BY VANITHA LOGANATHAN

I came home from school one day and was surprised, and excited, to see a puppy at home!

Amma then told me that she and Appa had seen a mother dog with its puppy at the market about a week earlier and had been going over every day to feed them. Sadly on that day, they saw this poor little girl lying beside her mum who was already dead… My parents were overcome by grief and just didn’t have the heart to leave the helpless one there.

They took her home with the intention of finding her a home since we already had a dog. This was in the middle of 2004.

We called her Puppy; she was just about two weeks old.

As adorable as she was, I did not want to get too attached to her as I knew it would be harder for me then to let her go once we found a good home for her.

She was growing well and got all the love and care from us. All she did was eat, play and sleep. It was a joy to see her being herself and loving life, and not the “dog’s life” she would have had to endure if she were left out there.

We had Julie who was three then. We had had her since she was a puppy and she was the gem at home, constantly getting all the attention and love from us. When this little one was brought home, Julie obviously wasn’t happy at first. But as days went by, she started getting curious about this little creature as Puppy loved to disturb her and wasn’t afraid of the much bigger dog at all. Soon, Julie got used to having Puppy around and started playing with her.

Soon after Deepavali that year, suddenly Puppy started looking a bit weak. She stopped eating and wasn’t her usual active self. Later that day, she started vomiting and had bloody diarrhoea. This made us very worried. We were shocked too because we were giving her nutritious food and she lived in a clean environment. Where did we go wrong? No more time for pondering. Appa and I quickly rushed her to the vet.

The vet said that she had a virus infection called parvo. We had never heard of it before. Only then it struck me that I had not yet had Puppy vaccinated, which was a huge mistake.

At that time, we didn’t really know the importance of vaccination, and neither Julie nor Puppy had been vaccinated. I wasn’t much aware about vaccination and didn’t really hear about people vaccinating their dogs. I took it for granted that my dogs would be safe at home. And whenever we took them for walks, we leashed them and they were always by our side. I believed they would be safe and fine.

Puppy must have contracted the virus when she was out on a walk. I regretted so much for not vaccinating them but it was too late for Puppy. The vet said that she had a 50-50 chance at survival. I couldn’t believe what I just heard.

The vet gave Puppy an injection, and prescribed a pink liquid medicine to be given three times a day with a syringe. He also suggested that I feed her with glucose water every hour to give her some energy.

Appa was leaving for India the next day and with a heavy heart asked a friend to help bury Puppy if anything were to happen to her. We had Julie vaccinated as well, and kept her away from Puppy temporarily.

My heart sank when I saw Puppy lying in a corner of the living room, having no energy to even lift her head. She wasn’t interested in anything. She only drank a little water. However, despite her condition, she still pulled herself up and walked outside, to the lawn, to ease herself as she used to do prior to her sickness. My heart sank seeing her so weak and sickly. Why should she suffer because of my mistake? And my parents didn’t bring her home for this to befall her.

I sat with her just praying that she would recover. I caressed her softly, assuring her that she would be fine. I carried her into my bed that night and kept her safe and comfortable with me. I set the alarm every hour to force-feed her with glucose. I didn’t mind waking up a few times in the night. Something told me that she was fighting to stay alive and I was determined to do all I could to save her.

This went on for three nights, and there was no progress.

And then all of a sudden, on the fourth day, Puppy jumped down from my bed, ran across the room towards the dressing table, turned back and barked! That moment was truly unforgettable. I was so thrilled to see the drastic change in her, gaining all her energy back after the medicine, doubled with the TLC (tender loving care) that we all gave her. I cried happy tears seeing her in action again and called out to my parents. They were overjoyed, too.

Would I have the heart to give her away? A big NO. I grew so attached to her that I wasn’t going to part with my “baby”. Even my parents stopped mentioning about finding her a home after that incident. They too loved her so much. Puppy was meant to stay with us forever.

Perhaps Julie knew that too, and soon both became good pals! They would spend hours playing; this kept not only them entertained, but us too.

Since then, we made sure to get our dogs vaccinated every year.

I did rescue a few puppies and dogs after that and made sure they were vaccinated and also spayed/neutered before they were rehomed. And I advise every pet owner whom I come across to vaccinate their pets as well, telling them that not doing so almost cost the life of our dear Puppy.

Puppy has been with us for 14 beautiful years now. She was Julie’s best buddy till Julie left us four years ago at age 14. They were great companions. Julie was the friendlier one towards our guests while Puppy was quite reserved. She would growl softly from a distance and would only approach selected people whom we later noticed were dog people.

But soon after Julie’s passing, Puppy sort of “took over” Julie’s friendly nature. Since then, it has become the norm for her to bark at anyone who comes to our home. Once she recognises familiar faces, she stops barking. For new faces, once they come inside and sit, she goes to them expecting some affection, just as Julie did before. It’s very sweet to see that and most of our guests adore her. She never disturbs them. After getting what she wants from them, she just stays in the middle of the living room, pretending not to listen to our conversation. She just wants to be around us.

At the moment, Puppy has another buddy, Lassie, whom I rescued five years ago when I found her abandoned and malnourished, but soon turned into a beautiful angel with proper treatment and love. Her story was published in the Heart & Soul column on Feb 23, 2014.

Puppy also got along quite well with another abandoned dog I rescued, whom we later named Girl. We fostered her for almost three years, and managed to get her a loving home early this year. Her story was published on May 27, 2018.

Although Puppy has lost almost all her hearing and a bit of her eyesight, she is still happy and healthy. No doubt she has slowed down due to age but she still gets some energy once in a while from nowhere and plays her heart out with Lassie as how she did when she was much younger! As long as she is with us, we will provide her with all the love and care every dog deserves. After all, she is our family as much as we are to her.

“The most loving dog breed in the world is called rescued.” – Unknown