The delivery boy from Amazon phones me when I am at work. “Ma’am, the tiny, brown dog in your house is furious. That one doesn’t stop barking. I am scared,” he pants. Although I assure him that Anu Boo would not attack him and that he can hand the books to Mother, he refuses to listen.
I smile. Clandestinely.
Because when I adopted this tiny, brown dog on 26-January-2014, I didn’t know she can roar. I didn’t know she can breathe fear into strangers. Above all, I didn’t know she would begin to enjoy her life with us.
We rescued Anu Boo in January 2014. She was weak, diffident, and anxious. For the first three months of her life, she had never seen a human. When all her siblings succumbed to hunger in an abandoned house, this little survivor thrived on her brother’s carcass.
As soon as Mother threw a flimsy net on the puppy and dropped her in a jute bag, I kissed her mouth. It smelled of a corpse.
The vet who administered her first vaccinations was amused when I related Anu Boo’s story. He guffawed. But he was certain that she had to be quarantined for two weeks. “This puppy seems way too curious,” he observed. Anu Boo fixed her gaze on another canine client.
I knew then that her battered soul had already begun to heal.
My first dog Calvin was 10 then. We fostered Anu Boo with Calvin as our reluctant aide. He played her nanny, for Anu Boo could trust him. Only him. Perhaps, in their language, Calvin and Anu Boo discussed their family, established hierarchy, and composed clauses.
After fostering her for about two weeks, we realised that nobody wanted to adopt her only because she was a mongrel, she was too tiny, and she suffered from a chronic skin condition.
Maybe, that’s when I believed in the cliche that one’s loss is another one’s gain. We adopted Anu Boo. Officially.
So what if nobody needed her? She was already a member of our pack. She was always ours. It just took a little while for the epiphany to dawn on us.
From that day (26-January-2014), I basked in observing my favourite duo — Calvin and Anu Boo.
He was calm. She was a storm. He was snobbish. She was silly. He was social. She was aloof.
He was a resigned cat. She was a happy puppy.
Life could have been unfair to me then in a million ways. But it never seemed that unbearable. Many thanks to these furry friends.
“That’s a good dog you’ve got there,” he said, tickling Beau’s head. Beau’s tail thumped against the seat. “Yeah. He is a good one.”
“Everybody oughta have a dog,” he said thoughtfully, his hand still scratching Beau. “Dogs teach you love and kindness. They remind you what’s important.” He nodded and took a sip of his coffee. “A life ain’t much of a life without a dog in it, s’what I always said.”
“Yeah.” I let my forehead drop against the cool of the window. All the thoughts I’d had walking had followed me inside. Like ghosts, haunting me. “But dogs die,” I said quietly, almost to myself. “Sure. Course they do. But their dying don’t make their livin’ worth any less.”
— The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Three years later…
Calvin has become Sirius. Anu Boo doesn’t share her riches with another animal. As I write this, Mother peels a banana for her. Father employs all his favourite terms of endearment and promises her lifetime supply of bananas.
Anu Boo is sprawled in the divan. Every once in a while, she looks out the window to ensure if that squirrel is still there. She places her head on a heap of cushions and slips into a peaceful slumber.
A sense of accomplishment washes over me.
The Sweetness of Dogs
What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go
and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself
thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up into
my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.
— Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
Her ears dance gently to the tunes of January’s zephyr. She moves her legs as though she is chasing something in her dreams.
In that zennish moment, I allow a question to surface.
Who rescued whom?