A letter from Casper & Junior!

Dear Mumma,

We would like to start by saying WE LOVE YOU, A LOT.

We know you are tired single handily taking care of everything to give us the life we deserve. But let us tell you this, whatever you have done, is enough. We are grateful to God to have a Mom like you. We know you consider us as your child even now and treat us no less than a human baby, but you are the best, and in our next life, we would like to be born from you as your child.

You take care of our every need; You give us every comfort and luxury in your capacity. There have been times when you skipped your meals to save money and buy us food so that we do not go hungry. There have been times when bad people have come to attack you because of us but you stood like a shield in front of us to protect us. And even today, you do not settle down in life with anyone if they are not ready to accept us. Yes, it’s only Junior now, but we know when you stood against all odds to keep us when everyone was forcing you to remarry and give us up for adoption. Unlike some out there, who have abandoned their dogs, or gave them up for adoption because they had to shift to another state/country for work, or marriage, or who had a baby, or got a partner who didn’t like dogs, you never gave up on us. Sometimes, we wonder what we ever did to get so much luckier than some of our other friends who have to live through all the pain.

You have sacrificed a lot for us. Your own comfort, your sleep, your health, your likes and dislikes all are secondary for you when it comes to us. But we also know, you are very happy with what you do because we are with you. Sometimes, you are so silly that you get happy when we poop – like seriously mom, its poop!

We have heard you telling people that we keep you healthy mentally and physically. You keep telling us we are good boys and we wag our tails, even then you have a big smile on your face. We love to dance with you when you dance for no reason. Then you tell us, “sit down and let me clean the cobwebs.” You take us out for drives; we enjoy poking our heads out of the window, and feel the breeze. You bring us Vanilla Ice Cream some times, and we relish over it. Although mom, one cup really isn’t enough! Did you even know it literally takes about 5 slurps for it to get over!

When we were younger, you cleaned our poop and pee without complaining. You didn’t even shout at us when we destroyed your favourite shoes or ate the wiring of CCTV in the house – now that I think about it, those wires were yummy indeed! You trained us and worked on us so that we are good boys most of the time. You laughed when we slept in funny positions. You always removed time for us from your busy and messed up life. You didn’t even move an inch when we slept on your lap even though your legs went numb. You have stayed up all night when we fell ill. But we know, you did all this only because you love us as much as we love you.

Then, when Casper crossed the rainbow bridge, you slipped into depression. But gathered yourself back again only for Junior. We were sad to see you sinking in that time. But the strong woman that you have been always, you once again got back in action.

Today as I turn 8 years old, you are very happy, but sad too as I am turning old. You have noticed my slow walks and breaks while climbing the stairs. You have also noticed that now I play only for 15-20 minutes at a stretch, unlike before when I could play for hours. You keeping looking at my face every time like there is no tomorrow. Maybe I cannot entertain you much like before, but I will try my best till the end of my life to keep a smile on your face.

Mumma, thank you for being the best Mom. We know you thank us for coming into your life and keep telling everyone that we have adopted you and this is our house. It takes a very strong person who has seen rock bottom quite a few times to still stay committed to us. Being a single mother is not easy, but you have showed the world how joyful it is to have dogs in one’s life. 

We have heard some humans say the Phase, “It’s a Dog’s Life”! We are not exactly sure what it really means, but with you we would live a dog’s life a hundred times over!

Your good boys,

Casper & Junior

Don’t shop, Adopt!

Many of you must have heard the latest catch-phrase, “Adopt, Don’t Shop?” If not, then you might be wondering what it means. Adopt, Don’t Shop is a campaign slogan that a growing number of animal rights proponents are using to promote adopting pets from shelters, rather than buying them from pet stores. Now you must be wondering that I had 2 dogs, both Labradors, one passed away and the other I can’t top raving about, and, I am talking about adopting and not shopping? As oxymoron my title and my current life may sound; I can safely confess that I realised this only after getting my dogs and becoming an animal lover. Today, I take care of some stray dogs, and over a period of time I have realised that no matter the breed, each and every dog has only two things to give, unconditional love and loyalty.

Initially when I was a new dog mom, wasn’t much involved with strays; as funny as it may sound, my involvement with stray dogs has also been accidental. One day, I was driving through my local market and had to suddenly brake as there were puppies on the road. On reaching home, I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and so, the very next day, I went back to the same spot with a packet of milk. I wasn’t even aware how many puppies were there or if they were even being looked after; I just went there to feed them. Now that I think about, my love for strays didn’t exactly start there. When I was living happily with my husband, I would always see a stray dog at a particular hour come near my apartment in search of food. I guess it all began back then; I would feed that dog every evening after realising his pattern.

Post separation, I shifted to a rented house and continued to take care of any and every dog I could. Once, I recollect, I saw a puppy limping at a traffic signal which was at walking distance to my house. I immediately went there and noticed there were not one, but two puppies out of which one was hit by a car. I called an NGO and got the puppy admitted to a hospital. Since I was in continues touch with them, the NGO volunteers informed me that the puppy’s internal organs were inflated and had to undergo a major surgery for the same. I donated some money, and after the puppy recovered, he was adopted by a loving and caring lady. His brother, unfortunately was not so fortunate, and while I would take care of him and give him the vitamins he needed, one day when I went to feed him, he was nowhere to be found and the locals informed me that the puppy passed away suddenly.

A piece of advice for all those of you who want to feed puppies’ milk; dogs genetically are lactose intolerant. So, if you intend to feed them milk, please dilute the milk with water. 1/3rd Milk and 2/3rd Water. When I used to feed the stray puppies in the market, a very old gentleman man there as well would come often to feed them. I was glad to see that there were still people living who cared. Soon it became my routine to feed those puppies on my way to work. From there, my journey began and without even noticing, I started looking after more than 40 stray dogs. Each one I would get neutered, vaccinated, fed, etc. I have even had a million fights with people for feeding them. Some for religious reason, some for spreading dirt, some with the fear of being bitten and some for no reason at all.

Not many people in the world know the realty about stray dogs; majority believe strays are untouchable beasts and carrier of rabies whose only motive in life is to bite them. What they fail to understand is that no creature bites without a reason. They bite only if threatened, or if they have had a bad past experience with humans.  If you have hit them, or something that a human has done has scared them, their natural defence mechanism will kick in and they will tend to bite as a reflex action.

The one thing we as humans are the worst at is being human! At times, we are so harsh and cruel that we forget that even strays are living beings who feel pain, anger, sorrow and happiness, just like us! All these strays want is some food, and a little love. It is a pitiful situation for them to run about for food and they don’t even know when and where their next meal will come from. To add up to their misery, the harsh weathers of the country severely affect them. I have lost several dogs and puppies to rains in Mumbai. Last year, one of my stray dogs had 6 puppies right before rains. Let me tell you, rains in Mumbai are pretty heavy. After the first rainfall, I lost all the 6 puppies as the bitch and one more stray dog got stuck in the drainage as they were trying to take shelter from the rains. Another incident that still brings tears to my eyes; I had once gone to feed some puppies in an under construction building. All the puppies came running towards me except two. When I went towards them, they had both passed away hugging each other in their sleep due to the severe cold weather. I have seen many dogs run over by cars, many being poisoned and some even being stoned. The laws in my country are weak and not at all strict against animal cruelty. So, the culprit always walks out free on bail within minutes of being reported. I myself face a lot of issues in my apartment because they do not like dogs and pick up fights for no reason. People have actually threatened me to throw me out of the building because of my dogs’ inspite of laws clearly saying that no apartment complex can ban dogs.

What people don’t understand that Indian strays are not only intelligent, but over the years their survival skills have made them live longer with lesser medical complications. My parents had adopted a stray dog in their apartment building. We called him Caddy. He was such a calm and patient dog. At the same time, he was so alert that in his entire life spam of 16 years that he lived in their building, they didn’t have one single robbery or theft. Even today, every morning when I go down to walk Junior and feed my dogs, they are eagerly waiting for me wagging their tails at the building gate. Not just that, there has been an incident when I was inappropriately approached by a man, but my stray immediately realized the danger and started barking at him, ensuring he left me alone. Love, loyalty and security, this is what every dog gives. No matter the breed or colour. And this I learnt after having Casper and Junior. I have pledged that if ever I get another dog, it will be a stray dog or an abandoned dog or a dog that has been the longest in a shelter or the most undesirable one. Because, every dog is an angel and every dog deserves a home.

Playing with one of Junior’s toys

Hang in there!

I have never seen a strong person with an easy past. And what I know for sure is that tough times make people tough. We love being mentally strong, but we hate situations that allow us to put our mental strength to good use. All we really have to do is, hang in there, acknowledge our feeling’s, have patience, and wait for the storm to pass. In these tough times of the pandemic, having a calm attitude is very important. Because the right mindset is half the battle won. 

COVID_19 has plagued the world and brought it down to its knees; not only is it taking lives, but also will result in a huge economic disaster. Let’s talk about the problems and mental health of people facing all over the world due to the lockdown and COVID_19. I only want to tell you, you are not alone and we are all in this together.

As I read many articles, I realised that this lockdown has taken a toll on a lot of people’s mental health. Particularly, I read this article of a 21 years old boy taking his own life. We would never know what a person is thinking or going through just before taking their own life. In such times, having someone by one’s side is so important. So please keep checking on your people who live alone. I too live alone. But as I have said before, my dogs have kept me sane at all levels, and at all times. Yes, there was a time once years ago that I too had considered suicide. I sat on the bed all prepared to take the plunge. But just in the nick of time, Casper jumped on me and started licking my tears of. That very moment I kicked back the plan to give up on life and live. This may be probably why even this lockdown has not affected me much. It is not that that I do not have any issues right now; but I have learnt that having problems is a part and parcel of life. How you deal with it, is all that really counts. Yes, I do have my well-wishers and near and dear ones with me. But throughout the day and night, I am alone with Junior and it will never be enough for me to stress on the fact that he keeps me sane.

Me and Mine

Many a times when I am alone in my thoughts, especially in the evenings and nights; I linger onto my past and present and put myself in a state of fear and panic due to over thinking. But one thing for a fact is, till date whatever I have over thought, only 10% of it has ever come out to be true. Remaining 90% have always been a complete waste of time, and not only unnecessarily puts me into a troubled state, but also those in front of me to whom I vent out to. I sometimes do not even trust my gut as I do not know if it is my intuition telling me something or my defence mechanism stopping me. We humans are very complicated. And that’s why, accidentally my dogs came into my life and helped me sail through the ups and downs. So much so, that Casper even taught me how to let go. He taught me that everything is temporary, so make the most out of life TODAY. Don’t hold on to anything if not given freely, whether it is friendship, relationship, job, etc. 

Life is not fair. The only thing that makes life unfair is the delusion that it should be fair. When times are tough, it can be very difficult to follow your heart. I believe fear and greed drives a person into taking decisions that most of us regret later. Trust me, the biggest fear doesn’t really exist. Thoughts drive through our minds all the time. Like traffic, they might flow smoothly. But they sometimes also back up, causing a traffic jam. When they collide, the impact can truly throw us psychologically, making you anxious, depressed, or generally distressed. However, just because they are driving through your mind, it does not mean they represent an objective reality. They are often more a figment of your imagination than an observation. So, for a life that flows smoothly, it is essential that you not believe everything you think.

Sometimes it is going to hurt a lot more, when you feel alone. Sometimes it is going to get tough, when you feel you are in a dark place. The first thing you got to realise that you have to love yourself. It is all about self love. Fall in love with yourself again. Make an impact in this world. All we know is life is short. We all sleep with plans for tomorrow. But many people did not wake up; and here you are, still living. Life is living. There is the good, there is the bad and there is RIGHT NOW.

You cannot or rather should not wait on somebody for your happiness. You cannot endlessly wait on somebody to make your life better; You and only you have to do it for yourself and leave your mark. Help someone or lift them up when they are weak. And maybe when you are at your weakest, someone will lift you up. Because we all struggle. Make sure you make your mark in this world, because someone didn’t make it alive today. But you did. Keep living, keep fighting, and do not give up.

Casper and Junior

Most of us are more worried about the financial losses we are facing because of the lockdown than the virus itself. Others are worried about court dates. Then there are many worried about paying rents or being evicted from their houses by the landlord. Some children are living with abusive parents whose only escape was school. Some people are living with abusive partners whose escape was going for work or meeting a friend for coffee. The list of problems is endless. But what I learnt from my past experiences is that, these bad days will pass. Though, like a kidney stone, but it will pass, and there will be sunshine again. And as it’s said, we do not appreciate the sunshine unless there are rains. Sometimes it will take years to become successful. Sometimes it will take a lot of punches to hit back right.

Till then, relax, reset and then restart. We all know what the symptoms are of Corona virus. We all know what precautions have to be taken to stay away from this virus. So let’s be smart and take care of our own selves than relying on anyone else. And one more time, this virus doesn’t spread through dogs, so do not abandon them.

He is just a dog!

The tittle of this blog exemplifies the general mindset of many in this world who believe a dog is just a ‘thing’ or a play object. Many believe, a dog, is just another hobby and do not even realize the bond the parent and the dog share. Just because we humans consider ourselves to be the superior species does not give us the right to dictate the existence of any other species. While everyone may not share the same love many of us share for animals, especially dogs; their indifference towards our babies is at times very naïve, and to a large extent, even annoying.

Buying or adopting a dog is more serious than having a baby. At some point, the baby will grow up to be an adult which essentially means fend for himself, and, live his own life. Your dog will remain your puppy all his life; you may have many friends and social acquaintances, and places to go to – for your dog, you and you alone are his universe. He will never be able to feed itself on its own, and will wait endlessly for you to return home. I am not trying to dissuade anyone from getting a dog into their lives. Infact, what I am truly trying to convey is – if you really want a dog – Get a dog! Do not compromise that void with the general principles set by mankind by having kids and later repenting not having got a furry friend. I am not against having kids. I love children and dream to have a child of my own. But my dog is no less of a kid to me, and this is something that perplexes many people who keep saying – “HE IS JUST A DOG!” They so miserably fail to see he is my baby, my child, my son.

Raising dogs was a choice I made; although accidentally, I did become a dog mom, and a parent does not differentiate between their children. In the process of raising Casper and Junior I had to give up things, went without doing many things, and, honesty, I regret nothing. My life was, is, and will always be, for my dogs, no matter how big or old they get. They didn’t ruin my life; they gave me unconditional love and a totally new view of the meaning of my life. I live alone and have raised my dogs all by myself; there have been times when I couldn’t go out for parties or social functions because it clashed with the timings of feeding my dogs or walking them. In those times, people have told me, “you are stuck” or “you are ruining your life because of your dogs.” What people don’t realize is, I am missing out on nothing. If a child has to be fed or walked, then that is what a responsible parent does, and I reiterate, a baby is a baby, the species does not matter!

Junior Shah

Even today, there are some people who keep advising me to give up my dog for adoption, as they believe it will be hard for me to find a man to marry, as no man who will accept me with a dog. First of all, I do not need to be accepted by a man. If that is the scenario, I would rather be single. Love is a two way street. Love is an intense feeling of deep affection. It is not just going on fancy dates, buying gifts, or applying conditions like “if you have a dog, I will not marry you.” Yes, there are people who are not dog lovers and that is absolutely fine. When I married my husband, I knew he was a dog lover and I was petrified of dogs at that time. But I never put any conditions on him to abandon his dog or to give them up for adoption if he wanted to marry me. I loved my husband so much, that I accepted his love for dogs and started preparing myself for the same. A dog is not an object of play to be given away – A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. I will always choose, and keep choosing my dogs over any man – If someone comes along who is a dog lover, it would be an icing over the cake.

There are some who say, “If we come to your house, you will have to tie your dog up or put him in another room.” Please understand, I will be more than happy to not have you at my house; My dog lives here, and this is his house! He is a child and totally harmless; he merely gets excited seeing people and his only intention is to play with you. I can understand there are people who are scared of dogs; but he is domesticated animal not a lion! You do not necessarily have to pet him, but, at the same time you do not get to dictate to get him locked up in another room!

I have also heard people say that you can’t love a dog as much as a child, which may be true. Although I do know that looking at a dog can give you the same rush of emotion as looking at a baby, thanks to the hormone Oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone” and released during breast-feeding and loving physical contact. Scientists at Azabu University in Japan have recently discovered that dog owners experience a rush of this feel-good hormone when they interact with their dogs – just like the mothers of babies. Love from dogs is unconditional. And as it’s said, a dog is the most loyal living being on Earth and a man’s best friend. My dogs have never broken my heart, never betrayed my trust, and never deceived me like a man. Very little they ask for in their short life. Just feed them, play with them, give them a clean and cosy place to sleep and love them. We have family and friends, but for a dog, you are their only family.

I am very content in life. I have a small dream of having my own little loving family where my child would be raised in the presence of a dog. There are some benefits of that. Kids can practice motor skills by feeding and grooming their dog. Not to mention, a dog can help your kids develop a stronger immune system and prevent sickness. Kids who grow up around dogs are less prone to allergies and asthma than those who grow up without a dog. Most important, kids learn to care for and love every living being. They grow up to be more compassionate, humane and warm-hearted. When I was happily married, I wanted to have a child in the presence of Casper. But life took an ugly turn, and neither did I stay married nor do I have Casper. But it’s not the end and if God is kind on me, I will have my family and a child while Junior is still there. 

Jon Katz (American Journalist) famously wrote, “Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What’s one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.”  More often, people also tell me he is “just a dog.” Even four years after my Caspu passed away, I still can’t bear to talk about him without a tear in my eye. Yet, he is just a dog. I come across an old picture of him playing and my heart sinks. Yet, he is just a dog. After a long and mentally draining day, when I come home and hug Junior, all my tiredness is gone. Yet, he is just a dog. When I am down and depressed, Junior cuddles with me and does not let me sink in. Yet, he is just a dog. Those who have never owned a pet will never get it. These dogs are my friends, my cuddle buddies, exercise partner, play mate, anxiety reliever, alarm clock, guard dog…etc. and yet, Just a dog, right? For many, it’s just a dog. For me, it’s my world. From time to time, people also tell me, “That’s a lot of money you are spending on your dog.” They really don’t get it and it makes me laugh now; he is my child – if he needs something, I will spend on it. Your spending on your child is not any more normal or somehow more ethically justified, than me spending on my dog, only because yours is a human and mine is not.

Jerome K. Jerome (19th century writer) famously said and I quote “Dogs never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with my babies. Many hours I have spent alone with my dogs and they have never let me down. They haven’t left my side once, and are more than eager to just sit by me and even listen even if means me blabbering about mindless things!  Even during this pandemic and lockdown, my Junior or let me say “just a dog” has kept me sane and lively. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. He makes my life complete.

If you too, think it’s “just a dog”, you will probably understand the phrases like “just a friend”, “just a sunrise” or “just a promise.” My dogs bought into my life the very essence of friendship, trust and pure unbundled joy. They bought compassion and patience that made me a better person. M.K. Clinton (American author) has said, “world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” For me or people like me, it’s not “just a dog”, it’s an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories and the pure joy of the moments. I hope that someday people can understand that it’s not “just a dog”, it’s something that gives us humanity and keeps us going. Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the centre of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. So the next time you hear someone say this, “why you do so much for a dog”, just smile because they “just don’t understand.”

If the kindest souls were rewarded with the longest lives, dogs would outlive us all!

Dreams and Tears

Appreciate what you have, before it turns into what you had. We all have heard this before. But we still do not implement this in our lives. We keep on abusing the zeal given to us, until it is too late to realise what we had was way too precious to us, and is there no more. When you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken.

I had always dreamt to marry a guy who would love me, encourage me, protect me, stand by me, etc. And I was even fairly lucky enough to find that person. But somewhere, I believe, I took my oomph life for granted. And somewhere, even my husband acted with decorum. We would have our differences, but that’s a part of any marriage or relationship. But what I personally didn’t realise was, we had some faults which instead of addressing to each other and talking to each other like matured adults, we would fight and scream on top of our voices. Eventually, get tired of fighting and then forget the topic without bringing a solution. All this resulted in separation, and eventually breaking the marriage.

Life was reasonably beautiful back then; but immature us just took each other for granted. It clearly takes 2 hands to clap, and while I do not know if my husband ever realised his mistakes, but by the time I realised mine, it was too late. I couldn’t do anything but watch him go to someone else. Maybe the love was still there, but sometimes the situation becomes so unbearable, that even the silence starts haunting you. You have become so tired of holding on to a marriage or relationship, hoping in the dead air for things to not only turn around but also become as exciting as before; only to realize that one day the bubble bursts, and you just have to let go. And even though you love your partner, deep within you know you are no more in love with them!

Taylor Swift has said “It’s hard to fight when the fight isn’t fair.” The same holds true for life also. Just when I realised my mistakes and started improvising on them, I came across guys who showed me an altogether new meaning of taking things for granted. At the beginning of the relationship, they show you rainbows, and once they are confident that you are completely theirs, they start showing you thunderstorms. Once they know you are madly in love with them, they assume you won’t leave. And you are constantly hoping, rather illusive that they will change. You even signal it out to them that the changed behaviour is unbearable and you may leave. So for a short amount of time they change completely and become all loving and caring, but go back to being ignorant in no time. With time, the hurt is so bad that it loses its meaning. You start becoming distant and stop caring. You stop satisfying their ego to give them a taste of their own medicine. But by doing this, I learnt one thing; recklessness is almost a man’s revenge on his woman. He feels he is not valued so he will risk destroying himself to deprive her altogether. The best revenge is, TO MOVE ON. If they cared, they would have showed you. There are no ifs and buts to this. Actions always speak louder than words. We keep lying to ourselves in the name of love by giving excuses to unacceptable behaviour.

Love is said to be a journey, not a destination. If you commit, you promise to love that person even when it is difficult to talk to them. The one man that I met didn’t even think once before playing with my emotions and broke me so bad, that I stopped feeling anything. He used me to forget someone and forgot me like I was just some object when she came back in his life. And the other man that I met became so reckless that I started to feel that only I was in a relationship. He fed me breadcrumbs and expected me behave like he was the whole treat. What was common in both these men? They were so good and loving in the first few months, committed, sweet talkers, promised to be with you in the good and the bad, seemed matured and actually looked genuine. But once they gained your confidence, suddenly all the promises were broken, the once matured men became someone who seemingly “didn’t know” what they wanted. If I addressed their changed behaviour, I was labelled to be sulking and nagging. ‘I Love You’ was just another statement used to trap you and then eventually to abandon you for an ex or next. While I was clearly naive and rather stupid to trust words; a more severe effect of this is that even though I still believe in love, I cannot trust a soul now. Many of us these days feel, “I will get anyone. There are a lot of fishes in the sea.” They sabotage and destroy the person they are with to search for something better outside. When they realise the grass wasn’t greener on the other side, or, when karma hits them back with the same thing of how they treated their partner, they come running back realising they had the best; obviously it is too late then. It’s said, “Women fall in love in the man’s presence and men fall in love in the woman’s absence.” Many men probably know this, but what they don’t know is women take longer to leave, but once they leave, they never come back!

Rumi, the 13th century poet had said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself” With all these happenings in my life, I have only learnt. Learnt to be patient, learnt the value of the present moment than getting anxious about the future, and, learnt to trust actions and not just words. I also learnt to never beg anyone to stay in my life; for where you are not celebrated and respected, leave. The moment after being let go, when we can finally let it go, is the moment when love once again has hope. And I want to keep falling in love even if I have already hit the ground. To young hearts; keep beating, keep breaking and keep falling in love. But never take anyone or any moment for granted. Because what you have today, tomorrow it just might not be there. And that will hit you like a bullet in the heart. By the time you realise what you have lost, it will be gone forever. If you love something, love it completely, cherish it, say it, but most importantly – show it. Life is finite and fragile, and just because something is there one day, it might not be the next. Never take anyone or anything granted. I had read an article about a man’s last words on his death bed. He said, “Wish I had paid more attention to the relationships I had in my life.” Value them when they are still there other than adjusting to their absence in the future. My intention is not to gain any sympathy, but only to help people to not repeat the mistakes I have made.

Having said that, there are times that I too feel guilty of not spending enough time with Casper and he was gone too soon. So this lockdown has given me an opportunity to take a break from the grind and spend a lot of time with Junior, take care of his health and wellbeing, laugh at his funny sleeping positions, talk to him random stuff and see him tilting his head, hug him tight where he tries his best to free himself and love him a lot more. My dogs have been the biggest blessings in my life. Having such short lives, they still fill yours with so much meaning, faithfulness and loyalty. And under no circumstances, I would take even a single moment with Junior for granted. For this time, will never come again – Spend your time with those who love you unconditionally, not with those who only love you under certain conditions!

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.”