The worst part about owning a pet is having to say goodbye, and that goodbye often feels far too soon. I had always wanted to keep a pet; this desire grew stronger after my sister went to a boarding school in Kerala. Not that we were genuinely in love with each other, but I missed my fighting companion. Ah well, I would instead say I lost my only prey to bully! When I used to see people walking their pets, I had this intense desire to get one for myself. I had recently joined work and life had just got busy when my colleague gifted me a lab, he knew that I wanted to keep one for a long time and had many discussions on which one to buy and when he had found someone whose dog littered a lot of pups he got one for me. I was so thrilled to have her. 16 February 2007 was the date. I was so happy to hold the little bundle of joy in my hand, a golden Labrador. I couldn’t believe that I had my wish fulfilled. Distance from office to home got covered thinking about a name for my baby. Pepper…Fluffy…Boozo… and so on and finally we zeroed in on JENNY!! I had to listen to my sisters too. My happiness went for a toss the moment I reached home. Mom and dad were like “what? Is she going to live with us? Permanently? who is going to clean her poo?” I was like oops what have I got myself into?
I had no clue what to do with her. How? What? And when to feed her? I had made no preparations at home for her. So the very next day I went in to buy utensils, a mat for her to sleep and brush etc. after a visit to the vet. I also bought a large packet of pedigree for pups… she was always so gluttonous! Every time I gave her food, she would look at me and gulp down as quickly as possible as if she has been hungry for ages. She could eat anything, and by that I mean anything. And then the best part is when she was full her belly sagged to the floor, and she tried to drag herself and sleep. That made her all the more adorable. As days passed, her naughtiness was making my life hell at home. The first encounter was when she bit off the toe of my dad’s most prized possession, his new pair of shoes (this is after I had bought her bones for her teething issues). Imagine I had almost prayed for the earth to open up and swallow me like Sita. But I couldn’t find an escape route. Dad gave me my first warning. A week later I observed that Jenny had chewed up the corner of our center table. Ghosh! Not again! I struggled for days to prevent dad from seeing her engineering marvel.
She was truly a bundle of mischiefs. When Mom would be busy making her chappati, and Jenny would steal the wheat balls mom prepared for bread. Mom would be clueless. Where did the heck it go? Who could imagine?
As days and months passed, she grew up steadily. Almost proportionate to the food she had. It was a sight when I used to take her out for walks. People used to mock at me whether I was taking her or she was taking me for a walk!! I got a trainer to toilet train her, but unfortunately, she would do it wherever she wished. I would always get a mouthful from dad and mom when I returned from work for all the mischief she did. But I still loved her, and she was not perfect, and our love for each other was not that could be easily defined and therefore, it is not something that can be measured. However, it is there, and it is powerful, and it is something to be enjoyed. Like us, it may not be perfect, but perfection is not necessary. She was adorable, and her expressions could amuse anyone, especially when she was being scolded.
She was only two years old when one day she jumped over my mom hurting her stomach badly. That’s when she lost it and passed the order “either she stays or me” I somehow managed to convince my mom to keep her. It was during this time that I met my husband, and we had decided to get married. As the days were getting close to my wedding, I was surrounded by pain and anguish over Jenny’s future. My husband already had a pet and was sorry for not being able to keep her. While on the other hand, my parents were hell-bent on chucking her out of the house. That’s when Raghu, my mom’s friend’s son volunteered to keep her; he always wanted to keep a dog. I said there you go….. I had found a solution, and I sent her to Raghu’s house with a heavy heart. The night before that Jenny cuddled next to me and we both knew that it was the last time. She lay next to me and with all the love she had for me, she didn’t complain. I remember when I had a very bad day at work. I was sad and was in tears when Jenny licked my tears and put her head on my lap comforting me. I couldn’t do anything to ease her pain this time and I think that hurts more than anything else.
Raghu kept her well. He took great care. Every time Jenny passed by, she would make it a point to stop and stare at our balcony hoping for a comeback. I felt my parents missed her too somehow. I was upset for days… it was like dying a 100 times. I was guilty and miserable. I have no words to explain how I felt. But I had no right to do this to her. I used to call her with a distinct whistle, and every time I would whistle standing under her new house she would come barking, hanging her head out from the railings of the balcony. I must say dogs have the strength to forget, forgive and love us again even after we put them through tough times. She would shower so much love and do not let me leave her, and the pain of parting from her grew deeper. Somehow we all moved on in life. I used to meet her during occasional visits to my maternal house, but as time passed, even that came to an end. My younger sister used to tell me about Jenny whenever she met her.
Years later when we were all busy in our lives, Raghu called up and said that Jenny was sick. I thought it must be age-related and made plans to meet her. But that day never came. One day my sister called and told me that we lost her. I was in my office…..I didn’t say much. In my heart, there was a silent turmoil. All her childhood days came to me like a flashback. I could only feel that I did injustice to her. My baby!!!! I wish I could have spent some time with her. Would have created more memories. But can we chase the time gone??? Raghu and his family gave her the best care. With all the courage I video called Raghu and saw Jenny sleeping peacefully. Covered with flowers. All I could think was, “ I didn’t do justice to you, my baby”. And I kept the phone…The reality is that I will grieve forever. I will not ‘get over’ this loss but have learned to live with it.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, and love leaves a memory no one can steal. Jenny has given me memories that I will cherish lifelong. At the same time, she has also taught me the true meaning of unconditional love.