Candy’s 20th birthday is on the 10th of April. In human years, that means a hundred-and-forty years. She died yesterday, on the 30th of March.
She was the loveliest dog in the world. So human that she’d understand facial expressions. The slightest raising of one eyebrow would make her cock her head to the right side and look at you, as if to ask what’s up?
She’d go thirsty for hours, but wouldn’t drink water from a bowl. You just needed to pass by, for her to get up and start prancing around the sink, looking all happy and hopeful that you’d stop and put on the tap for her. And then she’d happily drink fresh running water.
We’d take her for picnics and she’d run around in crazy circles till she was completely exhausted. And then she’d sit quietly in the car on the ride back home.
At this same picnic spot, there was this little lake with pedal boats. Candy saw Mom standing at the opposite end of this lake, and wagged her tail and jumped into the water – and swam across to reach Mom. Of course, then she got stuck since she couldn’t climb out from the water on to the cemented edges, and looked at Mom with panic on her face – till she was pulled out of the lake.
Even though we had a male dog in the house also, she didn’t ever get pregnant till she was 6 or 7 years old. And the first time that she did, none of her pups survived. I remember taking 4 days off from school because she’d trust me to look after her pups. Also becuaes she was never a very good mother – would just get up and walk away while her pups were still feeding. All of these pups from the first litter would start shivering one by one, and all the other pups would leave that one alone – and then this horrid coldness that I’ll never forget, would start creeping upwards from their paws, and slowly each of them would just die. I held most of them when they were dying, and cry with Candy. One night, exhausted with the crying, I went to bed and left Candy on her bed with the pups, in one corner of my room. Another of the pups started shivering, and Candy gently picked up the little thing in her mouth, came up to my bed and put her front paws up and whined and cried till it woke me up. And I woke up to see her standing with her dying puppy in her mouth, and her eyes asking me to help her babies. I’ll never forget that feeling of complete and utter helplessness.
Candy would always know if you were upset. I remember crying with her sitting next to me, licking me gently.
Her favourite food was fruits. All fruits, but especially mangoes and papayas. Also, roasted sweet potato. Though I always wondered how they were her favourites, since she never chewed anything. Would just open her mouth, grab the fruit you offering greedily, and gulp it down. All the dogs in our house got two meals a day. But one of us would always feed Candy at lunch as well. After finishing our food, we’d take an extra roti and feed her whatever it was that we were having. And she loved it. She loved paneer a lot too.
Through the last 20 years, we’ve had other dogs too. But that’s all they were – pet dogs. Candy was like everyone’s baby. And she knew that too. When we got our Dachshund pup home, she spent the first 3 days being scared of this almost-hairless little black thing with long ears and a straight long tail. And soon she was dragging him around the house with one of those long floppy ears in her mouth.
She’s been steadily growing old, but the last couple of years saw her getting thick cataract in both her eyes. Her hearing went. She could always smell as well though. She had trouble standing up. And would sleep a whole lot. But she never lost her puppy-like happiness and jumpi-ness ever. Except the last week.
My brother spent two nights sitting up with her, trying to put water with Electral in her mouth, through an empty syringe. He tried papaya too. It looked like she was getting better. Yesterday morning, Mom gave her her medicine and she went back to sleep. Her breathing was raspy. And then around 10:30 in the morning, Mom was told that Candy wasn’t breathing any more.
Mom and Papa went to the community park opposite our house, dug a hole near the back wall of the ground, and buried her.
We all miss her. I can’t imagine a lovelier dog than her. And I’ll always wish I could’ve gone home to Meerut and sat with her sometime in the last week.