June, my dearest, passed away 4 days ago. The suddenness (where it all happened within a few hours), the timing of it all (when the world is going to shit), the unfairness of it all (when I need her more than ever), her youth…all of it makes my head spin and my heart break.
She came into our lives almost 5 years ago in, well….June. Hence the name. As amateur first-time dog parents our lives were turned upside-down dealing with a creature that could say so little while saying so much.
She was a gem from the beginning – all the innocence of a puppy, and yet so mature, undemanding, trouble-free, and caring. It was almost like we had got an adult dog in a pocket size.
Over time, she became the center of everyone’s attention, the apple of everyone’s eye, and every other cliche you can think of. To the extent that a person who detested and feared dogs became a full-blown, loving, caring mother to a daughter she never had. The bond between them was something that could be seen in any captured or uncaptured moment between them. I loved June, and June and Arati loved each other 😀
June was a dog who naturally or through perception (and for better or worse) grew to reflect what I am as a person. Someone who did not need validation, someone who didn’t care about stereotypes, someone who didn’t suffer fools, someone with limited priorities and no care for anything beyond, and someone who was happy within the self (and yes, a little happier still when we were with each other). True soul mates in that sense! Despite all her aloofness, anyone (human or canine) who got to know her had nothing but admiration and respect for her. How often do you see that?!
As is human nature, at such a time we look upon the time spent together with a tinge of regret – we could’ve played more, we could’ve headed out more, we could’ve not given as much of a damn about what we ate, we could’ve done more. Then again, we could see every moment as enriching, full of learning, full of satisfaction, full of innocence. June brought us, as a family, out and about to the kind of places that this country – with its limited tolerance for animals – allows animals in. Hills, beaches, forests….all the places that make us, animals and humans, one.
Perhaps three of the most important lessons June had for us were:
- Unconditional and fearless love (https://fiscalujval.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/june-the-beach-thoughts-on-overcoming-fear/);
- Stress isn’t all it is made out to be, especially if you have a dog (https://fiscalujval.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/on-stress-control-and-the-role-dogs-play/); and
- Stoicism (https://fiscalujval.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/the-fatalism-of-dogs-and-why-humans-should-learn-it/)
The last one is obviously a great quality. However, it can also prove to be one’s undoing especially for someone who could not voice out her pain. In the end, whatever was slowly creeping up on her from within was something she was making her peace with in a manner that we humans with our limited perception cannot fathom.
Despite everything she may have been suffering from, her last few weeks and days were filled with more exercise, more fun meals, and more time with loved ones thanks to the lockdown. If we want to get all philosophical and seek some consolation in the tragic loss, then we would feel good about all this. Yet, there is nothing to feel good about. There is only an emptiness. One that comes from losing not just a family member, but a soul mate. Someone who gave our fickle and boring lives meaning, even by just lying on the floor (and occasionally on the sofas) sleeping 16 hours a day given a choice.
If there is anything to be had from such a heart-breaking event it is that:
- Don’t take anyone or anything for granted. Live for the here and now because there may be no tomorrow, and the past doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. You may not get a chance to try on that new dress you are saving away, to make that phone call to a friend you’ve been putting off, to say sorry to someone you disappointed, to try something new, to go out and play with your soul mate…..that is what dogs do, and something we ought to do more of.
- If you have a dog, trust neither your instinct on anything new she suffers from nor prior data on past sufferings. Err on the side of caution because like I said earlier, they won’t let you know till it is too late.
- Despite everything, and you may not admit or realise this, your life is incomplete without a loving, caring, trusting dog.
Goodbye June….doggy heaven must be full of tennis balls to chase and bowls full of ice-cream.
(This was written in a hurry while most of me was still in shock. I have not bothered to rewrite it yet, and may perhaps never. As crude and hurried as it may read, I don’t really care)