still different personalities. Let me throw some light on how different they are from one another.

Let me start with the physical trait. Casper was the ideal Labrador, broad muzzle, ideal body, semi furry, and a very handsome boy. On the other hand, Junior is significantly taller than a normal Lab, who looks more like a Great Dane from behind, and, has a narrow face. The body weight that I maintained for Casper was always 35-36kgs. Whereas for Junior, I have to maintain a body weight between 38-40kgs because of his long legs or else he looks skinny. At first sight, everyone was in awe with Casper because of his stunning looks. But for Junior, people stay 10 feet away as they get scared of this gentle giant.

Left – Casper, Right – Junior

Isn’t it amazing, how the same breed and the same colour can also look so different! In addition, their personalities are also as different as they could be. Allow me to exhibit their contrasting personas.

Ever since Casper was a puppy, he was a very calm and gentle dog. He wouldn’t howl in the night and sleep independently on his very own bed. On the other hand, Junior was a hyper puppy, would never stay at one place, always looking for his next mischief and never slept alone. If I tucked him in his bed, he would immediately hop out and sleep with Casper or with me on my bed. They both chewed and damaged wires, remotes, pillows, walls, etc. when they were puppies. But compared to Junior, Casper was just 10% of a damager.

Casper was a fast learner and extremely smart. Training Casper was like a piece of cake. He knew so many commands and tricks that it amazed people. Whereas for Junior, being the naughty pup that he has always been, he would get distracted and bored early during his training sessions, leaving the commands half way. Junior is intelligent, but self-willed. Only if he is in the mood, then he will do something. But Casper followed every instruction well.

A very small feature, but makes a big difference in my life, and this is, Casper was a very neat water drinker and slow eater. Not even a drop of water would spill from the bowl. And he actually chewed his kibble well. However, Junior is a sloppy drinker, spills half of his water, making me slip many a times and swallows his food as if he is never going to be fed again, ufff!

Walks with Casper were always pleasant. He never pulled or barked or got into a fight with other dogs or jumped on people. And Junior, what can I say! I get tired when I walk him. Inspite of training him, he still pulls, is very inquisitive and curious, wants to sniff every stray dog’s butthole, wants to play with each and every human and dogs on the way and jump on anyone who comes close to him. One bad quality Casper had was, he would eat scraps from the road and I had to keep a close eye on him always. But Junior has never eaten anything from the road, which is the only quality I am relaxed about…lol!

Casper was extremely protective and possessive about me. Not just protective, he even understood when I was sad and would come and cuddle with me. I always told my parents that Casper was a human in a dog’s body. If any guest would hug and greet me, Casper would immediately get alert just incase if things went south. He hated others dogs or people around me. He didn’t even like my ex-husband being close to me. Though for Junior, he is still a puppy mentally. I make fun that even if a dangerous person would come home, Junior will start playing with him.

There are so many other small singularities like Casper was extremely scared of loud noises like crackers and thundering. He would literally tremble. On the other hand, Junior will sleep through it, infact even snore loudly. Casper was very choosey as to whom he wanted to be friends with. He didn’t allow many into his space. But Junior wants everyone to be his friends. He wants to play with all. Casper loved pillows and tennis balls. He was an independent dog and entertained his own self. Junior only loves humans and always wants someone to play with.

Oh God, as I am typing, I realized there are so many differences between Casper and Junior, that if I list them all, then I will require 10 pages. But two things are common between both my babies. They are, unconditional love and undoubted loyalty. Casper was my protective angel, and Junior is my anti-depressant. The huge positive and wonderful change my dogs bought into my life is the biggest gift of my life. I am sure, many pet parents can relate to this and are aware, that no dog is the same and they cannot be replaced. Junior wasn’t a replacement of Casper (as many told me after Casper died) and no other dog will be a replacement to Junior. Everything I know, I learnt from my dogs.

Casper – Gone Too Soon.

You came into my life all of a sudden, I was petrified and you clicked all of my buttons.

But then I fell head over heels for you, this motherly feeling was just so new.

You were such a cute puppy, everytime when I would look at you, I would feel lucky.

You destroyed the furniture and tore my shoes, Inspite of me bringing you a lot of chews.

We went on holidays and had a lot of fun, I felt like a big lottery I had won.

You were growing to be a handsome big boy, each time when someone would compliment you, my heart would be filled with joy.

Then one day you fell ill. Everyone told me, it is the weather; just chill.

But my heart knew that you were not fine, and your health deteriorated with time.

I ran helter skelter to get you cured, I knew within my heart all the pain you had endured.

Within 10 days of diagnosis, you left me alone. It felt like I had a crack in every piece of my bone.

Seeing you take your last breath on my lap, I felt like a failed mother and drowned in your memories like a recap.

I was numb and searched for all possibilities to bring you back even though you were gone. I kept blaming myself and surfed the internet like a maniac from dusk to dawn.

I was not ready to accept that you had passed. My soul was screaming loud and any moment it would blast.

But you were gone, and I had to live without you for the rest of my life, each day was passing as if my heart was being cut with a knife.

But I survived holding your memories tight within me, as I had to live for Junior since he is your reflection and baby.

Today marks 5 years since you left. Ever since Junior has been my crest.

We play, we laugh, we live, and we love. So that you don’t feel sad from above.

But my child, the void you have left. This mother hurts every single day and cannot forget.

You were gone too soon, leaving me with a permanent wound.

I wish I could bring you back, and you could lay your head on my lap once again and have a snack.

I wish Junior could still play tug – of – war with you, and bring back those golden days like brand new.

But all I can do is try being happy, for Junior to be healthy and bubbly.

One day we will meet again. When the skies will be heavy, and it will rain.

I will know, when it is time to unite. Till then, run free, play with your friends, and come in my dreams in the night.

Mumma and Junior loves and misses you. All I want to say, you are my Angel and taught me how to live. Thank you!