I was 9.. my sister 12 when my father informed us overcall that sarpanch of a nearby village had gifted us a small little ball of fur. She was a female and we were given the task of finding her a suitable name. We wanted to see her, but we had to wait for another month. The excitement was immense. We thought, brainstormed names and alas decided to name her after a neighbours dog whom we loved deeply. SAIRA.
The month that passed was the slowest of all. Papa used to tell us what she would do. Her first bath, her eating habits and how she was chewing off the shoes. We waited and finally, the wait was over. We met her. She was a scared puppy.
We went near her and she growled, didn’t let us touch her. We wanted to pick her up but she attacked. I was a little scared of her now. But as time passed, she knew we were her safe haven. She used to climb up the bed and snuggle quietly. She would hesitate to come for a pat. But she did. And within a few months, she was the queen of the house.
Oh, I forgot to mention- Saira is a chihuahua and pomeranian cross. She is a small dog with captivating eyes and white soft fur.
Continuing with her attitude and perfectness, Saira never peed or pooped at home. Never. She used to convey by barking, go out on her own, find grass (very important) and do her business. Never did she enjoy dog food, she wanted to eat what we ate and with us. She had to be fed from the plate with our hands when we were eating. That was her condition, always. She was the queen of the house and mumma’s baby, always behind her wherever she went. And the little bells on her collar, the sound with her tippy-toe steps- it was music.
And what a brave dog. All of 2 kgs and 1 foot, she has chased away German Shepards, stray dogs and monkeys from our house (not to forget the chasing off squirrels and peacocks).
We loved to pick her up, cuddle her and play with the small crazy ball (any bigger ball didn’t fit in her mouth) with her. She was and is a piece of all our heart. She would sleep lost in loads of blankets, climb up the bed (which included a big run-up for her as she was very tiny) and hide in our blanket. We have spent hours searching for her, only to find her snoring away on our bed. It was once that she entered mumma’s cupboard and slept there the entire day. We were careful while walking as she would follow us and it just took a second for her to come under our feet. In our locality she would be famous, children would want to touch her but all she did was growl at them. She hated children. Though she has calmed down with age and now enjoys anybody’s pat and love at any time of the day. The belly is her favourite spot as always.
We did have challenges as well. I remember instances where she has been so sick that we never thought she would survive. The first was when she had a miscarriage and we were in Nagaland with the least of facilities. But this fighter just came out stronger. Another time was a gum infection. She was 12 and I was all alone with her. I remember taking her to the veterinarian (at least 3 before I found the best one- god for us) fifteen days in a row for cleaning of teeth and IVs as she could not eat. I used to feed her cerelac with a syringe. She was recovering and then again she developed an abscess near her nipple and it was back to square one, another fifteen days of dressing.
She used to lie down in her bed all day long, didn’t get up. I had to lift her and take her even for her doing her daily business. It was heartbreaking. There was a time when we thought that this was it. She is old. She won’t survive. But she did. And a month later she was running behind a mouse in the same garden. There were spurts of ups and downs in her health after that but she fought and came out healthy each time.
Two other things Saira never enjoyed were travelling and bathing. Travelling was important due to my dad’s transferable job. So we tried trains, they were long and she would hate it, never calmed down. Cars were okay if we made her sit in our lap and pat her all the time. What was most comfortable was surprisingly flights. She is a small dog so we can carry her in the cabin in an Air India flight. So that’s what we did most of the time. And bathing. A 2kg dog exerted a force of 200 kgs on any person giving her a bath and always ran away. And her not eating food as a protest after that. God. She was a perfect drama queen.
She is a central part of our lives to date. Saira is turning 16 soon. She has some difficulty seeing and hearing, most of her teeth have fallen and she sleeps all the time. But you pick her up and you feel the warmth, the love. She still protests by not eating, she still wants to be fed by hand and she still is mumma’s favourite. It’s like we have grown together. Seeing her deteriorate is tough but some little antique of her makes us go in awe of her even today.
She has changed our lives in many ways. We have grown, learnt compassion and have come closer as a family. It’s a journey that has been beautiful and we hope it continues for a long time.