This final part had been the hardest to write and though written long ago, I couldn’t bring myself to post it. It brought back too many memories. You might have wondered why Joey never figured in any of my posts, why his latest photos didn’t grace my blog. You can read about Joey here and here if you have not read the first two parts, in order to make sense out of the last one in this series.
We had brought home the little bundle of black fur rescued from the streets with all intentions of keeping him with us, but soon it became apparent that we were not equipped to raise another ‘kid’. A pet is like an infant and at least till he is old enough to be left alone, needs constant watching over, especially one like Joey that had been adopted quite early and who had no canine social skills. I was too ill to even take Joey for his walks when the L&M went out of town. Neighbours offered to help but could not oblige regularly. The part-time maid couldn’t cope with his frisky nature nor did she have the time. You could not reason with a pup and if he had to ‘go’, he had to and right then and there.
After many sleepless nights we came to the sad conclusion that we would have to find another home for him. So began our search. It was not easy. Everyone who saw him loved his looks and antics but backed off when they came to know that he was a ‘desi’ pup aka mongrel. We rejected some because we didn’t trust them to care for him as he deserved to be. He was one loving pup and could melt our hearts with his soulful look or naughty ‘smile’. I swear he could smile.
It was depressing. Then a friend told us about his driver who was looking for a desi pup. He had two children and their dog had died recently. He asked if we would give him Joey.
‘We are not well to do, but we will give him love and care,’ the man said when he came home that day. Joey meanwhile began dancing around him and nipping away at his shoes. The friend vouched for his driver’s credentials and we felt comforted that we would have information about Joey’s welfare and if not satisfied we could always bring him back.
Despite all the reassurances, suddenly I changed my mind. ‘Let me think for a day,’ I said, unwilling to take the final step. The L&M who was also not so happy about giving him away, readily agreed. But the next day I had a bad migraine and it was a nightmare. Between my splitting head and an excitable pup, I went crazy. We had to take a decision even if it was a bitter one. I picked up the phone to call the driver over.
I will never forget the day Joey was to leave. He pecked at his food, which was very unusual for him, as he normally devoured everything I put in his bowl. He came and lay near my feet and kept looking at me soulfully, almost making me change my mind again. I could swear that he knew he was going away. Finally it was time for him to leave. Joey’s would-be-master didn’t want any of Joey’s things. ‘He would never be able to get adjusted to our place if he still has any connections with his old home,’ he said.
Like a mother sending her child on an overnight trip to a relative’s house, I gave hundreds of instructions about his habits, temperament and routine, and the man politely listened. He clearly knew all about dogs and was confident of taking care of Joey well.
I didn’t want to go but the L&M went with him to satisfy himself about his new home. I hugged and kissed the little thing and with teary eyes handed him over. Joey loved cars and he happily jumped into the car, his head outside the window, barking his little head off at a dog in his street. I felt comforted that he was not moping.
Did he know where he was going? Did he know he would never come back again? Did he know it was the last time he would sit on the L&M’s lap? I cried and kept calling the L&M on his mobile pestering him for a minute by minute account of what was happening.
‘This place is full of kids!” was his first statement. ‘They all know his name and he is enjoying himself!’ was his subsequent comment. ‘He is not even looking at me when I call him,’ he said a while later, a note of wistfulness in his voice.
Was he such an intelligent pup that he knew that that was going to be his new home? Was he mad at us for sending him off and showed his sulk by ignoring us?
Finally it was time to leave since Joey’s new parent was getting edgy. His new home was in one of the dozen small houses that ringed an open courtyard in that lower middle-class locality. What Joey might lack by means of luxury and comforts would be offset by attention, love and care.
It was a wrench for us for many weeks. The carton that was his home, his bowl, his toys, his blanket, his leash….everything reminded us of him. We couldn’t bring ourselves to give them away, not yet. I constantly jumped at the slightest sound of a puppy’s bark. All pups sounded like Joey.
‘He has perfect habits; he doesn’t pounce on his food, but waits to be called to eat; he doesn’t hog his food or keeps eating all day like other mongrels. He behaves like a gentleman!’ said Joey’s new parent when we called to find out about him.
Wow! That really warmed the cockles of my heart. All the weeks of running with him to toilet train him, to teach him to patiently wait for his food, to get him to get into an eating routine – had paid dividends.
Joey’s new parent was not too pleased with our constant calls over the next weeks. He felt that we checked on him because he was poor. We had respected his wish of not going to see him often. I went one step further and decided I didn’t want to go and see him at all. I would not confuse him further, since we were told that a dog never forgets his first master. We had been his foster parents and now he was in his permanent home. We stopped calling since we thought it was unfair to the new parent too.
However, our friend brought us news about his spectacular growth and his settling in at his new home. That should have made us feel better. He was with loving people and was happy. Who knows he would have forgotten his old home?
But I have not been able to get over the guilt of having to send him away, for the times I had scolded him, for keeping him confined when I had no energy to run after him. I caught the L&M wiping away a tear surreptitiously sometimes.
It often made me wonder about the whys of the whole thing all over again. What debt from past life did he owe us for him to have come and given us the pleasure of his company? What did he owe us for having cared for him? And above all, why couldn’t he stay with us?
Once again I found the answer to the above questions a couple of weeks later. Pups, purebred and pedigreed as well as mongrels began dying of some killer virus in our locality. They would be playing one moment and a few hours later would have died. We heard of yet another pup having died every day. One family lost two pups in the matter of a week. Their daughter was inconsolable.
Maybe God had removed Joey from our hands so that he would live. He brought him to us from the streets to save him from certain death and He took him away once again to save his life. Our Joey was indeed the chosen one and I am glad I had a few months to be with him and mother him.
Did we do the right thing by Joey? Do you have the answer?