Published on New York Spirit
I used to see him in the evenings while returning from office. Sitting on the patch of soil under the shade of Neem tree, three houses next to mine; quietly examining the surroundings in a nonchalant manner. He wore a parmesan-colored coat with a white layer inside. The silver mustaches revealed his age. Well, the quietude too said a lot about his maturity. He looked handsome and thoughtful.
That day, I looked at him, felt like sponsoring his evening snack. I bought bread and kept it near him, carefully. Forget about gratitude grin; he turned his face towards the other side. I felt disappointed. A dog rejected me! I controlled my emotions glumly and paced towards my house.
What happened? Maybe he wasn’t hungry. I shouldn’t give up.
I considered myself to be a dog lover as every dog picture or video made me go ‘aww’. I couldn’t have one as there was no one at home to take care and my office wouldn’t allow pets. I promised myself to have one someday. Although, there was a tiny (okay, huge) glitch to this entire ‘aww’ thing. I still was uneasy about stranger dogs. What if they don’t like me or misconstrue my anxiety and might want to bite? My ‘someday dog’? Oh, he won’t as he would be with me as a pup. At least that’s what I assumed.
Next day, I was all prepared. I got biscuits especially for him. I saw him at his turf; gave him a friendly, non-stranger smile and kept them. He looked at me. More like, what, lady, eh? Turned away his face, again. I was dejected.
What was wrong? I am a dog lover, he should love me too! At least, eat the food! I still should not give up. Maybe he is an introvert like me. He will take some time to open up.
Third day, fourth day, a week passed by with the same attitude!
Wow, handsome guys are arrogant!
This sequence happened for a month. He never cared about the food or me. Once or twice he did sniff and ate but only when I went ahead. That was a progress. My justifications to soothe my heart and give my ego an aromatherapy included that he is not a foodie and not people-friendly.
In one of those evenings, I saw him jumping towards a girl with ecstasy. She fed him with some eatables and his tail kept on wagging like crazy. I was heartbroken like a woman seeing her crush with someone else would be.
He likes her, not me! What did she give him? Chocolate mousse? He should know that she is trying to poison him.
Even so, a voice inside me told me to just give him food to ensure he is not sleeping hungry. Do karma, don’t expect the fruit. I was getting used to his behavior towards me and was happy in this only that his tail has started wagging a left and a right when he sees me. I used to peek in to see if he ate after I walked past. He used to, some days. Other days, maybe he knew I was peeping in.
One fine evening, I came back from office and there he was, sitting just next to my house. His tail wagged as soon as he saw me. Not just one wave but fan-like wagging! His eyes sparkled. So did mine. I went and gave him an assortment of high-protein biscuits. He gorged on them, then and there. My eyes moistened. I touched his head, gingerly. He shuddered a bit. My heart skipped a beat. I noticed that he had a bite mark on his forehead and was limping. I called the nearby vet’s place and made sure to pet him while he came. His leg had a wire stuck to it which caused infection. The vet removed it and bandaged his leg and put some ointment on his forehead. His whining was distressing but he trusted us.
That night, I discovered how I was never a dog lover but just an admirer. I just liked the idea of being a dog lover. My aura was never welcoming to them. I was scared of them subconsciously. Hence they never accepted me. The moment my heart, my soul became receptive to him, he accepted me whole-heartedly. He opened my heart, awakened my soul. He showed me the meaning of true happiness which comes from showering bountiful love.
I felt a transformation in me. There is more than ‘aww’ that is required. There are so many neglected pets, diseased helpless strays who we overlook, shrugging it off as not our responsibility. Whose responsibility are they then? If we can help a stranger human in pain, why not a dog? Or any animal, for that matter? Speaking from my own experience, the bliss you feel once you see health and happiness on once grief-stricken dog is inexplicable. The Netherlands recently became the first country not to have a single stray dog on their streets. Awareness, compassion and efforts made all the difference.
From that day onwards, he waits for me at my house. He loves the caressing and petting, cookies or not! His overwhelming excited whimpers to see me make me forget everything else.
I peek in the nights to see him. He sometimes is busy being the superhero, protecting the house and area from four-legged goons and two-legged suspicious-looking creatures. There are times when I see minor cuts on him and my heart aches with grief. The vet says it will heal on its own. Guess the scars and bruises are superhero’s badge of honor.
Oh, by the way, he doesn’t like dry brown bread. I am assuming that might have been the put-off factor at the first meeting. Bread must be toasted, buttered and sides should be removed. He is a man of choices.
He comes every day. Licks my feet; strokes his face against my legs. He demands to pat. His name is Odin. He doesn’t quite know it yet.