Imagine a world without dogs and the world suddenly appears to be dark and love-less. Here is one for all those who love their pets.

 

He was a white cotton ball, wrapped up in my little sister’s favorite scarf. I came home late that night; it was December of 2010. Squeaking and shaking with excitement, my sister held up a tiny bundle to me and through the layers of cloth a tiny white head with spectacle-like black rings around his eyes, appeared a little dog. My little sister, falling prey to her whims had brought home a month old Lhasa Apso. I instantly fell in love with the life that measured a mere ten inches. I named him Mr. Vodka for reasons I don’t remember anymore.


He slept through most parts of the day, only waking up to eat. His bulbous head, which was bigger than his body, often tipped him forward into his bowl. It was during the nights that he exuded unbelievable amounts of energy. When the hands on the clock neared two in the morning, I’d hear him snuffling. No, Mr. Vodka hadn’t learnt to bark yet. He’d try to get out of his giant bed to play and play we would in the dead of the night. For the first two months, my sleeping hours were scheduled and rescheduled around his playtime and feeding time. But he was so tiny, so fragile, so far away from his biological mother and so I happily obliged.


Two weeks and he had already memorized my scent and voice. I was the only person whose calls he answered. His first bark, his first collar, his first bath, his first haircut are like fast forwarded flashes etched in my memory. Winter went by, spring sprinted on and it was summer. Before I had the chance to comprehend, he was an adult white dog with long shaggy hair who sat on my lap. He was nothing like the cotton ball that fitted on my palm but the spectacle-like black rings around his eyes were still there.


Mr. Vodka and I had grown very close over time. Every evening, he would come to fetch me at the gate. He would flood me with torrents of kisses, jumps and squeals. He hated it when someone sat on my bed. He was a safe dog but he liked chasing little children. He loved bullying my sister and whenever I was around, his bullying doubled. He enjoyed sitting beside my father while he read his paper but if I walked in he would come to me for a scratch behind his ears. He was immensely afraid of my mother and whenever she scolded him, he would hide behind me. I was his safe harbor but I was going away to college in the fall.


During my last weeks at home before I left, Mr. Vodka became immensely loving. He followed me around more closely. He was much happier when I got home in the evenings as if he was dreading that I might not come back. If I slept over at someone else’s house, he’d sit in front of the door, dead setill awaiting my return. He treated me with more licks than he had ever done and he would sit silently on my lap for hours while I watched TV. However, as my departure day closed in, his affection started decreasing gradually.


I have two more days until I leave for college. I came home late today and Mr. Vodka wasn’t at the gate. I went inside and saw him sitting on my bed. He stood up and started walking, I waited for him to come up to me but Mr. Vodka walked right past me. No happy growling, no enthusiastic jumpy lunges, not the smallest sign of recognition, nothing at all. It broke my heart but maybe it was his way of acknowledging my going away.