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Whisky

A few months ago, while at the local beauty salon and in the course of some polite chitter-chatter, the beautician mentioned to me that she had recently got a puppy. “Oh how nice!”, I said, asking what breed the puppy was and hoping she’d say it was a local desi dog whom she had rescued. When I heard it was a Beagle, I gave her my number and told her to call me if ever she decided she didn’t want him.

“No, no. We are very fond of him”, she said, telling me all about his daily antics. I smiled. “Just keep my number…in case you ever change your mind”.

A couple of months later, the call came. Whisky’s family were not very well-off and when all of them went out to work during the day, there was no one to watch him. He would howl through the day, locked up in a small apartment. So they realised he would probably be better off in a larger home and with people always around him.

My plan for such a situation was very simple and straight-forward. There is a wonderful lady I have come to know well, who runs a great place where rescued dogs or others in need of a home are kept in a very dignified, hygienic and happy environment while she finds them a befitting home. By her own admission, her vetting process (no pun intended), often puts people off, but I agree with her completely that if someone who ostensibly cares about animals is unprepared to convince her that theirs would be a home where the animal would be respected, loved and looked after and that they have the space, help, family consent and finances to be able to do so well, how can they possibly be relied upon? So, I thought I’d send Whisky to her and that she would find him a super home and we’d all live happily ever after.

If only I’d stuck to the plan. Instead, I remembered a friend with an old, female beagle was looking for a male pup to keep her other dog company. When I checked with her if she wanted Whisky, she said she unfortunately couldn’t take in a new dog at the time but she pleaded with me to get him out of his existing home as soon as possible. She would keep him with her and through her work with a very well-known animal welfare organisation, she thought they’d find him a good home very soon. I agreed.

I went to collect Whisky, who greeted me warmly and readily jumped in to my car. I felt very bad for the beautician’s young daughter who was there to hand him over to me. I hugged her as she cried and promised her I would find him a wonderful home where he would be very happy and that she could always check with me about him, if not even get to see him.

Off we went to my friend’s house, where her Beagle and Whisky hit it off pretty quickly and were chasing each other around the garden and in and out of the house, in no time. I secretly hoped my friend would change her mind and keep him.

Alas. A few days later he was sent to a foster home, arranged by the welfare organisation. It was a group of college students who shared an apartment and someone was always there with him but they didn’t have much experience with dogs and were finding it hard to manage a confused, young, naughty little puppy. I wasn’t happy.

Then I learned he had been adopted by a rich family who had a large house in a posh, South Delhi neighbourhood. The girl had apparently been looking to adopt a rescued Beagle for a long time and had begged and pleaded for Whisky to come to her. I decided to call them in a day or two to check on him, since I felt he was my responsibility, having promised his first, young little owner.

Imagine my surprise and horror when I saw him the next day, totally per chance, on facebook, up for adoption. The post didn’t give his name and I couldn’t really recognise him from the picture but it seemed uncanny for another Beagle of the same age to be looking for a home at the same time. I made desperate enquiries and my fears were confirmed. Whisky was up for adoption. Again. When I spoke to the man who had put up the post, I found him completely unapologetic. His sister was the one who had been wanting to get Whisky but she hadn’t thought to check with their mother, so when he arrived at home, the lady of the house threw a right, royal fit. The man insisted that they were a family of great animal lovers but then also informed me that the staff had left Whisky in the living room all night. It was all I could do not to lose my temper, especially not before I had rescued the poor dog, who was clearly in the wrong place. I was very angry with the organisation too for having let this adoption get so botched up.

I wanted to get him back immediately but the friend whom I trusted to find him a good home couldn’t pick him up that evening. Where would he spend the night? A lady had responded to the facebook post and they had pretty much decided to give him to her before I jumped in to the picture and they realised they would need my ok. In my desperation for him not to go to YET another foster home, I decided to check out the lady myself. She seemed very nice. I went to pick her up and then to get Whisky. They appeared to bond well in the car ride back to her house. Her maid was another story, completely unimpressed by him and devoid of even the basic curiosity which one would expect from someone when a new pup arrives home. But the lady assured me she would manage and all would be ok. It wasn’t a large house. The help was not helpful. But the lady was kind and loving and the situation was a desperate one. So I left Whisky with her.

To her and her son’s credit, for about a month, they tried to do the best they could for him. He was naughty, he would sometimes attack their other Beagle, they had to toilet train him, etc., etc. and they gladly did. But things weren’t settling down and I didn’t like the reports I was getting so I asked her if she wanted me to ask my friend to find him a home. “Not yet”, she insisted over and over again. Then finally, she tearfully asked me to go ahead.

The very next morning, she messaged to say Whisky had been adopted. A family driver had recommended someone and in a moment of utter madness, she had gone and given Whisky to him. Within a day, he had been passed along to another driver in Karol Bagh. I was livid. I persuaded her to get him back and early the following morning, she handed him over to my friend. My original plan. I paid for his boarding- the least I could do for this poor, sweet dog who had changed five homes in one month. The thought of how traumatic it must have been for him made me cry and kept me awake at night. Now, finally, he was in safe hands.

Whisky now has a new home, a new family (including a lovely, black Labrador with whom he gets along famously), a nice, new red coat and a new name. He has settled down very well and is loved and cared for. He sleeps a lot and is calm and relaxed, quite unlike how he was before. He probably realises he is finally home. May his worst days be far behind him.

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Kaani’s Story

Diwali may be a night of great festivity for most people, but for those with any health issues and for animal lovers, it’s a pretty grim time. As an asthmatic, for years I have stopped going out in to the terrible Delhi pollution on Diwali. Rather, around  Diwali, since both the pollution and the horrid, noisy fireworks both linger on for weeks after the actual day of the festival. Once people have stocked up on the fireworks, they’re pulled out to celebrate every ridiculous “occasion” and “event”, ranging from Pappu’s Birthday to election victories and of course India’s cricketing triumphs. Whether or not you’re the least bit involved in the grand celebration, celebrate you shall, willy nilly. So suck it up or rather, breathe it in.

Post our quiet family puja, usually held in a verandah of the house, I retreat to my room, doors and windows closed, air conditioner on, television on in a desperate attempt to drown out the startling bangs and shrieks of fireworks which send my dog scurrying under the bed, panting hard, trembling, too frightened to go out to do her business, too traumatised to eat her food. This routine starts on Diwali night and goes on for weeks, every single evening.

So last Diwali, it was an unusual thing for me to decide to step out at about 11 pm, to walk around the corner of the park in front of my house to check on my friends, Spotty and Blackie. Spotty was nowhere to be seen. He was probably hiding under a car somewhere, I thought. Blackie responded to my call and came out gingerly to greet me. I went with some antihistamine and bronchodilator, prescribed by the vet, to treat her cough-obviously a product of the pollution. I was sitting there, stroking her in front of one of the houses, when I saw an unfamiliar, skinny, little, white dog running down the road in the opposite direction. I whistled and called out and she stopped and turned towards me. Blackie was about to chase her but I quickly pushed her back and went up to the dog, who was about to run off again. She wagged her tail and I knelt down beside her to see if she was injured and if I recognised her. I turned her face towards me and gasped. She had one eye missing and the other was entirely clouded. Clearly, she was blind. Blind and lost, on Diwali night. I couldn’t imagine anything worse. My mind raced as I wondered what to do next. I couldn’t possibly take her in with my four dogs, one of whom was already sleeping in the servant’s room. And yet there was no way I could leave her out on the road. I scooped her up in my arms, without her protesting, and carried her home. I called my mother out, imagining she would be annoyed that I’d brought in another dog, knowing we had absolutely no resources to accommodate her. But when she saw her, she too realised this was too desperate a situation for us to turn our backs on. We stood on the staircase landing, racking our brains, while I kept the poor dog from falling and bumping in to things. We finally decided to ask the upstairs neighbour’s very kind servant if he would keep her for the night and to my immense relief, he readily agreed. She was fed, given water and some bedding and sent to sleep in his room.

I got in to bed, cuddling my dog, amazed at how yet again, I had found myself in an unusual place at an unusual time, as if sent by God to rescue an animal in need. I shuddered to think of what this poor, affectionate little thing had endured and worse, what she may have endured had I not found her. For any animal on the already chaotic and dangerous streets of Delhi, I guess Diwali time is like the bombing of Aleppo.

I messaged the lady who diligently feeds over a hundred dogs in the colony by herself, everyday. To my delight, she knew the dog. Her name, she told me, was Kaani, which means, ‘one-eyed’. She told me Kaani was a very loving and sweet dog, who lived on a colony road with her pups and that first thing in the morning, she would come and pick her up.

Kaani slept through the night comfortably, I was told and after having a good breakfast, I tied her to our gate, in the company of the guard, who petted her and fed her biscuits. She was restless and nervous though. When the lady pulled up and blew the car horn, Kaani responded with happy squeals of recognition and gladly got in to her car.

All of us at home heaved a sigh of relief, our hearts happy and content at having been able to help her. What a brave and sweet dog. I was told she had been living where she was, on the road, for a long time and I wondered how she managed. If only people weren’t so averse to keeping Indian mixed-breed dogs. She should have been in a loving home, I thought and I decided to try and find her one soon.

The following morning, I got a message from the lady, asking if I had seen Kaani. My heart sank. She had been returned to her ‘home’, but there had been lots of firecrackers again that night and again, she had run away. Kaani was not found.

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Sound, Light and Smog

 

It’s that time of the year again, the so-called festive season. If only one person’s idea of merriment wasn’t at the cost of another’s health.

The Delhi winter is every bit as brutal as its gruelling summer. From the scarcely tolerable 46ºC, temperatures dropped dramatically last week, the day after Dusshera. Soon, just when one has started to enjoy the balmy autumn weather, it will be gone and the short but harsh winter will be upon us. We Dilliwallas are pretty well-attuned to dealing with the vagaries of temperature, but that is the least of Delhi’s problems. Winter brings with it a grey, toxic, smothering smog, which envelopes the city and brings in its wake asthma, allergies, cardiac problems, headaches, colds, coughs and more. With each passing year, the alarm bells sounded by state and non-state organisations, newspapers, radio and TV channels grow louder and the warnings more ominous. Those who can afford it run around buying air purifiers for their homes. Those who can’t, miraculously carry on with their lives as normal, braving the cold and the deadly air without masks and sometimes without shelter. As an asthmatic myself, my heart bleeds for the millions who suffer bronchial disorders. It’s something I would not wish on my worst enemy. But at least humans can express their discomfort. When I think of the poor animals on the streets and their suffering, well that is what really, really kills me.

Just this week I bumped in to a lady from our neighbourhood who had brought her lovely, young Golden Labrador to the vet’s. She told me he’d been coughing and was on the nebuliser. I realised suddenly that this seemed to be becoming quite a common complaint from fellow pet owners whom I have recently encountered. It made me wonder that while people are constantly being advised to take measures to safeguard against the Delhi pollution, our poor animals are subjected to a far worse dose of it. Who’s looking after them?

 Aside from the pollution and smog, we senseless creatures insist on adding to it with fireworks and noise. Diwali- the festival of lights, albeit a Hindu festival, is celebrated by people across religions, regions, castes and socio-economic classes in India. It is a celebration of the return of Lord Ram from Lanka, having rescued his kidnapped wife, Sita, from the demon Ravan, whom he slayed. It is essentially a celebration of the triumph of Light over Darkness, Good over Evil. Much like every other celebration in India however, it has been degraded in to not a day, but rather several weeks of unruly, thoroughly uncivilised “celebrations”, which are very much in-your- face and whose damaging effects are for all to bear as the already polluted air fills with the toxic chemicals, ear-shattering sound and suffocating smoke of several million firecrackers bursting across the country.

I have long wondered why, given that our pollution levels are life-threatening, our government doesn’t put a ban or at least some very serious restrictions on people bursting fireworks. It seems like the most logical, necessary thing to do. Sadly though, it requires both, a civilized society and a caring government to take such a measure and we seem not to have either. A government which worked sincerely in the interest of its people would not hesitate to take a firm and likely unpopular decision with regards to giving people free rein to further pollute the almost unbreathable air. But we haven’t seen that ilk of politicians for a while. No government would be willing to piss off the majority Hindu populace, which is too short-sighted to realise that their uncontrolled expressions of joy and festivity are costing lives- those of others and their own. I’ve tried to imagine telling a zealous firecracker supporter, “Don’t burst firecrackers! They’re polluting the air!” And I imagine the reply being, “What?! No firecrackers? It’s Diwali! Firecrackers are a tradition!” Right. Of course. Because somewhere in the mythological tale of the Ramayan (a part which I obviously missed), Lord Ram killed the evil Ravan, rescued Sita, then returned home to a lavish party where he and the other Gods played the popular card game Teen Patti and set off Chinese-made fireworks.

Morons. Don’t people see that if we don’t let go of some of these daft, self-created “traditions”, there may be no traditions at all for future generations. We’re shortening our lives and of those around us and there is no justification for that.

I do remember a happier, healthier time, when I was a child and half the neighbourhood would gather at my grandmother’s house on Diwali night. It was a very different kind of Diwali party than the ones you see today. There were no fancy caterers, but rather my Dadi’s home-made, delicious matar-ke-parathe and hare dhaniye ke aloo, along with hot tea in earthen kulhars and alcoholic beverages for the so inclined. Several generations of people would land up. Yes, there were some fireworks (and no pollution in those days), but there were also a lot of traditional, handmade decorations, lighting, puja, etc. It was the ‘real thing’ and everyone was a part of it. Over the years though, the fireworks and gambling somehow took over. Along with the skies, the festival itself got terribly polluted somewhere down the line, with the invention of new firecrackers that emit sound, rather than light. The most idiotic invention of all time I think.

There was realisation very early on of the damaging effects of firecrackers and I remember my own mother coming to my school in an official capacity along with a very popular radio jockey, to launch one of the very first anti-firecracker campaigns. It made sense to us, even as kids and for a couple of years, things greatly improved. But there are always those who spoil it for everyone else and when India’s economy opened up a few years later and created millionaires overnight, firecrackers became yet another ridiculous measure of opulence and social standing.

My breathing trouble kept me indoors, in an air conditioned room, along with my poor dog, who was petrified of the noise. Ironic, isn’t it, that the pets who bring light in to our lives should be so traumatised by the Festival of Lights? For most pet owners, it’s a dreaded time. Dogs tend to run away or get terribly frightened. Street dogs scurry around, desperately seeking shelter from the noise and bright lights. Many are abused and maimed by godless people who think setting off firecrackers near them is amusing. The roads are littered with soot, gunpowder and toxic remnants from the previous night’s extravaganza, which mix in the food and water those poor animals live off. Night after night, at all unearthly hours, bombs and fireworks go off, preventing hard working labourers, elderly people and animals from even getting a proper night’s sleep. One helluva festival, eh?

It is very much in our own interest to voluntarily stop bursting firecrackers or lighting lamps which emit smoke. Let’s tone down our Diwali celebrations so we may live to have some more. Let’s open our hearts in the true spirit of festivity, allowing others their peace and quiet. Your freedom ends where mine begins.

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Remembering Bella

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Two years ago, on this day, I took one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Only it wasn’t to do with my life at all, but with Bella’s. This is her story.
I can’t even remember when or how Bella showed up at our beautiful riding club. It was many, many moons ago, at a time when there was a lot more kindness around. She was absolutely beautiful, with a slender build and the most loving, kohl-lined brown eyes. It didn’t take me long to name her. Bella had a permanent limp, obviously from some old, untreated injury, but she didn’t appear to be in any pain. She could run like the wind and soon became the unofficial, official “club dog”, who would greet riders every morning, give chase to other wild dogs coming in to the area and then sit in the garden, getting petted, fed and loved by people as they had their tea and biscuits after their morning and evening rides. She welcomed people’s pet dogs on to her turf and frolicked with them on the polo field and riding trails.
During the polo and horse show season, Bella was in her elements with lots of visitors around the club. She would venture to whichever part of the sprawling compound the action was in and would often “hang out” with those of us she knew well. In the winter, someone or the other would bring coats for her and the other dogs to help them through the brutal winter, which is all the more harsh in an open, forested area such as the one where she lived.
A few years ago, she started to lose weight and developed some mouth ulcers. Her beautiful, cream-coloured coat was dull and she had bruises and rashes all over. Some people suggested putting her down. Instead, I took her to a vet, gave her some medication with the help of the local staff who looked after and fed her and by winter, she was back to her splendid form and remained so for another year.
Then, within days of my having lost my beautiful horse-my best friend and partner of 19 years- I received a call from the staff to say Bella was quite unwell and needed my attention. I returned to the club the very next day and took her to the vet. Her mouth ulcers had returned and she was losing weight rapidly.
As we drove to the vet, I asked the caretaker how come her condition had become so bad. Hadn’t anyone noticed? Wasn’t anyone taking care of her? Hadn’t anyone thought to take her to the vet? His reply brought tears to my eyes. Her old ‘friends’ now asked for her to be removed from where they sat having tea, because her wounds were smelling. They didn’t want to pet her. They didn’t want her to play with their dogs. And being the lovely, sensitive being she was, she had begun to sense their aversion and didn’t go up to them anymore. Instead, she would try to find a hiding place, where the flies and insects would not make her wounds worse. The lovely clubhouse, which remained empty for most of the day, a place which was clean and cool and would have been ideal for her to rest and recover in, was off limits. NO DOGS. Especially one who was unwell, old and dirty. So, Bella would try to find a cool spot to rest in, in the blazing summer heat, even if that place was an unused toilet. There she would lie quietly, or try to, while fending off flies, or she would go and roll in some wet mud, getting dirtier still.
For the next three months, I took her almost everyday for treatment. The vets knew her well and were extremely fond of her so not only did they do her treatment pro bono, but also allowed me to leave her at their clinic through the day. It was wonderful for her to be allowed to lie quietly on a soft cushion in an air-conditioned, sanitised room under the watchful eye of the vet. She would be given a good lunch, clean water, biscuits and treats and most importantly, love and respect. She began to wait for me and as soon as she heard my voice or saw my car, she would emerge from wherever she had been sheltering herself and gladly jump in to my car. I made it a point to always sit with her in the back seat, so that for that half-hour drive, I could give her the physical closeness, warmth, love and respect that she had been denied at her home of so many years. I hated going off in the heat to pick her up, drop her to the vet, then later collect her and drop her back home. It took up my entire day and all my energy. My motivation, however, was the thought of those beautiful eyes and loving smile, hiding somewhere, waiting for me, praying that I would come for her. The harder part, was dropping her back home. I had thought that having spent the day sitting at the clinic, she would be delighted to return home where she could roam free and be in a familiar setting. But Bella didn’t feel very much at home there anymore. She would try to jump back in the car when it was time for me to leave and it broke my heart every time I had to tell her she couldn’t. So, I’d promise to return the following day and I made sure I did. I owed that to her.
Like most dogs, Bella had her own special way of showing her affection. She would wrap her paw around your leg or back in the day, she would stand with her front legs on your lap, exuding love.
I wondered why her mouth ulcers kept coming back and why she wasn’t gaining weight. I wondered if this treatment was helping her and if not, then what were we going to do? For a long time, I didn’t verbalise these questions. Three months and little improvement later, the vet and I finally broached the subject and decided it was time.
We met at the riding club one afternoon and Bella greeted us warmly. I still feel that sickness in the pit of my stomach as I recall choosing a spot to bury her and spending those last few minutes pampering her, while it was being prepared. She probably sensed what was coming and moved away from the vet and her helper. But me she trusted and that is why I will forever bear the albatross around my neck, of having betrayed that trust. The vet agreed that she actually looked a bit better that day and hesitated. She told me Bella might be okay for a few more days, maybe a week, but that her treatment and visits to the clinic should stop. I struggled with the dilemma but thought of her hiding away in some bathroom in the jungle, too exhausted to search for water and food and resigning herself to go, alone and unloved. I decided I’d rather it be this way. She went peacefully, lying in my lap, in the back seat of my car, hopefully with the knowledge that she was loved and that she belonged to someone, that someone cared. She went with the dignity with which she had lived.
Two years to the day today and I still question my decision. I choose to believe what the vet told me, that she had cancer and that they could do no more to help alleviate her discomfort, rather than that they didn’t want to keep her at the clinic anymore. I choose to believe that we did the right thing. There is one question though, which I ask myself in retrospect and which I think we should all ask ourselves before deciding to end an animal’s life: Who’s suffering are we really alleviating?
It’s very easy for people to see a sick or injured animal and say put them to sleep. That’s convenient. But is it correct? Bella lived well for over a year after someone first suggested to me to put her down. I chose to wait for the vet to suggest it, if they did, because I don’t believe I have the right to take a life just because that’s the easier thing to do. There are so many cases of animals with amputated limbs or diseases, who go on to live happily for several years after getting the right treatment. Who then, am I, to deny them that?
I hope Bella will forgive me, even though I can’t fully forgive myself. My brain says we did the right thing but my heart questions me every time I think of that fateful day. I wish Bella could have enjoyed the benefits of her wonderful home, with its acres and acres of land, its cozy clubhouse, its staff and members. I feel betrayed on her account.
I can only pray that she is now in an even more beautiful place, healed and healthy and very, very loved. That is certainly how she will live in my heart.

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Farewell, sweet friend

I had been expecting it for days and yet when the news came yesterday morning, that sweet, little Santoshi had passed away, it took me by surprise.
This adorable, little dog had taken up residence at the local nursery several years ago, where another dog lived with her puppies. When this other dog got injured in a car accident, Santoshi looked after the pups, apparently even breast-feeding them. She was named ‘Santoshi’ (Hindi for Contentment), because of her calm and peaceful nature. She had many well-wishers like the chai wallah and the nursery guards, who would give her and the other dogs mathri and biscuits through the day.
A few years later, the puppies’ mother was run over by a car. As they cried desperately for her, Santoshi took them under her wing.
When my family and I moved on to the street opposite the nursery, the two pups- Kali and Lalu- were by now full-grown and Kali had acquired a strikingly handsome companion in the timid and gentle Lekhraj. I never got to know Lalu- he too was run over and killed by a car, the same week that two other dogs in the vicinity died in the same way.
Ironically, it was a similar incident that facilitated my formal introduction to Santoshi. It was early winter and she had been sitting on the warm sand at the corner of the street, when a speeding car apparently hit her. I returned home from a hectic day’s work to be greeted with a report of the accident before I could even enter my house. I called the wonderful lady who had been feeding these dogs, among 70-odd others, every single evening for the past four years. She quickly arrived and together, we tried to coax Santoshi out from under a parked car where she had gone in to hiding. While I gingerly tried to lure her out with a biscuit, the lady put me to shame by going down on all fours without any hesitation, checking her for injuries and offering her food and water. Since Santoshi refused to budge and it was already well past the clinic’s closing time, we decided to take her to the vet first thing the following morning.
The whole thing proved to be a serendipitous event, because while she appeared to have no injuries whatsoever from the supposed accident, the x-rays revealed severe arthritis. For the next three months, I religiously sent her some food with a healthy dose of joint supplements and by spring time, she had a spring in her step, as she began trotting about, going off on long walks and joining the other dogs, cats and cows in scavenging at the garbage dump.
Knowing we would not be living there for long, I deliberately avoided getting too close to the dogs, especially she who was quiet and kept to herself. As it happened though, we stayed a few months longer than expected and so, I got her a coat for the winter and decided to build kennels for her, Kali and Lekhraj. Given her small size and my rather generously spaced kennels, I swapped the one for her with a smaller one given by someone to a much larger street dog. Santoshi’s cozy, small kennel was placed on one side of our lane and opposite it, the large kennel which I hoped would permit Kali and Lekhraj to snuggle together as they usually did. To my great delight, Santoshi took to her kennel in no time at all and seeing her happily curled up on a soft cushion, burying herself deep in to the warm blanket, sheltered finally from the harsh Delhi winter air, my heart jumped with joy.
The following day, as I was walking my dog, I saw her again in her kennel, but half an hour later, she was gone. I panicked. It was a bitterly cold day. Where had she gone? I looked around but couldn’t see her anywhere. And then my gaze fell on the big kennel on the other side of the street. Lo and behold, there was little Santoshi, blissfully bundled up and sound asleep! I burst out laughing. What a clever girl! She had obviously seen the kennel still lying vacant and thought, why scrunch up in this little house when there’s a luxury bungalow on offer?!
She battled her way through the winter but had clearly begun to lose a lot of weight and despite my growing concern, I sadly could not manage to do more than go across and give her a small meal and some biscuits every now and then.
When I learned a couple of months ago that she had grown even more frail, I hesitantly asked a friend if she would help out. I never had to repeat my request. She was taken to the vet almost daily, put on a special diet for renal trouble, given fresh, clean water, a comfortable new cushion and God knows what more. Just being her quiet, dignified, self-sufficient self, Santoshi managed to generate a lot of love. She brought together our Dog Squad (See ‘The Birth of the Dog Squad’, August 6th, 2016), and had been till now, its central focal point. She has shown us how much we can help animals and each other by working together and thanks to her we hope many others will be benefitted.
She has also raised a thought in my mind, which I feel merits some serious consideration- Why don’t people adopt old dogs? The street is no place for any dog really, but much like puppies, old dogs require greater care. They are at great risk having lost their agility to dodge traffic, fend for food, run around in search of shelter, tolerate the extremities of weather, not to mention that with age, many develop health issues just like human beings do but alas, they are seldom given the care they need. Imagine them all cleaned up. Well fed. Secure. Happy. Comfortably sprawled on a sofa or a bed or just curled up on the floor, being able to sleep without having to keep one eye half-open for fear of something coming at them. I wish Santoshi had known that feeling. I wish I could have given that to her.
I also wish that I had followed my instincts in the last couple of days and bothered to make the two minute trip down to see her. Every day I told myself I would go, before something happened to her. Every day I found a reason not to. So I had no one but myself to blame for the enormous sense of guilt I felt yesterday, when I finally managed to quite easily find the time to go and see her. Only this time, it was to say goodbye and lay her to rest. Together with another wonderful member of our Dog Squad, who had personally taken great care of Santoshi in the short time she had known her, we buried her close to her home with our love, blessings and thanks.
Santoshi was about 15 years old and had developed renal failure. She will be fondly remembered and missed. God Bless You, sweet Santoshi. May you roam free now in Doggy Heaven and have all the love and comfort you so well deserve.

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