He came into my life as a bundle of white fur. I was all of 12 years old.
My grandfather thought it was the best present he could manage to give to an only child worried about her parents separating. Little did I realize that the amount of far-sight he had. I named the bundle Joji. He went on to become the best thing to have happened to me.
Joji and I grew up together. He was as mischievous as I was playful. We were part of many pranks, we fought, chased, had fun, got into near fist fights, got angry at each other … almost everything that I would have done a sibling, I shared with him. He listened to me when I was upset, nudged with his wet nose when I was mood off, chased behind me while I ran ahead (and caught up with me within seconds too!) and remained steadfastedly loyal.
We never let him be chained up. My grandpa put a separate enclosure for him where he could run free. Grandpa even used to sit and joke about how Joji had his own 3 cents of land and a small house to call his own, so now he was ready to get married!! I was like, pah! He’s going to get marriage proposals before I do.
Among my most favourite memories of him lie the one where he used to wait for me to come back from school. He would joyfully bark, springing up on two legs the moment he spotted me, waiting to be let out and taken inside the home – for I used to share my evening snacks of samosas, cake or chips with him. Even after shifting base outside Kerala, the scene was not very different. Hide-and-seek was wasted on him, since he would smell my presence from a mile away and would zoom into the room where I was hiding. The sense of smell was what saved him a lot of difficulty during his last days when his sense of sight and hearing started failing him.
My only regret is that I did not get Joji a mate. Having his puppies run around in our house would have been delightful. Who knows? We could have chosen to bring up one of them as well. But replacing Joji is an impossible task.
Most Pomeranians are expected to have a life span of 10 years. Maybe 12. 13 is pushing it. But Joji waited till all of 15 years. He was generally of good health till a couple of weeks back when he suddenly fell sick. I did not however think the worst even then.
When my mother told me he had fallen sick, I didn’t realize things were that serious, or I assumed he would get better, since they got a vet to come in and take a look at him, and also give him antibiotic shots. Else I would have gone to see him one last time the last weekend. What they didn’t tell me is that vet gave him only a few more days’ time. By the time I got to know he was at his worst, it was already Monday morning. I flew down early Tuesday morning in panic …but by then my mother’s call came saying it’s too late…they buried him late last night…
I mentally said goodbye to him the day I came to know he was lying blind, deaf and mostly dead to the world, with bed sores over his stomach. It was too much to hear that, much less behold that sight. I told him I really wanted to see him but if he could not hang on then told him to let go. I guess he heard it and let go. My step-dad was saying it was good I didn’t see the condition he was in and that I wouldn’t be able to take it. He must have thought it is better he left before I arrived on the scene.
Just wish I could have held him one last time…..
He was entrusted by my grandpa to take care of me. He waited long enough to see me have a companion for life…and made sure to wait and see that I was happy in the life I was in. And then he said his goodbye.
I have never known a pet as courageous, loyal, lovable, caring and trustworthy as him. I can only hope I was as worthy an owner to him as he was a pet to me. To call him “just a dog” is an insult…he was nothing short of a sibling in my (then) lonely life.
But grieving for him really does not make sense. Like my colleague told me, “Stop being selfish. He’s up there in doggy heaven…chasing his own tail…and generally having a ball.”
Or my very own Undakannan who suggested, “He’s sitting with your grandfather and reporting to him about everything your grandpa missed in the 3 years since he left.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry while hearing it…
If there ever is a doggy heaven, I am sure he is there.
In my mind’s eye I can see him….
He is young again. No pain, no suffering. A bundle of white and golden fur, beady black eyes full of mischief, and mouth curved into a happy grin with tongue joyfully hanging out.
He turns around to look at me, gives me a happy smile… and runs off to join a shadow walking in the distance… my grandfather…who looks far younger and healthier than I knew him. They are both walking off towards the sunset…in a world that lets them live in peace.
Wherever they are both are… peace be with them. Rest in peace.
Jan 1997 to April 2012