I must have been in class V, if my memory doesn’t fail me and they were rich…very rich, rich in comparison to us…not in terms of money but because they had ‘Sherry’ – a black Pomeranian dog. Whenever we used to visit their place in the evening I would come back home very elated at having spent an entire evening with ‘Sherry’, but with a heavy heart wishing even I had a dog of my own. I had grown up hearing stories of ‘Mandy’ (my father’s black Labrador whom he had when he was posted in NEFA (North Eastern Frontier Agency) – today’s Arunachal Pradesh and seeing her black & white photographs in my father’s album. Oh! How much I longed to have one of my own, my very own buddy.
It happened one evening. Dad came back home from office and was having his tea when he got a phone call, which was followed by very guarded discussions. After much deliberation they broke the news to us that we were invited to dinner and that if me and my sister promised to take the full responsibility of grooming a pet then we could have a pup for our own! It was a dream come true to us and we were ready to accompany our parents to the Puri family’s house. It had so happened that ‘Sherry’ had got crossed with a street dog and they were giving away the pups to willing families who wanted to adopt them. For me it was like I had hit a jackpot! There they were 11 days old and so sweet and all scrambling over one another in a cardboard box and we all decided to have the little brown fur ball who was the most active and the most naughtiest.
Silky comes home
She just couldn’t and wouldn’t stay in one place. She was so naughty even without eyes having opened. Silky would drag all the woolens in one corner of her box, climb up and scamper out for her toiletries and then would start whimpering because she would be feeling cold. One morning I woke up to a storm in the house. Silky was nowhere to be found! Mom and dad had searched high and low, every nook and corner of the house but she was nowhere to be found. Where did she go? Oh no! She must have crawled out of the door and become a meal of the eagles (those days eagles were a common sight). With tears rolling down our cheeks and heartbroken we clambered into the house and started getting ready for school. Never in my life had I thought of losing my one and only pet in such an unceremonious manner. I was shattered and in my own world when I heard my sister scream there was something inside her shoe and it was not her pair of socks as she was wearing them! Scared we chucked the shoe aside and lo & behold, who tumbles out is our little silky! She must have crawled out of her bed and then got into the shoe for comfort and warmth!
A perfect companion & a guardian angel
Since Silky I have had many furry buddies but she was a champion. Be it playfulness, being a guard dog or naughtiness and was extremely intelligent and sensitive. Thrice she saved our house from being burgled. Though she was a mixed-breed and a small dog, her bark was so dynamic that the visitor on the other side of our main door used to freeze in terror, thinking it to be a large ferocious dog. I remember when my dad was extremely sick and had suffered from a medicine reaction we had to call doctor on emergency at home. The same ferocious Silky didn’t let out a single bark when the doctor arrived to see papa. She only let out a deep growl of warning from near my father’s feet to the doctor when he started preparing to take an ECG. But immediately calmed down when my mother told her that it’s ok. She constantly stood by my father’s side with a watchful eye on the doctor. She displayed the same behaviour when I returned from the hospital after my delivery. We were not sure how she would react to my baby in the house as she had never taken very kindly to small babies of the guests who came to our house. But she just came up, smelt her and me and backed off allowing me to take my first born to my room. She never liked papa coming and cuddling my daughter. She always used to sit outside the room and bark till papa surrendered and went out to her. But on the contrary, whenever I used to go down to have my lunch or dinner (my mother has a duplex flat), Silky would be running up in the opposite direction and would lie down under the bed where my daughter Rishika was placed, and would bark and alert us if she would start crying and the moment we arrived she would go and lie down outside the room. She was surprisingly extremely tolerant towards my daughter even in her crawling days when Rishika would pull her tail, legs or whiskers, causing her to trip she never ever snapped but her reaction would be different if we teased her.
Time to say adieu
I can go on and on about my Silky and that still would be less. She had lived up to the age of 17 years and was our grand ol’ lady. By then she had acute arthritis as well cataract and had to be carried up and down two floors, so that she could relieve herself. She had even lost a few teeth and her coat and whiskers had started frosting. It happened one evening when I had gone to meet my husband in the ‘valley’ (J&K) with my daughter (he was posted there). My sister was scratching Silky behind her ears as she loved it and felt something wet in her hands on checking she found a wound below which was infested with maggots!
Next day morning my father was at the vet’s clinic and he confirmed that nothing much could be done and since she was in much pain and the wounds were very deep she had to be given mercy killing, it broke our hearts to be parted in such a way but papa had to take a big decision, an honourable painless death for our most trusted companion, our sister and his youngest daughter that was the least we could do for our darling and he went ahead with it. She breathed her last cuddled in papa’s arms, the man whom she had loved the most, and was buried in the dog’s crematory behind the Jain Mandir en route Chattarpur Mandir. Since then I’ve had many furry buddies but none could replace her. Absolutely none!
–Ranjeeta Nath Ghai, Tinsukia, Assam