Tiny Paw Prints on my Heart

A month ago, when it was a regular day at work at the Animal Shelter, I didn’t really expect to see what I saw, right at the beginning of the day. I see a lot of hustle bustle and being new I was pretty confused to understand the reason for it.

A few moments of settling down and I understand the runabout when I see new residents at the shelter. Not only were they new, they were sad too. Exotic birds, horses, dogs and a tiny litter of six. Well, honestly they were interesting to watch with such closeness but also difficult to understand what they had been going through all this while. They were all rescues from a circus.

Each day since then, I would make time for rounds to go and have a look at these wonderful beings. Not that I have any special expertise, but there is definitely something about them, inexplicably,that amuses me deeply. Their eyes, their activities and their responses, stirs me thinking that “no, they aren’t just animals.” They are pretty much just like me, waiting to be understood, seen, heard and loved, just that our languages are different and in great ways,so is our morality.

A week later, my curious rounds led me to find the mother and her little pups in distress. The heat and the negligent life had its toll on the struggling family. The mother was weak and so were her pups. She would intermittently bleed through her nose and her weaning pups unknowingly did cause her much annoyance. I would never deny saying how much i fell in love with the babies. They were a package of adorable cuteness, innocence and beauty and each time I held them on my palm, yes technically the palm, my heart would melt like chocolate.

It was one such day of distress for the mother, bleeding through her nose and struck with discomfort that I vouched to foster two of her puppies. My reporting head, the vet and the team gave me much support and confidence to my decision and that evening couldn’t have been more exciting for me. Yes, my spontaneous decision to foster did give some of my acquaintances the idea that I was doing it for the sake of attraction or fun which did contradict my intention. Taking away weaning pups wasn’t fun for me and neither was it exciting. The motivation to my intent was their mystical innocence that always drives me with endless questions and heart full of adulation and a belief so strong that I could help them have a second chance.

Ready to leave for home, I hopped in my cab, with a basket of surprise for my husband and the wait for his revelation.

By the time I was home, the babies had slept off in their basket with some relief from the harsh heat. The air conditioning in the cab promised them some good sleep and when I was home, the heart melting sight of the siblings sleeping cuddled with each other pumped me to prepare for all the care they needed and all of me that I was ready to give.

They were tiny, really tiny. Their paws were incredibly small and soft, their eyes like marbles, their touch was softer than any plush velvet and their hearts, were of gold.

WP_20160325_14_50_32_ProI quickly prepared their recommended weaning milk from the sachet provided by the vet and the smell of food was quick to wake them from their comforting sleep. In minutes they squeaked to come out of the basket and then they were all there, welcomed to their new home.

I have grown up with birds and dogs as our pets, but the experience this time was bound to be different, new and not to say,challenging.

Just minutes before my husband was about to enter our home, I dimmed the lights and composed myself to prepare for the showtime, putting up with the face that could be as normal as ever. I patiently waited for him to take his composure while I excelled in mine and stood close to the door with the two new members in my arms and his expression was not to mention, so pleasantly unforgettable and it was then we were reformed to a family of four.
That night and the nights onward, we had the taste of the sleepless nights of parenthood. Each time that they squeaked we were on our toes with dreamy eyes and as they slept we slept like logs with several times having them cozy and sleeping with us in our blankets.

It had been so much fun watch the tiny furry babies move around the house like rolling cotton balls. They strolled, hopped and rolled. It was aspiring to see them watch their mountainous efforts to climb a stair and roll back unless they made it. They seemed all good but we did sense them having trouble with their stomach. They were too young for diagnosis and medicines. We were so unable to find out the reason behind their poor digestion and immunity of the stomach. The early deprivation of the mother’s milk could have been one of the highest possibility for poor stomach. We all had our fingers crossed in anticipation for them to cross this bridge of distress, victoriously.

WP_20160324_10_43_40_ProA couple of days later,  the two little siblings, whom I named Minnie and Bikki, were asked to put back with the mother to ease their stress and for their chance of the mother’s milk that could  retrieve their immunity. Minnie was the tiniest of the litter.

Her looks were not very promising to the mother and so was her strength in comparison to her siblings and that is why she was always shunned by her mother. It’s strange in the kingdom that the weaker one seldom gets a chance to stride.

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How about that? Minnie as tiny to fit on my palm!

Well, I guess its with us too; the survival of the fittest strategy works everywhere. Bikki on the other hand was the eldest one, stronger than the others as he appeared. He was fluffy and he really dint know when his tummy was full. All playful, adventurous and a fond brother to Minnie. He had strokes of brown shade to his white fur coat and so I named him Bikki. It may really not have any direct correlation to his appearance but these are names that come from the heart. Mindless and the aww kinda names. We all do it right?

 

The next morning, I did as instructed. Brought the puppies to their mum with the hope that they would recover soon and once the improvement triggers I shall be able to take care of them better.

Little did i know then, that leaving them with their mother was not a feasible idea. The next morning when I arrived at work I could not have been more shocked to know that one of the babies, Minnie, had passed away not being able to survive the troubling stomach,the underlying infection and the strategy of the kingdom. It was just hours ago, that I had been playing with her at my house and  all of sudden she had no trace of existence. Impatient and worried, I decided to bring home her sibling Bikki, who looked sad but was comparatively still healthier than her,  in the fear that he should not be a victim to the infection or trauma or whatever could cause harm to him.

WP_20160326_14_33_14_ProBikki since then seemed to be so isolated and it was a transformation that we saw in him. He was silent and cornered. He looked unhappy and chose dark corners in the room. All that he moved was when I called for him or when he was hungry. No matter how hard I tried to entertain him or comfort him, the stress of loss of his sister grieved him and it was evident. A week passed by and there were still no signs of improvement in health or behavior. The medicines he took did not seem to benefit completely either. Meanwhile he became the only surviving member of the litter of 6.

It was one odd evening when Bikki was typically unwell. He was dull and weak and slept for hours without the need of any food. There was a sudden spike in his temperature. I immediately had the doctor’s consult and gave him a dose for the fever. It was just half an hour after that, that Bikki was beginning to get weaker with a vomit and a constant need to relieve himself. I was worried like hell and those hours that followed thereafter were nothing but heart wrenching.

In the next 45 minutes, Bikki turned even more sick and my husband and I could literally see him get fragile by the night. He got weaker and more in pain and all we could do is comfort him and pray that he makes it to the morning.As the night kept passing we knew that the trouble with Bikki’s health was getting worse. We put him on saline but he kept getting weaker and weaker and as fragile as a piece of delicate cloth. We both kept staring at him wondering if this was the same little fur ball that we brought in our home a few days ago and who had made our life so much more wonderful with all the little things that we could ever imagine. We prayed and comforted him but reality was harsh. He couldn’t make use of any of them. It was tough for the little body to make it till 6 in the morning. His innocent squeaks turned into screams of pain and our bedroom transformed into a trauma room with a cold pin drop silence. As the little guy screamed in pain, his body internally kept shutting down his scope to live. For 3 hours we both frantically tried calling up people for help. Even to euthanize  could have been better than having him to let succumb to this pain until around 5:00 in the morning he took his last sigh of relief. Bikki was cold. We held his soft fragile paws. The little paws that had left so much of an imprint in our home and in our hearts. From all health to just a body he lay in front of us, stiff and immobile. No squeaks and no screams.

With heavy hearts, we put his agonized body in the shoe box transformed bed, with his napkin roll toy, covered him in his favorite blue scarf preparing ourselves to bid him adieu. Two little members and now there were none. He was wrapped in a box, ready to be buried and he had nothing to do about it.

My husband and I never realized that we could face a situation like this. We had been so confident about the previous episodes of fostering that having them gone like this was nothing but unimaginable. Were I to blame as I was the one who fed him food and the last medicine he took? Did I do something wrong to cause this little soul a death as painful as this? But what could I do now? I am a human being and blessed with the capacity to forget the intensity of pain making me ready to move on in a couple of days, smile like before and resume daily chores. But things weren’t that easy for me or for my husband. There were small fond memories everywhere. The basket of their arrival,their toys, their bottles and bowls, all of it just there, but they were gone. All they had left were little paw prints in my home and I would bend down to see the light fall on them and feel they were still here with me.

They are so like us. I choose to differ with people who say they are just animals. Well, we are just animals too. They have emotions, stress of separation, need for mothers warmth and the love and attention from all. Like our babies, they like to be cuddled and made to felt cozy, they can express their desire to be fed and put to sleep and most importantly, they can make you feel connected. So where is the difference actually? Is it just because they look differently, do they need to be treated differently?

Had the mother not been bred for the pleasure of entertainment of a circus, had she been vaccinated for her and for her owner’s well being, had the people been conscious of cautious and defined breeding or rather we had stopped paying to see another being used for the sake of our entertainment, this story would not have ever been existing.

For some of us, this is just a life out the millions that are exploited and are unable to even live through but can we think for a change, that each of such stories are the ones that mount to the millions that we compare with? No life is cheap or easy. Each life has a definition of its own, a purpose of its own. It is morally wrong to think ourselves as the superior being when we are just a specie like the others that coexist with us. There is nothing so proud being able to control another life, not of our own – not of anyone else’s.

 

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