Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Lord God Made Them All

All Creatures Great and Small; all Things Bright and Beautiful; all Things Wise and Wonderful; the Lord God Made Them All.

James Herriot books are a genre apart in uniqueness, beauty and simplicity, about animals, pets and his love for them. The dog stories of Herriot are viand for the mind and soul, be it young or old. However it was not until well into my life, I could have a pet at home. That was more because of C’s immeasurable love and fascination for animals, especially dogs. I have had cats back when I was little, but they were often frowned upon at home, more because of their behavioral traits of opportunism. I did love them nevertheless.

So we were assisted by a family friend to take a pet from a litter of puppies. The offer was for free as it was the only one from the litter that was left because the others all male were taken away by people. So, the little bitch, a Labrador- Dachshund mix breed and a black one came to our house when she was about sixty days old. We named her “Blacky”! Both Aravind and Radhika, then about five and two years of age were equally excited and in fact their curiosity was often irritant to the little pup.
Blacky was less than foot tall and pretty stretched like her mother who was a Black Dachshund. However her behavioural traits and attitude was inherited from her father the Labrador. That made her an intelligent, loving and obedient dog. She was zealously concerned about Radhika and guarded her like an Alsatian. She would not shy from chasing a stranger if he/she went near the girl. But understood who had to be let in and kept at a distance.

There was an instance when she did what she resisted doing and what she never dared to do thereafter. The primeval instinct in her once got the better and she ran out on to the road and later came in awash, probably in stagnant drain water. For the first and the last time she got the stick and endless bath in shampoo, soap,  spray of lots of perfume and cologne thereafter.

She slept on the sofa in the living room. Though the kids wanted her in the bed along with them, I was insistent that bed was out of bounds to her and she can have the cosy comfort of the sofa. Certainly I could see in her tiny eyes that she frowned upon my decision. She used to timidly tag on to the kids at bed time but when I wagged finger at her she used to go and curl up in the sofa.

Then, we moved into another house and a couple of house next to our, was a woman with whom Blacky became friends. The intro, I guess happened when C took her for strolls outside. The woman had a comfortable and luxurious life. She was estranged, from her husband; in fact she abandoned, banished him after he suffered a major heart attack and was penniless as well. The story is rather unsavory to dwell. She was keen about a hedonistic life and seemed to enjoy it.

Blacky who was annoyed and uncomfortable when she knew that none of us would be around in the house suddenly seemed to vanish at night after she got her meal. It was rather a mystery; we could not hear her growl and bark in the night admonishing a street dog when it would howl outside. Then punctually at about seven in the morning when I would be in the verandah having my cuppa and morning newspaper she would wriggle in through the closed gate and trot to me rather timidly and with  guilt in her eyes and sit by my chair staring eagerly at me. Her black tail wagging and was with some apprehension. When I asked her where the hell she was she would gaze down on to the floor and then quickly vanish into the house. This became a routine. We later found that the woman next doors were keeping Blacky in her bed and in the comfort of her air-conditioned bed room. Blacky finally got the privilege which she wanted. There was not a moment during other hours of the day she would leave the house.

I was quite defiant about the dog’s attitude. I exclaimed that she was an opportunist and selfish like the woman next doors forsaking relationship for comfort .Though an uncompromising dog lover, even C was rather surprised at her behavior and perhaps saw some parallel.

Later ironically and quite disturbingly, when she took ill she chose to spend the night at home and die and we were calling out to her when we found that she did not turn up the next morning as she used to. C went to the woman’s house to fetch her and was alarmed when she found she had turned up the previous night there, but did not sleep in the woman’s bed and she went away soon. Sometime late in the morning, she was found dead under the foliage of crotons that stood outside the French window she used to sneak out after her meal at night.

Did she know she would die and wanted to die in the house? Did she try jumping back into the house that night through the window


Happy Kitten said...

A dog is one of man's best companion! Even we had a couple of dogs and cats while growing up.. each with their own unique personality.. while the cats would freely occupy the beds, the dogs were not allowed to.

This time in India we purchased a lab... but we had to leave it behind with my parents.. but this fellow is very lazy and is excited only when it sees food. My Father says he is a useless fellow! But during the holidays it slept with our son...
I think lab by nature are like that.. they crave for the human touch.

Shilpa Garg said...

I guess, dogs are perceptive about death and know when it is coming. So may be Blacky knew it too and that is why she paid her last visit to the lady who took care of her at night and preferred to die in her master's home!

NRIGirl said...

May be! Most likely!

I love dogs in all makes and models...

NRIGirl said...

Is that a picture of Blacky? She is beautiful! Absolutely lovely!

Kavita Saharia said...

Yes, I think she wanted to die in the house. This reminds me of Tommie our nine year old Lab ,who left us three months back.

Insignia said...

Ahh it pains to read about animals death. Maybe she knew it coming. But they are such wonderful creatures. I had a status message a month ago "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you to be". I found it somewhere it was so beautiful.

Your pet hopefully is living a peaceful life-after

BK Chowla, said...

We had a German Shephard.
By looking at his behaviour,he realised that my Mother isn't going to live for long.Only we didn't understand his actions

anilkurup said...

@ Happy Kitten,

Labs are the unique of the kind. But believe me I had a Rottweiler - a male SOB and I understood that the violent stories attributed to that breed and the ferocity it is accused of is nonsense. It is grooming and what you do in the formative period. What lovely SOB he was ( he is alive now) his naughty face is everlasting.

@ Shipa Garg,

Yes SG, I think they have some sensory perception which we humans do not have.

@ NRIGirl
I agree too.
By the way it is strange coincidence. I could not retrieve Blacky's pic from my computer. I searched the WEB and found this pic. The dog looked exactly like her and I remember that we once even put a bell on her . The door in the background of the pic looks so identical to the one we had in the house we lived. I do not know !

@ Kavita

Yes I think so.
How did you take up with the loss of Tommie?

@ Insignia,
All Dogs and still fewer MEN will linger in memory.

@BK Chowla,

Yes people say so. I do not know if an empirical study and analysis has been ever done on this perception that we attribute to canines.

Ramya Ranganathan said...

Somehow, these amazing creatures get to know their last moments !!

NRIGirl said...

Very interesting...

rama said...

The loss of a dog is too much to bear. We had two lovely dogs, one a cross between a pure lab and a lab cross with doberman and another one was a cross between a lab and a GR. Both these dogs were gifts from our neighbor. The first one died when she was just 3 and half years old and the other one died recently in this march, due to lmyposarcoma. This one was the GR mix, a beautiful dog, and had lived with us for almost 7 years, her death was too much for us.
Now we have a pure Lab puppy about 4 months old, and her behavior is totally different from the previous dogs, she so hyper, and is full of mischief, and is always searching for something to eat.
For the first time in our lives we have kept a trainer for her, and as soon as she sees him she is so happy and does things which she has not even been taught yet by him.
I wonder whether she will ever be like the our previous dogs.
How could you not have even a single picture of your dog?
If you plan to have another dog, please take lots and lots of pictures of the dog.
I keep seeing all the pictures of our dogs and remember their antics, their undying love for us, not that we need pictures for that stil....

anilkurup said...

@ Ramya Rangarajan,

Yes it seems so.

@ rama,

But you know, there are people who keep dogs for vanity sake. and do not even touch them. There are people who love dogs and not female dogs. I ve seen people being rude and partial with bitches . Strange are human beings.
I do have the pic of Blacky but not with me . The pics are back home .

rama said...

Even, I love female dogs only, this time also this was the last one left, and we bought it through an ad. in the net. I hate when people refer to female dogs as bitch, somehow it doesn't sound right.

....Petty Witter said...

Not known as man's best friend for nothing.

What a lovely post, it reminds me of our dog (Peg) who took ill when my husband was away in Japan. Though not in any pain I knew she was not long for this world and suspected she was waiting for something - she was, my husband - she died the evening of his return.

anilkurup said...

@ rama,

Female dogs are zealousluy possessive of their littere and the household. As for the term "bitch", the word also denotes profane woman, and perhaps that meaning overshadows the defintion for a female dog.

@ Petty Witter,

Yes it is strange and often stories are abound of such happenings. May be they sense soem physical change in Nature. I once read the story of how a pet dog predicted and warned its owner of his heart attack.

....Petty Witter said...

Yes, we know someone who swears her cat (strange in that its usally a dog) detected her mothers breast cancer. the cat would constantly paw at her mothers chest and make a strange noise that they had never heard before - nor thankfully since.

KParthasarathi said...

We never know fully the emotions that passed through Blacky's mind in her final days and whether it failed to clear the window on the last night.It was a touching end to the narration

anilkurup said...

@ KParthasarathi,

Yes .
And thanks for the appreciation

@ Petty Witter,

Similar stories are abound. Perhaps animals have a different dimension of sense?

Usha Menon said...

Hi Anik, Very moving account of Blacky and her end. Labradors are very friendly and lovable.We also have a female Labrador.I am reminded of my Elsa while reading about Blacky.

anilkurup said...

@ Usha Menon,

Thank you for coming in to my Blog. And thank you for the comments.
Elsa, the name reminds me of the Elsa the lioness in the fascinating tale "Born Free".

Hope to see you here regularly.
take care.