I have hated dogs all my life. It didn’t matter if they were Labrador or Pomeranian; black or white, big or small -I have despised them all alike. In return, they have barked at me and chased me and humiliated me. I have memories of trying to evade them on foot and on the bicycle, on open roads and in closed alleys. Even the so-called “friendly dogs”, Bruno and Jerry, of my high school girlfriend, had made me test my stamina numerous times. I have never been bitten, thank god, but many near-miss experiences are still fresh in my mind.
So, I was a little surprised when I found myself standing near a litter of puppies, on an early summer day, with their mother beside them. Maybe it was their teeny half-closed eyes on small faces that made me curious about them. Or maybe it was their fragile bodies that made me feel less afraid than usual. I stood there, observing them intently. They were four in number. One of them was black, the second brown, the third brownish black, and the fourth, a combination of black and white. For the first time in life, I had a different emotion, other than fear, near dogs.
It was my brother who had found them, huddled in a corner, near an abandoned house shivering in the rain. I had tagged along with him, casually, just to help him out, if he needed any, and also I was curious to see what he would do. My brother picked them up one by one in a basket and brought them to our courtyard. For the next two days, they lay there, shivering and trembling, visited intermittently by their mother for feeding.
After a week or so, they started to wobble around, rolling over each other, trying to stand up and fall again. It was on one of the evenings when my brother wasn’t around that I heard a wailing sound. I got out of my bed and went downstairs to have a look. One of the pups had moved out of the makeshift shelter and was trying to crawl out from between the barricade and in the process had got stuck among the bunch of wires, with half of its body hanging outside the barricade. It made me smile a little, to see that little thing making a valiant attempt. It was the one with brown color. I went towards the barricade to put it out of its misery.
I had never touched a pup before. So, I was a little wary while picking it up. As soon as I untangled the pup, I placed it on the ground. The pup slid like a sulking baby and rest its head on my foot. As I tried to pull back my foot, it clawed on my foot with its little paws and made a soft whimpering sound. I noticed it was a little bigger than the other pups, a tad fatter, an ounce bulkier. Brown in color, it looked like a ball of soft wool. I sat down near it. Apparently, the pup had slept. I felt its body vibrating in rhythms of short breaths.
After that little incident, I started to take more care of those pups, especially the brown one. Every morning I went out to pour milk into a bowl kept outside for them and play with them. And perhaps they started to like me too. Even before I called them, they used to recognize the sound of my footsteps and used to dash towards me with a jump. The brown one used to be most excited, staying with me a little longer than others, playing a little more with me than others.
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Also published on Medium.