I’m Im’Paw’sable :)

A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself. We have all read and heard this before. But have you thought what he must be thinking throughout the day? Now that I am spending 24 hours with him because of the lockdown, I got pretty curious and tried to interpret his thoughts in my way. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross, and concentrating.

4.30am: (Alarm rings) Mumma wake up. It’s time to feed me.

4.31am: (Mumma still trying to open her eyes) You are already a minute late. Wake up and give me food.

4.35am: Ok Mumma, you have 30 seconds to freshen up and then take me for a walk.

4.45am: (On walk)

  • Oh! These car tyres look interesting. I should smell all of them and pee on one of them.
  • The stray dogs are fighting. I should participate and show them who the king is.
  • This human is walking close to us; I think he wants to play with me. I should jump on him and let him know that I too am interested in playing. (Ignores Mom and her instructions throughout the walk)
  • Every day I feel Mumma has changed my name to “stop that” or “what’s in your mouth”.

5.15am: (Back home) That was a good walk. I am tired and should sleep now. I have a long day to go to help Mumma in her routine. She cannot do anything without me. (Starts snoring in 10 seconds)

9.00am: My bowl won’t fill itself Mumma. Pour in my breakfast. (Finishes his food in 0.5 seconds and sits in the kitchen staring at Mom)

  • Do you think an active handsome good boy like me is appeased in the crumbs that you feed me?
  • (Mom gives a Carrot and sits to have her Tea. Junior finishes the Carrot in 0.3 seconds and sits in front of Mumma). Feed me that biscuit you are having. I hope you know that sharing is caring.

9.30am to 5.00pm: Mumma is leaving the room where I am in. I think I should follow her. She might need some help.

  • Mumma got up again. Maybe we are going on some adventure.
  • Someone is at the door. I should run first before Mumma opens the door and protect her.
  • Mumma is using the toilet. I should join her. She doesn’t like being alone.
  • The room is cold. Mumma must be shivering. I should sleep on her and leave 3/4th bed empty.
  • Mumma is watching TV. I should aimlessly stare at her. Maybe she will feel pity on me and give me a snack.
  • Something smells good. I should sit right next to Mumma while she eats her lunch and drool so that when she accidently drops something, it directly falls into my mouth.
  • Why is Mumma hugging me every 30 minutes? I am not a baby. I am a grown up boy. I feel embarrassed. (Comes and sleeps on Mumma’s lap whenever she is sitting on the couch)
  • I just drank all the water in the bowl a minute ago. When I came back, it was full again. Is the bowl haunted?

5.00pm: Yay! It’s time for my third official meal of the day. I am so excited.

5.30pm: (Brings toy) C’mon lazy bones. Move your ass and play tug-of-war with me. Let me show you who rules this house. (Plays tirelessly for 20 minutes)

6.00pm: (Mumma is doing Yoga) She needs assistance. I should be as close to her as I can. What if she falls while doing her exercise? (30 minutes exercise turns into 45 minutes, extra 15 minutes to move Junior from the mat)

7.00pm: Thank God the maids are not allowed in this lockdown. Or else Mumma would never learn to do her own work. (Mumma is sweeping and brooming). Wow! Mumma just cleaned this spot. I should walk over it and see how it feels. (Dirties the place again)

7.30pm: Oh no! My last meal of the day. Doesn’t Mumma understand? Four meals are not enough for me. She keeps telling me I will become fat if I eat more. But look at me. I am dying of hunger. These humans have no feelings at all. But I will continue giving her puppy eyes till she ply’s in and gives me 10 meals a day. After all, where there is a will, there is a way.

8.00pm: (Mumma is cooking dinner) I should sit in the kitchen even though it is hot there. My Mumma needs supervision or else she will cook everything and will not have pity on me to feed me some potatoes or cheese.

8.30pm: Look at this selfish human. Having dinner alone without even offering me anything! I need a lawyer. Or can someone come forward and adopt her?

9.00pm: I am done for the day. I am super tired after assisting Mumma all day long. She is sitting with her laptop/art book to work/paint. I should sleep right behind her chair, just incase she needs my help again. (Sleeps with all four legs sticking out in the air and snoring loud)

10.00pm: Mumma is on a video call with her family. I should be a party to it and let everyone know that she is mine.

11.00pm: Mumma has finished all her work and calling me in the bedroom to sleep. I will give a deaf ear till she personally comes out, picks me up and takes me in the room. I work hard. I deserve this pampering and attention. In return, she will get some wet kisses from me.

It was a beautiful day. Mumma and Baby sleeping soundlessly! All’s Well That Ends Well! After all, it’s not what we have in life, but who we have in our lives that matters.

Weekly fun

A colourful picture gallery of what Junior and me did in the last week.

I made Khichdi with Gatte ki Sabzi. A combination of Gujarati and Marwadi Cuisine. Extremely healthy and delicious.
Cooker Bread Rolls with Potato and Mayonnaise stuffing.
Painted this for my brother his birthday which was on the 28th.
Junior was super sleepy but still wanted to admire Mumma 😍
Mumma was annoying, but Junior still posed 😆
My Mom made tasty Brownie/Cake for my brother’s birthday.

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

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.