I still remember the day he came into our lives. He was just a few months old I think, bit large for his age. He scampered about the place sniffing new smells and licking new hands. The kids went nuts over his beautiful black and white fur. I admit, I was a bit weary of touching him. I'd always loved the idea of having a dog, but when it happen for real, I was a bit scared. I'd stood at the doorway and extended my arms as far as it could and stroked his back with a finger. And he responded by wagging his tail. Its one of the nicest feelings, a dog wagging his tail because of you.
Slowly, I got over my fear and soon I was spending every waking hour with him. Brushing his hair, using his special powder on him. One time I even put a bit of my dad's lavender talc powder on him.I loved his big soulful beautiful eyes, the colour of honey. The way he would just stare right back at you when you spoke to him, which I did a lot. My nephew decided to name him Bolt because he was in that phase where he'd binge watch the cartoon Bolt sixteen billion times a day. So Bolt it was. Except, it was only later that we realised that Bolty was'nt a "he". Bolt was actually a female dog. But I'd gotten used to call her a "boy" that I refused to acknowledge the sex change. I hope he didn't end up having gender-issues.
Bolty grew to love us and soon began bringing us his little "presents". Many a times, we opened the front door in the morning and was greeted by the sight of a dead crow or rat at our doorstep. He managed to get pretty much all our chickens too, much to my mom's dismay. But Bolty did manage to prove his strengths soon enough. One of the times that I was most proud of him was when he spotted a cobra and barked madly right at its face preventing it from coming any closer towards our house. I'd never seen him so brave and ferocious before. His nose could've almost touched the snake. After a while, he stopped and sat right there, his eyes on the snake, growling everytime it hissed back at him. I don't know how long he sat there like that, but we knew this dog knew what he was doing.
Then one morning, there was no Bolty at our doorstep. My dad hunted all over the place for him. We could hear him howling but couldn't figure out where he was. Turns out he had jumped into the well. And had been swimming around trying to keep himself afloat for hours. It took a few hours and lot of effort, but we found a guy who could go down the well and rescue Bolty. A group of men lowered this guy into the well using a rope and he was trying to jostle Bolty into a huge basket. I remember watching with bated breath and calling out the frightened dog's to reassure him that he'd soon be safe. He got into the basket once but scampered so hard that he fell into the water again. After a bit of a struggle, the dog was back in the basket and the men were pulling him up. I remember wrapping my arms around him the minute his feet hit the ground. He was shivering and could hardly walk straight. After trying to dry him as much as I could, I slowly led to a spot with good sunlight and let him dry off. The rest of the day, we lavished him with eggs and milk and all sorts of goodies, while drying him off with my sister's hairdryer. It took many days to recover from the shock of it all, but soon he was back to running around like crazy and trying to knock me off my feet by jumping onto me. I love that he still remembered.
Pretty soon, Bolty had grown up and had a lot male friends visiting at night. My dad was not pleased, so he'd lock the gates and drive away any stray dog that dared to enter. This one dog would stand at the gate and howl away. It was utterly romantic. And I'm pretty sure that that Romeo had something to do with the litter of puppies Bolty gave birth to a few months later.
I remember waking up one morning and hearing the news. Bolty was lying in a cozy spot with her tiny little puppies scattered all around her, some on top of each other. I had never seen such tiny puppies up close. Nine of them. Bolty looked tired as ever. There was a look in her eyes, that seemed to say "Please get me the hell out of here." I didn't understand then, why she looked like that, but now as a mother of a child, I totally get it. One human baby suckling away all night and day is Nothing compared to Nine puppies fighting and struggling and crying all together to get their share of their mom's milk. Poor Bolty. She would take any opportunity to leave her kids alone and just laze around for a bit.
After this my life got into a bit of a whirlwind. Between marriage and moving and pregnancy, I did not really get to spend a lot of time with Bolty. But everytime, I come back home, he'd recognize me and jump around me like crazy.
Towards the end, the time I got to spend with him reduced even more, having a baby to care for. Bolty too produced a new batch of puppies. And this time, having gone through the experience myself, I was in total awe of him.
So today morning, when my mom told me that his new owners arrived and took him away, I couldn't believe I didn't get to say goodbye. My dad then told me that they are still waiting for their car at the gate, I dropped everything, took hold of my baby and ran to the gate. And he was there on leash, with a stranger, looking confused and scared. I caressed his head and scratched his ear and rubbed his chin over and over as though trying to make up for the time I'd neglected him. I held onto his face and looked into his eyes and said a silent goodbye as tears started pooling in my eyes. I gave him a final pat on his back and walked away because I couldn't watch him getting into the car and being driven away. I couldn't stop my tears as I walked back into the house. My baby looked at my face curiously. And just like that, Bolty was gone.
The night feels silent now. On most nights, after his random rounds and digging, Bolty used to come and settle down right outside my bedroom window. Some days he'd make an awful racket and I'd get mad at him, but I was still relieved he was there. I had felt safe. And inspite of all the times I'd been too busy to make time for him and been a lousy friend, he still sat there... for me, protecting me. I so love that about him.
I hope his new owners treat him well. And I hope he is happy there. I wonder if he'll miss us. I miss him already. We'll probably never have a dog again, but then I don't think he can be replaced. I hope someday that my child will get to experience all this with a dog of her own. A dog as wonderful and loyal as my Bolty.
Thank you, Bolty for letting me experience unconditional love. For making me feel safe and for being my friend.