Her love for dogs surpassed her love for humans. If she were given a choice to save her own species or the dogs, she was quite clear who she would save, every single day. But it was hard for her to love them from afar. She did not have a dog that she could call family. She wanted one ever since she discovered her presence could make certain dogs happy- not all her experiences had been good, but it had taken only one little hand-and-paw shake that had led to the decision of her loving them forever- but it was her own family that stopped her from doing this. Her father did not want to bring a dog in the house.

When her plea had been rejected for the very first time, she had simply asked for a reason, not losing hope. She knew if she could work around the no-nos, she would definitely get one in no time. Her father explained to her how huge a responsibility dogs can be. He laid out the daily chores involved in taking care of the younger versions she had met- from taking them out for walks to cleaning all the mess they left behind- while not forgetting to mention how their fur gets on everything. That day the ten-year old heart sank to the bottom of her private ocean, contemplating everything. She had realized raising a dog was not less than raising a human baby itself.

So she decided to wait for some more years. But the answer did not change. Her father’s decision years ago had been final, it seemed. But she had done her research this time. Read articles on training dogs, feeding them, taking them out and about and also researched on the breeds that shed the least. But this time, her father said that their house did not have enough open space, something he felt was a must in order to keep a dog. She tried to find an alternative to that as well. But all her attempts were shut down time and again until she started feeling it was useless talking to father as he had the same answer for everything- we’re not bringing a dog in this house.

She gave up eventually. But she did not stop loving any stray animal she would come across on the road, in her street or in her backyard. She knew her father and mother had dogs as pets when they were kids, a fact that used to make her fume as now she was being ripped off of the same experience they already had enjoyed. This was until her mother told her the dog story.

Mother narrated how father used to have a pet named John- called Johnny more often- who used to live with him, grandpa and ma in this very house. Father had found little Johnny on the street, playing in the dirt. Both of them had caught each other’s attention and in no time they had become inseparable. Apart from all the love and care in his world, Johnny was given something other pets that time did not have- freedom. Johnny used to have full freedom to roam out and about, in and around the house and the street. In return, he used to keep suspicious fellows at bay and not give father a hard time. Life had been simple for these two until Johnny had an accident and he never returned home.

Even if it was Johnny’s story, short as his sweet life, it had a huge impact on her. This was the first time she had imagined her father as a proud owner of a dog, playing with him, chasing after him, letting him go out in the street on his own, dealing with the accident and eventually putting him to rest. It did not take her long to realise the real responsibilty- that she would have to deal with the desicions she made for her dog, eventually deal with the loss too- if she ever brought a dog in her family, something her father had never mentioned. Was this the reason father stopped liking dogs, she used to ask herself. Will this be the reason she would too?

One day, her neighbour’s pug, Nina, caught the smell of fried bread and came over to have some. On seeing Nina, mother, and now this young mature woman opened their house for the little pug forever. What was more surprising than father allowing Nina to roam about in the house was catching a glimpse of him play or have a little chat with Nina now and then. She made sure she followed all rules that allowed Nina an entry inside her house so that she could learn, slowly but surely, how to take care of them. But deep down she knew it was the rare moments of seeing her father treat the pets as humans, even as family, that outranked it all. She was no longer scared of loss, for she knew the happy moments were the ones that were going to weigh more eventually. Now, she was sure she would be able to raise a wonderful dog once she was ready, something she believed her father knew. It was all thanks to Johnny.

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