You are my ‘Shadow’

shadowI’ve wanted a dog since I was three. My mom was scared of dogs. So my parents tried one excuse after the other to dissuade me. But pester power prevailed in the end and mom finally gave in. So when our friend’s dog littered, we brought home a little Labrador puppy whom we called Shadow. From the moment mom held Shadow in her arms, she became his surrogate mother – Shadow would follow her around the house, a habit he still has even after he’s all grown up. Shadow is eleven today and that’s old for a dog. And these eleven years have been a saga of adventure & learning. Labradors are greedy by nature and our puppy was no exception. He was always on the lookout for any extra food that he could find (a habit that still continues). There was this one time when we’d brought a quarter kilo of Gulab Jamoons and had kept it on the kitchen shelf for us to have after dinner. I was rubbing our tummy in eager anticipation of the treat, when there was a loud thud. Shadow had managed to reach the sweet box with his paw and had toppled it over. By the time we reached the kitchen, Jamoons lay sprawled on the floor – half of them were in his tummy and he was greedily trying to gobble up the rest. This was the first of many such food catastrophes. There was the episode with the sardines. And the time when the Amul butter packet fell out of the fridge, unnoticed by my mom. Not much gets by a gluttonous Labrador. We caught him with his head in the packet.

When he was teething, Shadow would chew on anything he could lay his paws on. And guests who’d leave their slippers outside the house got to learn this the hard way. When leaving, there was often a heel missing or a sole that’s been chewed through. For Shadow it was all a game – he’d take the slipper in his mouth and run, and all of us, including the frantic guest would have to run after him to retrieve it. Then there was the time when we’d gone out for a movie. By the time we got back, he’d chewed up the sofa.

Looking after a dog is not easy – he has to be potty trained, taught not to chew on things, given his vaccinations, taken for regular walks … the list goes on. But if you’re up to it, it can be the most rewarding job in the world. There has not been a moment in these eleven years (even when he’s at his naughtiest) that we’ve regretted bringing Shadow home. We’ve always been a close-knit family but Shadow adds something to our family that we never knew was missing until he came in. Anyone who’s never had a dog, will never understand the joy one can bring to the household but those of you who have, will know exactly what I mean.

Shadow teaches us lots of things – to put yourself second (you may have other things to do, but when he looks at you expectantly with those big eyes, it’s very hard to say ‘no’ so you end up taking him for a walk instead). He teaches you to love unconditionally because there is nothing quite as unconditional as a dog’s love – when you get that, you cannot help but reciprocate. And no matter how bad your day, the sight of his happy face and his wagging tail when you come home, cannot help but make you feel better.

So I would recommend to everyone, visit the local shelter and bring home a homeless puppy today. I can’t guarantee that it will be easy but I can guarantee lots and lots of love, laughter and happiness. An ad I read recently said ‘when you adopt you get more than you give’ – it’s especially true when you adopt a puppy.