I was about to cross the road yesterday, on the way to one of the places from where I begin my morning walk / jog, when I spotted a morning walk-jog (I start with a walk and end with a jog; should I just call it ‘wog’?) regular cross over from the other side. However, something, or rather, someone was missing. His doggie companion, a Lhasa Apso by the name of Fido.
As we started approaching each other, I gestured about Fido’s whereabouts. He gestured back the reply. The reply indicated that… Fido had passed away. However, I wasn’t sure, or I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear that. So, I waited until we came up to each other and asked again. He confirmed it. He told me Fido got sick some days back, started throwing up, and then passed away some hours later. He had appeared silent for sometime before (I nodded at this, as I had observed one young streetie too pass away with this indication a couple of years ago). The man’s wife was at home, and she took Fido to the vet (after some resistance from the auto-guy who wouldn’t take in a dog, that too, a sick one). The vet though had made his announcement.
Hope Fido is in a happy place, right up there with Rai, Tiger and Ginger (some of my streeties who have passed away, though I’m not sure about Ginger – she might just have got swept away in the floods and landed up in Chengalpet).
The man went on for some time, talking of how Fido was like his son, and how he had hoped Fido would outlast him. The man isn’t particularly old, at least doesn’t look it, and I told him so. He smiled and continued about Fido: Fido had been around for quite a while, at least 10 years or so.
I have had some sweet moments with Fido too. He would recognize me through this shaggy drooping hair, lick me, and the last time, did the old doggie chestnut of humping my leg. Guess that was his way of saying goodbye: leaving me with his, and every doggie’s, favourite action.
I know what folk who’ve had doggie companions for a long time typically do, so I asked him, “So, do you plan to bring home another dog?” His response was pat – faster than you could say say, ‘RIP, Fido.’ “Yes. In fact, I’ve even paid the money.”
I have bumped into this man quite a few times in the morning now, have spoken about doggie love and my work, and believe we are at least cordial with each other, so I felt I could take the opportunity to educate him. Starting with a disclaimer (“If you don’t mind, may I say something…”), I ventured what educated animal lovers know: the cruelty of puppy farm-bred dogs, the scores of dogs (puppies and adults alike) up for adoption at animal shelters, the shelters specifically offering breed dogs for adoption if you are looking only for one such…
He does tend to look surprised at most things about me, I guess (my wog attire, my conversation, my views; but then, most people do), and this time too, his eyes opened wide: like I was giving him breaking news, or that I had said that I was the one who had poisoned Fido.
The invisible-cruelty angle didn’t seem to be cutting much ice with him (as with most people, even vegetarian – he is), so I asked him a conversation-continuer, “So, which breed are you planning to get?” Again, pat: “Beagle.” I jumped at this too. I told him about how Beagles especially are put through the greatest cruelty for lab experiments, but added that recently, many have been rescued and are up for adoption – though after stringent checks of the human companions, mercifully – through Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) of Bangalore, via a cutely named programme, Freagles (Free Beagles). I reiterated it to him, and he did check a few things with me.
However, I’m not sure I may have succeeded. I’m fairly certain the next time we meet on a morning wog, there will be a small little Beagle with him. He might even appear embarrassed or uncomfortable at not having taken my suggestion (and thus not helped get one shelter dog out of the overworked shelter). But that’s ok: there’s only so much you can do. The biggest piss though: Don’t say your dog companion is like your son after having paid for him. That’s way crueler than bringing home a puppy-farm-bred dog not suited for a certain climate.
I may not have been able to help this man see better. Hopefully, I’ll do better with the folk reading this piece. Find out more about puppy farm cruelty here. And if in India and interested in adopting a Freagle, know more through the CUPA site here.