Reeo and his family
While walking towards my coaching class in Grade 10- I got bitten by a dog from behind with no warning. It set in a frozen fear in my mind and from then on, I never went close to canines. I never hurt them or never hated them, never pelted stones or bad mouthed them.. I unknowingly always arched around their territory and secretly thanked them for giving me space to walk. This happened till the day my daughter grew fonder and fonder of dogs each day rescuing puppies, playing with streeties even rolling on the ground with them, and somehow made friends with only those who had dogs at home. When we walked on the street, all the dogs would follow us happily and she would talk to them and they would listen to her… and then one day a friend told me- there is something divine in your child for her to always be followed by dogs who come to her so lovingly! My fear was always there but I never stopped her – I never even said things to her like “laukar jewan kar nahitar to bhu bhu yeun gheun zaail jewan”… or never said “tithe nako zaau- tithe kutra aahe”… I knew inside me that my fear is futile and all they want is love.. and for us to walk two steps towards them and they walk two hundred towards us.
And then one day came the dreaded wish from my daughter – Ma can we please please please have a dog? Like my own?
This was not “next to” impossible but IMPOSSIBLE for me. I had not ever touched a dog in my life.. and who will feed and walk and where do we keep him the whole day. I know now my husband and daughter say “tu kahich nako karu… you just say yes”… and I said NO.
And to that my daughter only said “Ma… very soon, I’ll grow up, I may go away to study further and who knows where I work etc .. that day maybe you will regret that just because of your fear… you could not give me the only thing I wanted and forever you shall be deprived of the love that only a dog can give”.. My eight year old daughter said this to me. That day I opened my mind and said I need to walk my two steps.. so I started visiting her friends who had dogs… I started desensitising myself to the touch of fur. When she would touch the streeties, I would bend and smile too and make eye contact. Soon we received a forwarded message of a female golden retriever four months up for adoption which was a case of boyfriend gifted girl friend- and now no one can keep. We agreed, they did house checks, asked multiple questions but one thing that my heart wasn’t agreeing with is that they wanted co ownership. They said they will take her and go every month end and wanted us to sign a declaration of not being breeders and yet two years later they wanted to have her mated and keep all her pups. They were not allowing us to spay her. I was not ready to give her away to anyone for any purpose if she was mine. My heart was turning over a new leaf.. and with multiple tears and a rock on my heart I told that couple that we don’t want to adopt her with these conditions of “co ownership”.
A couple of months passed by and my brother in law shifted from Bangalore to Pune and in the make shift asked if he could live with us for a month – I said of course! And he drove down and came in at midnight- and walked in with his bags, a small mattress and happy Labrador called “Champ” who followed him and was to stay with us for the whole month! My brother in law used to be busy with house hunt and then I got used to cooking for him, his meal schedules, his walk schedules, I started taking him with me to office and keeping him in our cabin.. and slowly I started feeling sad in my heart that soon Champ will move to his own home and I won’t have this schedule. Of course Champ was a 9 year old and very well trained dog. And I told my husband – I’m now open to having a dog at home – but condition was that he should be an adult dog who is already trained. Now how was that possible ? But felt at ease that at least I’m not saying No to my daughter even though I was being conditional .. somewhere it was a feel good factor that I was no more that villain that I used to be… Suddenly on the 12th of Feb 2019, that same brother in law called me and said his friend got his Male Labrador mated and has a pup for himself but he had other dogs at home and couldn’t keep the little boy- asked if we wanted then we had to say a yes today.. or else he would have returned the pup to the mother and family to give away. My husband instantly said a yes.. my daughter was bordering on frenzy and I had no clue how to react. The puppy was going to come home that same evening and we had nothing to be prepared for the pup. No mattress, no food bowls, no water bowl.. nothing. Before I knew it, it was time to go pick the pup and this little boy came riding with another friend pillion on a motorcycle. We met half way and got him home in our car. I was scared, petrified and confused. In my mind I said, I was ok for a trained adult dog. Why puppy? I’m not ok with clingy puppies – I’m not ok with mouthing- I’m not ok with feeling their nails or teeth… I’m not ok feeling their soft fur touch… I kept thinking in the car the whole way while my daughter was over the moon.
We came home and I shut the bedroom door behind me, leaving my husband my daughter and the little pup and my brother in law outside to manage the food etc. I shouted from behind the door “do what you want.. I am not a part of this plan”.. I slept wearing my sneakers and to the sound of my loud palpitations. Next morning, I woke the mom in me and found myself making food for him… googling vets and calling them to check him and give vaccines .. and asking friends for a good trainer. I knew that once he is there is my home, he is for keeps. A little effort from my side will only give me back love, support and gratitude in manifold and to make the journey smooth, we called in a great trainer when he was just 60 days old. We named him Reeo.. with a double E to match with my daughter Reet. We started taking him to our office everyday and soon were successful in converting all those who were scared of dogs into believing in coexistence. Each day was a new day with new antics, new miles stones, new achievements and new found love. My husband took the full initial responsibility of taking care and gave me time and space to fall in love. Till today we all have been a part of all his walks, training sessions, vet visits and outings. We are a pack and we stick together no matter what.
We understand each other’s verbal communication and non verbal signs and signals.. We gauge each other’s expressions and decode each other’s body language. Our life has far far far more beauty, love, discipline and fun only because we have Reeo.
He soon became the office dog with a job! People at office started looking forward to coming to work on my because of Reeo. They started coming early only to play with him. They started taking turns in walking him, playing with him and just sitting with him… from operators to the Chairman- everyone fell in love all over again!
He is my all time cheer leader, licks away my tears, complains to me about his sister if she over does her play, follows me like a lamb, looks at me for validations, responds to my recall like a bullet and whenever I call him, he always brings me a gift, whether it’s a toy, a door mat, a twig or a leaf… he has his alpha in my husband, a sibling in my daughter but I know his soul purpose is Me. It’s been one year and he has redefined the meaning of LOVE for me. 360 days and he has turned my life 180 degrees.
In the end love only triumphs and that is the ultimate gospel truth!