From the street to the heart

Pet life

The author Madhu (right) with uncle Vijay and pets Foxy and Friendly.

There are people who grow up with dogs but I was not one of them. My family never intended on having pets but then fate intervened. 

 It all started over ten years ago with a dog named Blackie, a black labrador who belonged to a neighbour and used to come and play in our yard. When they moved out, Blackie was left behind and my mother found her several months later in a ditch, having littered puppies.  We brought her in, got her spayed and she ended up staying with us.  One day we found her playing with a street dog in the yard, who appeared quite unwell. We started calling the male dog ‘friend’ which soon became ‘Friendly’. 

Friendly was infested with worms and fleas and was so weak that he could not even bark. We were scared that he would bite us if we tried to touch him, but later realised that our fears were largely unfounded.  We got him vaccinated and neutered.  I still remember his first auto ride to the veterinary hospital. He seemed excited by the experience and then promptly threw up in the auto, leading to an angry auto driver and me sheepishly cleaning up. 

Friendly humbled us by the trust he placed in us. He stood calmly during what was likely the first bath of his life.  He has been like that since; standing patiently if we need to clean his ears and even letting us brush his teeth with a dog toothbrush!  It is as if he knows that we are trying to help him.  There is something quite beautiful and gratifying about seeing a sick animal regain health.  It was thrilling to hear Friendly bark again with full strength.

Friendly knew people like the pourakarmikas and street vendors. He liked to do his daily rounds and walk the neighbourhood. Initially, he would take off for days and stay with a group of dogs behind National College. He too had his own college gang! There were negative aspects as well. We saw people throw stones at him and once a man came out of nowhere and hit him with a stick. We put a red collar on him and this seemed to make people treat him better.  

People speak of adopting dogs but in Friendly’s case, he adopted us. Slowly, he began to spend more time with us. He made us aware of the plight of street dogs and we would keep biscuits to feed them. One day, my uncle Vijay spotted a dog passing by on the road. I called out to the dog and left some food and walked away. The dog stunned me by coming and sitting on my feet, then followed me back into the yard, came into the house, found a nice spot and fell asleep.  Like Friendly, Foxy too adopted us.  It was as if she was saying, “You seem like nice people.  I’m staying with you.“ 

Blackie was killed the following year. She was out on a walk and hit by a speeding two-wheeler. We buried her in our yard. Foxy got lost the same week in Gandhi Bazar during a festival. We looked for her everywhere while Friendly went into a state of confusion and depression and didn’t eat.  Luckily my uncle found her in Krishna Rao Park after a few days. She was ecstatic to see him. Since then Foxy is very careful and does not like to venture far from home.

Foxy, in general, has a very serene persona. She likes to sit calmly by herself and enjoys looking up into trees. Friendly, on the other hand, loves to interact with people and be petted. He has developed a love for coffee; he can drink a whole cup by himself if given the chance!  Last year his vet, Dr Sampathkumar, told him that he needed to stop the coffee habit. Friendly looked sad but gave the vet a paw to shake, which made him laugh. “So sorry my boy,” we told him,“everyone has to give something up as they get older.“  Friendly and Foxy have both grown older. I sometimes wonder what would have happened to them if we had not adopted them?  How much would they have suffered? Would they have gotten a chance to put a smile on so many peoples’ faces?  They say that once you have had a dog in your home, you wonder why you waited so long to get one. I see why.

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(The author can be reached at friendlybgudi@gmail.com)

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From the street to the heart

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