This is Donna, a dog from our neighborhood, who sleeps in the portico of my parents’ house every night. Actually she sleeps there during day time and lies awake every night, glaring at every passer by and other stray dogs. She takes her unsolicited job as a safe-guarder quite seriously!
The first time I realized that she is one smart cookie happened the very day I met her for the first time, while she was fighting with other dogs in the vicinity. I yelled at them to stop and the moment she heard my angry voice, she let go of the dogs she was snarling at and came to me with her tail wagging, showing me that she is actually made of softer stuff. That first encounter with Donna is etched in my memory, recounting which still brings a smile to my face.
The first time I realized that she is a sweet heart was when she walked with me to the neighborhood store and refused to leave my side even when other dogs were bullying her to leave their territory. She lovingly follows Mom, my Sis and many others around too.
And the first time I realized she is more than any ordinary dog was when I was leaving Coimbatore to go to Bangalore. As she mutely walked by my side, giving enough space between us for my suitcases, I noticed her eyes glisten with unshed tears, as she watched me leave. For a long time I believed those tears were a figment of my imagination, now I know that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
She is one of the few, I look forward to meeting every time I come home. Watching her joyously wag her tail and jump up for the snacks I get her brings me more joy than anything else ever could. I sometimes engage with her, by teaching her to sit, stand and pose for photos, all of which is a child’s play for her. She clearly is an already well-trained dog and a super smart one at that.
What I like the most about her is how expressive she can get when she wants to convey something. Like the time I scolded her for howling at night, she remained in the same spot during the entirety of the reprimand, with her head down and sneaking in a sideways look every now and then, exactly the way a normal human would when caught doing something wrong. And the best part is, she seemed to pay attention to everything I said. For after that, whenever she found a strange dog or two at night, she knew not to howl and wake us up.
The next time I scolded her, it was because of her break-neck speed run after our car or two-wheeler. These days when she sees me glare at her run like that, she immediately breaks her speed and sometimes even stops in her tracks. Even today, she would run after our vehicles, but in a much slower speed, in a way that wouldn’t annoy any of us.
The most unforgettable time was the day I scolded her upon seeing her intimate with an ugly dog. She just could not fathom what my problem here was and while in the middle of my scolding, she barked back at me, for the first time ever. She was so annoyed with me – for not minding my own business and for scolding her for something that she wasn’t really at fault – that she refused to eat the bones that Mom saved for her. She was spotted whining and when I stepped out, her whines grew louder. Some drama queen she is! Anyway, I went to her, apologized for scolding her, and told her I would be happy if she forgives me. I nodded at the bones and told her to eat her food as a sign of forgiveness. I was dumbfounded when she immediately stopped whining, got up, stretched, went to the bones and wiped the bowl clean. She did understand everything I said! Which means she has understood all that I have told her in the past too; which includes some mean and harsh things! Yet, that day she decided to forgive me and let them all go. She even came to me wagging her tail and sat next to my feet, clearly indicating that the past is behind us now and that I am forgiven.
That night I couldn’t sleep properly and I was up most of the night wondering how we humans got the whole concept of forgiveness and letting go very wrong, especially when we could easily learn that very art by watching the dogs around. Since then I have been mindful of what I tell and show Donna, for I know she understands every word and gesture perfectly. I am not sure if this is just Donna or if every dog is as understanding of human beings. I am sure it’s the latter and I am also sure if I am around more, Donna could teach me many more important lessons on kindness and love.
I have not been too fond of stray dogs, in our house that has always been my Mom, for a long time it has been only her who has been kind to the dogs and cats around. But seeing Donna, my tolerance for stray dogs has improved by leaps and bounds, making the otherwise indifferent me kinder towards smaller beings around. Maybe one day I will get a dog home, not sure when I will be ready to take such a huge plunge of responsibility towards another living being, but when I do, it will mainly be because of all the inspiration I am obtaining from Donna by watching her love and cherish everyone around. Donna darling, thank you for all that you are ❤️.