You are a whole lot of lovely!

It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is accustomed to settling with anything just to say they have someone. Several women, at times, force themselves into romance, only because they are apprehensive of being single forever. The end result is usually misery, as in the process they start making compromises, and invariable end up losing their identity. The truth is, a woman who is unapologetically herself, comfortable in her perfect imperfection, doesn’t play the victim, never afraid to be on her own, vibrant and goal-oriented is so much more attractive, than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence!

Being in my late 30’s, its natural for my family and friends to be concerned about me being single – to the extent few consider it to be a taboo! I am accustomed to be at the receiving end of various advices; “your biological clock is ticking” / “life cannot be spent alone” / “right now you will still get a guy, later it will be too late”, and, as ridiculous as some of these reasons are; believe me the list is endless. While it is extremely easy to advice, what people, who I know only mean good, fail to understand is as we age, it gets more and more difficult for us to find the ‘right one’. It’s not the age which does that, for age is just a number. What happens is with age we mature, we learn to understand what truly makes us happy, and we are less susceptible to just settle for someone who really doesn’t understand or care for us.  With the booming trend of social media, it is not difficult to find someone. But the question is; how genuine are they? And even if they are genuine, how compatible are we?

Personally, I have never been the one who would do a random hook-up, or anything even remotely similar to it. With age, and of course my past experiences, I have become so scared to get my heart broken again that I fortified myself with a wall of scepticism.  It has become extremely difficult for me to immediately trust someone. It’s not that that I do not want to date or eventually get married, but I do not want to be the only one falling in love. I want to be loved equally as well, and I strongly believe this isn’t much to ask! The problem is you will come across people who will express their love, but it is fairly impossible to immediately judge who actually loves you, and who is pretending to do so. Most men I have spoken to, choose to conveniently assume I am available and desperate immediately upon learning that I am separated and live alone. To be brutally honest, I have learnt that only 3 types of men approach me, and this is the harsh reality of today’s world:

  1. Type 1: The married ones, who generally just are looking for a little extra spice
  2. Type 2: The confused souls who say they care, but honestly only want a physical relationship with pretty much No Strings Attached
  3. Type 3: The truly genuine ones who end up being some of the best friends I have made. But believe me, these are the rarest of the rare ones and extremely hard to find

After Casper crossed the rainbow bridge, my husband told me that very same day that he wanted to rework the marriage. I was content, but it was only an eyewash. Apparently, my husband had approached the divorce lawyer the very same evening. I was shocked, deceived, and realized it was better to end this legally once and for all. It made no sense to keep watering a dead plant, and more than a dead relation it was the trust which was totally shattered.  I gathered myself together post getting off the depression medicines, and got back on routine and finally became open to dating. But it wasn’t easy at all. The dating scenarios had completely changed. There were so many new words and actions that I had never experienced in the past or even heard of, like ghosting, gas lighting, rebounding, etc. Unfortunately, I experienced all these the hard way when I finally had prepared myself to give love another chance. I had met a guy in my worst phase and told him everything about my past and he shared his. In spite of him being a dog lover, I thought he would understand of what I went through when Caspu passed. We never really dated but had become pretty close, and I had started thinking about him a lot more than I had planned to. Just 20 days after meeting him, I was ghosted. Yes, that’s when I learnt this word. And after some months I realised I would have just been a rebound to him. His ex came back in his life and he forgot me just at the drop of a hat like I was just someone to divert his mind off a break up he had recently had when we met. Ironically, that’s when I learnt the second trending word “rebound”. It was so hard for me to believe that when you share your personal life with someone and they promise to hold your hand through thick and thin, but end up being the same person they claim to never have been. I was extremely heartbroken. But once again, my baby, my dog, my Junior came to my rescue and never let me sink in. I realized I was actually stronger than before. I chose to give a piece of my mind to that guy, blocked him and never looked back. The following year, as I continued with my work and actually experimented with social media, I came across a lot of people. And as mentioned before, some became my very good friends, and other; I realised their intentions way too early and didn’t even bother entertaining them.

Life went on, and without me even realising, I kept getting mentally stronger, and being alone with Junior had just become the best way to live. I was so much happier, and, so was Junior. We enjoyed our time playing and dancing for no reason. If nothing, then I would take Junior out for a drive. Some of the best moments of my life are spent alone with Junior, and definitely, they are precious. Apart from that, my cousins and friends also made sure that I was not left alone. I started travelling, having so many girls’ trips, also my Mom and me travelled overseas just for shopping, family trips; all in all – life was beautiful!  

Then, a friend of mine introduced me to a guy. As they say, you meet the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time. It was a long distance relationship. But this time, I didn’t give my heart away immediately. I took my time and being long distance, after months, we met in person. It is amazing how different a person can be over phones and in person. After a while, I started to sense that we were not for each other.  I began to curse myself for a very brief period that none of my relationships are working out, and, probably, I am the toxic one, or I have some problem in me. Self-doubt can be a troubling and persuasive voice that holds you back. My thoughts literally made me beg this guy to stay with me, which he did too, but his behaviour towards me changed dramatically. He took me for granted thinking that I begged him to stay, so I will never leave him. He chose to call or text me at his convenience only, not reply to my texts for days, not tell me about his whereabouts and literally made me an object of convenience. I hoped and thought he would change for good but things only got worse. Finally, I opened my eyes, kept my heart aside, and called it off.

You have what it takes, don’t ever doubt yourself. Whenever you feel weak, remember the things that made you strong. Whenever you start to doubt yourself, remember those who believe in you. And remember this, when you start to doubt yourself, the real world will eat you alive. Victor E. Frankl (Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor,) has said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Once again, living alone, failed relationships, a lot of baggage, a fur baby who is no more; but here I am. Still cheerful and hopeful. I still believe in love. I have not given up on meeting the right one for me. Even in this world of divorces and breakups and hook ups, I believe somewhere the one meant for me will find me in the right time. Remember this, it is better to wait long than to marry wrong. Learn to be whole all by yourself. Be kind enough to let someone in, but wise enough to even let them go. Not everyone who enters your life is meant to stay. And it is ok! Learn from it, and move on.

Till then, Junior and I are living it playfully in this lockdown. He is a kitchen king (hahahaha). He is always in the kitchen when I am cooking keeping his hopes high that anytime some food might fall on the floor from the platform and he will eat it. Regarding his skin infection, he is doing absolutely great. The Saffron Oil did wonders and he is off antibiotics now. Apart from this, a very good friend of mine had to put his senior dog down due to complications from old age. It caused overwhelming distress to him to take this call and implement his decision, but that was the right thing to do. Seeing him like this is very upsetting. No matter how much time we get with our fur babies, it is never enough. Whether they lived for 5 years or 10 years or 15 years with us, their passing always takes away a part of us with them. It is never easy!

In the time of destruction, create something.

Christopher Walken has said, “At its best, Life is completely unpredictable”. There is no better situation to exemplify this quote than the one we are currently in!  We all must have planned for the next week or next month; but who knew, the whole world would come to a complete standstill! COVID-19 has plagued the world, crippled almost every livelihood and has become a menace to the sheer existence of human kind. But you know what, everything is not lost; I strongly believe there is still hope, and we should use this time for self-reflecting. I can tell you this, because I have been through a similar time before. The only difference is, I self isolated myself because of a broken marriage and my baby crossing the rainbow bridge, and now it is a mandatory requirement called a Lockdown. If you are feeling low, or are stressed for your work or business, or the lockdown situation is making you feel petrified, then all I will say is that these surely are dark times, but If you do not see light at the end of the tunnel, consider it an opportunity to create an opening yourself, wherever you want!

Many of my friends tell me, “Wow! You live alone. You can do whatever you want and go wherever you want. No one is going to question you where or why you are going somewhere.” To my foreign readers, yes, living alone is not a common thing in India with many families still living with their parents or even grandparents. As weird as it may sound to you, yes, the Indian family system revolves around living with your parents and taking care of them as they once did when you were a child. Coming back to the topic, after lockdown, the perspective of many of my friend has dramatically changed. Now they tell me, “Now we know how difficult it is to stay home alone. We don’t know what to do. How do you live all alone?” Let me tell you this. I am pretty used to staying alone and doing my stuff. But it wasn’t like this always. The moment the sun would go down, I would start sinking too. Take a bottle of beer and would drown in my thoughts and create negative scenarios in my mind, and put myself in a state of panic (yes, I would literally get panic attacks). I have worked extremely hard on myself, and have leant to control myself the hard way. I would like to share some tips to overcome this time of crisis, especially your mental health.

  • Whenever you feel down, start doing house work like, dusting, or moping the floor or making the cupboard, etc. Yes, it does sound like a simple task, but you will be surprised how much time something as simple as emptying your closet and re arranging it could take. Believe me, you will find at least 1 thing that will make you say “Wow, this still exists?”
  • Get a hobby like painting or sketching or cooking or writing a blog, etc. Try out things you have wanted to do or thought of, but never had a chance to.
  • If you have the urge to drink, distract your mind by putting on loud music and dancing to it. Drinking occasionally is ok, but do not become an alcoholic!
  • If you live with family, involve them in playing some board or indoor games. If you do not have one, then check with your neighbours.
  • If you have a pet, see some YouTube Videos to train them with new tricks and implement them.
  • Talk to a friend or loved one. Use the opportunity to reconnect with old friends or family.
  • Work on a side business. There are many ideas available on the internet which require less to no investment and can be done from the comfort of your house. And Warren Buffet had said, “Never depend on a single income source.”
  • Start reading the book you had bought 5 years ago. If you don’t own one, try the online versions.
  • Sleep as much as you want. Believe me, as easy as this may sound, it may be the hardest!

Remember this, patience plays a key role. Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance. You do not need to have patience with the task at hand, but infact, with your own self. Once that is done, the rest will fall through. If you expect results in a day or two, it is not going to happen. You have to be consistent and true to yourself.

As mentioned in my earlier blog, I was miserable post loosing Casper and had to seek medical assistance. The medications worked like magic, but the withdrawal symptoms which came after getting off the medications were terrible! I would get such bad and realistic dreams that I would wake up crying and scared. Many a times I felt like getting back on the medicines. But that would mean, being on medication all my life. I had to remain strong and what kept me strong was my love for Junior. I realised, that if I have to keep him healthy and sane, first I had to be healthy and sane. It’s all in the mind. I know it is easier said than done, but if you have the will to live and do it, you will do it.

Today, I am definitely living a more sane and healthy life. Before the pandemic, I would normally get tired by the end of the day and force myself to keep my hobbies active or go out socialising. But now, I complete all my work with enthusiasm. I am more agile than before; I cook different dishes, recipes of which I had saved since months but never got the time to cook. I paint every alternate day. I clean the house much better than what my maid does (hahahaha). I work from home with Junior by my side. I video call my parents every day. I play with Junior more than before. But here’s a catch. Do not over involve your pets in your current daily routine, because after all this is over, we have to get back to our normal life and they will suddenly feel left out. So after sometime, give a break and go to another room leaving them alone or let them be by themselves when you are working or doing some activity. Do not get them used to your presence all day at home.

Couple of days ago we visited the Vet in this lockdown as I freaked out after seeing a lot of rashes on Junior. As an over thinking person, my thoughts reached to the level of Junior probably having Skin Cancer. Turns out, Junior has Staph Pyoderma. It’s a bacterial infection and the most common skin disease in dogs. The Vet put Junior on antibiotics, an anti-fungal, and multi vitamins and we have to visit him again next week to check on the progress. A home remedy that the Vet suggested was to apply Saffron Oil on Junior 2 hours prior to giving him a bath and then wash it off with the shampoo the Vet has prescribed. Well, sounds good. But being a pet parent and many other pet parents out there, we all know how tedious it is to bathe our dogs. I always have to take a biscuit in the bathroom for Junior to come in. Otherwise it is a marathon in the house. I am running behind Junior and he is running away from me. And now, removing the oil from his body is going to be a task at another level. I will update you all how it went or did the oil work for his body in my next blog.

Times are tough, and I know everyone is fighting their own battles. I had recently read an article about many couples stuck together in this lockdown who had applied for divorce or who had just broken up and were planning to move out or who had just expressed their feelings of breaking the relationship. I realized I too was facing a somewhat similar situation at the moment. But only difference is, I am not staying with my husband. I can understand the awkwardness many couples are facing because of the above, but remember one thing, be patient and everything happens for a reason.  Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. In the meantime, just know that this too will pass and everyone of us will come out as a brand-new person. COVID -19 and the hardships it has bought has made most of us realise that how little material happiness matters, and what we have, and probably take for granted, is a lot more.

Spend time with family, talk, laugh, cook and play. When this is over, may we never again take for granted:

  • A handshake with a stranger
  • Full shelves at the stores
  • Conversations with neighbours
  • A crowded theatre
  • Saturday night out
  • A routine check-up
  • The school and office rush each morning
  • Coffee with a friend
  • Each deep breath
  • A boring Monday
  • Life itself

When this all ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be, we were called to be, we hoped to be, and may we stay that way. I have no idea what’s awaiting for me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing, there are people with more troubles than mine, and at the end of the day all that will prevail is humanity! Try and help anyone you can; not many are as privileged to be able to stock up on groceries. Even if you can help one family with their daily meal, I promise you, it will bring you more happiness than any materialistic desire.

Stay home and stay safe.

Each morning has a new beginning!

For the first time in history, we can save each one of us by staying at home and doing nothing. So I request everyone to “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” When our Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced the 21 days lockdown in India, I panicked too. Various thoughts came into my mind; do I have enough groceries? Do I have sufficient dog food? What about basic medicines? Do I have them? Apart from Junior, I even look after a few stray dogs. Was I allowed to feed them in this lockdown? The thoughts were endless. But a very close friend of mine made me sit down, and helped me with all my concerns. In these difficult times, it is imperative that we understand that we are not the only ones with problems and there may always be someone with more difficulty. The only thing which the human race can survive on is compassion. I can only quote the words of Janusz Korcza “I exist not to be loved and admired, but to love and act. It is not the duty of those around me to love me. Rather, it is my duty to be concerned about the world, about man.” Janusz Korcza was a polish-jewish educator, who ran an orphanage with 200 children and refused to abandon them and finally fell victim to the holocaust. 

As days have passed, everything started getting normal for me as well, predominantly mentally. I have made a routine for myself in this lockdown which although seemed extremely strenuous, in realty wasn’t really that bad to follow. I utilise my morning and afternoon in walking Junior, feeding the strays (yes, we are allowed (by law) to feed strays in our vicinity), cooking lunch and finishing basic chores. Later, I take a short nap and early evenings I do Yoga and then clean the house. In the night, I cook dinner, then I either paint, write my blog or do some office work (from home of course). Since I have been living alone with my dogs from the past 7 years, and as such I am more of a loner, this lockdown has not been very difficult for me. And, in any case, when you have a dog at home, you can never get bored.

When Casper had passed away, I had faced a similar time. The only difference, I felt lonely that time, and now, this is my life. Things were awful after Casper crossed the rainbow bridge. The first day I came home with only Junior, I burst out crying. My house was empty, and, Junior kept running around the house looking for Casper. Poor soul didn’t know that his partner in crime would never come back. My vet told me to control my emotions as dogs can sense it. I tried my best to be normal in front of Junior, but there were times when I couldn’t control my tears. Casper was fascinated with tennis balls; in totality he had 36 of them. He also had a favourite pillow. When I reached home, I hugged his pillow hard and cried cried and cried. My brother was with me that time and he suggested that I donate everything that was of Caspu. I knew that was the right thing to do, but my heart was not in favour of it. But every time I looked at Caspu’s stuff, I would cry. So I agreed with my brother and donated everything. The house became emptier, and Junior was a confused soul, who couldn’t figure out what was happening.

Days passed, but I couldn’t come to terms that Caspu was gone forever. Nothing helped. I tried keeping myself busy, played with Junior, worked more than my normal hours, but all in vain. The moment I would be left alone, I was lost in the memories of my baby. I searched the internet for countless hours to find answers if I could have done something different that could have saved Caspu. I blamed myself that it was my fault; to the extent that I isolated myself completely for some time. I also did an entire health check up of Junior in fear. I did everything so that Junior wouldn’t feel alone. But little did I know, not just me, but even Junior was getting into depression. One day, I didn’t even realise that I was hallucinating and was talking to my Mom and I told her that I feel the vet will call me and tell me that someone has abandoned a dog, and he looks exactly like Casper; please come and take him. That’s when my Mom realised that I now needed to see a psychiatrist. She explained to me that that there was no shame in seeking medical help. I agreed and visited the doctor and from the very first day of taking medicines I stopped crying. It wasn’t that I had forgotten Caspu. The medications only helped me to cope with my pain and accept the fact that he was gone, and I had done my best to save him. With time, and under my doctor’s guidance, my dosage was reduced, and I was completely off them after 4 months. I would like to give my suggestion to anyone suffering from depression and anxiety – Please ask for help. Do not suffer alone and talk to your loved ones. Vent it out and take medical help. There is nothing to be ashamed of. But do not take any such step by which people behind you suffer.

Healing is neither a fast track nor an easy process. It takes time, and a lot of courage, to accept the situation, and move on. Along with me, I had to stop Junior also from sinking. It took me quite a few months to get out of my miserable state and get back to routine. Even today, I have my days; I cry it out, I sulk, I vent out in front of my people. But next morning, I am a stronger girl to fight the day again – Like a phoenix rising from the ashes! I had read an article some years ago about an old man who had suffered a lot of loss in his lifetime but was still fulfilled with his life. I do not remember the exact words, but will try to convey his message in my words. He said, “Life is like sailing in a boat with your loved ones. Then a big wave comes and the boat goes down. Some make it to the surface and some drown. You hold on to one of the scattered log of wood to stay afloat in the water. Then another wave comes and pushes you back inside the water. But you have the log of wood so you float trying to catch your breath. Again, some make it and some don’t. With every wave, you are now prepared with what’s coming. So it doesn’t affect you much now. That’s life. The log of wood is your Hope to Live. Waves are the difficulties in life. And with every bad time, you get more and more prepared to face it.”

My separation from my husband and Casper’s death taught me a lot of things. First and foremost, I learnt self reflection. It is not necessary that always the other person is the evil; sometimes, in some situations, there is some amount of toxic in you as well. When a marriage breaks, or a relationship breaks, it is very easy to blame the partner. But, with time, you realise where you went wrong as well. It is always a two-way process – as rightly said, you cannot clap with one hand. With time, I reflected on my mistakes, accepted them and began the process to correct them and never repeat them.

You must be wondering, in all this, where was my husband. He left immediately after cremating Casper, and I never heard from him, or saw him again. Till that time, I was still hoping for a patch up. But after Casper’s death, I cremated my hopes also. I had finally accepted that we were not good for each other, and it was better to end the marriage legally now. But it was not easy. I didn’t know where my husband was or what he was doing. He was untraceable and even if I had to send him a legal notice, I didn’t have an address to send the same to. My family and I made many attempts to get in touch with him, but all in vain. Finally, last year I received an envelope from overseas which turned out to be a divorce notice which he had finally chosen to send. After 7 years of separation, my estranged husband had surfaced. We started the legal formalities, and the divorce will soon be finalized!

So, as I said before; this lockdown is going smooth for me. I cannot take Junior for a walk as often as I would like to. So I keep him fit and entertained by throwing one kibble of his food around the house. He runs for it and eats it. I know many people don’t keep food on the floor as the dog will get into the habit of eating crap from the ground or floor or during walk. But if you have trained your dog, your dog will never eat rubbish from the road or ground. Like Junior, he will only eat his kibble when I throw. He has never ever eaten anything from the road during his walk, or pounced on my plate when I am eating. He was trained when he was a puppy. Apart from this, a close friend of mine has gifted him a Tug Toy with suction which sticks to the floor and there is a ball on the other side of the elastic rope. Junior spends a good 20 minutes with that toy trying to pull the ball. He then gets tired and goes off to sleep. I also give him a Kong Ball filled with frozen curd and biscuits. There are many ways to keep your dogs entertained in this lockdown without much human involvement.

I just hope my blog brings encouragement, strength and positivity to your lives. And I hope my tips are helpful for your dogs. It is indeed a difficult time, but we have to be patient, and together, and we all can get through this. Daisaku Ikeda (Japanese Buddhist philosopher, educator, and author) has said “We are not defeated by adversity but by the loss of the will to strive. However devastated you may feel, so long as you have the will to fight on, you can surely triumph”

Once again, “STAY HOME, STAY SAFE.”

Till I See You Again!

William Godwin had said, “Hope is in some respects a thing more brilliant, more vivifying, than fruition. What we have looked forward to with eager and earnest aspiration is never in all respects equal to the picture we had formed of it. The very uncertainty enhances the enjoyment.”

In many ways, I do not necessarily agree with these words. Sometimes, just when you feel things are going great and you are back on track, life throws a curve ball and your world comes crushing down. Just when I was beginning to love life, life gave me a cruel slap on my face. It broke me in such a way, that this time, it was difficult to gather my shattered pieces and live again. The little happy home that I had built with Casper and Junior through a lot of struggles, tears, sacrifices and pain, came crashing down in no time. Year 2016, the worst year of my life! The year I shall never forget till my last breath. I was once asked – “What will be the most difficult thing about owning a dog?” I replied “The Goodbye!” Unfortunately, for all of its uncertainty, we still cannot flee the future!

2016, the year that took my Casper away…forever!

I had just moved to another house which was big enough for my 2 dogs to live in. It had just been a day in the new place when Casper started throwing up. I assumed it was the new place, maybe the smell, or just the dust from all the boxes and packing, which he was just trying to adjust. I gave him a carrot which was his favourite treat to munch on; but, for the first time, he didn’t show any interest in it. Casper had always had a sensitive stomach, and used to gobble up grass many a times and throw up. The vets had always advised me to just give him an anti-acid which I did this time as well and got back to unpacking my boxes. Junior was his usual self, playing, and irritating Casper as always and I assumed, Casper would be OK as well in a few hours. However, the next day, Caspu threw up again, after which I took him to the vet immediately. The vet did a general check-up, and prescribed another anti acid and told me to update him about Casper’s condition after three days. But Caspu didn’t stop vomiting and I took him to the vet once again. By then, Casper had also developed a little swelling on his stomach. The vet immediately started him on saline and took his blood sample for testing, which to our amazement, and relief, came completely normal! I was extremely confused as Casper vomited everyday despite all the treatments and medications.  By the 10th day I had gotten extremely paranoid and asked the vet to do another round of blood test. The tests again came normal and so the vet advised me to do a sonography which I did as well. His sonography showed little thickening of his liver walls. The vet informed me that Caspu had liver issues and started treating him for the same. By this time, Casper had started throwing up blood, pooping blood and peeing blood!

I was in a state of mess. Day and night, I was at the vet’s clinic with Casper, no time and enthusiasm to eat and drink, as it was difficult balancing between Junior who was all day alone at home and Casper’s illness. Even though Caspu’s health deteriorated and the vet classified him to be in a critical state, he still wanted to play, would eat and drink normally, and slept well. Somewhere, I had hopes that Caspu would make a full recovery like before; somewhere I feared the worse. But I could see that my baby was suffering; there was blood everywhere. Even when the vet tried giving him an injection, that part of the body would completely swell. This stress and fear took a severe toll on me as well. I stopped eating well and my weight came down to 40 Kgs. I couldn’t sleep at night and would randomly check on Casper to ensure he was still breathing.  But I was determined to leave no stones unturned for Casper’s treatment. I took opinions of three vets; but, nothing helped. Casper’s health kept going downhill. In all this, Junior was getting severely neglected so I decided to keep him at boarding lodging facility till Caspu came home hale and hearty. Little did I know, Caspu would never come home!

Gertrude Stein (American novelist) has said, “It is natural to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes to that siren until she allures us to our death”. I was fighting a battle against time to save my baby and one day, I had an absolute melt down. I couldn’t handle the situation alone and I called my husband (still legally married but separated) and begged him to come and be with me and Caspu. To my extreme disappointment, for a man, who couldn’t live without Casper, and had infact thrown a fit during separation to keep Casper with him, was now giving excuses for not coming. But after a lot of pleading, and begging, he came.  Somewhere within me, I knew Casper was probably not going to make it, and I guess, my main motive to call my husband was so that Caspu could spend his last days with him.

The next day, at the vet’s clinic, Casper got a stroke. That’s when the vet finally suggested putting him down. I was beyond devastated; I blanked out and I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing and hearing. Maybe it was just a bad dream, and I would snap out of it any minute. While my mind, and my soul were still processing the words which the vet had just said, my husband immediately gave his approval to the vet. I froze, but before I could even react, the vet looked at my husband with a stern eye and his exact words, as I remember were, “You are no one to take this decision. You were not even here. The only person to take this decision is your wife.” The vet then looked at me for my answer; this was by far the most difficult decision of my life I ever had to take. I knew there was no way Caspu would have made it after the stroke. I couldn’t see him suffer more and I gave my approval to the vet, but requested him if he could wait a little? The vet told me to take my time.  I wanted Casper to have his favourite meal which my Mom cooked one last time, and I immediately called my mom who said she would have my brother get it there as soon as possible. While I was waiting for my brother to come, I put Casper’s head on my lap and started talking to him that “everything will be all right. I am here. Your Mumma is here.” Just then, Casper’s eyes rolled up, he let out a sigh and he passed away naturally on my lap. At that very moment, I wanted to die with Casper too. And just when this happened, my brother arrived with Casper’s favourite food. I broke down in my brother’s arm and till this date, my brother curses himself for reaching late and Caspu crossed the rainbow bridge without eating. My baby was only 5 years and 8 months old. He died of Liver Cirrhosis within 10 days of showing symptoms!

I was inconsolable, so my brother bought me home and my husband went to cremate Casper. The only thing left with me was my Angel’s memories and his collar. Not just my parents, but my uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends were waiting for me at home. All had tears in their eyes but were trying their best to put up a strong face in front of me. For the first time in my life, I saw tears in my Dad’s eyes. A man who avoided coming close to my dogs, giving a reason that it’s an unwanted attachment; had broken down. My brother, who drove me and Casper every single day and night to the vet’s clinic, was shattered. And my Mom was beyond grief stricken.

Why this happened? Where did I go wrong? Was it my fault? There were a lot of questions in my mind. Except for vomiting once a day, Caspu didn’t show any other symptoms at that time which eventually resulted to taking his life. The time when the meaning of life was sucked out of me, I learnt a few things which I would like to share with all you pet parents:

  1. Get your pets blood work done every year; even if they are absolutely healthy
  2. Labradors are very playful dogs, so they do not show symptoms immediately
  3. Never neglect a slightest change in your dog’s behaviour. Talk to the vet immediately
  4. Do not leave anything for later. If you have plans to take them trekking, take them now, if you plan to do a photo shoot with them, do it now, etc. Life is too short!
  5. Do not blame yourself. You did everything you could
  6. Do not be a Google doctor. Trust your vet. Your vet knows what he/she is doing. Follow the instructions well
  7. Love and take care of your pets now. You do not know what tomorrow brings. And in general; LIVE IN TODAY!

Today, 4 years after Casper has left us, Junior and I have become even more inseparable.  I may have moved on, but the memory of Casper lives in me forever. At times, I remember the famous words of George Eliot, a rather famous English novelist of the 19th century. She wrote, and I quote, “Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.”

Change begins at the end of your comfort zone!

Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or adjusting to move to a new place, life is full of uncertainty. Navigating previously unexplored terrain is difficult, exhausting, and even scary. The worst feeling isn’t being lonely; it’s being forgotten by someone you know you will never completely forget. You never realise how lonely you are, until it’s the end of the day, and, you got a bunch of things to talk about, but no one to talk to! While Loneliness makes living difficult, from my experience I can say, nobody is really alone. Lonely, in its true sense, is not about being alone; it’s the feeling that no one cares, and trust me when I say this, there is always someone who cares! You will find company, if you really want to, and I found it in my dogs, Casper and Junior.

William Arthur Ward’s had said, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

In life, when things don’t work out, as humans, it is a very normal tendency for us to blame things on the other person. We, at times, even vent out to others about how bad our partner was or how he/she ill-treated us. While, the same is a matter of perspective, and ill treatment does not necessarily have any set parameters to it; as a thumb rule, any kind of a physical abuse is generally the tipping point for many. But who is to blame, when there is no physical abuse also, and two individuals are just drifting apart? During my separation stage, I got a lot of time to reflect on my entire relationship, and where we went wrong. To begin with, I realized I got married for the wrong reasons. I was probably a young, immature girl who got married out of the sheer excitement of the term marriage, while still living in the fairy-tale world that now, this is forever! Without realising, that my juvenile shoulders STILL didn’t have the strength to carry the responsibility of a steady, understanding and a patient relationship.  Sometimes, things don’t work out.  You can be with someone for years and believe that they are the one. But, in reality, it was built on the everlasting fear of loneliness and insecurity. Perhaps it wasn’t that you didn’t love them, but it was more just a relationship that was to teach you that not all things last forever, despite how much you want them to. And you cannot hold on to someone who wants to go. They let go of you, so you learn that, although you both once believed you were each other’s forever, or that you both still love each other – it’s time to go in separate ways.

In her novel ‘Frankenstein’, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote, “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” I too never got a closure from my husband; we never sat and spoke to each other about our issues. We were already sailing in different boats and the separation was like a sudden blow of the wind to our ships which drifted apart so quickly that we could no longer even reach out to each other.  The biggest lesson I learnt was, in a relationship, when the communication starts to fade, everything else follows.

It’s funny how things don’t work out (and funny how they always do). In this testing time, in this time of doubt and fear, my only constant were my dogs. Those dogs, whom I had given up for adoption. Those dogs, who accidentally came into my life, only for me to later realise were God sent; to save me. And as I always say, “Everything happens for a reason”. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things come together. Now I had a responsibility as a single mom to look after my two dogs. My mindset had completely changed. I was a completely new person. Once an arrogant and rude girl, I had turned to a more docile and matured woman. The change was good. We all fear change, we all get so used to our comfort zone that we start believing that “this is life”. Or we accept our fate that “it is what it is.” But I will say this, “if it scares you, it might be a good thing to try”. As at the other side of fear, is freedom.

It wasn’t easy at all! With limited income, pressure from family to once again give up the dogs for adoption so that I could start my life afresh with a new partner, emotional blackmailing, suicidal thoughts, struggling to find a job, lonely and depressed; life was a living hell at that time. But I was determined; I was head strong, that no matter what, I will never ever give Casper and Junior up for adoption. For they taught me how to remain strong! They were the main reason where I had the guts to let go off my dead and stagnant marriage, and realise that change is messy in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and beautiful in the end. I was fighting against all odds to keep them with me.

As time passed, everything started to sort out. My family stopped pressurising me to give them up, I found a good job and earnt a decent income to live a comfortable life. But that was just the beginning. It was just getting better day by day. If you are determined, and, have the courage, anything is possible. Just believe in yourself! I started getting confident in taking Casper and Junior out in public all by myself. Handling two Labrador Retrievers all alone by a petite girl was not a piece of cake. But I was gaining confidence. I got better at managing time and money. I got comfortable at living alone. Having Casper and Junior by my side, I didn’t need anyone else. Suddenly, life became a party. One day I woke up, and everything was fine; in fact, better than before. That day, I thanked my husband (legally we were still married) for leaving me. Because my alone time, and my dogs had turned me from a Caterpillar to a beautiful Butterfly. Not just mentally, but playing around with my dogs, their walks and exercise, the laughter I got from seeing them act funny, the feeling of living in paradise I got from seeing them sleep peacefully, made me physically attractive as well. I lost 20 kgs of weight. I was happy and at peace; I was glowing!

I wished I had come to terms sooner that my marriage was dead long time ago. I was holding on to nothing. My fear was actually holding me back. But it’s better to be late than never. If that time my husband didn’t have the courage to end it, we both would have been living a stagnant life, holding each other back with unknown fears, not realising that the end of a marriage doesn’t mean end of life. I was completely unaware of what my husband was up to; but that did not bother me at all. He would get in touch with me sometimes through text, just to know how Casper and Junior were doing. I was still not open to dating anyone new that time. I was just enjoying the time of my life with my dogs and my freedom. Had it not been for Casper and Junior, I would have gone back to live with my parents, and they would have got me married immediately to someone else after divorce. Me becoming the accidental dog mom was the biggest blessing of my life; and believe me when I say this, being separated and single isn’t exactly a taboo or the end of the world!

Today, as we are sitting in isolation, or let’s say, avoiding going to public places and interacting with people due to the Corona (COVID-19) Virus, Junior and me are having a ball of a time. His naughtiness still keeps me entertained. His walks and exercise still keep me mentally and physically active, and not even once lets me slip into depression. He is soon to be eight years old, but he is still like a one-year old puppy. Everyone around loves him a lot. And my parents who had once told me to give up my dogs for adoption, now cannot live a day without him. As Steve Maraboli put it, “The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”