At the Shirdi Sai Baba temple today, some people were handing out photos of Shirdi Baba with some of his wise sayings printed alongside a picture of his statue. When I got back home, I sat on the couch with the prasadam and picked up a photo and started reading aloud the quote that was printed on it. Here it goes
“ Be compassionate towards others and never turn away anyone from your door, be it human or animal. Love your fellow man for it will teach you kindness and caring”.
The minute I read this quote, the first thing that crossed my mind was the pup. I must tell you his story. This happened just few months back.
One stormy night ( I am NOT making this up, it was indeed a stormy night :)), we stepped out after dinner to lock our front gate. Cuddled on a foot rug in the corner of our compound was a little pup. He had rolled himself into a ball to protect himself from the cold. My mother pulled out a gunny bag that was lying around and put it on the ground so that the pup could use it if he wanted to and we left in the safety of our covered compound.
We found him there the next morning too. He was up and about, moving around the place and we noticed that he had a limp. He was an extremely shy pup and as soon as he saw us step out of the house, he slithered under the gate and ran out, limping.
When I got back from work in the evening, I again found him resting on the foot rug and the moment he caught sight of me,he ran out again. This happened for two days or so. By then, the pup seemed to have understood he was in safe hands. He would see him walking into our compound,resting and wagging his tail when he saw us. We have no pets at home, but a little pup taking refuge in our compound did not bother us.
Until we noticed his eating habits that is !! :)
From day one, my mother would keep aside some food for the dog and leave it on a granite slab for him to eat. But for some strange reason, the dog was a very poor eater. He would take a bite or two and then leave it at that. At first, we thought he would slowly get used to eating normal home food. But he did not. He would starve for days at end and he could see that he was losing weight.
One day we caught him digging through a dustbin at the corner of our street and eating unmentionable items from it ! He seemed to have acquired a taste for all the weird things in the dustbin….Crazy pup! That same night, he did not let any of us sleep. He was continuously barking away, howling and scratching on the metal surface of the gate. We even woke up at 2 in the night to check if he was doing ok. He looked all fine and would wag his tail when we saw him, but would get back to making noise within the next half hour.
He teamed up with the street dog community on our road and starting creating a ruckus every night. He would promptly pee on the foot rug, bite all our shoes, drag our bike’s leather mat to the floor, leave behind the food that we left out for him and make a mess of our compound and everything in our compound started smelling like the street pup :)
We did not let this bother us. My mother would clean the mess and we would speak to the little guy whenever we saw him and would ask him to be a good boy , eat something and behave well. But he seemed to be in no mood to listen to us. One night, he stuck his head into the metal railings of our gate and had almost killed himself. My sister freed him up in time. He continued to eat the filth from the dustbin at the street’s end and refused to accept any food that we offered him.
Since he was feeding himself on scraps, my earlier worry of him starving to death, began to fade. However, it constantly became obvious that he would kill himself by getting stuck in the railings of our gate. We cannot afford to leave the gate open for security reasons. Hence, we had to take a tough decision of trying to block his entry through the gap in our gate.
Since it was practically impossible to keep a watch on him throughout the day, we put up a wooden plank alongside the length of the gate to ensure that he does not try the stunt of squeezing in through the tiny gaps in the gate thereby strangling himself.
He did try to knock off the plank with his head a few times, but he then seemed to have got the message. Next day, we saw him taking refuge in a cozy corner of a vacant site beside our home. We placed his gunny bag there. Over the next week, we left some food just outside his new home, but he still refused to eat. We finally gave up.
He was around for a total of three weeks or so, starting from the first day we spotted him. His limp was gone within the first week. Over the next two weeks, he made a lot of new friends on the street and soon after he disappeared. We never caught sight of him again. I have a hunch that he must have moved to a new neighborhood in our area :)
Reading the quote about not turning away any animal from your door, I could not help but think of the circumstances under which we had to turn this guy away. Considering the fact that our lifestyles do not have enough space or time to accommodate a pet and the fact that the dog was all set to kill himself, we had no other choice....If only he could EAT!