It is during your hardest times when the universe plays its magic and sends something extraordinary your way. While it may not come to everyone in the same form, you are bound to realise that it is special, sooner or later—I know I did.
I met him while I was on a jog. A tiny one-month-old stray sitting with his tongue out, staring at me. After four days of arguing with myself about whether this is a good idea or not, I finally gave in and brought him home. After entering the house, we both gave each other the “What next?” look, and then he peed all over the place. So yeah, he pretty much knew how to crack anyone up.
As for me, I could thank my stars till the end of time but it would still never be enough. I’d thank them endlessly for sending me strength in the guise of four tiny paws and a waggy little tail during the time I still recall as my hardest one so far.
What was initially just another rescue and foster quickly turned into something I could never give up for anything, ever. I remember being a careless 20-year-old who didn’t think anything through before bringing an injured puppy home. A couple of days into it, I noticed him getting better and stronger. That is when I knew he needed me. Little did I know I was the one who needed him. We both started healing, him – physically and me – emotionally.
I never knew how it would feel like to live with someone who didn’t speak the same language as me, but all I know is that it was my best year. I’d run home every day after college without wasting an extra minute, maybe that was how I showed my love. He’d pee all over the house with excitement every single time I’d come back home (even if I’d just gone out to toss the trash), maybe that is how he showed his love. I remember how his eyes used to light up when I’d take out the bubble blower, he could pop them for hours and still not get bored. I could go on about this forever, but there is something I need to talk about openly, maybe for the first time since the day I lost him.
Both my elder sisters did not like dogs being around them one bit. Cut to a week later, I come out of the shower to see them giving him belly rubs. Anyone who had ever met him knew he was the smartest dog, the best escape artist. But that November night, I wish I hadn’t fallen asleep.
I remember shutting the main door but didn’t hear the lock click. Had I known his curious little soul wanted to go for a walk that night, I’d have walked to the end of the world with him if that could bring him back to me. He sneaked out and never came back. I frantically ran lane after lane, screaming his name at the top of my lungs, praying to God—promising I’d never do anything wrong in life if God brought him back to me.
I had heard about so many people losing their dogs but I never thought it would happen to me. But it did, and it broke me. There are very rare times in your life when you do not forgive yourself, and this was the first time I experienced that feeling so strongly. I sent his pictures across every lost dog’s group I knew, put up posts and flyers, searched every inch of the streets nearby for months. There was no sign of him anywhere.
The guilt, anger, and regret never really went away. Very often, people around me asked me to just ‘get over it’ and that he was ‘just a dog’. Sure, it angered me, but I couldn’t be mad at them because they weren’t a part of our journey, they did not experience the things I did with him. It has been a year since it happened but every time I am on the streets, my eyes search for him. I search for him in every dog I walk past, hoping I might bump into him one day and bring him back home—back to our home.
You have to understand how loss doesn’t just mean death. If someone dies, you know they won’t be returning ever—there is a certain amount of closure, if I may say so. But when you lose them, you wake up every day with a hope that maybe today is the day you will find them. I don’t know which one’s more painful, but I can tell you that neither is easy.
I am going to tell you the truth and not sugarcoat it in any way. If you’re thinking that the pain of losing them will go away someday, it won’t. It will surely heal, but time will play a very small part in it. Your journey with your dog will always feel like it ended too soon. But what you can do to make this less painful is help the animals you know are in need. And if anyone reading this thinks it’s not a big deal to hurt or harm dogs—I wish I could tell you how I have nightmares about people hurting my little boy who is lost, scared, confused and anything but a threat. You never know what their story is, how many people check on them while on the way to work, and how important their well being is to someone. So before you kick them, run over them with your vehicle or throw stones at them please know they deserve nothing but love. If you cannot give them that, leave them alone.
The times I spent with my doggo, I will always cherish but the hope of finding him again someday will never die.