Me – “Please Mumma! Please! I really want a dog!”
Mom – “I’m already taking care of one, I don’t want another.”
Me – “I promise I will take care of it… You won’t have to do a thing!”
Mom – “No.”
This was a frequent argument/dead-end discussion in my house till 29th May, 2014, the day my Class XIIth Board Result came out. I still remember how high I jumped when I saw that 92% on the screen and my parents hugging me and calling my grandparents to tell them the news. When everybody calmed down, I casually reminded my parents how they had promised to let me get a dog if I scored well in my exams. I could see that Mumma was happy but I could see the doubt in her eyes about her promise. It was because she hated dogs. Hate is a very small word though; a better word would be DESPISED. When she was a kid, a stray dog once tried to bite her in a dark alley near her house while she was walking back home from school. The fear of dogs was deeply rooted in her mind, body and soul. My dad, on the other hand, was and is an avid dog lover.
I was volunteering at PAWS, a dog-shelter in Vasant Kunj, at that time and had decided that if I ever got the chance I would adopt a dog. The day after the result came out, my dad and I drove over to PAWS and started looking around for a puppy that we could adopt. During my time volunteering at PAWS, there was a small enclosure where there were two puppies with their mother that I was told to be careful around, as they were critical. That day, however, the caretaker approached me because he heard we were there to adopt and told us that one of the puppies in that kennel is going to die very soon because of an illness and that we should adopt the other one. I walked to the kennel and stood there watching the family of three cosily sleeping together in a huddle and put my hand near the nose of the black and white puppy. It smelt my hand and put its head on it but then he woke up and got scared and shrank back to his mom. The other one which was sick was completely black and was trying to get up now to drink water. The mom sensed it and nudged him forward to help him reach the water bowl. She looked at me and I could see so much sadness in her eyes, she blinked at me as if in agreement. It was as if she was telling me to save her babies and if that isn’t possible then please save my other son, at least.
I picked up the black and white puppy and he looked so scared and sad that I decided that I was going to make him happy. My dad agreed with my choice. We brought him home and tried to make him comfortable. In the car, he peed in my lap because he was terrified of the noises around us and I had to hug him so tight to give him a sense of security. I wanted to tell him everything would be okay but talking to him only confused him so I just hugged him. Mumma had to be at a conference that day so she got home late but when she saw his skinny little body she was disgusted. He was yellow rather than white and his legs were like matchsticks. She scolded me that I shouldn’t have gotten such a fragile and helpless puppy home because he might not survive looking at his condition. I didn’t want to think about that because I was already in love with him. A very close friend of mine suggested that I should name him Snoopy because he looks a little like him and I loved the idea. My little brother was now “Snoopy”.
Snoopy took almost a week to get used to me. I restricted interaction of other people with him because of his fragile state. Mumma hated looking at him at first but she slowly started accepting that he was going to be there so she didn’t say much. Rescued dogs need to be handled very carefully or it could affect their mental or emotional health. On the first day, I set up a small bed for Snoopy in my room and just let him lay there. He got up and crawled under the bed and slept in a corner so I carefully and gently put him back on his bed after an hour. I had to do this several times a day because he was used to sleeping on a hard floor and every time I put him back he would realise after a while that something was off and go back under the bed. It took me three days to get him used to it and a week for him to get used to me petting him while sleeping. He would flinch and get scared every time I would put a hand on him and just try to get away. It took a lot of time and effort for him to actually open up to me. He started playing with me and sleeping near my leg after two weeks.
While I was getting Snoopy used to me, I didn’t notice how Mumma had completely stopped getting scared or disgusted by him. I used to make Cerelac for him every day because he wasn’t allowed to eat anything else and I never asked my mom for help because I didn’t want to annoy her. One day, however, I woke up a little later than usual and freaked out because Snoopy’s breakfast time had passed so I jumped out of bed and rushed to the kitchen and in the living room I saw both of them. Mumma was sitting on the sofa drinking her tea while Snoopy was slurping at his food bowl peacefully and I was left standing there, surprised at what I was looking. I asked Mumma why she gave him food and she casually replied, “He was hungry and you were sleeping.” I went to the washroom and cried my eyes out because I was so happy! The woman who hated dogs and thought they were the biggest mistake on Earth was now very casually feeding Snoopy because he was hungry. That day I actually realised how much my mom had changed over the past few weeks.
I started to notice some little things then; how Snoopy would follow Mumma around like a lover-boy, how Mumma would sit on the sofa while Snoopy was lying near her feet in such a relaxed manner and how she would get worried if she couldn’t spot him. Soon, he refused to eat from the bowl unless Mumma would touch it. He would sit or lie down at the door of kitchen when she was making food and I was busy studying. I didn’t say anything and just noticed all of this quietly. She would keep reading articles on dogs and their care, asked all her friends who owned dogs about them, kept tabs on Snoopy’s Vet appointments and fed him his daily vitamins. Once, we had to go to my Badimamma’s (Grandmother) place to stay the night and when it came to who would take care of Snoopy, she immediately said, “Kyu? Mera beta bhi saath jayega! Usko kyu chorr ke jaun main?” (Why? My son will go with me. Why should I leave him with somebody else?) It was the first time she called him her son.
It’s been two years since we brought Snoopy home. He is now a complete spoilt brat who loves Mumma more than anybody and she loves him the same way. I believe that dogs have magical powers and they can make anybody love them without making much effort. Don’t you agree?
I have a lot of Snoopy stories and would love to share them if you’d be interested in reading them! Let me know!