A Fur-bulous Union#LOVE120 Ranjana Easwar • November 22, 2016
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
To call me an animal lover would be an understatement. In this age of growing human-animal conflict, I’m grateful that the desire to love, help and care for our furry and feathered friends comes naturally to me. In fact, till a few years ago, I used to emphatically proclaim that I would rather feed a starving animal than a starving human.
For 20 out of the 30 years of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to have pets in my home. And, I’ve always believed in adopting animals rather than purchasing them. Betsy, my first Spitz, came to us because her former owners were moving out of the country. Caesar, my nine-year-old Basset Hound, was displaced from four homes before he finally came to live with us. Even Guinness’ entry into my life was extremely natural, in that sense. However, with Caesar still around, I wasn’t planning on adopting a second pet, mainly due to space and time constraints. But, life clearly had other plans.
Over time, I’ve earned the reputation of being the dog lady in my neighbourhood. So, every time there’s an injured, malnourished or ill stray, the building guard or other people come beckoning.
A couple of months ago, a bunch of kids rang my doorbell and told me about a puppy that was injured and really weak. At first, I thought it was a puppy I fostered. Instead, there was a tiny, scared little black Indie mongrel pup cowering from all the noise of the screaming kids.
I picked her up and brought her home. She was barely the size of my palm, extremely frail and I could only feel bones on her. Her fur was matted, she had ticks and louse on her, a massive bald patch on her head, and one of her eyes wouldn’t open, which made me think she had lost that eye. She was also terribly dehydrated and looked like she hadn’t eaten for days, or weeks, even.
It’s amazing what even a little bit of food and a safe place to rest can do to an abandoned puppy’s spirit and I instantly knew that she was a fighter! The next morning, this brave little girl still terribly weak had opened both her eyes and tried to move around my house.
A visit to the vet confirmed everything that could go wrong in such a case: malnourished, anaemic, roundworms, mange, pus in her eyes and louse attack. The vet warned me that recovery wasn’t going to be quick and easy, and was going to take a lot of patience, care and attention – not to mention, a long list of medication!
I only planned to foster this puppy, who I named Blackie, for a couple of weeks till she felt a bit better and then put her up for adoption. But now, knowing how terribly unwell she was, I couldn’t just let her go until she was absolutely healthy.
But my next dilemma was much bigger: how do I take care of her? With my parents out of town taking care of my ailing grandmother, and Caesar at the doggie crèche, while they were away, I knew I couldn’t leave this pup alone at home.
That’s when the workplace rose to the occasion. As a pet-friendly office, it was as easy as apprising Sooperfly’s sooper-HR of my situation, and I could bring her to work!
Despite Blackie’s appearance, the support I received from my colleagues was phenomenal – positivity and tons of help.
During her first week with me, she had multiple name changes: From Blackie to Professor Lupin to Padfoot to Domino. But none seemed to stick. And then, I thought of Guinness (Yes! The beer!). She was this beautiful blackish-brown dog, with bits of white, just like a large pint of Guinness. It was also the name she reacted to the most. So, Guinness, it was!
The decision to keep her happened a month into her treatment. Guinness was responding to her medicines. Her health improved, her fur grew back and she was getting stronger by the day. The fact that this living being was flourishing in my care, rather than perishing, made me extremely protective and responsible for her (call it maternal instincts).
Today, Guinness is a new dog: energetic, friendly, happy, she has grown considerably and has been given the clean chit of health by the vet. I continue bringing her to work everyday, and she’s turned into the office darling, totally loving the attention and cuddles she gets through the day. In fact, on days I don’t bring her to work, “why isn’t she in office?” is a constant refrain.
My colleagues generously offer to take her for walks, spoil her with presents like a chew toy, basket for her to sleep in, t-shirts, and cool bags to carry her stuff. Her name, however, keeps changing much to my chagrin. My colleagues have christened a variety of names – from Girish to Ganesh to Dinesh to Puppinder Singh Chhadda to Pushpae. In fact, there is a Facebook profile, created by a co-worker, under Girish Easwar, that seems to be really popular.
Guinness’ entry, albeit unplanned, has brought this new wave of joy to my family. In this short span of time, she’s managed to carve a very special place in all our hearts. I can’t wait to see what adventures this crazy canine will bring. Right now, we begin a new phase – toilet training.