It never ceases to amaze me how having a pet at home changes you. For the better. Forever.
It changes how you view not just your immediate surroundings, but the world at large. For starters, you certainly become a softer person, more patient, more understanding and certainly more giving. Small and petty things cease to matter. And you become so caring.
Of course I am starting from the premise that you don’t just have a dog at home but that you are the primary caregiver, the real caretaker, as opposed to servants and maids. The one responsible for the welfare of your pet, the one your pet turns to first, especially in times of despair.
And how do you know your pet is in despair? Despair, mind you, not pain. In pain, the poor chap will just yelp and you will know.
I seem to be going through that phase. And God knows but my despair seems to be deeper. For dogs, perhaps all animals it would seem, just accept every strife with fortitude. You see I now have an ageing pet at home and I can’t live in denial about it. My darling Inshy has just turned 14 and I am finally acknowledging it in public. Until now I never gave her age away, conscious of the fact that there would be an exclamation, ‘Oh, she’s that old!’ Something I don’t like to hear.
No sooner does a dog turn eight or 10, the general response is, ‘Oh, so your dog is getting old huh…’ I never like that. To me, it is a rather callous remark for what it indicates; pointing to the general, unfortunately, too short a lifespan of a dog. I usually refrain from such comments when I meet up with friends’ pets. For only a pet parent knows what he or she goes through seeing their pet ageing.
Like when I began to tell you about how having a pet changes you, an ageing pet changes you that much more. You tune in differently. Your concern is your dog’s comfort. They can’t speak, they can’t tell you, ‘I think I have cataract, I can’t see as clearly, will you please take me to the eye doctor.’ It’s your responsibility to keep checking, notice if they are walking with the same gait, same confidence. Or are they bumping into things.
I detected a slight haze, an opaqueness in Inshy’s left eye and immediately took her to Dr Sangeeta Vengsarkar who advised eye drops, and ever since I have been diligently putting drops in both her eyes three times a day. And now there is some super eye gel available, which Inshy doesn’t seem to mind at all. And these lubricating drops have given her some ease.
Last Sunday, a wedding procession seemed to be passing by and as is our wont, firecrackers were being burst with great gusto, absolute abandon and I at once began to dart around the apartment closing windows, so that Inshy doesn’t get frightened and run around the house looking for a place to hide, literally shaking and trembling. In this state of anxiety, I suddenly noticed she was right there at my heel, unperturbed, looking at me with questioning eyes, like ‘Hey, what’s wrong with you?’
I looked at her, picked her up and with total feminine logic, exclaimed, “Oh wow, my baby, finally the firecrackers don’t scare you!” I put her down and went to have me evening tea. My first sip and I was spurting it out! Oh my Gosh, could it be that Inshy didn’t hear the noise… could it be that her hearing is going down, could she be going d… No! I couldn’t even bear to complete the word.
The first thing I did is go and Google. And keyed in, ‘How do you know if your dog is going deaf’. Armed with knowledge, I came back and did some of the home tests. Luckily Inshy passed the test. But I am still worried, after all, she wasn’t scared of the fireworks, which until this Diwali she was. I plan to take her to the vet to check if she has too much wax in her ears or if she has an ear infection.
This concern, this extra love just comes forth. When you look back and see how much love your canine baby has given you in all those years, the endless joy, the laughter, the loving licks, the welcome home barks and the mad jumping in circles, your love seems to pale in comparison.
Theirs really and truly is unconditional and pure love. And all you can do is put them above your own selfish needs, love them, look after them, especially, and even more, as they age.