Jolly good night

Jolly was a puppy with enormous energy levels and routinely hid stuff in the garden.

We marvelled at the tiny, polar bear-like pup squirming in his hands. Standing by our low compound wall, we watched the soft white bundle move to reveal perfect feet and the dearest little black eyes and nose. “It’s a Pomeranian and we are naming him Jolly,” said the proud owner and my daughters were willing to do something drastic like cancelling their school trip to Goa to be with the pup.

He lived up to his name and was gifted with a lively temperament. He was their seventh dog after a succession of breeds that were either stolen, lost or dead like their previous Sherry, an Alsatian that didn’t live past her second summer. We were new to the neighbourhood and hoped that Jolly would live forever.

He grew quickly and slipped past the gate to eat Marie biscuits soaked in milk in our garden, scraping the bowl at least three times after it was empty. He was a puppy with enormous energy levels and routinely hid hair clips, CDs, mobiles, combs, shoes and balls in their garden.

The toilet training was not going properly, we heard the old grandmother repeatedly complain to all visitors. Once she called the younger grandson asking him to thrash Jolly for using her bedroom to relieve himself. The young boy sent her indoors pacifying her and yelled to the cowering pup, ”Jolly, you bad boy! Now you will get what you deserve! Take this! This!”. Hearing the loud smacks, I rushed out to see the kind boy beating the floor with his chappals.

Observing his ‘love thy neighbour’ philosophy, they once asked us to have Jolly for a ‘few’ hours while they attended a wedding in the city. We welcomed him and let him loose in the garden where he sat on flowers and explored the pots and soil, chased sparrows and played with twigs. He drank milk and ate biscuits with gusto in short intervals. It was growing dark and there was no sign of his masters. We had to take him indoors and then spent the next hours following him with scraps of newspaper to mop the floor.

He kept paceing the rooms restlessly, and since it was 10.30 and our bedtime as well, we thought he would go to bed. I even tried putting him on my lap and patting him to sleep (the only technique that worked when my daughters were babies). Maybe he was hungry. More milk and bread, followed by more sessions with the newspaper.

I called up the lady at 11 pm reminding her of Jolly. She said they were sitting down for dinner and she would send someone over soon. Jolly scratched the front door, so we let him out into the garden and watched him frolic confusedly. Midnight, and no sign of our neighbours. We carried him, rocking him in our arms, when he started at some sounds. Past midnight, we chatted to him frankly about his masters, “Careless people, Jolly.  They have forgotten you. See no lights in your house yet”.

After a few more phone calls, the family interrupted their pleasure to return and a grateful Jolly was deposited on his blanket. We accepted the apologies and turned indoors locking up the doors. We realised ‘pup-sitting’ was not one of our strengths. Looking back, we agree it was one Jolly good night!

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