One spring day, seven years ago, our four-person family became bigger by one new member – a chubby little Dalmatian. Since then, Smokie, as he was named, has been an integral part of our lives. Over these years, Smokie has helped me learn so much about myself, my parents and occasional visitors.
There is a section of people who are often left puzzled at the way dog owners treat their furry mates. Why should an animal be given so much luxury (read: mattress, quilt, pillows, jacket, etc.), and so much time and attention? They frown or look confused when we tell them we need to rush home early to serve dinner to the dog. Why do we rush to the vet at the slightest sign of illness? The answer is – because dogs are people too. Absurdly true. Once they enter our homes, they become humans. I realized that when I saw my father caressing a year old Smokie’s leg after he had a little fall while playing around the house. Otherwise a stern man, not quite expressive of his feelings (stereotypical Indian father!), I was amazed to see a completely new side to him. My mother, whom Smokie follows around like Mary’s Little Lamb, says he is her third child. My belief was reaffirmed when Smokie fell seriously ill. He became so weak that he couldn’t even gather the energy to bark. My parents sat by Smokie’s side at the vet’s, swatting away notorious mosquitoes that are in abundance in our locality, while he received a small bottle of drip. Indeed, Smokie was one of us. The third child.
“Indeed, Smokie was one of us. The third child.”
Smokie has been a therapist to me. He has been around me whenever I needed company, was feeling low, or nursing my broken heart. Humans shouldn’t take for granted how much dogs can make you feel loved and wanted, and rid you of your loneliness. And what do they want in return- just a bit of love, and of course, food. Not a very bad deal, eh? While you may be greeted with glum faces after arriving home from a hard day at work, your dog will make you feel like a million dollars. They never leave your side, sometimes even when you go to the bathroom. And yes, Smokie has an added advantage – he can smile! It has been proven that Dalmatians possess special facial muscles which enable them to smile whenever they are very happy, nervous or in trouble. Though it might sound scary for people who don’t know that he is smiling, every time we return home from outside , we would always be greeted with a smile. Even the maid and the milkman are not spared.
We thank God for bringing Smokie into our lives. He always manages to bring a smile to our faces, even in bad times. Doesn’t a creature that spreads so much love and goodwill deserve to be nurtured, respected, and cared for in the best possible ways? For he isn’t just a dog, he is a member and the ‘goodwill ambassador’ of our family, and in him lies a little piece of each of our hearts.