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ANIMAL BONDING: A LOT TO LEARN

A few months back I was tricked. Tricked by my loved ones. None other than my son.

I was at Chandigarh flying when I get a call from him asking about how much I loved dogs. As always I was non-committal and he was trying his best to persuade me to have a dog pet at home.

Then he unleashed the masterstroke. He told me that mamma is ready to have a pet at home. This was some news as I knew she loved dogs but was reluctant to take on the full responsibility. But when she was ready, who was I to say No. So I gave a go-ahead.

The same trick was used with the mother also at home. She was also told that papa is ready and she also gave a go-ahead.

Little did we know that for a change the homework was done by Aarav before time. He had already earmarked the pet, place, and delivery schedule along with the cost. The only thing done at the last minute was to inform the pricing with a 60% lower differential to me than the actual price.

So this was it. The female Labrador pup was at home. She was named ‘ ZURI’ and the happiness of children was depicted as if ‘ ho gayi ho harr khushi poori’.

Zuri took time to grow on us, rather me. I would be lying if I say it was an instant click between us. I grew more and more attached to her over a period of time.

She would come and look into my eyes with her eyes exuding innocence and seeking love. She would cuddle on my feet and wag her tail with selfless love. As she grew up in size, she became more and more caring and expressive in her demonstration of love. The wag of the tail, growl and jump on you when you come back from outside after a long break or a short 5-minute break is a sight to cherish for the soul. So much unconditional love is a blessing in itself.

The last month has been such a learning experience to understand her behavior. Aarav was at it again. He came across an abandoned kitten in our society. The gentle and kind soul in no time adopted her to save her from the sure-shot neglected death. She was fed, bathed, and given a new home. The kitten was named KIWI and her presence in the homemade ZURI confused and it is where her full range of emotions would be displayed.

Till the time kitten was stationary, Zuri was confused. Any small movement Zuri would react with amazement and fear. She would retract with her tail between her legs. It took her some time to get to know Kiwi and once comfortable she became her nanny. Zuri would clean her up with her tongue, allow her to hide under her belly, and did not mind her playing all around her body. Kiwi on her part would climb all over Zuri like an obstacle course. She would pick and pluck Zuri and hide after getting a reaction from Zuri. They developed a bond that was playful.

Over a period of time, Zuri would allow her to approach her meal bowl. Dogs are said to be voracious. Their meal is sacred and can not be shared. However, Zuri allowed Kiwi to jump into her meal bowl and nibble on it. Post-meal she would clean her up and playfully chase her. The kitten too would enjoy this routine and go and sit next to the refrigerator and soak in the warmth of the heat from the compressor.

This became a routine till the time the fragile kitten decided to bid adieu to the world. She waited for me to come back from my flying detachment, played on my hands, feet, and arms for a few hours, and passed away the same night.

It was traumatic to see the little angel motionless. She left Aarav devastated and he is yet to overcome the loss. We consoled ourselves and moved on. However, none of us felt what is Zuri feeling about it.

In the following days, we noticed a change in Zuri’s behavior. She would growl and make crying sounds. She would reject her food and was not playful. She was having disturbed and irregular sleep. We all took it as a sign of illness and sought doctors’ intervention.

To our surprise, the doctor diagnosed that Zuri was going through a phase of depression due to separation from kiwi. She was missing her presence. To overcome that she would hop onto our bed and seek companionship. She would growl at regular intervals and reject food. We tried our best and she improved when Aarav improved. She rejected her meal bowl forever in which she would share the meal with Kiwi. She had her full meal only when the bowl has been replaced with a new one. She is still seen trying to sniff around the refrigerator in search of her companion KIWI.

Who says animals don’t have emotions. It has been such a learning week of selfless love bee and care.

Zuri and Kiwi have taught a great lesson about BONDING.

BAJJIO.

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