Isn’t the title too sad! Yes it is indeed, but you know whats sadder, that he died today and I’ve lost him forever. A big dog, with a bigger and braver heart, he was named Caesar. I knew him since the last eleven years, but now it seems it wasn’t enough.
I’d always been fond of dogs. Not ‘let the dog lick your face’ kind of fond but ‘lets keep a little distance between us’ kind of fond. So when I got married I was quite happy about the fact that my in-laws had a four month old German Shepherd. He had to learn to be a guard dog and was being trained accordingly. With an intelligent linage and a super strong physique he was feared in the neighbourhood. His trainer was strict with him and stricter with me. “Ma’am please don’t spoil him”, he would often tell me.
But how could I not! When that cute fur ball heard me in the kitchen, he would come running to the window, jump hard to look at me and I would quietly throw a biscuit or a small treat. It was our little secret, which we both never shared with anyone, until now. Time went by but the only thing that changed was that the little puppy who would jump so desperately to draw my attention, soon grew so big that he could just stand at the window and would wait for me to treat him. Indeed he was intelligent, he would come there only if he heard Me! And if he saw someone else standing with me, he would sheepishly get down, as if he came there by mistake.
Caesar was more of an outdoor dog, happily circling around the house, rolling himself in the freshly mowed lawns and basking in the winter sun. We didn’t share many cuddly moments, but he loved it when I patted his back or rubbed his neck. When I came back from work, I would find him sitting at the gate waiting, and he would jump at me as if we’d been away since long. He loved playing ‘fetch’, so quick he was to grab the ball, but would never want to let go of it. Once he caught it, he would come to me but not drop the ball. I used to follow him around to make him drop it, but he didn’t unless I raised my voice. But then, what’s the point of playing if you get angry. Soon I had the brightest idea, we now played the same game, but with two balls. I would throw one, Caesar would run, catch it and come to me, with the ball clutched tightly in his big, sharp teeth. Then as soon as I showed him the other ball, he would drop the first one, with all his attention now focussed greedily on the ball in my hand, he would jump on me, trying to get hold of it. And when I threw it, he would run swiftly to catch it giving me time to grab he first one. That was our way to play fetch!
But our playing fetch had to be put on hold when I was expecting. I don’t how, but there was something, something that changed this hyper active dog. He had suddenly stopped jumping at me. I had heard that animals, especially dogs, can sense things, but I didn’t really believe it, until then. In the evenings when I would go out to sit in my flower rich lawn, he would calmly come and sit right in front of me and place his head in my lap, as if requesting me to rub his neck. And if I stopped even for a millisecond, or talk to someone, he would keep nudging me with his paw.
When you have kids, your priorities change. You get extra cautious about everything. When my son started walking and exploring the outside corners of the house, I used to worry how Caesar would react. He wasn’t used to seeing little people around, especially the ones who could poke his eye or would try sitting on him. But then Caesar taught me how easy it was to trust him. One day I came out to answer the doorbell, my son who was with me, in those two minutes vanished. I looked around and panicked. I ran towards the kennel and saw him sitting leaning on Caesar with both his hands in Caesar’s food bowl. I was benumbed, Caesar hated it when someone came near his food, he would growl even at his trainer. I just couldn’t understand what had happened to the muscular and stormy dog! It was the beginning of a new friendship.
Well, in a few years, my husband got relocated, and my son and I moved with him. Caesar was now getting old, it was very visible, but when ever we visited he welcomed us with the same vigour. His mind was still young but I guess his body was slowly giving up. He was a brave brave dog. Towards the end, his condition worsened. My exuberant and irrepressible Caesar would be lying in his kennel. The last time saw him, he was so happy to see me. He tried very hard, he couldn’t get up, he could only wag his tail. The question that now haunted us was ‘Is euthanasia the answer to stop his suffering?’. But I guess Caesar didn’t want us to carry that burden of guilt, today morning he himself went to sleep, never to wake up again.
“Dogs’ lives are too short, and thats their only fault.”— Anges Sligh Turnbull.