Leaping through emotions – with Roger
The house seems scrupulously clean now. More organized since you were around – and a lot more vacant. Every surface that was coated with the fur you shed is now squeaky clean and shining. But the shine is nowhere near your luminous eyes. Those loving bright eyes that used to come searching for me when I would be out of sight. The bushy tail that would wag nineteen to the dozen in tandem with the yelps of joy that greeted me with the same intensity when I would step into the house, no matter how long I was gone. I miss that the most when I step into this vacant lifeless house now.
As goes for any relationship, my relationship with Roger, our pet Labrador, transited through varied emotions. I must admit that I wasn’t the happiest person when he first stepped into the house while I was away on a professional commitment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a dog lover to the core. But ever since I was a kid, we’ve always had small sized dogs that were playful and naughty. So this oversized Labrador that appeared to be quite dumb when it came to getting trained, did test my patience for a long time. He’d coolly go around the house, climbing on beds and sofas, leaving his fur as a testament of his ownership on those objects, to the extent that we would find his fur in food, on clothes, and it also led to aggravating my son’s tendency towards wheezing.
Roger claimed his rights on rich bakery goodies that were carefully kept away from his reach by every means he could adapt, including sneaking upon it and pawing it down to the floor. Chewing up expensive footwear, leaving just one part of the pair intact, was his forte. This went on for a good part of the seven years of his life. I rebelled with this unwanted entry in my house by calling him non-flattering names like ‘Ghodsingh/Ghodu’, for his habit of leaping on me affectionately like a ‘Ghoda’ (horse). Anyway, I found the name ‘Roger’ too manly for a dog but had accepted it because my son had taken fancy to it. Although, in his later years, the name ‘Ghodu’ was called out more out of affection than with the intention of teasing him, and he responded to it by soulfully looking into my eyes with his eyes full of unconditional love.
Sometime back, I took a break from work for two years much to his disappointment. After all, his days of freedom were numbered, with the strict disciplinarian sitting on his head, observing his every unapproved activity with the eyes of a hawk. Not only that, with my affinity for active dogs, I would push and tease him into playful activities, trying to pull him out of the lethargy that was so typical for dogs of his breed. He was not amused, of course.
It was during these two years that we gradually developed a bond of mutual understanding. He complied with my discipline and started living up to my expectations. He helped me maintain the house in a better way, now that his areas were clearly demarcated. And mind you, he was still the king of the house, but now with more clarity of what was acceptable and what was not. He, in turn, was rewarded on and off with the treats he loved the most – ice cream, chocolates, pizza, sweets and meat, but in moderation of course. He was my sound board, my punching bag, my unconditionally loving partner for those two years that I spent at home. On days I withdrew in my shell, cuddling up with him and whispering sweet nothings in his ears gave me the solace no other human being was capable of giving me, with the exception of my son.
Six months back, I was in and out of the house again, attending to professional commitments. Only recently did I take a short break from work to attend to some personal agenda, and the unexpected was on its way. It now seems as if fate had aligned me to be by Roger’s side in his last days. It looked like I was summoned by him to rest his face and floppy ears on my lap as he took his last breath. My Ghodu took his final leap to peace on February 3rd, 2015, after putting up a brave struggle against an undiagnosed illness. His presence in our lives is still felt strongly in each and every nook and corner of the house and our hearts…
If you are keen on knowing more about Roger, you can read the blog post that Vinodini wrote about him a year ago.
Author: Vinodini Iyer