“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
This September, my husband and I moved into a new rented place. One day our landlords, an old Bengali couple, informed us that they were travelling to Mumbai for a week and we should feed the street dog outside every evening, on their behalf. Being animal lovers, we happily agreed.
That very evening, we were greeted by a frail Indian dog waiting outside, wagging her tail for us. She had very little fur and was constantly biting on the infectious wounds all over her body. This was preventing her wounds from drying. After having fed her milk and bread, we found rescue with Google and stumbled upon a blog describing basic medicines and their dosage for dogs. The next day onwards, we started giving her medicines to dry her wounds, antibiotics to reduce her infections and de-worming to make life a little easy for her.
Our landlords, of course were back but we continued feeding Pagli (if you see her wagging her tail, you would not want to call her anything else either!). Soon, her health improved and so did our bond.
Meanwhile, another dog began paying us a visit. For some reason, which only my husband knows, his name is Paglu! To me Paglu is nothing close to his name. His ways are truly army-like. His walk, his manners, his sense of pride is nowhere close to those of civilians. He would not run behind us. He would wag his tail just once; to let us know that we can feed him if we want. Handsome, groomed and proud, I adopted Paglu the moment I saw him!
We bought two earthen bowls for our new children and feeding them every evening has been a ritual since then. As winters approached, we realised they were having trouble with the cold milk so we began warming the milk and adding eggs to keep them warm through the night.
Some weeks down the line, Pagli stopped coming. I began to get worried that she may have been caught in a road accident. Amber went about looking for her in all possible places but she was nowhere. Then one afternoon, as I was talking to the cylinder-guy from Indane, I saw Pagli jumping from behind the gate, wagging her tail and trying to tell me a million things. As I went closer, everything became crystal clear, as we shared eye contact with our teary eyes. She had given babies. They were hiding right under the cemented drain near our house. Since the last couple of days she had been too weak to come out for food or water. I was so happy for her. She had been a brave girl!
I rushed inside to get her some warm milk and bread. She ate hungrily and came back to me, thanked me with her wagging tail and crawled back into the drain. Following this, Amber and I read up all about nursing dogs in trying to understand basics of feeding them. We realised their appetite increases manifold and so we began feeding her thrice a day.
Her babies are still in hiding. We peeked inside and counted five of them, tucked in each other’s arms. Every time we bring food, we call out for her and she comes out of the drain. That’s when we get to hear the sweet “kooyi kooyi” of her babies.
I am very grateful to Pagli for letting me be a part of her motherhood. Before I have my meals, I feed her. Sometimes When I feel she may be thirsty, I put water outside for her. And then there are other times when she seems too tired to come out and eat. So, we leave some food right outside the drain, to help her conserve energy.
Paglu, on the other hand seems to have softened a bit too. He sees that we wait for him to finish his food so he has started coming and letting us pat him a bit before he heads off to grab his place on one of the car roofs.
As for us, we are happy that Paglu and Pagli came into our lives and chose to love us. Often, we find ourselves discussing them like proud parents. Seeing us, they come jumping and running and there is no better feeling than that.
I cannot wait to meet Paglu and Pagli’s babies and tell them all about their awesome awesome parents!