Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHERRY KARVE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHERRY KARVE
(A loving accolade from Sherry’s human father Vikram Karve)



Today, the 9th of April, is Sherry’s Birthday (she is 8 years old).

Sherry was born on 09 April 2006.

And since they say that one dog year is equal to eight human years, 8 dog years is 56 human years (8x7= 56).

So Sherry is 56 human years old today.

Ever since she fortuitously, and most unexpectedly, came into my life, Sherry has occupied the prime place in my heart, and she has become my favourite child (my human children are envious about this), and even my wife says that I love Sherry more than her (which may be true).

As I said, Sherry suddenly came into my life out of the blue, most unexpectedly.

Being in the Navy, I had no intention of keeping a pet dog.

If you are in the Army, it is easy to keep a pet dog.

The Army is a dog-friendly service and encourages officers to keep pet dogs.

They even provide a “sahayak” who can look after your dog, if you don’t have the time or energy.

Even bachelors can keep dogs, because pet dogs are allowed in army officers’ messes and there is always the ubiquitous “sahayak”.

I have seen that when army officers go on leave, they leave their pet dog behind with the “sahayak”.

In contrast, in the Navy, it is difficult to keep a dog.

Firstly, you or your wife will have to look after your dog yourself – there is no “sahayak” in the Navy.

Secondly, in the navy, married accommodation is scarce, and even when you get accommodation, you will get a flat in a multistorey high-rise building and this accommodation is not very convenient for keeping pet dogs.

Thirdly, naval bachelors cannot keep dogs, since dogs are not allowed onboard ships – in fact, pet dogs are not allowed in shore officers’ messes too, like the Command Messes at Mumbai and Vizag.

So, as a bachelor, I could not keep a pet dog.

Then I got married to a nice girl and we had babies.

All our babies entered our lives unplanned.

We got our first baby a few days after our wedding.

Now please don’t let your imagination run wild.

Our first baby was a canine daughter, a cute little cuddly snow-white “ball-of-wool” Lhasa Apso puppy girl gifted to us during our honeymoon in the hills.

We promptly named her Sherry, meaning Beloved.

Everyone was aghast that we had got a pet dog immediately after our marriage, and that too into our tiny one-room flat at Curzon Road Apartments in Delhi.

Most of our friends and relatives did not recommend having a pet when we were just starting our new married life together, especially since it was an arranged marriage, and husband and wife needed time together to get to know each other better.

“Wouldn’t the pet dog ruin all the fun and romance you newlyweds are supposed to enjoy during the blossoming days of our marriage?” my mother-in-law asked.

“A pet dog is a big encumbrance,” my mother said, “You’ll be tied down to the house and won’t be able to go anywhere.”

All these fears were totally unfounded.

Far from being an encumbrance, Sherry filled our lives with fun, delightful joy and happiness and enlivened those early days of our marital relationship. 

My newlywed wife and I were like strangers, quite incompatible, with differing tastes and lifestyles, and it was Sherry who was the cementing bond of our marital relationship.

In fact the only thing my wife and I had in common was that we were both ardent dog lovers.

In due course, with nature taking its own course, we had our two human babies, a son and a daughter, but Sherry still remained the apple of our eyes till she passed away one sad evening dying at my feet after her evening walk.

We were so distraught and heartbroken at the loss of our pet that we vowed to never have a pet dog again.

Towards the end of my naval career, I was lucky to be posted to an inter-service organization located in an army style “cantonment” near Pune and was allotted “bungalow” type accommodation with plenty of space around – a spacious garden in front and lots of space behind too.

However, as I said, we had no intention of keeping a pet dog.

Sherry came into my life by sheer coincidence, or shall I say serendipity.

In April 2006, my much-married darling wife, at the spur of the moment, accompanied her sister to the bungalow of an acquaintance in Pune.

There she chanced upon a majestic Doberman mother who had given birth to a large litter of eleven pups just a few days ago. 

Most of the pups were healthy, handsome and smart and were already sold or booked by discerning dog lovers.

Suddenly my wife noticed a sickly, ugly, emaciated, weakling puppy lying distraught and hapless.

The small baby puppy was being pushed away by her strong aggressive siblings whenever she tried get close to her mother’s nipple, trying to feed herself.

“She is the last of the litter, the eleventh pup, the runt of the litter, and it looks like she will die as she can’t feed herself from her mother. Even if she lives, we will have to get rid of her, dispose her off, leave her somewhere to fend for herself, for no one will take her,” the owner said.

My wife was overcome by a flood of compassion.

She picked up the feeble baby puppy in her soft hands, and said: “I’ll take her.”

“Are you crazy?” my wife’s sister asked her, “Have you asked your husband?”

“I don’t have to, I don’t need to,” my wife said with confidence.

Then my wife brought the scrawny little creature straight home and deposited her in my hands.

“Sherry!” I said holding the frail, terrified, shivering puppy dog and my wife nodded in agreement.

I rushed to the market and bought a feeding bottle.

Soon Sherry was drinking warm milk cuddled up in my hands.

With the nourishment of love, Sherry blossomed, and soon became the apple of our eye, and added a new zest and joy in our lives.

When our children grew up and flew away from the “nest” and are busy with their careers and lives, it our canine daughter Sherry who brightened up our lives and filled up our empty nest.

Oh, yes, as my kids say, Sherry is my favourite child.

My wife was quite busy with her job, so I have become the de-facto mother and father to Sherry, since my office was nearby and we had easy working hours.

Yes, I became both father and mother to Sherry.

In fact, I have invested more love, time and effort in pet parenting Sherry than have I spent in parenting my own children, which was my wife’s province, as then I was quite busy with my career.

I want to tell you all about my life with Sherry, about her naughty pranks and fun and frolic, and the trials and tribulations in our lives. I told Sherry about it.

But Sherry insisted that she would like to tell the story herself.

So, I shall now let Sherry tell you her life story.

I am sure you will enjoy it. 

The title of her story is “RUNT OF THE LITTER” and Sherry intends publishing her life story the moment she completes writing it.

RUNT OF THE LITTER
(Sherry’s Story – as told to her father VIKRAM KARVE)

PROLOGUE


















Girinagar 01 Jan 2009

This morning I did the unthinkable.

I was in deep sleep in my den when my father lovingly tried to tuck me up with a blanket since it was cold.

Out of reflex I snapped at him.

He did not say anything, he did not scold me, and he just behaved as if nothing had happened.

But I could sense that he was very upset for while you can hide your emotions from another human, you cannot hide them from a dog.

I felt very bad and so I tried my best to make up.

I gave him a shake hand, raised myself on my hind legs and begged for forgiveness.

And like always he melted and smiled and fondled me.

My father has been so good to me.

He is the only thing I have in the world.

And for him too, I am the only thing he has, out here in the forests of Girinagar, where both of live in this huge “bhoot bangla”.

He could have gone to Mumbai, he could have lived with his family in Pune, but he gave me priority over his career and his family life – he did all this just for me.

While we were on our evening walk in the hills of Girinagar, my father told me that he was going to write a book about our life.

I told him that I wanted to write the story myself.

He said yes, so here I am penning my story, our story, a love story – yes, this is a love story, a unique love story of a different kind, the story of agape unconditional pure love between a man and a dog.


RUNT OF THE LITTER
Sherry’s Story

CHAPTER 1
MY NAME IS SHERRY














Aundh Camp November 2006

My name is Sherry.

I am a naughty young girl and I live with my family in a lovely spacious bungalow surrounded by plenty of greenery.  

I wake up early in the morning, jump off my sofa, go to my father’s bed, rub my cold wet nose against his hand and give him a loving lick with my warm soft tongue. 

He grunts and growls and opens his sleepy eyes, and the moment he sees me his face lights up and he lovingly caresses me and says, “Good Morning, Sherry.”

The he gets up from bed and opens the main door to let me jump out into the garden.

First I do my ‘little job’ at my favourite place near the mango tree.

Then I generally dig with my paws in the soft morning mud and sniff around with my keen beautiful black nose to find out if there are any new morning smells, not forgetting to run and welcome the milkman the moment he comes on his cycle.  

When I return I find that my father is back in his bed and my mother is up and about.

She pats and cuddles me and goes about her business making tea in the kitchen while I loiter around the house. 

She surreptitiously sneaks to the bedroom and slyly hands over a tidbit to my half-sleeping father under the blanket when she thinks I am not looking.

I pretend not to notice, as I do not want to spoil their fun.

Earlier, when I was small and impatient, I used to snuffle out the tidbit from my father’s hand, but this spoilt his fun and he became grumpy.

Now that I am a mature young girl well experienced in the ways of the human world and I have realized that it is better to act dumb and let these humans think they are smarter than me.

So I go outside, sit down and put on a look of anticipation towards the gate and pretend not to notice my mother hiding and peeping through the corner of the window and giggling to herself. 

The moment the newspaperman comes on his cycle and shouts “paper, paper”, I rush to the gate and fetch the newspaper in my mouth, gripping it just right between my teeth.

I run back with the newspaper held firmly in my mouth and hold it up to my horizontal father.





















He gets up, takes the paper from me and gives me the dog-biscuit he’s been hiding in his hand, and my mother, who has rushed behind me, watches me with loving pride in her eyes.

My brother and my sister, who till now were fast asleep in the other room, call out my name – “Sherry! Sherry!”

And as I dart between their beds wagging my tail, they both hug and cuddle me all over saying, “Good Morning, Sherry. Sherry is a good girl!”  

Everyone is cheerful and happy and my day has begun! 

I love my family, even though they are humans!

And I love my house, my surroundings, the place I stay, the life I live – but before I tell you all that, let me tell you where I came from.


CHAPTER 2
THE “X” FACTOR














Kothrud Pune April 2006

My ‘birth-mother’ is a ferocious Doberman who lives in a bungalow in Kothrud in Pune and my ‘dog-father’ is unknown, though they suspect it may be the Caravan (Mudhol) Hound who lurks in the neighbourhood.

For making my registration papers the vet wanted proof of my paternity.

And since nobody could say with certainty, the vet looked at the form, and in the column against Breed he wrote ‘Doberman X’

I was a sickly weakling, just a few days old, the only girl, last-born of the litter of 11 puppies, and the owners were wondering what to do with me.

Most of my handsome brothers had already been selected and taken away, and the owners wanted to keep the most beautiful and healthy of them all.

They had kept me all alone separated from my ferocious Doberman mother who was growling menacingly in a cage nearby.

No one wanted me and I could hear people whispering how ugly and weak I was and I wondered what fate lay in store for me.

It hurt me to feel unwanted.

Then I heard people talking about sending me away to a farmhouse, and some said it was best to get rid of me and “dispose” me off.

I felt terrified and shivered with fright as I wondered what was going to be my destiny.  

One evening a few people came over and a gentle woman with kindness in her eyes looked at me.

Then, suddenly, on the spur of the moment the lady lovingly picked me up, and the way she tenderly snuggled me I felt true love for the first time.

This was my new mother.

She took me securely and lovingly in her soft hands, got into a car and they all drove across Pune, past Aundh, crossed the river, till we reached a bungalow.

The kind woman was wondering what her husband’s reaction would be.

It was dark.

I was scared and I cuddled up snugly my mother’s arms to feel safer.  

Suddenly I found a tough-looking bearded man staring at me.

Shivering with fear I looked back at him in terror as he extended his hands towards me.

But the moment he held me in his large cozy hands, caressed me lovingly, and put his finger tenderly in my mouth, I felt protected, loved, safe and secure. 

This was my new father and he had already decided my name – Sherry – the same name of his earlier canine “daughter”.

(By the way “Sherry” means “beloved” – not the wine drink you are thinking about!). 

“She was destined to come here,” my mother said. 

“Yes,” my father said feeding me warm milk. 

They made a nice warm bed for me in a basket and put it below theirs.

And as I drifted into sleep, they both fondled me with their hands.

I felt so wonderful and happy for the first time in my life.

I had found my true home and my family.

I am feeling quite sleepy now.

So, I will end here now and have a nap.

But don’t worry, the moment I get up from my nap, I am going to tell more about me, my delightfully mischievous life, and the naughty things I do.


CHAPTER 3
FUN AND FROLIC – The “bone-game”


Aundh Camp August 2006

“Sherry… Sherry… Bone… Bone…”

My father is calling me for playing the “bone-game” but before that let me tell you about my home.

In front there is a huge garden, or rather an orchard, with all types of trees and bushes, and a lush green lawn on which I love to frolic, prance and roll upside down, and lots of flower beds which I love digging up to my mother’s horror.

I love digging up the mud – it’s so tasty – and there is plenty of it in the spacious kitchen garden behind the house where I create havoc digging up to my heart’s content, and the only thing I have spared are the tomatoes and some horrible tasting leaves called Alu because they itch.

I’m lucky – they don’t tie me up but leave me free to roam and play around as I please.

And there is so much to explore and investigate, in the nooks and corners of our verdant garden with plenty of trees, bushes and hedges.

There is so much to sniff, so much to dig, and so much to chase - squirrels, mongooses and birds to chase.

The cats have disappeared though; ever since the day I almost caught one.

When I was small, and my gums itched, and my milk teeth began to break through, I could not resist chewing up anything I could lay my teeth upon – like shoes, slippers, clothes, toothbrushes, furniture.

I especially loved my father’s favourite Kolhapuri kapshi chappals which were so soft and yummy.

So my father bought me a chewy bone which, it said on the wrapper, was guaranteed to save everything else.

I don’t know why, but I secretly buried the bone in a hole I dug below the Mango tree, and I used to dig it out when I thought no one was looking, chew it a bit, and bury it in some other secret place.

One day my inquisitive mother found out, and she dug up the bone when I was sleeping and hid the bone under the pomegranate tree.

When I didn’t find my bone, at first I was confused, maybe it was my neighbour Bruno, but then he was too old for chewy toy bones.

Then I tracked the bone down with my nose, and when I spied my mother giggling and grinning like a Cheshire cat, I knew who the culprit was, it was my mother who had mischievously hidden my bone.

This started the “bone-game”.

First they (the humans – my mother and father) would give me the bone, and after
I hid it they would rush out into the garden and dig it out.

Then they would hide the bone (after locking me in the house so I could not see) and if was my turn to find the bone, which I did using my nose and keen sense of smell.

I wondered how they found the bone so fast; till one day I caught them, both my mother and my father, spying crouching behind the hedge when they thought I wasn’t looking and the mystery was solved.

So now I first let them see where I am hiding the bone, and when they complacently and confidently go inside thinking they know everything, I dig out the bone and hide it some other place which they do not know and then watch the fun as they search in vain.

Then when they give up searching and go inside and my father asks me to get the bone, I run out and get it, for which I earn a tidbit.

The way these humans act sometimes, I really wonder who is more intelligent – they or I?

Apart from my mother and father, who I have told you about, there are some more humans who live in my house – my sister, my brother, sometimes my grandmother – and I’ll tell you all about them next time.

I hear my father’s voice again: “Sherry… Sherry… Bone… Bone…”

So there I go, I speed off to find the hidden bone.


















RUNT OF THE LITTER
(Sherry’s Story – as told to her father VIKRAM KARVE)

To be continued…

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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