Puppy love

(I read this article in Tribune editorial. Highly Recommended.)

by A.J. Philip

AT the end of my story, Payal Sodhi, founder trustee of the Chandigarh chapter of the People for Animals (PFA), was in tears and sobbing like a child. And every time we met afterwards, she would tell me not to tell any more such stories. I do not know whether it was my narration that brought her to tears or the poignancy of the story.

To begin at the beginning, my neighbour at Kayamkulam in Kerala had a puppy, which was more lovey-dovey than he wanted it to be. He saw in it a fierce future protector of his home and property but it turned out to be a cuddly puppy which would rather give him company than guard his house.

A non-nonsensical businessman, he decided to part with the puppy, barely a few months old. He realised it was not the kind that would bark and bite. The next time he went to Thiruvananthapuram, 120 km away from his hometown, he took the puppy in his car. On the way, 20 km before the state capital, he stopped the car and left the puppy on the roadside.

As my neighbour sped from there, he could see the puppy in his rearview mirror, running after the car. It was a heartrending sight but he kept pressing the accelerator till the dog faded out of sight. He thought the story of the puppy had ended.

One and a half years later, he had a surprise of surprises when one morning he found a dog at his doorstep wagging its tail. One look and he recognised the dog he had last seen in the mirror.

It had grown into an adult. The leather collar he had put around its neck was still there. Around it was a festering wound with puss oozing out. It happened because the neck had grown bigger than the collar.

The dog was stinking and he had to use a cane to shoo it away. All his efforts to keep it at a distance were in vain. He remembered that as a puppy it enjoyed sitting on his lap, though he did not encourage the idea much. His children, too, feared to go anywhere near it, though the dog longed for their company.

It was a mystery how the dog returned to the house. For one and a half years its single-minded objective must have been to reach his master who, it did not know, had abandoned him. Nothing else would have mattered to him. Not even the constant pain the over-tight collar must have given.

Imagine which other animal would have shown so much love for its master as to cover a distance of 100 km in one and a half years. But, alas, my neighbour did not know how to handle him.

In retrospect, he could have taken the dog to a vet and he would have got the collar removed and freed it from pain. And the dog could have lived a full life. But my neighbour had a different plan.

A pharmacist by profession, he knew what poisonous substance could kill the dog. Yes, that is what he did when he administered potassium cyanide to his pet.

When my neighbour told me this story, I nearly cried. For days together, the killing haunted me. Of course, I did not tell Payal Sodhi that the intense grief she felt was mine, too, when I heard the story from my neighbour.

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