I want to introduce you to this wonderful being who recently came into my life simply called “Doggy”. Why he is called just Doggy and not some proper name is the entire basis of our relationship.
So when we started regularly visiting our small little beautiful village house, I was this typical city dweller who would walk around with a wooden stick in my hand to protect myself and my little one from some doggies who followed us around in the campus. I would often wonder why the stray dogs are allowed to walk around in the campus in the first place. Then slowly I noticed that this one particular doggy always sat outside our house, always followed us everywhere no matter what wherever we went. Sometimes I would be scared but then slowly I started getting familiar with him.
Sometimes a thought would cross my mind whether I should feed him something but then I would stop myself thinking that maybe this would encourage the whole bunch of dogs to land at our doorstep. I thought this would not be a wise thing since I had a little one to care for and protect and would be scared of the germs that these dogs would be spread around.
But this particular one would not give up. He would follow us everywhere. Even if I didn’t give him any food he would still hang around in the verandah and spend the whole weekend around us. My son too became familiar with him and started pointing him out to me. He would say “Look Maa, there’s our Doggy.” Slowly he started being “our doggy”.
Then I began wondering that if he spends the whole weekend with us where would he be eating? So I slowly started giving him some food. Then I would notice that he would loudly bark whenever he saw any other dog near our house. He was getting territorial. I never realised how powerful his bark actually was. He never showed it to us. But whenever another dog approached our house this fellow would growl and bark at him and then again gently just come and sit on the verandah. I didn’t know what to make of this.
Then one day while walking around I happened to glance right into his eyes. I was told never to stare at a dog right in his eye, but this just happened. And I noticed such deep wise gentle eyes. He too was gently staring right back at me. I suddenly felt so safe. I realised that he meant no harm. Eyes are truly the windows to the souls and animals have souls too. I had read a lot about this. But this was the first time it truly sank in for me.
I used to think that my heart was open enough but I guess not. This doggy taught me that I could further open my heart to him too. That there were still places in me that I had not yet explored. Growing up in matchbox sized homes in Mumbai, having a pet was a luxury that I hadn’t even thought of. So I had an indifferent relationship with “pets”. I thought it was something that I did not have to bother with. Humans already have so much trouble. And that, there was already enough and more on my plate to worry about. I didn’t realise that I had the capacity to hold much more love and compassion than I had imagined. And ofcourse, with time he helped me open my heart so much that I ended up becoming an active Vegan. I realised that I had an unexplored area in my heart where I could extend my compassion to not just dogs but all animals.
After that day everything changed. I now looked forward to having him around and he would always hang around us during our entire stay. I started taking care of his meal timings. I noticed which food he preferred and his mannerisms. He was simply just our doggy.
Then came a stage when I would wonder what happens to him when I go to Mumbai. Who gives him food? Would the other doggies be caring for him now that he barks at them, when he is with us? Taking him physically back with me wasn’t a realistic option for me.
That’s when I learnt to hand him over to the Universe. I knew he would be fine even when I was not around. I don’t need to own him, name him, chain him, train him. Nothing! He is his own being. He is his own master. He goes for his walks, comes and goes at his will. He stays with us out of his own will. He is not our “pet”. And I am not his owner. He is simply just our doggy.
That’s when I realised what this doggy was teaching me! Isn’t that what unconditional love is about? Not wanting to possess another being. To be able to love another deeply without owning them. And more importantly, trusting that they will be feeling that too no matter what. This has been such a major lesson in my life.. letting go physically of my loved ones… my parents are in another realm, my sister stays in another continent, my besties stay in other countries and cities.. Infact, isn’t that the case with most of us nowadays? Probably humanity as a whole needs to learn this lesson to love each other unconditionally without physically possessing them. We may be spending the days of our lives making new wonderful friends and sharing lives with other good people. But deep down, given a choice, our hearts truly crave for each other. And if it doesn’t then why worry anyways…
They say that true unconditional love doesn’t mean that you are visibly inseperable. It means that you are separate and still nothing changes. If we are able to even understand this and more importantly believe that such love truly exists and is even possible. It is enough.
And that’s what this gentle soul, “Doggy” teaches me….. Let go. Don’t own me. I will still choose to come to you… And I too choose to have that faith…