Between dog and me

Ambika Shaligram
Sunday, 27 May 2018

A dog will invariably change your life. A personal account

The least you expect from a marriage is that your spouse doesn’t have a flame — ex or current. My husband did. His ex was a German Shepherd named Penny. And, his current one is a Rottweiler, Lucy.

As a newly married bride, I was told how my husband was adored by Penny. ‘She didn’t like anyone standing near him, or touching his hand, or gesturing their closeness’ my mother-in-law told me. I moved a little away from my hubby as I could feel the presence of a snarling German Shepherd. That was my first introduction to my husband — his love for dogs.

Lucy is, of course, another story. At the age of nine, she continues to be the adored baby of the family. Did I mention ‘flame’? Well, I was wrong. Yes, she is extremely possessive of P; often head butting when we are sitting on the swing and chatting, or playing a game of badminton; or going for a post-dinner walk. She is that baby who doesn’t want to be left alone, when the parents are off to attend a party or a wedding. On rare occasions when Lucy is left behind, she sulks and growls, or turns her face away, upon our return.

That’s an invitation for the husband to go and pet her, coo to her, feed her biscuits and generally spend more time with her, while I wait to share my day with him. When I crib, ‘You are spending more time with Lucy than with me’, I am told, ‘Why do you have to crib? She is different for are different to me. She is our child.’

He has a point. Lucy did evoke some maternal instinct in me. I am not sure how this instinct came to the fore, but it did. It was just a playful, frisky gesture of pulling me by my dupatta to play ‘catch ball’ with her. It’s difficult to put in words what changed in me, but something did.

I never grew up with dogs, the way my husband has. So it took me time to get used to Lucy’s presence and her loving but intrusive ways of seeking attention.

A couple of months ago, Lucy’s age finally caught up with her. Her movements slowed down; she was listless, morose and generally very sad. We tried hard to cajole her, force-fed her pills, watched as she winced when injected and put up a vigil (mostly my husband) after she came back home from a surgery. She is showing signs of recovery. The mischievous spark is back in her eyes. And, I am waiting for the day when she comes back and appropriates her place on our laps, licking us on our face and feet.

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