One Day…

“When you realize that you will never be this young again but this is the first time you have ever been this old.” – Kalyn Roseanne Livernois.

I am standing in the kitchen making Tea and listening to music, when suddenly I look at Junior who is sleeping about a feet away from where I am standing. This moment really got to my heart. Just standing there and the first thought that flashed in my mind, “How fragile his body has become, but spirits still high.”

Just then, I don’t feel at home in my own skin. There used to be the comfort of enjoying my evening Tea while Junior slept besides me; which I called “Me Time.” When I realized that Junior is no more a puppy, but this is the first time he has ever been this old. When I suddenly can’t remember how he got this old and is no more a young agile dog, and at the same time he is just as much energetic as he was few years ago.

Nostalgia hit me, and all the memories suddenly flashed in front me. The day I bought Junior home; a palm size puppy, so soft and fluffy. And as days passed, he grew up in no time. A big energetic dog who made his presence felt at every minute of the day. Destroying furniture, jumping around, zoomies, spilling water, etc., and most importantly, Junior jumping on me while I made Tea to eat lemongrass.  At the same time, I was younger, and had all the energy to cater to him at all times.

My heartbeats are racing now with thoughts of getting old. Additionally, seeing Junior motionless just staring at me while I am drowned in my thoughts and staring at him back. His bones are weak now, his eyes no longer holds the bright sharp vision, his fur is getting dull, and his energy gets drained in no time.  

I am feeling the cracking in my bones, the strain of my heart, and the aching that comes with growing up. The past 10 years of reminiscence of loving, lost love, adventure, a hunger for home (whatever “home” means), nostalgia, angst, etc. At this point of time, I just want someone to look at me in the face and say, “I know exactly how you feel and it is ok to grow old.” 

When I was younger and Junior was a puppy, I thought aging would be an achievement. Each year that passed marked one step closer to adulthood. However, right at this moment, I realized I am not young anymore and neither is Junior. But I also appreciate the years we spent together. The ups and downs, the running around and bedtime, the tears and laughter, the hugs and sloppy kisses, the walks and drives, the illness and good health, the frustrations and patience, and the love and togetherness.

The sight of Junior portrays that he aged gracefully. And he helped me age gracefully. Aging is inevitable. So why not do it joyfully? Without realization, we did just that. The strength of pulling ourselves through all the bad times, yet with enthusiasm and still kicking it is a proof that we are aging gracefully.

Junior is not jumping on me to eat lemongrass anymore, but his presence is enough for me to keep going and do my best to give him a comfortable old age.

The song is over. The Tea is done. I am out of trance. I can hear my heartbeats. I am breathing in and out. Poured the Tea in my cup and I walk outside to sit on the couch. Just then, Junior got up and put his head on my lap and went off to sleep. Some things never change. I feel at home again. This is my “Me Time.” One day, we all will leave this place, but that’s not today.


How Casper got Liver Cirrhosis

It is the most heartbreaking thing to see your dog take his last breath on your lap. An arena that can never be forgotten all your life. Even after 5 years of Casper’s death, that field of vision is as fresh as if it was just yesterday.

Casper had liver cirrhosis. But he died due to stroke which was caused on account of all the complications from his primary illness. How Casper got Liver Cirrhosis is something I honestly don’t know. But I am going to narrate the stages of his life that made him cross the rainbow bridge at the age of 5 years 8 months. My purpose for this post is, to save any dog going through this or to begin with, no dog should go through this. And to make the pet parents aware of any hidden illness in their dogs before it is too late.

I distinctly remember, it was the summer of 2011 when we had gone to a farmhouse in Lonavala to get a dog for our farmhouse. We named him Scooby and he was already 9 months old. All his brothers and sisters were adopted when they were puppies, but he was left behind; and we wanted a little bigger dog as it is. The owner of the farmhouse told us that he was going to conduct a summer camp for dogs in some days and invited us to drop Scooby and Casper and enjoy swimming, playing games, running around, etc. for a few days.

Living in a city like Mumbai, the invitation was tempting as Casper would get to run free and have fun for a few days and even socialize with other dogs. We left Casper and Scooby in Lonavala and came back to Mumbai. I had my Law final exams going on, so I thought it was a good idea as I would get time to study and Casper would be enjoying himself. Before my last 2 papers, I had a break of 8 days. So my ex-husband and I thought of visiting Casper.

Casper was a very active dog, and whenever he would see us, he would come running to us all excited. When we reached the farmhouse and got out of the car, Casper was just sitting afar and didn’t move an inch. That very moment we realized something was wrong. The other strange thing was, we didn’t see Scooby anywhere and neither was the farmhouse owner in sight. We picked Casper up and immediately left for Mumbai and took him to the vet. In the meantime, we called the owner and gave him a piece of our mind and enquired about Scooby. That’s when he told us that Scooby had tick fever and he was in the hospital for treatment and he didn’t know why Casper was dull.

On reaching the vet, we narrated the whole story. Since we have friendly relations with the vet, he scolded us for being so reckless and leaving our dogs in a place infested with ticks and fleas (which we didn’t know at that time). The vet ran through some tests and confirmed that even Casper had high grade tick fever and was critical. He told us that he will do everything in his power to treat him, but it was upto the dog to fight from within. Since Casper was a young 1-year-old dog that time, the vet also told us that chances are bright for him to fight this out.

Little did we know, imagining a summer camp to be a fun filled few days would turn into a life and death situation. Day and night we were at the vet with Casper for his treatment, at the same time, we were also constantly in touch with the other vet where Scooby was admitted. In some days Scooby recovered and my ex-husband took him to our farmhouse in Karjat and settled him where he was taken good care of. But even after 4 days of treatment, Casper showed no signs of improvement. Then one day, a miracle happened out of nowhere.  I was home with Casper and he got up on his own and started eating his food which was kept next to him. I shed tears of joy. All these days I had to forcefully feed Casper with a syringe. But that day, he ate on his own. And his recovery began. At last, Casper’s health improved completely.

My vet had told me to continue some tonics and supplements for some months. After about a year of this incident, Casper looked completely normal and we stopped his medicines. This was the biggest mistake of my life. I should have never stopped giving Casper his supplements. Labradors are very active and playful dogs. Most of the time, they don’t show symptoms till the last moment. Casper was always playing and eating like he was never ill. He would throw up once every month, but we assumed each time, that the weather is not good or he over ate or he over played, etc.

Then Casper started developing rashes between all his legs. We ran through some tests and all were normal. So we treated him for allergy or skin infection. Basically, we never got any hint that these were the symptoms of an underlying disease. When I would take Casper and Junior for a walk, after sometime Casper would refuse to walk. But I would still make him finish his exercise quota thinking he has become lazy.

Plainly, Casper did show signs of an underlying disease, but since his blood records were always normal, we always looked at the outer picture and never imagined anything else. One fine day, Casper kept throwing up and we had to put him on drip. That’s when the vet noticed his stomach had water retention. My vet immediately sent him for a Sonography and did advanced blood check. Once again, Casper’s blood reports were normal but his liver walls a little thickened. He took a second opinion and the other vet told him that it was not too serious. This was on the 8th February 2016. Casper’s health started deteriorating quick. He wouldn’t stop vomiting and started shedding a lot. His nose had become dry and cracked. His skin had become dry and stomach had swollen to a size of a ball. But he was still active, playing and eating. Then he started pooping, peeing and vomiting blood. I took him to a third vet on the 12th and fourth vet on 16th February 2016. By then, all the vets finally told me that he relapsed from tick fever and had last stage liver cirrhosis. All told me to put Casper down.

It was only my old and original vet who told me that he will try till Casper’s last breath. Unfortunately, on the treatment table, Casper got a stroke and passed away on the 18th February 2016. It took Casper only 10 days from his initial throwing up to dying. Active all the time. Till date, I do not know how he relapsed so bad. Was it home food that I fed him for some time when I was broke? Was it a result of over breeding from where we bought him when he was a puppy? Was it really a relapse of his tick fever from 4 years ago? Was it because I discontinued his supplements? I still don’t know.

The loss is too huge for me to ever recover from. But I would like to tell all the pet parents, do your dog’s blood tests every year even if he/she are healthy and fine. Do not keep changing their food. If they are suddenly reluctant to walk, get them checked. If they have ever got tick fever and recovered, give them liver supplements always. Do not assume anything. In short, if you feel something is off, then take your dog to the vet immediately. Dogs do not show symptoms often. We as pet parents, play a big role in understanding them. I hope this helps you’ll. I wish good health and love to all and never ever any pet parent should go through the guilt of not being able to save their dog and the dog shouldn’t go through the ordeal that Casper went through where later even the syringes couldn’t go into his body. Take care!

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!

Do you want another dog?

As you all know, I am The “Accidental” Dog Mom. When I got Casper and Junior, I was not in a position to have dogs. But little did I know they were a blessing in disguise, and, now I am a proud and content mother of 2 beautiful fur Angels.

I have been asked this a lot of times, “would you get another dog after Junior?” And most of the times, my answer is NO. Not because of the responsibility or the costs that comes along with bringing up a fur baby; but because of the attachment and love that no matter what, I will never be prepared for their passing, inspite of knowing they won’t live as long as us.

Many a times, I ponder that I should adopt a stray dog or an abused or abundant dog to give him/her a better life. More often, my friends and family suggests to never get another dog. Their reasons are, “I am stuck”, “my future husband will not accept it”, etc. I know they only mean good, but the attachment and love for a dog is only known to us dog lovers.

I often believe, two dogs are better than one. But only when one brings them home at the same time or at a difference of a year or two. However, there are a lot of things to consider before getting another dog. You often wonder, “Wow! Let’s bring siblings, they bond instantly, your family is complete and you have an Instagram worthy content to share with the world.” Wait a minute! There are a million wrong reasons to get home a second pup. Some of them are:

  • Your family wants one
  • Your first dog has separation anxiety
  • Your first dog has developed an aggressive behavior
  • The first dog isn’t really the breed you wanted
  • You miss the puppy cuteness and play

Nevertheless, also consider the following reasons before getting a second dog:

  • You will spend more
  • Your first dog has already established his territory
  • Gender of the dog
  • Do you have time?
  • Do you have the energy to start all over again with the training?
  • Two dogs, double the fur
  • Space in your house
  • Travelling becomes difficult

I know some people, who bought a second dog after the death of their first dog. Then, I know some who were fostering a dog, fell in love, and, adopted him/her. Me for example, I got Junior because the one who was going to adopt him, never turned up. While I completely understand these reasons and they are unavoidable in most cases to get a second dog, you still need to know that adding another dog to your household is a big decision and definitely shouldn’t be brought for the wrong reasons.

A second dog can be double joy to the family, If done correctly and for the right reasons. But let me ask from the mental point of view – Is it just me or does anyone else think that they cannot bare to come to terms of getting too attached with the dog and eventually they will leave earlier than us? I have lost Casper suddenly and untimely. Till date I have not overcome his passing. I still cry when I miss him a lot. And I dread losing Junior, even though I know I have to be prepared for it.

My dogs have just not been my emotional support, but my companions, my best friends, my children, and my entire life rotates around them. And when I lost Casper, a part of me also went away with him. For me, getting another dog once Junior gets old or worse (which I do not want to mention), is like considering between having another faithful friend who loves you unconditionally for almost 15 years or living in fear and then sorrow all your life once they are gone. No dog is replaceable. Junior can never fill the void that Casper left, and no other dog can fill the void after Junior. I am financially stable, I have space, I have an excellent experience in handling dogs, but I still am indecisive in getting another dog.

Do you’ll consider this point of view before getting another dog? As I know some who never bought another dog for the same reason as the attachment is so great, that you fear losing them every single day. Please share your views on this. It would be enlightening to hear from you’ll.

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.”