What can I say about a 10-year old Dalmatian? That he liked snoozing with his snout on my feet. And that he liked waking up my husband by breathing heavily on his face. And that he liked chasing the red dot from the infrared pen. And loved howling for fun, with us joining him in chorus. And that he was the apple of my eye. And that his name was Scotty.
For all you avid readers or Erich Segal lovers, the above may sound similar to the start of Love Story.
Yes…it is. For this too is a love story. Of a different kind.
The one by Erich Segal deeply touched me and probably was instrumental in adding Romance to my reading list, which otherwise contained only Crime & Courtroom Drama. Scotty too, has left lasting paw prints on my heart and was instrumental in making me a better person.
Being someone who cannot easily cry in front of others or verbally express pain, Scotty’s loss brought a lump to my throat that has still not fully gone, even after 9 months.
What do you do in a situation like this to ease the pain? This got me thinking and I realized that while I may not be able to talk about it, I am able to write about how I feel. So I decided why not share it? Maybe this will strike a chord with someone else who is grappling with grief too. While this blog will be about life and experiences in general, I decided to make the first one about Scotty and deliberately chose today to go live with my first post as he would have been 11 today.
Scotty came to us in 2007. At that time I was petrified of dogs – a fact that many of my friends can endorse. He was two & a half months and during that time he had already changed 3 homes. My husband got Scotty saying he was only going to be with us for a week till he found a good, permanent home for him. It turned out that his permanent home was with us. The details of how he won me over is a whole different story – a different blog, for another time.
Coming back to this post, anyone who lost a ‘pet’ and shared a special bond will easily identify with me. It is not easy to talk to people about the loss of a ‘pet’ as people who are not privy to the human-animal bond assume that they are easily replaced with another. So what starts off as a chat to ease your pain quickly spirals into an attempt to explain why & how ‘pets’ are equal to humans and irreplaceable, for someone like me.
I read somewhere that ‘Life can be the same after a trinket has been lost, but never after the loss of a treasure’. To me, Scotty was that treasure. So instead of trying to fill the void, I now choose to remember and treasure the moments.
The first month was a blur, trying not to stay at home as the house felt like just an empty space. However, having realized that I couldn’t forever run away, I returned. Then came the doubts – did I not do enough to save him? Was I wrong in the way that I cared for him? Friends who understood me well reassured me that I was a good parent and had given him a good life. That got me thinking….wasn’t it him who took care of me? He took me for long walks everyday, giving me the exercise I needed. He was my sounding board, my stress buster, my partner in crime. Even in death, he took care of me…choosing to wait till we came to terms to letting him go. So some part of my fear probably also was from the fact that he was no longer there to take care of me.
Then came the task of telling people that he had crossed over the rainbow bridge. The number of people who visited us or wrote to us made me realize that he not only had a deep impact on my life, but had touched other lives as well. Even till date, some people who don’t know, ask us why is he not to be seen and if walk timings have changed.
Then came the sleepless nights, when there were no paws kicking me at night (Scotty chasing some poor cat or rabbit in his dreams). In all this, I was trying to get back to normal life but the loneliness crept in, despite being surrounded by loving family and friends.
And then suddenly, it was the new year and I who never make resolutions, made one this year. To consciously dwell on the happy memories of the 10 precious years. This was inspired by the thought that Scotty had always brought me happiness and would not have liked to be the cause of any pain to me. In all this I learnt that taking the time to grieve strengthens bonds with the lost one and that being happy is a choice you have to make – immaterial of the circumstances.
The healing process has started. Yes – there are a million times in a day that I still think about Scotty, but not with sadness. In doing this, I am feeling liberated and sense that he is also at peace.
So here is hoping that he is running free across green meadows and wishing the keeper of my heart a very happy birthday!