Ever since childhood, my sister and I always wanted a dog. We used to badger and pester our parents, only for them to completely block any kind of advances. My mother, like all mothers felt we cannot take care of another living being in our house when there are already two dogs (lame joke I know, but it’s funny to moms). My father had a different reason altogether. He’d always launch into this story about his younger days, when he used to visit his grandparents and how they used to have a dog the whole family was very attached to. One fine day the dog passed away and the family was so grief stricken that no other activities took place for a very long time. He said it is better for us to avoid such situations, and hence said no to dogs.
But circumstance thought otherwise. There happened to be four dogs in our street from the time we moved into our new locality close to eight years ago. Somewhere down the line, we gave them left over food for a couple of days, and they started to get close to us. And four years back, Pakki was born. Don’t judge our family’s uncanny abilities in naming dogs. We didn’t name her Pakki back then, but when she started to grow up, realised how jumpy and restless she always was and desperate for food and started to call her that. Things started to get closer between the dogs and us when my dad and an astrologer got together and thought I should feed a dog every Saturday evening to ward off evils preventing my career growth.
Our family forged a very special bond with the dogs. We wouldn’t let them into our house, but we would treat them like our own. They took to us like family, and gave a protection to the house that we never had. They accompanied me or my sister on our evening walks, till the dog-territory they were allowed to be in (they don’t cross after a particular street as there are different dogs there and a lot of wars have happened in the past). Pakki has given birth five times since her own birth. Each time, around 7-10 puppies, out of which most didn’t make it past three weeks. It’s called survival of the fittest, but they all perish due to either snakes or hit by vehicles or illness. Either that or people come and snatch them away because they look extremely cute. One time, our neighbour who already owned a dog decided to take a puppy in only to realise it didn’t like being there and released it in two weeks.
So this time, when Pakki gave birth to 6 puppies, we wanted to make sure every single one survived. We gave her space to raise them in our car park, instead of her usual spot in the vacant overgrown land adjacent to our place where there were a substantial number of snakes. Pakki took extra care this time to not lose any of its young ones. When they survived a month, we called Blue Cross and asked them to take them to a safer place since we couldn’t handle the rest of the residents of our building, nor could we take them in. We didn’t want them to go the same way as their brothers and sisters of the past. We made sure Pakki wasn’t around when the puppies were taken as she wouldn’t let it happen otherwise. When Pakki returned and saw the puppies missing, she searched and searched for two whole days in vain. She even braved and went into the bushes where there were snakes to look for them.
Her life fell apart in that one day. She refused to take food, and decided to forcibly end her life. She showed her unhappiness and anger in us in her own way of a silent protest. She showed it in her body language, which was something new to me in dogs. In our attempt to safeguard the kids, we lost the mom. She never gave us any difficulty in her whole life, unlike other stray dogs in our street. She tried to desperately shift her puppies to different places sensing our difficulty. My parents like to think she was a rishi from the previous birth who had to go through this life due to bad karma, and without realising it, God chose us to liberate her. The poor soul had to undergo a short but cruel life of four years.
She was more than just a dog. She was a human in the last leg of her life. She looked up to us to protect her children, and when we ourselves snatched away the kids from her, she could not handle the betrayal and decided to end her life instead. Pakki, a week ago was a very proud mother of six, happy to be under our shelter. Little would she have known that it will all end in a week, all of a sudden. I hope the soul is now at a happier place. I can’t remember the time when I shed a tear before this, but this grief would certainly stay with me for a very long time.