The news flashed saying, ‘A stray dog that had been adopted by a woman repaid her kindness by laying down its life saving her from a knife-wielding attacker.’ Lucky was the name she had given to this stray who she had adopted and lucky indeed she was to be saved by him. Lucky came into her life when she was battling loneliness after her mother’s demise; and for someone who had lost somebody special in her life, Lucky was like a sudden profit after a colossal loss. I am told and do believe that dogs do fill up gaps in the lives of many.
My thoughts then jumped to a striking statement made some time back by a well-known actor’s wife, who was quoted to have said that she would never want to be a woman who spent her day at work all day long, only to come back home to her baby in the evenings as if it were a puppy. She successfully outraged several ladies who claimed that they stepped out of their homes not to enjoy kitty parties with friends or on shopping sprees, but to bring back home a good amount of expense contributions with self-respect.
However, when one and all were so much focussed on the love for their children and the pains they took for their upbringing, I could hear a whisper murmuring to me some truth about the way a large number of people behave with animals. I wondered if the star lady’s statement had implied something more about humans who kept pets at their homes. Did they not care enough for their pups who they said they loved and cared for, did they simply had them home to feel better when they returned from work, or were they in any ways irresponsible shirkers who found that dogs would always in their barks and silence accept any injustice mankind did to them in all their ungrateful humanness?
Again, another supporting happening in my thought process was the movie ‘Boss Baby’, which got me thinking over the strange plot of a baby as a secret agent in a secret war between babies and puppies. The modern world being already overpopulated, perhaps some couples prefer to bring home puppies rather than those little demanding human creatures. The question then arises, does man bring home a pet to share his overflowing love or does he do so because he is grieving due to lack of reciprocated love? Of course, everybody knows that a dog’s love is genuine? Or has man become so careless and irresponsible that he prefers to shirk the responsibility of a human child and instead brings in a fun and loyal companion? Or is it that man has heard enough stories of ingratitude of human children to bother about them; their expenses and the heartbreaks from such relationships and feels lighter with a speechless creature at home?
Whatever the reasons, it does not show man in bright light. Though I am not a passionate animal lover myself, I do respect the four-legged friends who have secured a mark of loyalty in all stories of the past and present. On the one side I feel it injustice towards these animals whose movement gets restricted in cluttered city apartments, for I believe that they need open space to roam around freely. But I am also aware of the research on benefits of pets, which have proved tremendous therapeutic health benefits to their owners. Dogs are believed to reduce loneliness and decrease stress. Dog owners get loads of health benefits when they take their pet out for a walk having an advantageous position of exercising themselves. Dogs are known to repay love tenfold. Their commitment is a life-time one. And all they want in return for all their love is to be loved; it’s that simple. In fact when I wanted a character to fill up a short story of mine, where a little girl needed help to overcome her stress levels, I put over there a dog as her helper. In ‘Reading to Tommy’, little Kishori got an intent listener in Tommy, who simply heard her read, without being judgmental. His silent presence had tremendous effect on her stuttering and she was able to read with a flow which was surprisingly joyful. It was the presence of this animal which helped her to scale new heights. The reading of the story to the animal, itself proved to be a moment of transformation. “One day, as she was going home from school, she saw a hill-lock. Oh! She walked close to it and felt like climbing its small height. She knew that her mother would be upset with her as she would be wasting a lot of study time, but then she wanted to waste her time and so she began to climb. As she climbed the hill she saw beautiful, colourful flowers growing at her feet. They smiled at her as her toes touched their soft petals. She bent down to feel their smoothness and even plucked a few of them and put them in her hair. She climbed higher and higher till she reached the top.” – (‘The Short Skirt from India’ by Ruby Malshe)
In India, animal activists have a tough job trying to explain to people about difficulties that animals go through due to the negligence of mankind. Take for instance the festival of Diwali, where a number of animals are reported to getting scared and some even fatally burnt due to the careless use of crackers. A little information about Nepal’s Kukur Tihar Festival could help us become sensitive towards these furry and loyal creatures. This five-day autumnal festival has lamps lit everywhere since it is the festival of lights and celebrates the triumph of knowledge over ignorance when it understandingly values the role of dogs in the life of humans and extols them to a position of companions and friends. The festival does not simply waste itself in self pleasures of good food and clothes and entertaining gatherings of the kind, but acknowledges a deep connection between all living things.
At a recent function organised by the Bombay Veterinary College at Parel in Mumbai, a special program was organised to felicitate working dogs from the police, railways and bomb squads and a lifetime achievement award was given to a retired police dog who had been adopted after his retirement by an octogenarian lady, who in her speech made a very striking point that perhaps needs cogitation. She expressed her concern as to why people did not adopt retired or maimed service dogs? She believed that some facility for such animals would be a great service to those who had served us in all their unselfishness, safeguarding the public during their tenure. She expressed that it would be a great way of thanksgiving to these honest and loving creatures, if people who had farm houses could adopt at least one such retired dog. I had always believed that dogs needed space as big as farms but honestly I hadn't given ever mind to a thought as generous and altruistic as this.
Perhaps if her suggestion were to be taken into consideration, then many lonely and remotely placed hearts would get companionship and many more stories of loyalty could be given narration opportunity.