It is said “The greatest Sacrifice is when you sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of someone else” – but does that someone else have to be a human? And is living a life for someone else’s happiness necessarily be termed as a “Sacrifice”?
I am always talking about how much of a difference dogs make into our lives and how dogs have changed our lives for the better. But today, I want to talk about giving credit to us “dog parents or pet parents” about everything that we have done for our dogs. We are often neglected in appreciation and today I want to appreciate every dog parent for all their efforts, hard work, and, sacrifices they have made to give their dogs a better life.
Being a dog mom myself, I know it has never been easy. But our dedication makes it look so effortless, that often people forget the time and energy we have put into raising our dogs to be healthy and loving. Bringing a dog home means a responsibility for another 15 years. Few realize this responsibility and it is imperative to commend all of those who didn’t bring dogs as a Christmas gift and next Christmas the same dog is in the shelter. Or returned the dog for lame reasons like relocating or having a baby or allergy or getting married.
I had read about an article where a woman suddenly suffered from allergies. Upon examination, the doctor informed her that it was because of her dog and to get cured, she had to get rid of the dog. The lady turned around and told her husband, “it’s time to get rid of the doctor and find a new one. The dog is not going anywhere.” Similarly, I used to follow an Instagram account of an Asian woman and her dog. The dog suddenly fell ill and passed away young. She had got an autopsy done and the results shocked her. She discovered that the dog was misdiagnosed and was treated for an illness he never had. She was restless for days. In a tragic turn, she committed suicide. She left a suicide note saying she failed her dog’s trust and she was responsible for his death, so she is going to him. Tragic! I had cried for days after her husband had posted all this on her Instagram account.
There are so many other compromises and sacrifices we do for our dogs, though we do it out of love and soon it becomes our lifestyle. Things as little as not eating chocolates in front of our dogs just because it is harmful for them and they would be tempted to eat. After having a late night out, we still wake up early in the morning to walk our dogs. We cancel plans just because they collide with our dog’s meal or walk time. We don’t go out of town often for a holiday because it is not convenient to take our dogs along all the time. We have stopped calling some people home because they do not like dogs or are scared of dogs, even though they were our best friends or close relatives.
Me personally, when my time was bad, and, I had little to no money, I used to skip my meals to save money to feed Casper and Junior. Even though I had liked a guy so much, I never dated him because my dogs were not welcome. Even today, I am happy to be single but refuse to marry someone who will not accept my dog.
Whether we are sick or absolutely fine, whether we have a day off or working, whatever the circumstance may be, we dog parents never have a break. Because there is no holiday from being a parent. We stay up all night if our dogs are unwell. We have more pictures of our dogs than our selfies. We celebrate their birthdays like a human child. We buy them new toys. We feed them the best dog food. We work extra hours to earn that extra money to give the best lives for our dogs. The list is endless. And you know what, it’s all worth it.
Someone had told me that a dog should live as per our schedule and life, but I live my life as per my dog’s schedule. While that comment agitated me to another level; I soon calmed down as I realized they don’t see life from our perspective. To them he is just a dog; to us he is our child. Not everyone gets the privilege to be a dog parent and they consider them as just another animal. When I was mourning Casper’s death and landed into depression, someone had even told me that he was just a dog. I wish people would be sensitive and understand the years we have put in for our dog’s wellness; and that they are not just dogs, but our babies.
So today, thank you all and a lot of appreciation and respect to all the dog and pet parents who go through silent struggles that no one sees. Cheers to everyone that kept going and made ends meet even in this dreadful COVID19 times for their dogs. I can’t thank you enough for just not treating your pets with love but also the stray dogs with respect and helping them. Greatly appreciate all of you who wouldn’t mind losing everything but the dog. Our dogs give us unconditional love and loyalty and thank you to all you guys for keeping their trust intact.
Experts says the key to age gracefully includes accepting change, and, finding meaningful activities. Aging gracefully isn’t just about trying to look younger, but it’s about living your best life, and, having the physical and mental health to enjoy it. And to achieve this, one has to live a stress-free life; which is near impossible. However, here I am not talking about only humans. I am talking about dogs too and the co-relation between your dog and you to help you and your dog age gracefully.
Junior is 8.5 years old and is already considered as a senior dog. But one time when I had taken him to the vet, a well-known celebrity told me that my dog still looks and behaves like a juvenile. I was elated! More often, seeing Junior, people do not believe me when I tell them that he is a senior dog. The same way, I am still considered as a college going student, and not someone who is in her late 30s. So how is this co-related and how do we achieve this?
First of all, old age is not a disease and always embrace your dog’s age. Please understand, it’s a life process, infact golden years of dogs and old dogs are as much beautiful as younger ones or puppies.
The first and most important ingredient for a younger looking and feeling human and dog is to remain physically active. Never stay solitary, always move, and start young! Always maintain an ideal weight to avoid illnesses and joint problems as you and your dog turns old. Now, if you are above 35 years of age or your dog is above 7 years old, exercise in such a way that there is not much pressure on your joints and heart.
For senior dogs, please limit the time of activity and understand that it is natural for them to sleep more. My vet had told me to reduce Junior’s activity to avoid any accident such as falling or slipping, as fractures in an old age is panful and difficult to cure. This holds true for both – humans and dogs.
Physical activity not only improves your health physically, but has a long term positive effect on the mental health too. As I had mentioned in my previous blog posts, hitting the gym helped me way too much in getting over a breakup and stress. The same way, Junior becomes absolutely fresh when he goes out for his walk. Since he is turning old, I have reduced his walk time from 45 minutes to 30 minutes once a day and I play various games with him at home two times, each game for 10 minutes, once in the morning before I go for work and once in the evening when he wakes up from his afternoon nap. Please note, never play with your dogs immediately after feeding them. Same way, never go to the gym or exercise on a full stomach.
Also, when you are physically active, it reduces stress, keeps you mobile and brings a natural glow on your face. Similarly, when dogs have been physically active, they have less disorders, their brains are active and their fur/coat shines.
Now physical activity doesn’t always mean you have to lift weights or run a marathon. It can mean as simple as just going for a walk or doing yoga for 45 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Always give atleast 1-day rest to your body in a week. But this does not apply for dogs. Dogs need to go for a walk every day. The best way to fulfill your activity quota is you personally take your dogs for walk. That way, both of you’ll will remain healthy.
Second tip to look and feel younger is to avoid over eating. Obesity is very harmful for humans as well as dogs. Obesity is a preventable disease. But why wait for that! Precaution is always better than cure. When I was obese, I never had the confidence and struggled with self-image. Also, I looked 20 years older than my age. Fortunately, neither Casper or Junior have ever been obese. Thanks to their active lifestyle and accurate meal content. My dinners are always light, either soups or tea and biscuit or just theplas (masala roti). I have proper Indian lunch which includes my nutrients of the day, that is dal, roti, sabzi and chawal.
Mental illness is on the rise these days. Not all of us can go out for walks or take our dogs out for walks. And stress and depression does make you look older. For this, you can do pranayama and surya namashkar at home. Videos are widely available or youtube which are relatively easy to follow. For dogs, hide one-one kibble somewhere in the house and let your dog find it. This way, his brain and body will remain active.
Third and last important one, get enough sleep. When we sleep, our body repairs itself, body temperature decreases itself, eye movements stop, heart rate and muscles continue to relax and the brain waves slows down. Besides this, there are various benefits when you sleep with your dog. It decreases loneliness, maximizes comfort, increases sense of security, eases insomnia, reduces depression and stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces allergies later in life, promotes heart health and gives warmth to the body. This is what I call the true meaning of “Beauty Sleep”.
Over the years and following all the above myself, I have seen a drastic difference in me. I am aging, but gracefully, and, so is Junior. Yes, my Casper passed away young, but that was because he was a result of over breeding. Apart from this, always get yours and your dog’s blood check done every year. Do not over do anything. And never push or pressurize your dog to walk or play more. If he retreats, then let him be and start again after sometime. As he ages, change his dog food if needed and follow the vet’s instruction well. Older dogs need us more than anything and for them to have smooth old age, be vigilant and report any unusual behavior to the vet immediately.
Stay healthy, stay young, and remember – age is just a number!
The featured image is of usually what a Gujarati lunch looks like. Still some items are missing like papad and pickle. Nevertheless, there are two sabzis in the plate. One is Potato Cabbage sabzi and the other one is Soya Curry. Along with Roti, Dhokla, Dal and Chutney. A wholesome meal.
Thank you, Mom.
Thank you, Dad.
Three small words.
So much to add.
For all your love
And your support
A million words
Would be too short.
The words, “I Love You”
Seem too few
To express the love
I have for you.
In India, from childhood itself, we are taught to, and diligently follow some traditions, like for example touching feet of elders to get their blessings. Touching the feet of elders is an age-old Indian tradition that is considered to be a mark of respect. This gesture can be seen in almost all Hindu families, both in India and abroad. In our culture, living with parents and grandparents, even after we get married is not a taboo or a social embarrassment; it teaches us that just like our parents took care of us when we were babies and helpless; it is our duty to take care of our parents or grandparents when they get older and helpless. It’s a very closely knit culture which essentially teaches the importance of living harmoniously in joint families under one roof sharing responsibilities towards family, children, spouse and society. Personally, I consider it to be a blessing to be born here, and, a bigger blessing to be a daughter to my parents. I call myself extremely lucky and rewarded to inherit the upbringing, values and love that I have procured.
In some parts of India, the birth of a girl child is not welcomed. Right from her arrival, she faces discrimination, humiliation, and oppression at every stage of life. When it comes to healthcare, education and growth opportunities, she is at times neglected because of her gender. For me, being the middle child and a second girl child, not even once I had to think that I was neglected or ignored or my brother or sister were given more love and attention than me. We were all loved and cared for equally with the best education, lifestyle and values. In a world where disputes within the family are common, siblings fight and sometimes don’t even talk to each other for years, increasing domestic violence, and many other family issues, I consider myself to be truly lucky to be born in such an amazing family.
Now many of you would tend to believe that living with parents invites a truck load of restrictions. However, believe it or not, we had none; my parents blindly trusted us. Their trust was a big responsibility on our shoulders and we made sure to carry it gracefully. We siblings never even fought within ourselves, and till date we share a harmonious bond. My Dad was the bread winner of the family and Mom is a housemaker. And trust me when I say this, being a housewife is a tough job. Mothers work 24/7, 365 days a year. My Mom played the biggest role in keeping my family intact, healthy and always loving. When we come home, our first question always is “where is Mom”.
My Dad made sure that we never lacked anything. When I first started working, my Dad set up the entire foundation for me. But he didn’t give it to me on a platter; he made me earn it and work hard for it. I wasn’t allowed to sit in the boss’s cabin unless I had a meeting. I had to sit with the other employees and learn the tricks of the trade from grass root level. I was put on a payroll, and my salary would be deducted even if I didn’t come to work for one day. In literal terms, I was the boss’s daughter for name sake, and, was treated just like any other employee. My Dad always told me, “I educate you’ll not for you’ll to show off or misuse your power. But God forbid if ever in the future you’ll have any problem, you’ll do not have to beg to anyone but can stand on your own feet.”
Throughout my life I have learned “living life” by observing my parent and learning from their actions. Recently I was telling a friend, that the apartment that I live in, neighbors and/or other building people constantly sulk about little things like why is the dog roaming in the building compound, why is the car parked here, and are never content with the goodness god has given them. But, never in my life have I seen my parents fighting or sulking on anything. Infact, their attitude has always been “it’s ok. We will talk it out and try getting a solution.” Even when I first broke the news to them about my separation, they heard me out first, schooled me in private, but stood rock solid with me in private as well as public. They tried everything to work things out, but unfortunately, some things are not meant to be. In spite of not being dog lovers, and, opposing my decision to have dogs, they never took them away from me. In fact, now that they want me to settle down again, they are searching for a suitable partner who is a dog lover as well. This reminds me of the time when Casper was ill; my mom kept praying for his good health, my brother left his work and was with me all the time to and for Casper’s vet visits, my dad travelled back to Mumbai to help me out with Caspu’s treatment. And when Casper crossed the rainbow bridge, it was the first time I seen my Dad crying like child. My Mom was inconsolable and my brother, he was lost for 2 days. I couldn’t believe my family loved my dogs so much.
Even today, I live alone, but I never feel alone. My parents always make sure I am fine and lack nothing. And my younger brother, who has fulfilled all the responsibilities of an elder brother is always on his toes if I need anything. I still remember that night soon after Casper passed away; I was home alone, lonely and depressed and the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, it was the Pizza delivery guy and he handed me 4 pre-paid pizzas. I was confused as to who ordered for me. And then my phone rang. It was my brother who had ordered my favorite pizzas for me as he knew I must be down and out. Even when I was having ugly fights with my husband during separation period, my Dad and brother stood below my building for 4 hours just to make sure I was not physically hurt. I can actually write a book on things my family has done.
Apart from this, my Mom played a very big role in my life. Honestly, I just didn’t complete my graduation but became a double graduate with a Lawyer’s degree only because of my Mom. Her words, “if you don’t go for your exams, they will fail you. Rather go, attempt your paper with whatever you know and then fail. Don’t fail without trying.” And you know what, I passed all my papers. My Mom is my best friend and I can share anything with her without hesitation.
I would just like to thank my family for all the love and care they have given me. And also tell everyone, respect your parents and love them. Without them, we are nothing. Never complain about what your parents cannot give you; It was probably all they had. Parents act so strong in front of us, that we often forget just how fragile they are. From parents we learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. NEVER give up your life over a broken heart or failed relationship. Your parents didn’t sacrifice their life to see you hanging one day. I am the biggest example. Live and love. Don’t look back on what you lost, but look around and embrace your parents smile for you.
A colourful picture gallery of what Junior and me did in the last week.
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
Over the years, if there is one thing I have learnt, it is to try something different, even if you don’t think it will work. Trust that little voice in your head that says, “Wouldn’t it be great if…” and then do it. You will be surprised as to what you can achieve with this little thinking. You will never be happy if you hold on to things that make you sad.
In spite of having Casper and comprehending that things will turn out for the better between my husband and me, it once again went stagnant. To be honest they never really had improved and it was only figments of my imagination hoping for them to get better. We had reached our comfort zone. We were in that phase where there was no drama, nothing good or bad happening and we got used to it. During that time, we got Casper mated and soon he became a father to a litter of 8 puppies. I was elated; never had I imagined that I would ever be so happy over a dog being a father to 8 puppies. Around the same time, we received a call from a relative that he wanted to adopt one of the puppies. So, we bought one of them home, got him vaccinated and cleaned, and he was all ready to be adopted into his new home. Unfortunately, the relative never came over to take him, and upon inquiring, we were informed that he had changed his mind and didn’t want the puppy for now!
We had ended up in quite a predicament and were clueless on what to do. We already had Casper, we were struggling with our marriage, my husband was frequently travelling between Mumbai and Dubai, and, I singly did not have the dexterity to handle two dogs. We had no choice, but to put him for adoption. The puppy was adopted three times, but, lamentably, was returned back to us every time for various reasons.
Call it destiny or whatever it may be, but after the 3rd time the puppy was returned back to us, I decided to adopt him myself and keep him with me permanently. My husband was completely unsupportive of this thought. But I was rigid and had made up my mind; for I couldn’t see the puppy being adopted and returned for lame reasons all the time. After all, he was a living creature with a heart and not an item which one can simply return if they don’t like it! Junior entered my life accidentally. Yes, I named him Junior; after all, he was my Casper’s son! My husband had made it crystal clear to me that he had nothing to do with Junior and would play no role in bringing him up. I had absolutely no idea as to how I would bring up Junior alone along with Casper! But a little voice inside me told me, “Do it”.
Sometimes, destiny leaves a door a little open and you walk right through it. But, sometimes, it locks the door and you have to find the key, or pick the lock, or knock the damn thing down. And sometimes, it doesn’t even show you the door, and you have to build it yourself. But if you keep waiting for the doors to be opened for you… I think you’ll have a hard time finding a single happiness, let alone that double portion.
Today, when I sit back, and think, keeping Junior was one of the best decisions of my life. Everyone needs a friend or a partner in crime. I had a father and son duo. “We all have flaws, no matter how hard we try to tame sometimes still eludes us. If you give me your flaw, I’ll handle it flawlessly, and I give mine, you’d do the same. That’s when two is better than one; else, we’ll have two aggravated untamed flaws.” Both Casper and Junior were my babies. I became The Accidental Dog Mom, twice!
With Casper and Junior, everything doubled. Double the trouble, double energy required in running around, double the efforts in training them, double the expense, but also; double the joy, double the love, double the affection and care, double the happiness. What also doubled was the knowledge of how to handle and look after two dogs under one roof. Having said that, I would like to share a few tips with my dear readers of how to handle two dogs, and why two is better than one:
- It is recommended to neuter the dogs. It calms them down which makes it easier to handle them. The negative side to this is, they start putting on weight. But with proper exercise and nutrition, weight can be easily managed
- Both the dogs play with each other, burn their energy, get tired and go off to sleep. This gives pet parents more time to themselves and their personal work
- It is easier to manage them in public as they both are stuck to each other and don’t get hyper when they socialise with other dogs
- If one dog is scared of something, then the other one is there to comfort him. Like Caspu was super scared of crackers, and Junior would always be by his side to snuggle him
Of course there are pros and cons to everything. But, trust me when I say this, at the end of the day, it is worth it. Casper and Junior were polls apart. Casper being the calm and composed one, on the other hand, Junior was a handful. But, if you follow the Vet’s and Trainer’s instructions properly, and not to forget to give them a lot of love and devotion; you will become a pro.
Today, I once again can see the difference between having two dogs and one dog. I have to devote a lot of my time for Junior. Specially to play with him, burn his energy and socialise him. He is well trained, but being a Dog Mom, I feel extremely guilty of leaving him home alone while I go for work. Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day!