There are ways of being woken up and there are ways. One of the ways that really got to me was a cold wet nose nuzzling my cheek and neck every morning for the last seven years. While I shooed away my golden Labrador every morning for doing that, this morning I missed my wake up call. Whiskey isn’t around any more to wake me up.
Whiskey came home to us one April evening, when he was 40 days old. I had resisted having a pet for a long time as it meant a lot of commitment and dedication. Given my business, my travel and other responsibilities, I did not want another one. Everyone else in the family however, had a different view. So, my children decided to conspire with their father and just get a puppy home. Lo behold! I return from work one evening and there is a red basket with two golden angels blinking with their warm golden eyes at my face. One of them had a dark brown streak running down the bridge of nose and as I watched with a mixture of fascination and trepidation, he climbed on his sibling and looked at me with an expression that said,”Keep me with you.”
I fell in love.
This is what my daughters, Urvashi & Urmila were counting on. I nodded my head, after extracting futile promises from all three of them that everybody will contribute in looking after him. As some great concession, I was told that I could chose a name for him. I christened him Whiskey – for his eyes reminded me of my favourite single malt and were as intoxicating.
Our relationship and rituals developed over a period of time. The waking up ritual was one of the first ones. The activity would not stop at just waking me up. He would wait patiently for me to get out of the bathroom, with a ball or a stuffed toy or a piece of rag in his mouth. This was the cue for me to chase him and pretend I wanted whatever was in his mouth, followed by me hiding from him in one of the rooms and he looking for me.
Whiskey gave us his all. Undivided attention, unconditional love, umpteen number of hugs and sloppy licks through out the day. He was my morning walk companion, he was Urvashi’s confidante and Urmila’s study buddy. If Whiskey
could write an exam, he would probably do better than most students, because Urmila made sure he sat with her when she studied for her 10th and 12th standard exams. He was Krish’s play mate in the evenings when they engaged in a robust game of tug of war. He was my maids’ followers the moment he smelled something different in the kitchen or one of them opened the refrigerator.
Everyone who came home could not get over his playfulness. Whiskey’s all time favourite was to sit in the middle of a circle of people and revel in the attention they gave him. He was happiest when we had friends and family visiting us. It meant more fun, more games, more people to play with and most of all, more variety of food. Some of my nieces and nephews were initially scared of him…they were not used to dogs and Whiskey had the capacity to overwhelm anyone with his exuberant greeting and loud bark. His bark would scare people. However, when he realised that someone was not comfortable, he would allow that person to befriend him at their own pace. Eventually, most people visiting our home learnt the trick of not ringing the doorbell, but, calling us up, so we could leave the door open. If anyone entered our place without ringing the doorbell, he would quietly welcome them!
I remember reading somewhere that dogs may not be our whole life, they make our lives whole. It is so true. Whiskey completed my circle of love. My day would begin with him and end with him on my bed, while I was either reading or watching television. My bed was his bed. No one was allowed on it…not even my daughters. They were very politely but firmly shoved out in a step by step manner. And heaven help anyone who said “Whiskey, this is my Mamma!” 🙂
I have watched all doggie movies (Marley & Me, 101 Dalmatians, etc) with Whiskey by my side. I remember
watching Hachiko, the movie, one Saturday morning with my daughters, niece and Whiskey lying on the bed with us. He just could not understand why we all sobbed, hugging him after the movie got over.
Whiskey reminded me of some lessons I had learnt from my earlier pets. Living life with unbridled joy and exuberance…as if there is nothing to worry about. When we did our joy rides together in the car, he taught me how to seize the moment and follow my heart. The look of sheer happiness on his face with the breeze blowing away his floppy ears, head out of the window, looking at everybody with smile at traffic signals…he was all heart! Whiskey taught me to appreciate simple pleasures of life…sitting in the balcony, sipping my morning cuppa, we both loved the winter sun on us, we have chased butterflies when we have gone to the countryside, playing ball or just lying on the floor and looking out of the window on a rainy afternoon. The last few days of his life, he taught me one of the most important lesson – to smile in the face of adversity, to be gracious even though there is pain. Despite his pains and aches, whenever someone came to visit him in the last few days, he would stand up, wag his tail and lick the person’s hand. Appreciating came very easily to him.
To such an angelic puppy baby (as I loved calling him), I can only pray that we cross the Rainbow Bridge together. Words cannot do justice to what we have felt for each other…this is merely an attempt.
Whiskey Puppy Angel
When your golden eyes no longer glow,
I know the time has come for you to go
Don’t look at me with eyes so sad,
I want to remember the great times we have had
When the sunlight upon us did shine,
The last 7 years were yours and mine
Through the house we both did run,
Sitting in the balcony, feeling the morning sun
I don’t want to think of your helplessness & pain
Only about the joy & laughter you brought me again & again!
High up in the courts of Heaven today
An angel puppy called Whiskey waits
With the other angels he will not play,
But sits alone at the gates
“For I know that my Mamma will come, ” says he,
“And when she comes she will call for me.”
He sees the Spirits that pass him by
As they hurry to the throne
And he watches them with a wistful eye
As he sits at the gates alone.
“For I know my Mamma will come for me
If only I just wait patiently.”
And his Mamma, far on the earth below,
As she sits in her easy chair,
Forgets sometimes, and she whistles low
For her puppy doll who is not there.
And Whiskey puppy angel cocks his ears
And dreams that his Mamma’s call he hears.
And, when at last his Mamma waits,
Outside in the dark and cold,
For the hand of death to open the gates
That lead to these courts of gold
Then Whiskey puppy angel’s eager bark
Will comfort her soul in the shivering dark.