It was by habit that I packed three portions of dinner for my street pups last night. When I realised it was going to be only Daffodil and Lily waiting for me, there was a lump in my throat. But I was not prepared for the surge of sadness that overwhelmed me when I went down to the gate and saw Sheru’s empty bowl. I had not realised just until that moment how integral a part of my life the familiar figure of the 14 year old pup with salt and pepper fur has become.
It isn’t like he always sits there waiting though. On many an occasion, I would need to go look for him all over our apartment complex in his favorite lounging corners that I’m familiar with now. Till last year it was easier. He would come hobbling on his rickety, arthritic paws as soon as he heard me call out for him, sniff hard to make sure I got his dinner and would follow me till the guard house by the gate where his bowl is kept.
But of late it has been difficult to find him. He can no longer see well – his eyes thickly clouded by cataract – and has lost almost all his hearing so he can’t hear me searching for him.
He would jump up startled at my touch and then begin his whining and sniffing ‘ Is it you with my food?’.
I would let him get a whiff of his dinner and he would invariably follow me to his bowl.
He loves milk and chicken. I always give him, Daffodil and Lily ( my two girls at the gate) steamed rice, some boiled pulses, a bit of vegetables and chicken. Actually I cook for six whatever I cook for Gin, Bud and Shadow for dinner.
This has been a part of my nightly routine once I get back home from evening clinic. The pups know. They follow my car on days I’m late till some distance from the gate, Sheru often standing in the middle of the lane right in front of my car whining while the girls prefer to stay back outside the campus gate.
It is an overwhelming feeling – a privilege actually - to have him waiting for you and asking for dinner when you know he cannot see or hear you. Somehow he senses and he trusts.
On Sunday morning, Sheru was hit by an errant driver. The guards called up ‘ Sheru has been run over. Can you come and check on him?’
He had deep cuts on his belly and hind paws, lacerations and open wounds and a very badly injured hind paw that looked like it might be fractured. But he stood up and whined, ‘It’s paining. I’m hurt’, he seemed to say.
P dressed up the wound and I called Gin, Bud and Shadow’s vet. He would see Sheru after 5 pm. By evening, his paw was badly swollen and though he stood up he was crying in pain and dragging it.
It was bad. Might be a fracture but there wasn’t any dislocation. Mostly a lot of swelling and oozing from the open wound but that made it difficult to clinically assess much.
We discussed shelters and finally the vet suggested one he said he trusted. So on Sunday night, after preliminary medication, P and I drove down and left him there.
He was scared and in pain but again, like always he overwhelmed me with his infinite patience and unquestioned trust. He would sit up and look out the windows but for most parts all the way to the shelter which was about 35 kilometers away, he cuddled up on my lap and slept. Like he was tired, just very tired.
There are about 350 to 400 homeless, injured and abandoned pups of all breeds, shapes, sizes and temperament in this shelter. It’s full beyond capacity and bursting at the seams. But like they put it, ‘their gates are always open for just one more injured and sick dog’!
The vet refused to accept his fees and the shelter took Sheru in. Little acts of kindness so rare these days.
Sheru, I was informed is eating well and settling in, in spite of his injuries, hundreds of new smells and unfamiliar quarters. Which is a saving grace I’m sure. However much I’m dying to bring him home, I can’t manage to look after him on a full time basis. Left out at the gate, there would be no one to watch over him and ensure he wouldn’t hurt himself again. I can only feed him and take care of his medications but what he needs now is to be safe till he is up on his paws and the open wounds heal.
I can’t help but keep him at the shelter now for some more time where he’d be safe, get regular meals and veterinary care.
No news today morning, which I assume is good news. But I’m going over for a visit this evening.
Please do keep my precious old boy in your thoughts and prayers and send some healing vibes his way. I need him to recover fast, start walking and hobbling and whining.
I miss him….