I woof you

I had a pet Pomeranian called Terry. We grew up in the same household for 12 years. He came to us when he was two weeks old. Instantly, we became best friends.

Pomeranians get a bad rep. They can be moody, and the yelp their lungs out at the hint of a mouse fart. And like every Pomeranian owner would tell you, mine was different.

Terry was a crossbreed, which meant that his hair wasn’t fluffy, like other Pomeranians. More tellingly, he lacked the frantic energy that his breed was known for.

Terry was a mellow goofball.

Some mornings, he would scratch at my bedroom door until someone opened it. Then, he would run and excitedly lick my face to get me out of bed. Once I was up, he would scurry under the bed and refuse to come out.

Terry loved cheese cubes. He would turn into a ghost child from an Asian horror movie whenever I opened the fridge. He was there – right behind me – as if to say, “Nice try, buddy.” Sometimes, he stood so close that he risked the chance of getting trampled.

When he was bored, he would annoy neighbors’ pets until they started barking – and then, he would run away. People never suspected us because they couldn’t think of us as troublemakers. I was an unassuming, short kid who barely spoke, and Terry was a timid Pomeranian who felt anxious around cats.

We would also roller-skate together. I held on to Terry’s leash – as he ran as fast as he could. My sister tried that once – and she ended up taking a nasty, bloody fall. My dad blamed it on Terry and gave him a walloping.

I was angry at my sister for thinking she could roller-skate with Terry. That was our thing. I was possessive because of how much I loved him. But it wasn’t some unconditional love. I was bitter and lonely for most of my childhood. Twice, I lived in neighborhoods where there weren’t any other kids to play with.

Terry was the only friend for many years. I gave him a lot of attention, and he returned the favor. We didn’t need anyone else to give us company.

Terry also helped me get through difficult moments. He would sit down next to me, with his head on my lap. He would listen to me whine and complain for hours. I never waited for him to sense that I was feeling troubled. I would tell him straight up, “Terry, we need to talk.” Since we spoke different languages, it was easier to be honest. And we could communicate our concern for each other just fine.

I tried to be there for him too. Whenever he got injured, he would come to me – with his tail tucked in-between his legs. I would stroke his head, plant a kiss on his wet nose, and tell him that it would be okay.

Even as I finished high school and went on to join college, Terry and I remained close pals. But I also started spending a lot more time outside the home. By then, the years had taken their toll on him. It wasn’t very noticeable, at first, because he was always laid-back.

When his eyesight became poor – and he started often getting sick, it became clear that Terry wasn’t going to be around much longer. I was in denial of it because I couldn’t imagine life without him. It was still hard to see him in that state. I couldn’t see him as an old mutt. He was always just Terry to me.

One summer morning in 2001, I heard him groaning under the couch while leaving for college. He was in pain. And so, I let him deal with it – and left.

Later that evening, when I came back home – my dad was sitting in the hall, reading a newspaper. He didn’t look at me, which was strange since he always had something to say. My mom was in the kitchen – and I noticed that she was in tears.

When I asked her what was wrong, she gargled a string of words, like a bulbul with a sunken heart. Then, I asked my dad if something had gone wrong. In a matter-of-fact tone, he told me that Terry had died of a heart attack. And he went back to reading his newspaper.

I didn’t react either. I squinted and scrunched my nose. Seconds later, I politely asked for my dad for the car keys, as my mom’s crying got louder.

I drove to the beach and parked by the side of the road. I sat there and cried. And I found out later that my dad drank a lot that night to drown the sorrow of losing Terry.

It’s what many south Indian men do when we want to cry – we disappear out of sight under the misconception that expressing one’s emotions equates to showing weakness.

But I still feel weak in the chest when I think about Terry. I wish I had the chance to say goodbye to him. Perhaps, just a single pat on the head. Maybe a casual “I’ll see you soon” or “Take care, Terry” remark before I had left home that morning. That would have been nice.

These days, I don’t have a single photograph of him either. Well, there was just one faded photo – to begin with, and it had gotten lost when my city was flooded in 2015.

Sometimes, I worry about growing so old that one day I might forget Terry’s face. I hope that never happens because he was an important part of my life. And his time on earth meant more to me than he could have ever known.

Thank you, Terry, for being my best friend.

(A poem for Terry)

I grab a piece of paper
to make a list of things
to shelter from the rain;
I write down “awkward doggy
kisses” twice and fold the rest
into a paper plane.

(Say hello to some of my recent canine friends)

52 thoughts on “I woof you

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  1. Aw, such a nice tribute to your friends. I love the roller-skating image! That one made me smile deep down inside. “That we didn’t have one other” friend I think is why my dog and I were so very close as well. She died when I was a teen, and I loved her so dearly that I promised I would never ‘marry’ again.

    So I adopted a couple of cats when my hubs and I were just married (http://wp.me/p28k6D-1pF), and they saw each of my children born and come home. Now that the cats are gone, the bunny rescues keep us entertained and soft-hearted (which you already know). One of them is coming back from colic hell at the moment…I hate it when one of my babies is sick, especially the fluffy and feather-y ones.

    The white and brown pooches with the perky ears are adorable.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like dogs too, sometimes they lick my arm and it gets itchy, and I go ‘oh, I’m itchy’ and then I keep patting them and do this pretend run to each side to rev them up so they bark at me, and I can bark back

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am not an animals-person, (sorry) but I have a lot of respect for animal lovers. It takes so much warmth to love a species different from ones’ own, doesn’t it? Very often I don’t even care for my own.
    That aside, I have a friend, a dog lover, who attracts dogs like a bone. All she does is walk on the road and all kinds of dogs run up to her to be petted. Towards me, however, they are either indifferent (if I am lucky) or positively hostile. Much as it goes against my grain of scientific thinking, I sometimes think dogs do have extrasensory perception of human feelings towards them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a sweet post this is! Is that you in all those pictures, Christy? And are those beautiful dogs all stray? In my life there have been 4 dogs but only 2 that I can remember my relationship with – one as a teen and one now who is my personal trainer and confessor. Walks are far more interesting with him because he attracts attention and people stop and talk. I’ve met more people walking the dog than I ever did walking alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I’ve met more people walking the dog than I ever did walking alone” Yeah that is true, Sus! I’d heartily walk up to a dog-walker than just a walker (unless t was chuck norris – sorry, couldn’t resist).

      And yes, those limbs are mine. These are some of the doggies I have met over the past three years.

      The strays in the post are “Suicide Blonde, Mosli, Tamarind and Tyson” (smiles)

      I am not fond as breed dogs. Not that I don’t want to awkwardly kiss them, but their existence saddens me. They are products more than they are animals, no matter how loving they can be.

      I’d much rather there were only strays and wild ones these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The breeding of dogs is definitely big business but I would find the existence of strays very sad. We made them domestic so I think we should take responsibility for them.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. <He was a barmy dog more importantly! And you are absolutely right, Elouise, I believe they can read us. Birds too, even if only for a moment (elephants in the wild are known for this, especially during attacks)

      Like

  5. Wonderful story…My adult kids and I still dream out our Zeus even though he’s been gone for a few years now….Now, I’ll think about him today too…thank you. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awww.. that was really awww…
    Though we never had a pet dog at home, I used to feed a stray. He used to wait for my school bus in the evening everyday. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too thinks the same machi. Stray dogs are better suited than breeds, especially in south Indian climate. We have a cat at home since my parents said no to dogs. But I like both. 😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Your post sparked a bad memory… I had a dog called Franky, he was more than a best friend. I still can’t get over that night when an over confident vet, didn’t take his condition seriously. Franky passed away that night… It still brings a tear to my eyes. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive that doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww drats Vimal, that must have been difficult to process, especially the anger and frustration. I am sure you have many great memories of Franky too. I think you should write about them (smiles) It just may overshadow the bad memory.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mine liked orange fruits, Papaya, Mango or Orange….there was no way one could eat one at home without sharing it with Pluto.
    He passed away when I was abroad and when I had cried myself to sleep that night, I awoke with a feeling that he was licking my feet, I will never forget that.

    Pluto was definitely more loyal to me than I was to him….
    Now my 7 year old wants a pet….and I cant explain to her how it can break your heart when they are gone and you remain….to cope with the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww a fruit lover of a doggie sounds like an adorable Dahl character! Pluto is great name too, it’s like meant a planet to you.

      Thank you for sharing such a moment, Viv. At times, I wonder if we domesticated dogs or if it’s the other way.

      I still can’t make up my mind if the heartbreak is worth the pain of the finale. Longevity is certainly on the good side of things. Pets or not, here’s wishing you and your family plenty of doggie love.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😀 I do feel somewhere, because of the star powers and the soul connections, he has been reborn in my house, as my now 7 year old….bipedal pet!
        Come to think of it, both like orange fruits, cannot sit still in one position, crawl under furniture, especially when I am throwing a temper and of course, cannot communicate sanely with me… hehehe….will have to do with a single pet at my home for now…. anyways, it’s a zoo most of the time!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Passports to instant as well as life-long friendships.
        Often I greet Independent Canine Personages (who abound in our cities) with a “chhhechcheechhh” or a clucking sound. They look at me with an expression that seems to say “now, who’s this weirdo and what does he want?”
        Others go so far as to take offence and let out a bark or few.
        Nothing that cannot be settled with a biskit or few.
        The expression on their faces — AND TAILIOS –is to die for:
        “Gah/Duh, this dude comes in peace/loves us… Ooops.”
        More tailio akshon!

        Liked by 1 person

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