Usha
There is this yuppy couple in my neighbourhood. Their life represents all the aspirations of today's younger generation - dream jobs in which they are successful; a large house fitted with the most modern equipment, art on the walls, dream kitchens (used by the servants and cooks) and elegant bathrooms, a small gym and a mini swimming pool in the basement. Their cars are large and one of the two, ofcourse ,is an SUV. Their weekdays are packed with them coming home just in time for dinner. Their children get the best of everything that money can buy. Only thing they cannot afford them is time of which they have so little. Their weekends are busy too with getting ready for the next week and obligatory socialising. They hardly know their neighbours nor seem to care. There are times they are face to face with you but forget to smile - either they are too preoccupied and do not recognise you or they are hurrying from or to something. They have two small children and this family of four uses the services of a cook, a live-in domestic help, a part-time domestic help, a driver and a guy who comes to walk and groom their dog.
Yes, a dog to complete the picture of perfection. And not just any dog - a dog from a line of superior dogs. He is a dog who loves people and craves human company. He is a bundle of energy, highly intelligent ( his comes from a breed of highly intelligent dogs) and a gentle soul with the sweetest temperament and of course a very alert guard. Like their kids, he gets the best money can buy - imported food, best veterinary care, shampoo baths in dog care clinics, an ex-policeman to come and train him. But does he care? No, all he wants is a little socialising - a little ruffling of his luxurious coat, a few minutes to bounce the ball to him and to sleep at the feet of his master. And he tries telling them that in the only ways he knows to communicate - he barks and furiously wags his tail to catch their attention every time they walk in and out of the house and all he gets is a firm "NO." When they are inside the house he waits outside the door, stretching his ears to catch any sound from inside and when they are out of the house he waits at the gate for them to return. Hoping perhaps that one day they will notice him and give him a hug. Not realising that for him they may be his family but for them he is just a worker.

And then last month, the man of the house had to leave on his new posting abroad. And so the wife and two children have shifted to another apartment they own just a km away, along with the domestic helps. And he is left all by himself to guard the house - they have employed a person to feed him, groom him and take him for a walk but it is heart-breaking to see him rush to the gate every time there are footfalls on the street outside his house. When I wake up I see him at the gate patiently waiting and when I go to bed he is there hoping they'd come and may be take him with them. Does he wonder where everyone has gone? Does he wonder why they have abandoned him?

I am reminded of Ulysses and his dog Argos. I think of a colleague who was transferred to Mumbai where he could not take his dog because of the apartment rules and his dog stopped eating and died in 3 months' time. I go to him and try to talk to him as often as I can but I can see it is not the same. I have been angry - the kind of anger which harms you because you are helpless to do anything about the cause. I offered to take him in or to find him a house but their response has been rather vague perhaps because they have invested so much and would like him to guard their house now empty.

Why do these creatures have to be so attached to their masters? Haven't they lived long enough with humans to learn of their selfishness and to expect a lot less from them? I think there ought to be strict laws on who can own a pet and their obligations towards them which should cover a lot more than just giving them the best money can buy. But then, I do not blame these people too. It seems that this is the way they treat people too, their own children and parents. Their way of expressing love and care is to buy expensive gifts for them. Only difference is people seem to be ok with it while dogs still seem to have different priorities. Too bad fellow, learn the rules.
Never get attached to one employer. This will stand in the way of your growth and progress.
Loyalty is passe. It is all about the best deal you can get for your services.
And above all, don't have high expectations from your masters. They are , after all, human.

P.s.: Ok, rant over. But I had to get the steam off my chest. This was bothering me so much for the past week that I have been rather depressed. I hoped to feel better after putting it down here but I don't. I suppose this whole situation could be just a matter of perspective - how I perceive it vis a vis the reality. May be the dog feels no such separation anxiety and I am just anthropomorphing my anxiety about the situation as the dog's. Perhaps he is happy to wait at the gate forever and has no perception of the passage of time. Perhaps he seems to have lost weight because he is gaining in height. Perhaps I am totally wrong about the situation, I sincerely hope so.
Further reading optional...

*******************************************************

This is an email forward that made me feel better . Read on and you will know why:


A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight..

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.
'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'
The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveller asked. 'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'


The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued back the way he had come with his dog.


After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'
'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'
'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.
'There should be a bowl by the pump.'


They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.


When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you call this place?' he asked.

'This is Heaven,' the man answered.
'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too..'
'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope That's hell.'
'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your good name like that?'
'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind'
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40 Responses
  1. Unmana Says:

    Lovely story at the end! I feel for the dog too... If it's a person, you can say they should take care of themselves, improve their life... what do you do with an animal? I think cruelty to animals is, in that way, worse than cruelty to humans... the poor beasts aren't able to stand up for themselves.


  2. S.Praveen Says:

    Read this somewhere;

    "The more one comes to know men, the more one comes to admire the dog."

    Loved the story (email forward). I thought Argos was Telemachus's dog?


  3. Usha Says:

    Unmana: :(

    Praveen: Love the quote. Argos (argus) was Ulysses' Dog.
    “…Soon as he perceived
    Long-lost Ulysses nigh, down fell his ears
    Clapped close, and with his tail glad sign he gave
    Of gratulation, impotent to rise,
    And to approach his master as of old.
    Ulysses, noting him, wiped off a tear
    Unmarked.
    …Then his destiny released
    Old Argus, soon as he had lived to see
    Ulysses in the twentieth year restored.”


  4. sakhi Says:

    it made me sad about the incident you narrated! When we human can't learn about the selfishness and then get hurt from one person or the other, what do youexpect from the animals!!

    The email forward was awesome!


  5. It was sad reading about your neighbors' dog. This is the only reason we aren't adopting one even though my daughter, my husband and I - all of us are dog lovers. We know we can't pay the kind of attention to it that is required. It would be cruelty to get a dog and then ignore him/her.

    The second story warmed my heart.


    _Gettingtherenow


  6. one heart-rending, another heart-warming...Yudhishtira, when he was the only one of the Pandavas left on the long trek to Heaven, is supposed to have refused to enter if the dog that accompanied him was also not allowed.

    I think I read (was very sleepy then, and too lazy now, to look up that post) that your blog had won some sort of award....congrats! I always enjoy your posts.


  7. Parul Says:

    Poor, poor dog. Is he a St Bernard? I can just picture him being miserable. Or a labrador. Now I am ready to cry.


  8. Mama - Mia Says:

    generally i have seen people with dogs showering more affection on their pets rather than people around them! sp this across as surprising and very sad! :( hope they find it in their heart to do the right thing!

    lovely story too! isnt it true how friends can make this world a happier place to be in? what else is heaven?! :)

    cheers!

    abha


  9. Suma Says:

    that was sad indeed!!! esp when i came to the part where they leave the dog back...:(

    and teh second one was heartwarming...
    :
    :
    :
    but i still feel bad, so imagine how you must be feeling, seeing it everyday :(


  10. Anonymous Says:

    It's a shame that there are people who doesn't realize the dogs need human interaction specially with their owners. Shame on them.

    I have had dogs from my childhood and the last one was when I was in college. The unconditional love you get from your dog is priceless. Now having a baby I just feel the same love. I am constantly thinking of my pet dipsy who was my pet, my friend and guardian angel during my childhood days. He would bark and chase the friends specially boys, when they play wtih /chase me . My cousin bro who is just one year younger to me will always be pinned to our compound wall (like Jesus on crucifix postion) almost everyday when he comes to play with me in the evenings.

    He used to wait anxiously at the door everyday when I enter the house after school and jump all over me lick me and even urinates.He was big dog and I very little girl, so when I open the door , I used to immediately hop on to the table nearby just to avoid getting knocked down on the floor :). I know at that time, he was happy to see me but reading your post reminded me how much he would have missed us during the day. I was one who usually come home first in the evening since my parents were working and he was very close to me. (yes, in the era where parents left the children at home alone all the time without having to fear for their safety ).

    I was heart broken when he died suddenly due to some sudden outbreak of virus which was killing lot of dogs in the neighbourhood. We used to take him to the vet for routine visit now and then . My vet was not able to save him. I never wanted to have another dog for very long time but had one during college for brief time and he died because of snake bite .

    My parents had another dog when I was doing my PG but I never cultivated the fondess I had with dipsy but he was close to my elder sister and became completely weak after my sister got married. They feel the loss more than a human heart could feel I suppose.

    To this day, though I would love to have a dog just the thought of leaving him alone during the day is just preventing us from having one.But I visit the pet store everyweek before my son was born (he is just five month old baby now) for more than 10 years and come out like a little girl wanting to take home a dog with me. That's the only time, I hate my husband for not allowing me buy a dog by convincing me with the facts:( .

    When I had my son , I secretly started thinking about giving a dog for his 5th birthday :). Or mommy might get one sooner since she is planning to work from home . She can very well take care of her son and her future friend ; ).

    Just wanted to share my experience to make you feel good. For one bad dog owner , there are thousands of good dog owners who love their pets more than themselves usha.

    May be you can take some 10 minutes everyday to just interact or play with him. I am sure that might give him a boost.


  11. S.Praveen Says:

    Wow!, was that straight from ur head???? ur memory power is amazing!!


  12. sleeepymango Says:

    Its frustrating when there is nothing one can do to help; even more so when help is offered and yet goes unaccepted.

    Being a dog lover myself, it makes me very sad to read this. My dog has been suffering from a myriad of skin problems; she scratches herself raw and has weeping wounds, infections...the works. After countless visits to the vet with no improvement in sight, I researched the web extensively and came up with a concoction of natural oils that has helped with her skin problems.

    My relatives and friends have told me umpteen times to put her to sleep. These people are not the ones taking care of her and it makes me fume hearing them. Why is that people treat their pets like tissue paper?

    Each time my mother is admitted to the hospital my pet refuses to eat, she lies on my mother's side of the bed and will not play with anyone. The days I get home late, she sleeps near the door awaiting my return and jumps up and down happily licking my feet upon seeing me.

    I guess the way people treat dogs has to do with their values. No matter how you treat a dog, it will still come to you, wagging its tail. I think dogs will make better human beings.


  13. Veens Says:

    I makes me feel very very sad.

    there was a similar family here... who used to tie the very young, small Daschund dog all the time out, whether it be hot, chilly whatever... they never bothered :'(

    Another family here has a German Shephard...as you put it to guard the house... and so many others... i wonder..and i feel so very bad for him

    poor souls...

    and we ourselves have a overly spoiled dog. I beat her too, get angry too... but never would do this to her.

    We had a dog earlier 'Tuffy' who died when we left him to shift to a new place. we were planningto get him back as soon as we settled...but he stopped eating... and eventually died...

    I wish people knew, how to treat them... :( they are such nice beings....

    such a very nice story.


  14. hillgrandmom Says:

    Oh Usha, I can so understand. Incidentally, as a teachers, we also get to see children in much the same position as the dog--waiting only for a hug or some playtime with parents and not expensive gifts and I can tell you that's even more heartbreaking.


  15. eve's lungs Says:

    Mrs V, it is strange , this love dogs have for humans - our dog used to run to the door and wait for my father much after he had died and we had relocated to another state /town.
    Strange but there you are .You are inspiring me to do a post .


  16. Life and people have become too materialistic. The forward mail was very good and very true.


  17. Nita Says:

    This just breaks my heart.


  18. Hip Grandma Says:

    I agree that pets need to be treated well or else they should not be called so.But when people have no time for their children and parents,much less for friends what can you expect?dogs are just status symbols just as good or bad as sending your children for a no. of classes whether they are interested or not.


  19. Jane Turley Says:

    We had a similar situation years ago when we lived in a small terrace. Our neighbour had a dog with an outside kennel. The garden was paved over and she never took the dog for walks. It was so desperate for grass and comfort it use to burrow under our fence and foul all over our lawn. Obviously, I wasn't happy about that as Master Sam was a toddler but really I felt so sorry for the dog because of the negligence of the owner.It had a pitiful existence.

    I maintained my composure for some time- mainly because interfering with your neighbours can sometimes cause some lasting and unpleasant disputes but eventually I decided to call The Dog Warden. Amazingly (and I have little faith in some of these government roles) the officer came round the same day to see the owner and from that day onwards the dog got a daily walk. My neighbour never mentioned it and neither did I. (It's a Brit thing) I never felt the dog was loved - it was simply security for a single woman - and its existence was only marginally improved but it was better than nothing.

    It's a tough old world at times. If only there was an easy way to make it better.


  20. maami Says:

    Oh dear! Can I talk a bit long?
    Wokay!
    Ok.
    You see on my apartment's on the 7th floor.There are 6 flats of which 4 keep pets-I mean large, huge handsome hounds, alsations and other breeds you know better of. Dog runners take them to and fro while me, my son and my old mum shudder when they pounce, panting, puffing ("s/he's sooo friendly, he's a cherub" they go)and growling and snarling in the lifts, getting impatient and pissing before the slow elevators as they are led to a walk.
    Is not having such fantastic breeds and huge dogs meant clearly that they need to run and chase and exercise their limbs and hunt in gardens and not keep them cooped in flats and often in a tiny balcony or a room because they have tug and tear at their fancy plush sofas and carpets? How can their masters be called dog lovers if they keep their pets cooped up? If you can't afford space how can you keep pets healthy? It's a bit like me begetting 5 children because I love kids in a tiny flat with little time to devote on their upbringing or health.
    I like pets, dogs, as they as they are in other's home and kept well, not snarling and unloved and unattented. That's so disturbing.
    Thanks for bringing this up and sorry for ranting.


  21. Arpita Says:

    Hello.. I figured when during the reception you found time to pet my dog Bruno that you must be an avid lover of dogs :)

    I think cruelty of a disproportionate quantity is heaped on nature and its beings by humans. Which of course is reflected quite well in its deteriorating quality. I never understand people who cant love animals or be atleast fascinated by them.. fear and indifference are only going to hurt us in the longterm.

    I do hope you'll manage to convince those rotten owners overtime to let you keep the poor dog. Goodluck...


  22. Usha Says:

    Unmana: This is not cruelty - sheer indifference. I am sure that they dont even realise what they have done. In their book, they are ensuring he is fed and that is the best care possible.

    Sakhi: I think even human relationships are becoming disposable. We keep them only as long as they are of use to us. And the same goes for animals too.

    GTN:I wish these people had given it the same kind of thought before they went and got him because they could afford to!

    Deepa: yes, apparently it was Dharma following him as a dog.
    Hehehe about the award. see prev post.

    parul: He is a GSD and a sweet chap. HUgs, don't cry. I am trying to do my best to keep him cheerful and will, as long as he is in this house.

    mama-mia: Some people keep them as pets and some keep them as workers. the kind you talk about are the first. You have to see my munni to believe how she has made us all her slaves.

    Suma: Yes, it is bad. My first thoughts in the morning are of him and i rush to the wall that separates our houses and you should see the way he comes running to me. It breaks my heart every time.

    anon: Loved this comment. made me feel so much better. yes I make it a point to check on him every few hours and keep throwing balls which he fetches.
    Good luck with your puppy when he/ she arrives. Send me pictures.

    praveen: My memory? ha, I can't remember what I had for lunch. What will I do without google?

    Sleepymango: I completely understand your feelings for your dog. Our earlier one suffered from epilepsy and we got the same advice whcih we refused to follow.
    I think being with a pet , specially a dog, teaches us a lot more than being with humans.

    Veens:They just think that they are there to do a job. A loyal servant thats all. When are you getting a new pet?

    Hillgran: annoying. where is the wrold going?

    Mallika: Am waiting for your post. tell us more about your dog.

    Maduraiveeran: yes , relationships are disposable apparently.

    Nita: :(

    Hipgran: Bingo.

    Jane Turley: I can't even report as it doesn't fall under cruelty here. he is not tied, he is fed and walked. His emotional and social needs don't seem to matter.

    maami: I wish there were stricter rules about the environment you are expected to provide your pet as its owner. here it seems that anyone who has the money can own one.

    arpita: I loved Bruno. Hope we will see him again sometime.
    The point is that these people genuinely feel they are doing their best by their dog. It is like he is fed expensive food, groomed and given the best vet care. So where is the negligence. They do not seem to realise the socialisation needs especially when they have a people friendly German shepherd. Come over sometime, You can see him.


  23. mystic_life Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. mystic_life Says:

    On the completely other end of the spectrum, my God-mother's best friend had a full-bred German Shepard when I was growing up. The german shepard was the son of the dog she had before, and was truly a part of the family.
    When the dog was about three years old it ran into the street and got hit by a car. Thousands of dollars in vet bills later, the dog survived and could put itself around by it's front legs, completely paraplegic. She took care of it's messes, made it's meals, and loved it just the same until about two years ago when he passed away.
    this dog never got the best groomers, or the best food... But she is the one who groomed him, she is the one who fed him. She is the one who used to talk to him while she made her dinners and he would sit at the kitchen door, looking upon her admiringly.
    That dog led a very good life.


  25. Jellicles Says:

    thats a heartbreaking story. we could always try and place the dog with another family if the old owners dont want him anymore.

    shameless plug: http://adoptstrays.blogspot.com

    although we started it for the street dogs of bangalore, i am gobsmacked by the number of abandoned homepets that need new homes because the owners are leaving abroad(btw, it is possible to take your pets with you..just involves a little bit of paperwork and the desire to keep them)..because the owner suddenly finds out that the dog is 1/500th mongrel..is untrainable..someone tells them that they are unsafe around babies etc.

    on a related note, one other issue your story threw light upon is the fact that we are so distanced from our neighbours. i always encourage people to make friends with other pet owners....sharing pet responsibilities, dog walking etc helps the animals as well as their owners. community dogs(aka street/stray dogs) thrive best in friendly neighbourhoods where everyone rallies behind them..if you walk by some of the poorer neighbourhoods of bangalore where people like in tenements, you'll see that most of the street dogs sport collars and they'll walk in and out of the houses as though they belong to everyone. starkly contrasting are the more affluent neighbourhoods where pure bred dogs are imprisoned behind high walls and the stray dogs are hounded...they are usually hungry scavenging at the nearby garbage pile..which of course grows like a mountain outside the immaculately clean and antiseptic gated homes.

    what can i say?


  26. Usha Says:

    jellicles: I am aware of your site from the time of the dog/ puppy massacre a year ago in bengaluru and the protests that followed.
    I have always had strays and right now I have one who was born right at that time they were pushing puppies down the drains and setting fire.
    In fact she is so possessive that she scratches me all over and whines when I go and play with this poor fellow. But I hope she may eventually befriend him.

    As for befriending neighbours, I always make it a point to befriend the pets around my house and stop to talk to them when I find them looking lonely at their gates.
    These people are next door neighbours and did not even bother to inform us when they shifted. We heard from the maid and we also saw the dog alone in the house and then made the effort to call and offer to take him in or place him elsewhere with other dog lovers. They said they would think it over and call us back and we are still waiting....ting...ing..
    They have been gone 10 days now and have not bothered to visit him even once and their new home is just a km away.
    what can I say?


  27. Usha Says:

    Mystic_life: A loving scratch behind the ear and sharing a loaf of bread would mean a lot more to these poor creatures than five star food and fancy dog parlours.
    If only these people would understand.


  28. Rohini Says:

    One of my pet peeves. People who abandon their pets. My dogs gave us hell when my son was born coz they were jealous as hell. But the thought of abandoning them never occurred to me. Thankfully, my mum suggested that she take them - still broke my heart though... :(


  29. 2 B's mommy Says:

    Heart breaking. I hope the neighbours let you keep the dog.


  30. sumi Says:

    recently i had an occassion to visit an animal shelter in chennai. we were to hear stories of human neglect and insensitivity towards animals- of owners who wanting to get rid of their pets for various reasons like old age, sickness- abandon them at the gate and call the shelter to report a case of abandonment. a visit to a place like that makes one realise how mean we could be and we dare to call ourselves superior to other living beings!
    it was heartening to know that you are doing your best to keep him cheerful.


  31. usha2 Says:

    Isn't there something we can do?Where we live also (in Bangalore), I also find it heart breaking to see a few families who tie up their dogs on really short leashes the whole day. I wish we had dog wardens too here..I tried calling various agencies that cater to animal rights, but none of them want to take up these grey areas.


  32. Infact the first story looked like an email forward :-)The Rich people and their living style!! and ignoring/missing all the real happiness etc.,
    Heard lot about dogs who miss their master specially when they are out of station or die.. It sounds very cruel to not care for them


  33. diya Says:

    The story brought tears to my eyes, specially since they were lurking close by after reading your real story.
    I once complained to an animal rights organization when I saw my neighbours used to keep their dog chained to their balcony all day when the family was out. The dog used to whimper pitifully. After the complaints the whimpering stopped, I think they locked him inside. I stongly felt there should be laws forbidding people living in multi storied flats from keeping dogs.But we still do not have laws protecting helpless women and children from abuse how can laws ensuring rights of pets be put forward?


  34. Shefaly Says:

    Usha

    This probably shouldn't be said to people with children but in my view, keeping a dog is not very different from having a baby*. If one can't deal with one, one mustn't even have the other.

    * except the child will cost lots of money, will talk back rudely and will most likely leave parents on their own in old age ;-)


  35. Manasa Says:

    Having a pet costs a lot. People like want to have a pet but I hardly find time for it, hence dropped the idea :)

    The story at the end was awesome.


  36. Ms Taggart Says:

    The forward is good, and true, but after reading the poor dog's plight, my heart feels heavy.
    This is something I will never understand, would people leave their family members behind and go to different places? Would people do that to their kids? They wouldn't, right? They why should the poor dog go through the separation!


  37. chandni Says:

    I loved the story in the end!!!


  38. Pradeep Says:

    A commendable post, Usha, and quite a few thoughtful comments as well. What an illustration of the world we live in. Which is a more evolved animal - man or dog? Does the man more intelligence and intellect that what he deserves?


  39. Dhanya Says:

    You made me cry :( I also have a dog back home and I feel guilty that I'm not able to take care of her like I used to do before. She was my soulmate - sleeping , eating , walking , playing, watching TV with me. Then when I came to b'lore for job had to leave her behind and she became very violent :( Although my parents take care of her, I still feel it's not the same. And when my dad passed away it was a second blow to her.Now a days whenever she comes inside she goes straight to acchan's bed lie underneath.
    I had written briefly about her http://itsmyownspace.blogspot.com/2008/06/autobiography.html


  40. B o o Says:

    Thats heart breaking, Usha. Our dog died within a month I left home for college and even though it was a virus, my mom surely thought that it was bcos both my sis and I left home for college and the dog missed us. Even though my parents treat the dogs better than teir own daughters! So I can so relate to your feelings. Its so sad.