‘Save Our Souls’ The pariahs’ appeal
I was on my way back from the doctor when I saw her first. She looked weak and thin, just half a month old, she was already a bag of bones. I stopped the car and bought a pack of biscuits. I offered her a biscuit but though she smelled it inquisitively, she didn’t seem to want any. On pampering, her scrawny little tail wagged and she came near. A few pats and I couldn’t leave her there to starve. Impulsively I picked her up and marched back to the car with her. ‘Home’ I said to the driver.
Luckily I come from a family of dog lovers. So, Candy (as we named her) got a warm welcome at our place. We dug out some old clothes, wrapped her up and got a box for her to sleep. Though she slept all right in her box, but she was happiest on our laps. There she’d snuggle up to us and sleep tight. So each one of us was assigned lap duty during different times of the day.
The whole day passed in feeding sessions (Candy had to be force fed because she wouldn’t eat), lap duty and visits to the vet. For first few days she had a continuous temperature and her eyes were always full of discharge. So the vet inevitably gave her an injection every time we took her in. Her eyes cleared, the fever stopped… we were so happy. Our little baby was going to be fine.
Then the nightmare began… Candy started crying all night. We took her to the vet who noticed an abscess on Candy’s leg. Apparently her life on the street had been harder than we thought – someone had kicked her and that had caused the abscess. On vet’s suggestion, we laid her down on a hot water bottle. She looked content – all snug and warm, until the abscess opened up. Then she began crying with pain. We rushed her to the doctor. The doc cleaned up the wound and said she wouldn’t be able to walk for another two days till it started healing. And to our horror, little thing had diarrhoea also. That night I brought Candy upstairs, and slept in the room with her. Did I say ‘sleep’? Sorry – my mistake. I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night. She cried and whined all night. Even though the wound seemed to be getting better but she continued to cry for the next two days.
Every day there were visits to the vet. He put her on drips, and said she could have a tummy infection. Maybe that was why she wasn’t eating. So we started her on a course of antibiotics. The diarrhoea gradually stopped but the crying continued. We took her to another vet, and then another. One said she could have the Parvovirus.
Parvovirus is a viral disease that usually attacks little puppies. They stop eating, get dehydrated, have a continuous temperature and eventually die, unless they are treated in time. My sister burst into tears while my mom and me tried to be brave. Little Candy though didn’t have a clue as to what was happening. Wrapped up all snug in a crocheted top, she gazed at us with those beautiful black eyes of hers. She was content. After all she was on my lap, being cuddled and everyone was fussing over her.
She went for the medical examination and thankfully the result was negative. We gave little shrieks of joy.
That night there was crying again, along with little spasms in her stomach. The spasms had been there before but they’d been much less. We assumed they were gripes and gave her gripe water. We even took her to a Pranic Healer who said it was caused by lack of water. So we spoon fed her water. But none of that helped. The spasms were getting much worse. And now they no longer seemed restricted to her stomach – they would start in her stomach and would then pass over her whole body. The crying was getting worse too.
The next day, the spasms started when I took her for her drips. The doctor took one look at her and said it could be Canine Distemper. I didn’t believe him. Dogs with distemper had continuous fever, didn’t they? And they didn’t get better on their own. He had to be mistaken.
My dad and me took her to the vet and he confirmed our worst fears. Candy had distemper. She couldn’t walk because the distemper was slowly causing paralysis. My dad drove home in silence while I sat at the side with Candy on my lap.
That night was the worst of my life. Candy started crying at around 10 and by 3 in the morning she still hadn’t stopped. Her wails were getting louder. We couldn’t let her suffer like this any more. The chances of her recovery, if any, were very slim. At one and a half months she was already partially paralyzed. We couldn’t let her scream in pain for hours every day. So, we drove in silence to the Blue Cross. We carried Candy to the clinic and laid her down on the table there. She was still asleep. We waited in silence while the watchman went to get the syringe, each of us trying unsuccessfully to hold back our tears. The injection took barely a few seconds to work and then she was gone. The doctor lifted her eyelids but those beautiful black eyes were lifeless. That was the worst moment of my life.
Losing a dog is a terrible thing. We’d had Candy for just about ten days and yet losing her was so painful.
Candy taught us many things – how to trust without reason (even when the person you trust takes you for painful drips everyday), that however bad your pain when you cuddle up to someone you love you always feel better… No one can love quite like a dog. Candy showed us that every day when she was with us.
I still think of Candy and miss her. There are thousands of dogs and puppies just like her, who die a painful death from distemper – most of them without the comfort of a loving family. I hope the day will come when all the strays will have home. But until then, I’ve decided to help an NGO in my city called ‘Animal Welfare and Protection Trust’, which is run by an old couple. They make sure that every dog they sterilize is vaccinated for distemper and other diseases before they leave the shelter. They wish to build a permanent shelter for strays. If that happens, Candy’s death would not have been in vain.
– by Natasha Amrolia