The first pet dog name that I heard as a child was Rex. He was before my time and I heard stories of his built and of my brother riding him. As such I am unaware of his life or death.
As a child the first dog that I knew was a black cocker spaniel named Rover whose long ears would dip into the metal bowl and would forever be wet. This caused ticks to settle there and he would refuse its removal. The metal bowl itself was part of living room furniture that looked like a metal man with two arms holding two bowls for plants and a wooden shelf near the base to keep some artifact or book or a phone. Since we had neither, the bowl was used for other purposes one of which was for the dog. Originally coloured red it ultimately looked its aluminium self with blotchy red skin. Anyways, he grew old and became cranky and aggressive. One day I found that he had disappeared. After repeated enquires over the years, I was informed that my dad took him in the car and left him somewhere. I haven’t quite forgiven him for this.
During this period we had a surfeit of pets in that two-room, seven-occupant house of ours. Jimmy was a black and white terrier mix which I used to love and adore. Soon he got a companion. On one trip to Kerala, my dad got one of a litter of mixed Spitz and he smuggled one on the train journey back in a plastic basket sneaking her treats throughout. Soon Jimmy and Blackie became inseparable and became part of the few photographs we took during our time. One of our photos required my dad to hold his chain with his feet while the snap was taken.
This period saw the addition of some other pets which was brought home by my pet loving dad. At various points we had a pair of mynah birds, parakeets, rabbits and aquarium. This attracted a pair of cats which took refuge on the roof of our kitchen and multiplied soon. The litter was soon shifted to a lady who used across the street. Her nickname was “Biral Mashi” meaning Cat Aunty. She had a horde of over 40 cats and we had to place fish and rice on a newspaper through the window for years till she passed away.
Jimmy developed a lump beneath his right armpit and this started to fester and alongside developed kidney failure. His lump was surgically removed and it fell to me to clean the pus and wound in my teens. A relapse caused us to put him to sleep. Blackie and a cat used to sit together on the street with my mother and be a cause of mirth and merriment to passers-by. I had to leave Kolkata for my career and later heard that Blackie passed on too.
After marriage I reached Bangalore and was received in a house which did not have a pet in the house but were feeding a stray. A week later after a lunch at home, my mother in law asked whether Bobby has been fed. I answered in the affirmative and saw her covering her mouth with consternation. It was then I realised that the stray had the same name as I. It led to a great story that is still recounted with laughter whenever a pet story is told.
The pet that my in-laws got home was a Dachshund named Rocky. He was trained by my FIL bring newspaper from the shop in exchange for a bun. His medication and old age treatment was also under my purview. He was very protective of my kids and they used to love him to bits. One morning he goes out from the house, and near the gate he lay down and died.
It was during this time that I get my first dog in Bangalore. We had gone to university for evaluation work and during the break I heard a faculty member from another college talking about the dog of his tenant and how they were unable to take care of it due to the demise of the man of the house. Without a second thought, we drove to his home and saw this black and white dog tied to the staircase railing and yelping away. I sat with her for some time and without any trouble came along with me and stayed on. Scotty was mixed Spitz and had her own set of habits some sweet, some irritating. One of her sweetest snaps was her sucking a lollypop holding it between her paws. She would use her nails on the floor and yelps to get a treat on the dining table. In her final days she stopped eating for a month then stopped drinking for a week and her mouth sealed shut and this is when she told me: “Beam me up”.
Since this is a post to all my past pets, the current one deserves a blog of his own. My interaction with the animals from a young age surely made me a better person and for this I thank all of them for enriching my life, teaching me loyalty and unconditional love.
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