I always wanted a dog since I was three feet tall but as usual, my parents’ opinion ruled. I promised myself that it would be a puppy that I would get home the minute I started earning and so I researched more for the right dog for me than I did for an ideal job. I also was a breed snob. After loads of research, I decided on a golden retriever. And why?
Growing up on ‘Marley and Me’ and later, a movie that had something to do with racing in the rain..I was determined to have a dog that would love its master ..that’s me. I dreamt of it fetching sticks, welcoming me home, wagging its tail, and knowing where its treats came next.
It had to be playful, frisky, cheerful, and all that a dog should be.
And then I bought a rescue dog home! A far cry from all the dogs that I had dreamt about and a far cry from the playful puppy too. How did I end up with the dog?
My friend and his family were great ones for championing the cause of abandoned dogs. I was quite successful in tuning him out when he went on about how we were perpetuating unscrupulous people in promoting inbreeding which results in lots of breed-specific health issues. He used to lash out saying, ” all because you people want certain traits!” He went on how Pugs are used to have full-length snouts like normal dogs but were selectively bred to have squashed faces and as a result, they’re prone to breathing issues. He lamented, “The more you people buy from breeders, the more they promote these issues in breeds, which is really not fair on the dogs as they have debilitating conditions.”
Well truth be told, I didn’t care. And then I saw him. His body was covered with scars obviously healed on their own without stitches, scared and cowering at the racket the other dogs packed in the kennel like sardines were raising. I stood aloof just an observer, wasn’t I? I was just here because I was asked to. Yet, I found myself taking on this two-year-old and realized that he was terrified of me. Scared of noise. He was terrified of the house and spent his time in a small corner as if that was the only place he was entitled to. I realized that it was what he learned at the kennel. Grossly underweight, the vet helped me handle my own apprehensions along with helping me handle Robin’s. For long, he ate only after I slept. I tried feeding him with my hand and it took him a month to realize that my hand didn’t smack but gave goodies!
He was afraid of walks, afraid of noise, afraid of people. He never allowed me to pat him or cuddle him. It was heartbreaking but I realized how traumatized he was and struggled a bit more.
I had no regrets despite my struggle as I realized that my friend was right. These dogs needed me and I was not perpetuating the breeders who were catering to breed snobs like my earlier self.
Though Robin was comfortable being alone I could see that he was relieved when I came home. I told him in multiple ways and kept telling him that, ” I will be there for you.” Maybe it was my love, it was my words. He started coming to the door when he heard the turn of the key. He started running during the walks and suddenly stop and turn to see if I am still there.
The other day he licked my hand and I felt a sudden smarting in my eyes.
It was then that I knew I had arrived in his world.