A Dog’s Heart.

Four years ago, a dog loving friend asked if I could come with her to look for a lost, emaciated Labrador she saw during her morning walk. We drove all over, looking near dhabas and housing societies. We whistled in vacant plots. We asked slum dwellers, who confirmed such a dog was noticed being chased by stray dogs and looking for food in the garbage dump, but we couldn’t find him anywhere.

That determined friend found him next morning, a filthy, stinking, lice, flies, fleas and ticks infested white stray dog. He did not look like a Lab. His paws and many cuts bled. We locked him in my balcony, away from our dog and cat.

My maid Sangeeta thought he was lucky that he was being fed ‘for doing nothing’, he ate fifteen large chapattis, every morning, and fifteen every evening, and although I paid her extra, she grudged him these ‘free meals’ as she called them. “Anybody will be happy if you make them sit and eat, like this!

I wasn’t sure if he even was a ‘lost’ dog, until I took my dog’s leash out, one look at the leash, and he transformed into a an excited, smiling, trotting, hopping, galloping bundle of foul smelling bones. He knew a leash meant ‘a walk’. He had been walked before! He was somebody’s lost dog!

We had to find his family. We put advertisements in the local newspapers. No response.

Husband was away during all this, and when he came back, he gave him his first bath and we took him to our vet and got him his shots including anti rabies. Sangeeta watched all this with open dislike.

Husband introduced him to our dog and cat, and he was brought inside the house. The dog was stronger by now. His ribs had disappeared, he had turned golden from white, he ate much lesser, and he showed unlimited affection. We had discovered he recognized and loved bones, balls, leash and his own, new food and water bowls. He knew how to shake hands.

We wanted to know his name, and called him, Bozo, Zaza, Tommy, Blackie, Goldie, Dumbo, Dopey, Rocky, Vicky, Cheekoo, Ruffles, Leo, Kalu, Moti, Tiger…. endlessly, he responded to all with thump of a delighted tail.

He was like a lost baby. How many times I wished he could speak. He could have told us how he got the large gash on his right side! He barked ferociously at people with headgear and he hated all watchmen. He was terrified of sticks. And we made wild guesses why.

When I bent to pick a ball to throw for him to catch, the first time, he tucked his tail and cringed. How long was he on the road to have learnt the meaning of someone bending to pick a stone to throw at him? Sangeeta said it was good to be an adopted, greedy stray dog; you got to ‘eat for nothing’. One day, I asked her if she thought, we should let him go, now that we had found him, just like that, to live the same life. “He would have died, a kutte ki maut” (He would have died a dog’s death). She said, she knew maggots love open wounds on the forehead and near the tail, because the dog can’t reach there to clean it by licking. Somebody near her house had fed rat poison to a dog with a maggot ridden wound on his head, out of pity, to save him a dog’s death. “No, he will not survive outside.”

Then Husband had to go out for a week. That evening the dog looked unwell. I wasn’t pleased because I did not like the idea of taking him to a vet on my own. The dog refused his favorite treats, ate no food, just lay morosely all day. By next morning I thought he was going to die, he was not eating at all. Sangeeta asked if we had noticed he hadn’t eaten since yesterday morning and said she would bring some chicken broth from her house (we are vegetarians) and the way we fed him was no way to feed a dog, couldn’t we see the obvious, he was missing ‘saab‘?

He hardly knew him, how could he miss him? But she brought chicken and the dog refused it, and she said, teary eyed, “Even my children will not be ready to die like this for me. He has a human heart.” I wanted to say he doesn’t have a human heart; he has a dog’s heart.

PS: Husband came back earlier than planned; the dog still eats only when Husband is around, though we are trying hard to make him get used to his frequent absences, we have had to call the vet many times.

The dog’s fourth Re-BIRTHday was on 7th of this month.

More posts about him:

the silliness of loving

68 thoughts on “A Dog’s Heart.

  1. It is not a labrador but a mongrel (from the picture). Labradors are a one-master breed and he might have taken more to you than your husband.

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    • Whoever wrote “It is not a labrador but a mongrel (from the picture). Labradors are a one-master breed and he might have taken more to you than your husband.” …kind of missed the point of the post…

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  2. Wow! I had tears in my eyes by the end.🙂

    Isn’t it amazing how animals can make you feel? Not just a dog’s heart though. One of my cats, who I’d nursed back to health when she’d fallen off the 3rd floor and broken her backbone (she was 5 months old then, now she’s three years old) – refuses to step out of my bedroom if I’m not in town. I was out for a week this month, and she stayed inside my room all day and night, and had to really be coaxed into eating too. G tried, our maid tried – and she’d just nibble on her fish and roti, and go back to sleeping under my cupboard.

    You feel helpless in front of such adoration – no?🙂

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  3. Awww IHM…this was such a feel good story, the dog’s recovery,his from doggie riches to road to doggie riches story, Sangeeta’s change of heart, his adopting the Husband, doggie fears…sighhh. I will suspend my doggie ‘cold shoulder’ attitude for a day!

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  4. @Anonymous Mongrels have loving hearts too. I don't care if he is a mongrel, our other dog, who we adopted from a dog shelter is also an adorable mongrel.

    I know many Labradors who are not one man dogs, and our vet says he is a pure Lab (not that I care, just stating a fact)… All our dogs and cats take me for granted, they love my husband, I am just the person who feeds them and pampers them. This one is also totally my husband's dog.
    He just chose him, over me & the kids🙂

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  5. @threedrinksahead Aw that was so sweet!!! I always feel with animals 'to know them is to love them'. It's ignorance that makes us fear or hate them. Like many people in India, I grew up prejudiced against cats, but now I have one who relaxes me by just being seen fallen asleep on my pillow🙂
    So your cat recovered completely? I love cats too, and YES they have loving hearts too, they show love in subtler ways, no tail thumping for them, I love both dogs & cats🙂

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  6. @aneela z I know you love cats🙂 Dogs are just louder and less sophisticated cats. Equally stupid to love us humans, whether or not we deserve it🙂

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  7. @jira Yes it was sad, for a long time we kept wondering if somebody will come looking for him. But he is perfectly happy now, he has even adjusted to the presence of a cat in the house🙂

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  8. Oh you are a cat and dog person too!!🙂 How sad that the dog got separated from its family. Glad that you found him though.
    Your comment to Anonymous states my role as well: “All our dogs and cats take me for granted, they love my husband, I am just the person who feeds them and pampers them.” :-)))) Moreover I have even to compete with her for the Master’s attention. You are welcome to read this:
    http://shailsnest.com/wp/memoirs/the-race/

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  9. @Shail Yes(louder)YES!
    You too ??? Yes it is sad, but I wonder if he was abandoned, otherwise someone would have come looking for him? …but see the positive side, at least he is happy with us, a family with two energetic dog-adoring kids and two doting adults AND another dog he gets along with. Having to tolerate the arrogant Cat is a small compromise …
    Read your hilarious post :))Oh yes they have be greeted first:)LOL

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  10. Is that his picture? Don’t know if its yr post or otherwise, but you sense the sadness in his eyes.

    BTW, what do you call him now?

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  11. @doesitmatter No he does have a heart-breakingly sad face😦 Typical puppy dog eyes!
    Here he is waiting to be taken for a walk, and until the leash is picked up the look will stay, and then instant joy🙂

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  12. Aww, I love dogs & have had several in my younger days. Unfortunately now we do not have the time or the space to keep one.
    This story is so touching & I love his picture. What do u call him now?

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  13. Lady I have tears in my eyes and goose bumps🙂

    that was a really beautiful gesture, adopting a stray🙂 and dogs adoration and love is just incomparable.

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  14. oh my god… my eyes are all welled up… kudos to u to give that dog a home.. dogs are really adorbale animal.. much more affectionate and loyal than a human being… a dog’s heart is a true heart

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  15. Hey – you bad girl you – made me cry this morning! This post really tugged at my heartstrings. Give that doggie a hug for me🙂
    And here’s a big one for you too..🙂

    Corinne

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  16. @Ritu they are idiot basically :)) Where's your blog?! I am not able to reach it!!!

    @Chirag At the moment two dogs, one cat. They are great stress busters🙂

    @monika.ansh Me too grew up with dogs and husband&family is the same. It's better not to bring home a dog unless we can care for them, so many young couples buy pups and then leave them alone all day and go for work…sad.

    @sumana They are like babies, they feel all the love & pain but you can't make them understand anything😦

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  17. @Imp’s Mom Aw… Thanks🙂
    He is happy and well settled now:)

    @Monika Yeah, yeah their heart is the truest, I do all the caring and Husband gets all the loving :))

    @Corinne I gave him a huge squg (hug cum squeeze) he sends a sleepy eyed look your way…

    @Pinku We call him many names, more commonly, Moose – big, loyal, loving and buddhu…..he can’t be left in a kennel or with servants. Now you know why we need directions for driving with dog-friendly places to stay on the way :))

    @D So true! I think they have babies’ hearts, eternally loving, naive, sensitive and sadly, very vulnerable.

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  18. Awwww.. he is absolutely adorable!!

    breed or no breed, dogs are sweet, caring, loyal and some more.. U must have seen my Floppy… he is an angel.. i picked him off the streets when he was a baby, saw his lurking about underneath a lorry and brought him home…:)

    he is so loving and caring… if i leave him and go away somewhere n come back.. he will not wag his tail n give me THE LOOK…😀
    initially all at home were like “no breed, stray..” but now they dote on him more than me… yep, me is the one he is closest to.. we have conversations, yapping sessions.. play, and wat not😀

    They give so much and expect so little from us!🙂
    Hugssssss to u and the little guy!!:)

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  19. IHM, One, this is a brilliant post.
    Two, I am really touched the way your dog (yes I would call the Lab your dog) showed its gratefulness for having been given a new lease of life. Human beings would never do that.
    Three, Sangeeta’s response to the dog, from open hatred to love is simply amazing and the way you brought it forth is so touching.

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  20. Awww….you reminded me of Rummy’s adoption. He was looking so lost in the shelter and had a part of his ear wounded. He totally freaked out in the car. He did not even relax for a couple of days…

    The thing about him is that he will not come walking with me leaving my husband behind. If hubby is there in the house, then Rummy has to be near him! Otherwise he is perfectly fine walking with me.

    Dogs are so loyal and protective, Rummy thinks himself to be a moderator when me and my spouse are having an argument. He does not let us get close to each other till we have calmed down!

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  21. @Sagarone Yes I think you are right, all animals take to him, instantly🙂 Maybe because he does not fear them, unlike me!

    @Aaarti Exactly my feelings🙂 I feel homeless dogs need us more than the pedigreed ones. And do you know they are easier to care for, because in-breeding makes pedigree dogs prone to many illnesses, while stray dogs are stronger? Hugs to you and Floppy🙂

    @Mampi Thanks🙂 I was also totally amazed by Sangeeta’s response, can only think that was the power of a loving doggie heart🙂

    @Reflections Tells a lot about goodness inside the most indifferent ones amongst us🙂

    @Chirag I agree with you. A dog at home is a serious commitment, they need a lot of care and more importantly a lot of your time!!

    @Tulips Thanks🙂

    @Hemanth No he reacted to all the names the same way, can’t imagine what his name was. We also call him Lucky and GabbarSingh🙂

    @George Andrews Moolekary Just that all creatures great and small, were made by the same God, none is superior to another🙂

    @Manish I wish dogs didn’t have so much heart:( They make themselves suffer!!

    @Unmana Thanks! Coming to pick the tag🙂

    @Clueless Our dogs do this too, nobody can walk them if my husband is around!
    Love happy endings! Give Rummy a hug from us and a warm hello from our GabbarSingh🙂

    @Devaki I am also afraid of large dogs, but still love them🙂

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  22. really touching and he is a sweet fellow. What do you call him?
    He was perhaps abused and thrown out on the streets when his master left him. How could anybody do this to such a sweet fellow. I am so glad that you give him so much love and care.

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  23. @Usha Yes I do fear he was abandoned on the road, at the place he dragged us to many times, maybe from a car…They could have left him at an animal shelter or found him a new home…why leave him on the road like this? Pet animals just can’t survive on their own.

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  24. got me all weepy eyed there, IHM.

    so what is his name now, finally?! he sounds absolutely sweet and adorable.

    and hats off to you for being so patient and caring!🙂

    hugs

    abha

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  25. I am touched by this post! And really, hats off to you for that incredibly humane and kind and good and awfully awfully wonderfully generous gesture!
    I have dogs myself, and a cat:) one of them a black lab, an alsatian and 2 mongrels, a mother and son,🙂🙂 I know how much , how very very much they’d feel lost, away from all that they know!

    I had my heart in my mouth as I neared the close of the post, and it was a relief to read that he is still with you and cared for too!

    Blogdom helps me re infuse that life into cynicism when I read blogs like this!! I really don’t quite know how to tell you about how very very much I look up to you for what you did! Take a bow!!

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  26. Hmmmm I doubt if he is a pure Lab. Although he could be mixed. A cute dog though. I am very good friends with a Lab who lives in Kagawa Pref. Japan. He is a regular escape artist though as a lot of labs are. When I stayed with his human family and had to use the toilet he would hear me since his cage was just outside and whine for me to come out and play with him. I have one question though, if you are vegetarian why does the dog have to be vegetarian as well?

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  27. @Odzer Why do they keep dogs in cages? Our dogs follow us where ever we go.
    Odzer I feel we are helping one animal by adopting him and then killing another to feed him…
    It confuses me no end. I don’t like killing any animals.
    Occasionally we do buy tinned non veg dog food, or dry pedigree. In between we started giving him non veg meals…he seems to have no preferences. Our other dog is a vegetarian by choice, she loves methi paranthas, flat noodles, pizza with Pepsi etc – I think she copies my kids.

    And pedigree and all doesn’t matter to us. We just love him.

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  28. @ Indianhomemaker : A dog owner is responsible for any damage he causes in Japan.You can be in trouble if your dog is found roaming around. Although there is no door to the cage and the dog can go out and in as he pleases. So its more like a dog home. The dog often does escape though because labradors are famous for that. Its something in their blood. He gets walked often because he is a country dog. I may do a blog on him in the future.

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  29. Bless you!

    Our first dog was called Blackie— one of the many trial names u chose for this lovable creature. Back home, we adopted (quite well the other way round now! :D) 5 pups.. Actually, they are all also seven years of age (my baba celebrates their b’day on the first navratri day each year) like your dog, but to us, they will always be babies… We call them Lali, Dholu, Sheeba and Jackie…

    Talking abt maggots– the worst misery ever imaginable…😦 felt sad abt the rat-poison thing, but yes, it can get tht plightful if not checked…

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  30. OMG!

    IHM! will u pliss go and give a dozen pats and a cuddle to Gabbar Singh? and then follow it up with some fiddling his ear and stroking under his chin and then blowing air in his nose (tee hee…he must bark at that na?) and then catch his front paws and jiggy a bit???

    will u?

    and tell him its from crafty and i wud do ANYTHING to get a few woofs from him!

    ur incident is well….u know na IHM….how i feel?🙂

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    dog’s heart! yes indeed! maybe that’s why, at a level, i think i care more for animals than for my own kind… not very proud of it, sometimes its just wierd, but is just like that… 😐

    me too plan to pick up doggies from shelter when i plan to have them!🙂

    woof bow wow wow to Gabbar Singh!

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  31. Pingback: How to kill an animal’s instinct. « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  32. He is Gorgeous and you are a woman with a very large heart!

    Me – I think we are basically kind, I have a lot of friends who feel strongly about this… like the friend who found Gabbar Singh, she feeds many stray dogs every day…

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  34. Pingback: the silliness of loving! « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  35. A dog’s heart…! How true!!🙂

    I’m so glad to have met this darling!!! He’s absolutely adorable!!
    And omg, can’t believe he insists on not eating when your husband is not around….

    Happy re-birthday to the big baby!!🙂 Muah to him and a big bear hug!!

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  36. My wife made me read this one…and the first thing I said aloud was I want to see this fantastically lovable dog and you…!

    Aren’t they the most adorable things in this world…! Our dog unlike your’s hardly acknowledges me…I’m the “friend” she can hang around with…while she follows my wife around like a lamb!

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  37. Aww this made me tear up. It reminded me of our beautiful doggie mix Dexter, who we adopted from the animal shelter. He is the happiest, easy-going dog you’ll ever meet – it breaks my heart to know he was mistreated and abandoned.

    Dogs love you unconditionally – they have the biggest hearts and will always give you a second chance. Every dog. There is no bad dog in the world, only bad owners.🙂

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  38. A dog’s heart indeed IHM🙂
    Lovely lovely post…..how sweet that you adopted him. We had two such adopted dogs at home and they gave birth to another pup, who is still with us. I can totally relate to the part about trying to find their name….with no success, I named the female “Kutty ma” – small girl in Tamil as she was a small little terrier/lasapso mix. She passed away after 6 years in 2008. We lost our very first pet this year on Jan 8th. The son lives on at home. My parents are still grieving for both the pets😦
    A pure heart can only be a dog’s!

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