Today, I am writing my piece of edit on a very different issue. Generally, I never write on personal issues but this little creature has touched my heart which I lost yesterday. This is personal in one aspect but it is social too. Ten days ago, one of my young colleagues asked for my help in searching for a small pet. As I am always ready to help, we first went for online search. Then, we enquired with many people and finally landed at the place where “Dog” trading is taking place. Recently, the breeding, marketing and sale of dogs have become a high-level commercial venture in India, involving thousands of breeders and pet shops in the multi-core industry termed as ‘Puppy Mill’. A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs—that are often severely neglected—and acts without regard to responsible breeding practices. That day, I saw some as small as four weeks old puppies in a suffocating cage kept for displaying purpose. My heart was bleeding when I looked at them.
I was just looking at one cage; one puppy from there came to me and started playing with my hands. Within a few seconds, we developed a bond as if we were old friends. Without any bargaining, I picked up that puppy, paid the trader and walked out of the place. Puppy was tenderly biting me as he wanted to play with me. Then he started licking my hands. The puppy was showing no sign of sadness for leaving his friends behind or that place. We sat in the car and drove away from that place. He was on my lap. As he breathed fresh air of a different environment, he slept on my lap. We amazingly bonded with each other. Being lonely and single person, that pet gave me a sense of belonging and reason to be stress free. I became a good nanny for him.
One little life changes the lives of individuals. Engaging with the pet made me stress-free. Actually, it is good therapy for a stressful life. He sleeps with me, sits on sofa with us, follows us around. I was talking to him in simple language and he was responding with his barking. I never thought he understood my language or me. However, he had properly reciprocated to my commands. Aaah! The editor in me started remaining absent from the news desk and was giving more time to that pet. Shopping for him, getting him new clothes, wipes, food, taking him to vet for regular check up, like we plan for new born babies, became routine for me.
Humans and animals have unique connection and that can be experienced when you possess one yourself. Dogs feel pleasure when their owner returns home and it demonstrates the two-way direction of attachment within positive relationships with pets. The function of attachment is safety, security and survival. Pets are reliant on us – their human caregivers to provide for them and protect their welfare. However, people can also become reliant on a pet’s unconditional love, companionship and interaction. For someone who has the assistance of a dog, there can be physical as well as psychological dependency. Grief on losing that assistance either through death or retirement can be understandably tremendous. There have also been examples in history of dogs grieving for their deceased owners. The pet-person relationship is mutual. From a psychological perspective, attachment objects satisfy comfort and security needs, for some people this is an important function of having a pet.
My relatives and siblings have many pets. I used to wonder, hearing over and over again from them talking about their dogs, their photos on social network that how would it really feel to own one. They talk about their pet more than their kids. I used to wonder what makes them so close to these little pets. They just need love and attention or the pet just wants to be loved. The understanding of a dog’s wants and needs being only love, food, toys and shelter becomes stronger. This is the reason why we become sad on seeing so many homeless dogs out on the streets. There are many social concerns here which need to be addressed by the society at large.
All over the world “man’s best friend” is misunderstood, misread, confused and stressed. Most humans misinterpret their dogs’ intentions and what the dog is trying to tell them. Dogs are confused as to what exactly the human wants. The humans mistakenly interpret them as happy, but they are actually stressed, anxious, confused and under-exercised. May be same mistake was made by me too, I named my puppy “Trollu”. There were no reason to name him so, but it rhymed with my other two pets Golu and Polu, who are like family members to me.
I got done Trollu’s medical checkups, shopped for him, gave and received abundance of love. It was mutual expression and finally gave him it to my colleague for whom we bought him. I started missing the pet so much that I started visiting him frequently. I used to play with him. This went on for a couple of days. The puppy was absolutely normal, playful but one day my colleague informed me that he gave up food. His body is getting dehydrated. She took Trollu to a veterinary doctor. The vet gave him some veterinary medicines and drops. However, inspite of following the proper prescription, his health was deteriorating. My mind was restless, finally I planned to go and hug Trollu. My emotions were just turbulent. I was analysing each incident and trying to comprehend what must have gone wrong with that little dog. I was just planning to go and see him and ensure proper treatment. Before I could step out of my apartment, my mobile phone rang and my mind stopped working with a message “Trollu has stopped breathing”. There was pain, grief and inconsolable emotion on my face. I never felt this type of pain, though I lived alone without parents or family.
I screamed like a mad, cried loudly, world stalled here for a moment. It is very difficult to understand human emotions.
Anyway, let me tell you something from my personal experience. Never encourage puppy mills, which are mushrooming in the city, by buying those little pets. You don’t know, how these small creatures breed. You will never understand the unexpressed stress of those God’s lovely little creatures. If you stop buying, they won’t be selling them for their sole profit. Willingly or unwillingly, you become part of that animal trading and its cruelty. Lives are priceless.