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For the love of our pets

There is no love greater than the love between man and his pet. The relationship human beings share with their furry (or not so furry) mates is, for the most part, inexplicable. Books may have been written and movies made about this precious bond, but the mutual love between humans and animals remains to be grasped in its entirety. Every day, every moment, these silent companions teach us a lesson or two about life. Not only do they give us immense happiness and love, but our beloved pets also have the ability to melt the coldest of hearts with their disarming innocence. It’s as if they help us bring down the walls around ourselves. For everything they give us, they want barely anything in return, except our love and lots of food. No conditions apply to this indubitable loyalty between a pet and his master. On Love Your Pet day, Soulveda brings you four different glimpses into this eternal friendship.

Kai, the pup who taught me the greatest life lesson

They say if you want to experience pure love, experience parenthood. Children can turn even the most unsentimental individuals into doting, caring grown-ups who suddenly discover the ability within to think about someone else’s wellbeing before their own. Their simple view of the world and an even simpler expression of love is enough to leave anyone powerless.

I’ve always marvelled at this, and time and again wondered if there is anything else that can make human beings willingly let go of their rational thinking, step down from their intellectual ivory towers, not worry about convenience or comfort, and just be in the moment.

My pet dog Kai gave me a most conclusive answer to this nagging question. Over time, of course!

A five-month-old rescue pup, Kai entered my life and home when I least expected it. A meant-to-be, written-in-the-stars, fated kind of a situation, I like to think. In my organised, systematic world, Kai brought just the right amounts of chaos, challenge and crazy. Life and I both changed consistently as the greedy (for love, attention and food) mutt claimed his place right at the centre of my universe. He managed to challenge not only my idea of space, comfort and convenience, but also of love.

Among the many lessons Kai taught me, one that remains closest to my heart is of unconditional love–a notion that seems more idealistic than practical. Let’s face it, we never really allow ourselves an opportunity to love without conditions and strings. It is, indeed, human to not recognise the importance of ‘loving without expecting’. After all, expectations form the basis of most of our actions. Love is no different. Come to think of it, we expect at least a little from everyone we love. And it well includes our children. But, this doe-eyed Labrador managed to teach me what I call the no-expectation rule. A rule that asks you to give every ounce of love, affection and care you’ve got, without worrying about what you’d get in return.

I quickly proved to be a good student. You’d think so too, considering the speed at which I warmed up to cleaning poop, pee, and thick doggie drool at all possible ungodly hours, and managed to smile approvingly at the wounds and bruises from walking the most hyperactive dog in the world.

The no-expectation rule went down surprisingly well. What reciprocal gesture could I possibly expect from a puppy for taking him to answer the call of nature in the middle of a cold winter night (2.45 am, to be precise)? 

I’m sure many more lessons are yet to come. For now, I can say I’ve successfully been conditioned in the art of ‘unconditional loving’. And, I am richer for it. – Shalini K Sharma

“My joy knew no bounds as I brought one-month-old Polo home, snuck neatly inside my handbag. Covered in golden brown and white fur, he was a gorgeous little puppy. Polo was naughty, energetic, and surprisingly independent.”


The ‘Captain’ of our lives

Dogs have been an integral part of our household for as long as I can remember. I have always woken up to a dog’s bark in the backyard, or a wet nose on my cheek. I’ve had canines follow me to the restroom, the bedroom, the hall, the dining table, pretty much everywhere around the house. I have shared my food, complaints and joy with them; I have cried with them; and I have played with them. It would not be wrong to say that my life is defined by my love for these animals. In fact, some of the best memories of my life involve a dog.

There was Jimmy, Brownie, Teddy, and then came Captain. Life has never been the same since he arrived home on a cold winter morning last January. Wrapped in a bedsheet was an adorable button face with shiny brown eyes, waiting to be loved and cared for. His innocent head tilts and his general cuteness bowled me over. Within no time, he became the boss at home, demanding regular belly rubs, treats and play time. Aptly named Captain, he became the captain of our lives, especially my father’s.

Not a day goes by without Captain accompanying him on his daily walks; no meal is complete without Captain getting the lion’s share; no evenings end without my father brushing Captain’s shiny black coat. Wherever my father is, Captain can be found sitting next to him. Sometimes contemplating life and sometimes just staring into space. A man of few words, my father loosens up when Captain is around. He talks to Captain, whether he understands or not.

One thing I know for sure, in the autumn years of his life, my father is a happy man. All thanks to Captain, who is his constant, happy companion. After all, there is no bond more endearing than one between a boy and his dog. – Shayan Belliappa

Polo, the pup who cared

Bringing a pet home can do wonders for your state of mind and happiness. As someone who found dogs incredibly adorable, I had no difficulty believing in the idea. Just the thought of coming home to a furry little angel after a long day at work excited me. Yet, I was aware that I was nowhere close to ready for a huge commitment like raising a dog. So, I did the next best thing–I decided to foster a puppy for a few weeks!

Indeed, my joy knew no bounds as I brought one-month-old Polo home, snuck neatly inside my handbag. Covered in golden brown and white fur, he was a gorgeous little puppy. Polo was naughty, energetic, and surprisingly independent. Rarely did he follow me around or sleep on my lap like puppies generally do. He lay in his bed, chewing his bone and minding his own business. Well, mostly, anyway.

Little did I know that the independent little tyke also had a big heart. One evening, as I sat watching a particularly melancholic movie, I broke into tears. Polo, who was in his crib in the living room, came running to me, as if he had sensed something. He leapt at me and licked my face. Caught completely off guard, I chuckled and tried to reassure the puppy that I was alright. And yet, Polo did not let go of me until I wiped the tears off my face and smiled once more.

It broke my heart to take Polo back to his owner a few days later. It was bittersweet to watch him lick her all over the face. That was when I decided that someday and soon, I would adopt a puppy. It is this heart-warming prospect that keeps me going through good days and bad. – Indumathy Sukanya

“Of all the things in the world to soften my dad and mend my ways, it was a feline companion that accomplished both in a single stroke. Brownie had taught us there’s no hatred where there’s love, and no boundaries where there’s a cat.”


Brownie, the cat that ruled our hearts

I’m a log. My mother and sister often struggle to wake me up. But there’s only one power in this world that can make this log rise and shine–a cat’s love. I remember the times Brownie would hop onto my bed and sit beside my chest, purring. I’d only stir at that. But when he’d bunt his furry head against my cheeks, my eyes would oblige.

The nine-month-old kitty came into my life one afternoon, when I’d just returned home from college. Unlike most strays, he seemed friendly. A pair of cat lovers, my sister and I fed him treats and made him run around, chasing a shoelace. We thought he’d take his leave after he’d eaten, but Brownie followed us into our home. He took a sniffing tour of the entire place and got comfy, stretching himself on the sofa. Eventually, he nodded off, only waking up when he caught a whiff of the brownie I was eating (that’s how we named him Brownie).

That evening, my father came home to a feline welcome. A typical cat hater, he waved his hand at Brownie and said “Shoo!” But the little thing simply bunted his head against my father’s legs. He was taken aback but he couldn’t hate this cat. In the weeks that followed, a miracle happened–he had (grudgingly) accepted Brownie as our pet.

My father made rules, of course–the cat was not allowed in the rooms, in the kitchen, or on the sofa. But Brownie had his own way. Not only did he covet every single one of those ‘forbidden’ spaces, but he also neatly curled up on my father’s lap one Sunday afternoon, when he nodded off on the sofa. That was a sight the rest of my family can never forget. There was even a time when Brownie had somehow stretched himself across the entire sofa, and my father, who’d intended to sit there simply pursed his lips and went to sit at the table instead!

But according to my mother, the real miracle was that Brownie could wake the log. She wasn’t half wrong–in the next few days, she had the perfect device up her sleeve. She’d simply let Brownie enter my room to wake me. He’d do his thing and I’d be up. Oh and not just up, but happy to be up and have a cat to snuggle with. No more a grumpy log. And my father just couldn’t complain about letting Brownie into my room, not when his daughter was finally waking up early.

Of all the things in the world to soften my dad and mend my ways, it was a feline companion that accomplished both in a single stroke. Brownie had taught us there’s no hatred where there’s love, and no boundaries where there’s a cat. – Anusha Shashidhar

Penny, the dog that taught me the art of parenting  

It was shortly after I shifted to a new city that my flatmates and I decided to adopt a dog. Barely a week old, Penny came home to us in a black backpack, sticking her tiny head out, as if her curious black eyes were trying to recognise the new faces.

Even today, when I reflect on her first day with us, I can’t remember who named her Penny or what really drove us to bring her home in the first place. Maybe it was a childhood wish to own a dog, or the curiosity to learn about pets. Nevertheless, today, words fall short in expressing her value in our lives, especially mine. The naughtiest pup ever, Penny gave me lessons in forgiveness and patience. Above all, she taught me what it meant to be a parent.

There were countless times when I came home to a broken laptop, a scratched up mobile, or a shattered pair of glasses, and the mischievous pup sitting quietly next to her exploits. Her guilty eyes looked worried about the backlash from her new parents. As angry as I felt initially, I knew soon that it was my responsibility to keep valuable things out of her path. The frequent instances of mayhem at home were mine to deal with. After all, bringing a pet home was my choice. Puppies are just like babies, I learnt the hard way.

Today, when I look back I realise that the four years of bringing up Penny have shaped me into a patient, considerate human being. Thanks to her, I like listening to others without interrupting or judging them. The importance of being selfless and caring has finally dawned upon three young men who would have had no experience of raising a young one, had it not been for this loving Labrador. It is difficult to say if it was us that raised Penny or she that raised us. – Arun Kant

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