Marriage or Mirage!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMG! – My Dog Does Not Eat!

For every pet parent, “what to feed my dog” is a question many constantly struggle with. We often wonder about which food is good for our dogs. We share our hearts and homes with our canine pals. Surely there is nothing wrong with sharing our favorite foods with them too, right? Not necessarily. Many of the foods, such as vegetables and fruits, that humans digest just fine can wreak havoc on a dog’s body, causing severe health problems. On the other hand, some of the foods people eat can be introduced to a dog’s diet just fine, and even provide health benefits such as joint strength, better breath, and allergy immunity. We want our babies to be in the best of health and live a long life and what we feed them plays a very important role in this.

Having 2 dogs, the dilemma for me was even greater as one food would suit Casper, then the same food wouldn’t suit Junior, and, vice versa. I was always in a fix and honestly, still am. When Casper was a puppy, I used to feed him a particular brand food and Caspu grew up to be a very fluffy and healthy dog. But the same food was fed to Junior and he was the skinniest dog for a pretty long time. Then I put Junior on another food brand and he developed fat lumps because of it. It’s always been a constant struggle. Briefly, I had even substituted their one meal to homemade food. Now, being a vegetarian, their homemade food consisted of brown rice, veggies, buttermilk, flaxseeds and cold press coconut oil. They were doing good with one meal as non veg kibble and other one as homemade. Sometimes, my neighbor would give them boiled chicken, but soon both Casper and Junior developed rashes and acidity and I had to stop that.

Good nutrition is extremely important for dogs. It keeps them healthy and happy. But there’s no set formula for how often you feed your dog or what you put in their bowl. That’s because each pooch is different. At all times, my vet has given the best advice about my dog’s food and changed their lifestyle as per their health and age. After years of testing and trying, and, having worked with various NGO’s and pet lovers, I have come to a conclusion that dry dog food is usually the safest and best option for dogs. It meets all nutritional needs as most products have meat, grains, vegetables, fruits and vitamins. It is also healthier for a dog’s teeth as wet food creates more moisture, and most pet parents do not brush their pets or take them for dental checkups.

Apart from dog food, I also struggled with dog treats. Although there are some table scraps or food in your plate that you can give your dog, you still have to be careful. Junior has wheat allergy and is lactose intolerant. I can never feed him rotis or milk. Casper would love chewing on commercial bones, but there was always a fear of being choked. Other than that, here in India, we really do not get good quality bones or treats. So I had to rely on carrots at all times. As a thumb rule, if you are feeding your dog’s anything outside his meal, it should not exceed about 10% of his daily diet. Dog obesity is another big issue and is not only difficult to deal with, but also attracts several medical complications. So, to keep your dog at the optimum weight and healthy, we have to feed them the right meal and at proper intervals.

Unfortunately, Junior stopped eating carrots out of nowhere and I was back to the perplexity of what to feed him now. I hunted for a better option, but to no respite. Any other treat or biscuit I would give Junior he would throw up. I would give him watermelon or apple slices sometimes, but because of my busy schedule, I couldn’t be regular in buying them and stocking them.

In the midst of all this, I was already in talks with a friend to start a new business. He being a dog dad and a dog lover himself, suggested that we should work on something that we love the most, and that was animals. We came up with the idea of providing the best dog food and dog treats to our lovely and beautiful fur babies. After all, what’s better than watching your pooch react to the question, “do you want a treat?” We love to give our dogs treats because it makes our pups so happy, and when these treats are safe and healthy too, it’s an icing over the cake. Treats can be used for various purposes like training, comforting, just because we love them, health related, etc. Commercially available dog treats have become very popular and a common part of a dog’s diet.

So here we are, we started a joint venture and joined hands with a very trustworthy and reputed company to import dog food from Netherlands, and meaty invigorating dog treats, and then packaged here in India after adding top of the class vitamins and nutrients. In all, super premium quality and a complete power packed and balanced diet for dogs at all life stages. A dream come true. No longer a dilemma of running hither and thither for the best and genuine dog food and dog treats.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  said by Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Apple. What more would have we asked God for! Being dog parents and diehard animal lovers, we have entered into a venture which is extremely close to our hearts and the best health of our pooches.

Introducing Hunger Fills and Sniffy. Let me tell you this, Hunger Fills is the only treat which Junior didn’t show any remorse or threw up as other all treats he has always had indigestion problems. As for Sniffy, he actually pounces to eat it. So it’s tried and tested on my own dog and then put out in the market.

Hunger Fills is a delicious, meaty and nutritious dog treat available in three flavours – Carrot, Chicken and Milk.

Sniffy is a premium dog food product made in Netherlands and power packed in India. It comes in three variants – Starter, Puppy and Adult and Chicken and Egg flavor. It is fortified with vital nutrients, enriched with energy and protein.

We are so grateful for all the support and encouragement from all our loved ones and happier to see our pooches wagging their tails and drooling over Hunger Fills and Sniffy. Something that we have wanted very much for a long time that have now happened. It is true, if you love something, go after it without limiting yourself, add faith, add action, add perseverance and lastly, add patience and time. Then everything is possible. A dream to keep our dogs healthy, hearty and live long with the right food and treats has finally seen the light and is shining bright.

A small week before a big week 😬

The featured image is of Mushroom Masala.

Enjoyed super quick and delicious Paneer Makhani Pizza made at home on a Tawa 🤤
This is how one of the days my lunch plate looked like. Mushroom Masala, homemade Pickle (made by my Mom), Malabari Paratha and Chocolate Mousse.
Methi Onion Paratha…So healthy and tasty. Had it with curd.
Tomato and Cottage Cheese Burger. One was enough. It was so filling.
Noodles in White Sauce and the veggies include Cauliflower and Chickpeas. The most tastiest dish I made this week.
We went to the Vet and Junior met his Mamu (Mumma’s brother) after 4 months and he just couldn’t stop admiring him 😍
He was so excited after meeting Mamu, that by the time we came home, he had drained all his energy and I had to cool him down.
Checkout his excitement 😆
Shamelessly gave him a shameless Vanilla Ice Cream 😜
Relishing his Ice Cream 😘
When I paint 😊
Walk in the rain under one umbrella ❤️

Did he see a ghost!!!

While there are people who believe in the paranormal, have you ever wondered whether your dog is able to sense the spirits? After all, canines have extraordinary senses that are much sharper than a human. Since childhood, I have always been fascinated by ghosts. A die-hard fan of horror movies; I have made it a point to watch almost every horror movie in the cinemas. I had read, and heard, that dogs can sense super natural or paranormal activity and was always curious if my Casper and Junior could do the same as well.  Personally, I had never faced or experienced any paranormal activity except for sleep paralysis. When that happened to me, first I thought a ghost was trying to enter my body. But after a little research, I realized it was actually sleep paralysis and no ghostly activity.

In addition to the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing), dogs also possess a sixth sense — in laymen terms, that “gut” feeling we get when something doesn’t feel right. Dogs are remarkable creatures, with senses that far exceed a human.  A dogs sixth sense is a miraculous thing, which in itself suggests a supernatural order. The human intellect, however, for all its power and triumphs, is largely formed by this world and is therefore corruptible. A dog’s sixth sense, or intuition is a natural gift! While we humans to a small extent also have that sixth sense, we are usually not so trusting or acting towards those feelings as much as dogs are. Our minds tend to analyze what’s going on, and deny the possibility that something is amiss or is about to happen.

A dog can detect or sense a disaster before it happens; they can even detect an illness in their humans. Casper and Junior, both are so intelligent (I am sure all dogs are) that when anyone is about to come home, they would be at the door some seconds or even minutes before the doorbell rings. As humans, we find it very hard to believe that another animal can do something that we can; even when we see animals doing amazing things right in front of our eyes. For instance, Junior would even know a day before when we are going on a holiday. He would start following me in the house at all times a day prior to our holiday. Dogs can even sense danger, and are usually a very good judge of character. My friend had narrated an incident to me when she and her son were walking home, and the street was kind of isolated. She noticed a suspicious stranger started following her and panicked a little. But just then, the stray dogs started barking and became alert due to which the man got scared and chose to discontinue his intents. On a side note, when Casper was dying, he refused to walk out of the house that day for his treatment. I thought he was scared of the vet’s clinic. But within two hours, he passed. I believe, he had already sensed his end, and wanted to spend his last hours at home, which I did not realize that time. Many dogs, choose to go into hiding right before they are about to die. It is basically their natural instinct which tells that what I coming, and, their body reacts accordingly.

We all know, a dog’s vision, nose and ears are highly attuned and enduring. When they can sense, see and feel so much that is beyond the capacity of a human, then can they see ghosts? Unfortunately, this is one of the many unanswered questions we humans have about dogs. For me, who believes in the good and the bad, God and Ghosts, I will believe that dogs can see or sense the paranormal. It may sound funny, but living alone with dogs, when I hear any sound at night, the first thing I do is look at my dog. If he is relaxing and sleeping, then I go back to sleep without any worry. I distinctly remember this one-time Casper kept barking looking towards the balcony of my house. (I will attach the video also if I find it) We tried to distract him, closed the balcony door, also went in the balcony to see if anything was there and found nothing, but, Casper wouldn’t budge. He continued barking for two days straight and eventually stopped on his own. I have no explanation to this, but clearly, there was something to it.

Casper was barking since long. When we noticed it was something unusual, I started video shooting it. We even moved the bedsheet that was drying to see if he was getting scared of that, but no. It was something else.

The book “Tails of the Afterlife” by Peggy Schmidt journals multiple instances of the unexplained actions by dogs who apparently interact with something, or someone, unseen. And supposedly, they are true stories. We see a lot of horror movies too where the dog can sense something not so normal and starts barking or alerts his owners. Though most of the movies are fictional, but it is believed or let me say assumed since many years that dogs can see or sense the super natural or paranormal.

Junior knew before someone was at the door.

While, there is no scientific proof to whether or not dogs can see ghosts, we all are aware that there are those few things or incident in life which are unexplained. I am not being gullible or trying to spread some superstitious tale, just sharing some thoughts which are definitely to be pondered over. It is said ‘Intuition is the nose of the heart’ – Let’s embrace this mystery and also be alert ourselves as many a times when our dogs are behaving eerie, it could even indicate some health issues in our pets which we may mistake it to “my dog is seeing a ghost”. It’s important to understand that dogs do not generally exhibit signs of illness when they first start to feel bad. It is believed that they instinctively hide their illness as a form of self-protection. After all, we love our pets so much that we can even fight the paranormal for them ;). 

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.”

Change begins at the end of your comfort zone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always together, yet forever apart!

Lots of things can be fixed! Then, there are things that can’t be fixed! But, there are also things that should not be fixed – some relationships fall into this category.

In life we sail through a journey boarding a particular ship only to realize that our partner wants to board another one, and you just can’t be with each other anymore. It’s not only about what we want, it’s also about what the other person wants; and at some point, realization sinks in that holding on will only make the goodbye more painful. As such, you cannot make someone stay if they want to go. You can only love what you got while you got it.

“Dusk, is just an illusion, because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things are; there cannot be one without the other, yet they cannot exist at the same time. How would it feel, I remember wondering, to be always together, yet forever apart?”
It’s said; if you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were. I was so involved with Casper and Junior, that I overlooked what my husband was up to. My dogs had given me so much joy, that briefly I forgot about all the problems that existed between my husband and me. But turning a blind eye to them won’t make them vanish right! My husband looked calm and composed at all times. He fulfilled all his duties as a husband and a father to dogs with perfection. I always thought, everything is fine! We will get through this. What I failed to realize was, that there were floods of thoughts going on in my husband’s mind. Thoughts about leaving me and Junior…forever!

You must be wondering why I didn’t mention Casper’s name. Here’s why. One fateful night, when I was waiting for my husband to come home from work, the most frightful thing happened. Dinner was set on the table, I was dressed up to go for a movie with him post dinner. He came home, Casper and Junior were playing, he saw me sitting on the couch and it seemed like he couldn’t hold it in anymore, so he just screamed out the words, “I want a divorce, and come what may, Casper will always stay with me.” It was a sudden and violent blow on my heart. For some seconds I was in denial that did I hear it or was it a horrible dream!

Out of impulse, my only reply was, “Either Casper and Junior stay with me or both stay with you. I will not separate them at any cost.” I was ready to sacrifice my love, my motherhood for my dogs only so that they could stay together. At that moment, I didn’t even give a second thought about my forthcoming divorce. Because the only thing going on in my mind was to keep Casper and Junior together. End of the day, love is about sacrifices as well.  Ever since Junior came home, Casper and Junior had become inseparable. And what I had learnt with time was, dogs wait all their lives for the ones they love. If they were separated, they may even die of depression. I could live without my husband, I could survive without my dogs, but my dogs wouldn’t get through without each other.

I didn’t ask my husband to stay. Somewhere deep inside me I knew this was coming. But this suddenly, that wasn’t likely. My family got involved and tried a lot to convince my husband to stay. But he was determined and, when he didn’t budge, my family offered my husband to take both the dogs with him and not just one. In all these meetings to save the marriage, I was always quiet. I still loved my husband a lot, but I knew nothing would change his mind. So my only goal was, to keep my dogs together, either with me or him. I assume my husband saw this sadness in my eyes and, the unbelievable happened. One day, in between all these silent nights and days, the fear of thinking that any day would be the last day for me to stay with Casper and Junior; my husband came to me and told me, ”I will not separate them. And you cannot live alone. You keep them, take care of them. I will visit them whenever you allow me to. They will protect you and also won’t let you fall into loneliness.”

Here I was, devastated but also happy. For the first time I realised how much I loved my husband and how much even he too loved me. But we were just not meant to be together. We had self-sabotaged what we had. We didn’t do it right and we were too late to make things work. My relationship may be “Breaking Up,” but I won’t be “Breaking Down.” If anything, my husband was correcting a mistake that was hurting four people, you and the person you are with, not to mention the two people who you were destined to meet. My future was uncertain, but I knew my husband had someone else in his life. But I was happy, as I got my babies back…together!

We separated. Both of us moved out, but to two different places. We sold our house. A place where there were so many beautiful memories. I opted to live alone with my dogs and not with my parents as I needed healing. Away from everyone and just in my own little world to find myself again. To come to terms with what had happened and plan my future. Little did I know, my battle wasn’t over!

Life was never the same. But today when I am sitting on my comfortable chair and typing this, I know it was the best decision my husband took. I strongly believe everything happens for a reason, and, as days passed, the mystery started to unfold; the answers to my questions started opening up. I became the accidental dog mom, but that accident was the finest accident of my life. Keep following and reading my blog to know more about how many more troubles I came across and how I achieved victory over the problems in my life. And the biggest role to help me through was played by my dogs!

A little piece of advice: when you bring home a pet, it becomes a family member. It is not a toy or an object that when you are bored, you throw it away. When we decide to welcome a new furry member to our family, it is up to us to provide them with the lifelong care they require. Make sure you are ready to commit and ask yourself what your situation will be in five, ten and twenty years before welcoming a new pet. Whether you are getting married, or leaving the country or state, or having a baby, under any circumstances, never abandon your pet or give them up for adoption. The impact is huge on them. Just because they don’t speak, doesn’t mean they have no feelings. Bringing home a pet means a commitment for life time. Little lives they have. All they ask for is love. Don’t let them live in trauma, heartbreak and a shattered sense of trust. As Elizabeth Eiler has rightly said, “Dogs don’t make judgments about physical appearance or abilities, and they don’t care how big your house is or what you do for a living. They care about the quality of your character and your capacity to love.”