It was 7am. I peeped through the window to see if the dog was already there waiting. She had turned up punctually every morning for the past few days. She was a new stray in the street.
The way she carried herself spoke of a miserable life. Her gloomy eyes expressed betrayal and loneliness. She too needed food, shelter and love – just like every one of us.
With face hanging down, she would walk slowly from the field nearby, where she spent her nights, and sit outside the house across the street.
The moment I saw her, I would place a bowl of food just outside my house. As I watched her from the porch, she would trot across and approach the bowl. As she gobbled her food, she was watching me most of the time. As soon as she finished the food, she would gulp some water in the next bowl, and walk away. I tried approaching her but she was just too scared to let me get near.
I tried to find her a home but no one seemed interested. Neither could I take her in as my family already had two other dogs at that time.
The few times that I didn’t see her, a miserable feeling would come over me, especially if I had not fed her that day. I would then go looking for her in the field.
She would be lying under a tree. Or in the basketball court where a group of teenagers would be playing. She would just quietly watch them.
This was years ago, and the routine had been ongoing for six months.
I believe Girl (that’s the name I gave her) was an abandoned dog. No one came forward to claim her despite news about her going out and the numerous posts that I put up on Facebook.
In April 2015, Girl gave birth to five puppies in a drain at the end of the street, outside my friend Kim’s house.
Kim used to feed her every evening.
After about a week, my mother phoned me while I was out, alerting me about a heavy downpour. We had to relocate the dog and her puppies to safety.
I rushed back, only to see that there was only one pup left; the other four were nowhere to be seen. Kim suspected that a monitor lizard may have eaten them as she had spotted one in the area earlier.
There was no time to waste. We had to save the surviving pup.
After several attempts, we managed to lure Girl out in order to save her puppy. He looked very weak. I gently placed the fragile puppy inside a box and coaxed Girl to follow me home. This took one whole hour!
Finally, after several hiccups, Girl stepped into my house, warily. We gave her the puppy. She immediately took him and snuggled in the big enclosure beside my house.
Despite our rescue efforts, it was devastating to see Girl the next morning with her dead pup partially hanging out of her mouth.
She went to the gate and waited anxiously.
Amma told me to let her out so she could do the needful according to her instinct, and mourn the death of her pup. I did so, but followed her from afar. I saw her entering a covered drain not far from where she used to keep her offspring; she just lay there. Not wanting to disturb her, I left, but I returned that evening to look for her.
She followed me home. For the next few days, she was at home during the night but would want to be let out after breakfast.
The following week, she was nowhere to be found. I heard that a dog-catcher van was in the neighbourhood! What if she got caught and sent to the dog pound?
The following Monday morning, I drove to the pound with Kim and another friend, Naresh.
Stepping into the pound sent chills down my spine, when I heard the frantic barking of the dogs. There were two big enclosures. As I plucked up the courage to approach the first one, with about 30-40 dogs, all of them ran towards me except one. There she was, in the middle of the cage, looking at us in disbelief.
When Girl heard my voice and Kim’s, she let out an unusual cry of joy, which I had never heard before. She was so relieved to see us. But she looked so scared. She had already grown thinner in those few days. It was heartwrenching!
After doing the necessary paperwork, we took her home. The whole journey was a happy one! She was “smiling” away and sitting obediently, turning occasionally to view the cars behind us.
The first thing we did when we got home was give her a bath, and then a hearty meal. She enjoyed the pampering. And that was it. There was no turning back for her. She was not going back to the streets. We planned to foster her until we found her a loving home.
The vet estimated Girl to be five or six years old. My other dogs Lassie and Puppy bonded with her during a walk, and they all became friends and playmates.
Soon, we had Girl vaccinated and spayed, just as we had done for our other dogs. A well-wisher Sella Manian sponsored the spaying fee; she knew I had rescued Girl and was fostering her.
From being quiet and miserable, Girl became a friendly and cheerful dog, in just two months! She also grew chubby, with beautiful, thick, soft fur. She began running about and jumping happily. We had never seen her so happy before. Finally, she had come out of her shell. She loved belly rubs. And she would always look at me with a broad smile, as if thanking me for giving her this life.
Early this year, my cousin’s best friend expressed interest to adopt Girl. After chatting with her friend, I was convinced that Girl would be in good hands.
In January, my mother and I drove her to her new home. Her new family gave her a warm welcome. They had prepared food and water bowls, as well as a new bed, for her.
Girl explored the house, and quickly fit in. I could see that the family adored her.
I am still in touch with her new family, and they occasionally share photos and videos of her. Her new name is Goldie.
We feel so happy that she feels safe and happy, and can be herself.