Happy has been missing for the last five days. It could be even six. Nobody knows where she is. For the last two years she has made our lane and the adjoining ones her home. Everybody knows her. As I have gone asking people usually dog walkers, security guards and temporary labourers about her, I have realised that she has been very popular and called by different names like Julie and Goldy. I smiled when I heard her being addressed as Julie and why not, just as the name sounds, she is a posh lady-like creature.
Nobody seems to know where she is. Everyone, i.e. the concerned ones, are speculating where she could be. Nobody has seen her being taken away by the animal NGO van (after all she was sterilized at birth) or the municipal authority (but then why would they only take her when rest of the strays are happily roaming about and in fact there are some new faces too?) or have seen her breathless body.
In the past, I have gotten to know about the fates that our lane strays have met eventually but I am yet to hear about Happy.
“I am sure she has gone to the moon, mummy?” my daughter said as we walked last night from our lane to the other to feed another old stray. I smiled thinking how she had started to mix reality with fantasy to justify Happy’s vanishing act. But only to realise a minute later that there was no fantasy involved in her newly developing logical mind.
“Do you know Lalita?” she asked.
“The dog who was sent to the moon by the scientists?”
“Wasn’t she called Laika?” I asked.
The daughter was least interested in arguing about the real name.
“May be some scientists took Happy away too to send her to the moon.”
I looked at the moon.
“Maybe,” I said.
As I go to collect my daughter from the school bus stop daily I miss having Happy accompanying me. Her chasing small kids, cyclists and motorbikes away and at the same time wagging her tail endlessly was an amusing sight.I have never seen a dog wag its tail and bark at the same time before.
She has the most peculiar bark and just as my daughter has described in the poster below. She made some three missing posters hoping that somebody will tell us about Happy.
Over the last decade since I have seen many strays of our area come and go. I never had the courage to open my doors for them especially in times of rain and extreme heat as we share our building with two more neighbours. It was only about feeding them in the mornings and evenings. Of what they did the rest of the day was not my concern. Some times as I drive the car from the lane I see them looking for food in the garbage bins. After all, my one packet of biscuits for one dog a day is not going to keep their tummy filled for the rest of the day.
What have I learnt from Happy going missing? Nothing. Life goes on. Someday another dog will fill in Happy’s place. Perky, her mate, will have another mate. He will then not look at me with his pleading eyes asking me to search for Happy. Or perhaps he knows what happened to her as they were together most of the time. He looks at me helplessly knowing he will never be able to tell me the truth. .
I avoid reading articles that talk about the ill treatment meted to the strays in different parts of the city, country and abroad. I purposely avoid reading them as I feel utterly helpless. I remember my first job as a research assistant for an animal welfare organisation some 15 years ago. The founder, country’s most famed animal activist, said ” good for the pup!” when she was told that one of the strays that they had brought in her bungalow had passed away. I was fairly new then and didn’t know why she would say that. I thought she was being very mean. Now I know how wrong I was. This world is no place for strays.
I will wait for Happy and someday she will return. Older. Yet as pretty as ever. She would have stopped chasing motorbikes by then and would chide the younger dogs from doing what she did in her youth. 🙂
(Happy joining us to the park every evening)
(Happy enjoying the sand)
(Happy running with my daughter)
(Perky, Happy’s best mate)
(Happy enjoying the puddle)