M. Gautham Machaiah
We humans claim to love unconditionally. But in reality, all of us expect something in return. If nothing, we at least expect love in return for the love that we give. The only living beings that according to my experience give love unconditionally are dogs. Rivalling humans in selfishness are cats.
When I was a student, our little dog Rover was an inseparable part of our lives. The love he gave us was unquestioned and even when he was punished sometimes, he would forgive and forget as if nothing had happened.
Just as our bond was growing, Rover suddenly fell seriously ill and had to be taken to a veterinarian, who being a man of humour assured us that the dog would soon be running like a wild boar. The doctor then put Rover to sleep. When my brother Vikram and I saw his lifeless body, we were inconsolable.
“Doctor, you said you will make him run like a wild boar, but you have killed our dog,” we confronted the veterinarian, who wryly replied, ““Of course your dog will run like a boar, but in his next life. How can a dog become a boar in this life?” We saw no point in arguing and buried Rover in our backyard. For the next four days at least, the household was drowned in tears.
Once the sorrow waned, we adopted two rabbits who were named Keechu and Meechu by our cousin Kartik, after the popular Tinkle characters. But the rabbits became a source of nuisance, burrowing holes around the house and our father decided to give them away to one of his colleagues who had a big compound.
A few days later we visited the colleague and after a sumptuous meal, Kartik asked him about Keechu and Meechu. Imagine our shock when the gentleman replied with a straight face, “What Keechu, Meechu? You just had them for dinner.” We have not forgiven him to this day.
Our next pet was again a dog, Pepsi, who I adored. When Pepsi littered, one of her pups was brought to Bengaluru by Karthik who named him Kobi. I had never seen Kobi because by then I had shifted to Bengaluru from Coorg, but every time I visited Kartik’s house, the dog would be over-excited and would greet me like a long lost friend. That is the power of intuition that dogs have.
Soon, Pepsi died and when the news reached me, I was heartbroken. Seeing my forlorn face, my colleagues thought I had lost a close family member. When I told them it was a pet, they tried to make light of it. But only a pet lover will understand the pain of losing them.
Then on, we have never had pets, but of late I have a new friend—a cat that has made a neighbourhood club her home. I feed her every time I go to the club, but the next day she royally ignores me and walks away with her tail high in the air. But when she is hungry, she comes to my table and literally demands food, something scratching me and leaving a gash on my skin. On the other hand, the street dogs near my house are ever grateful even if I feed them once in a blue moon. As the saying goes, “Dogs have masters, cats have slaves.”
If I were to have a pet again, it would most likely be a dog, never a cat…but definitely not a rabbit.