Monday, June 07, 2021

In memory of a sports-loving dog

These aren't flattering photos, but never mind. This is one of our colony dogs, Noorie, who was taken to the Animals First clinic (in Chhatarpur) a few days ago with a serious kidney condition. She passed away early yesterday. She was old, the blood reports had been very bad, and she had been vomiting constantly, not retaining food over the past few days. A few of us, including the woman who used to feed her, had decided — in consultation with a vet — that it was time to put her out of her suffering, but she went on her own. We cremated her at Sai Ashram in the afternoon.
I didn’t know Noorie well — in fact I didn’t even know she was called Noorie by those who interacted with her regularly. I thought of her as "Kaajal" because that was the name given to her by someone I knew — it was a natural fit because she had very distinctive black eyes in her prime, with the colour appearing to spill over like thickly applied kohl.
She was a solitary creature, seemingly not fond of other dogs, making sure no one encroached on the small park where she lived, outside our local BSES office. But I did briefly see a more social side when she took a liking to my Lara a few years ago. If she saw us from a distance, she would hesitantly trot across to our park to say a very quick hello, lick Lara a couple of times, and then scoot back just as nervously — as if sheepish about having over-stayed her welcome.
She seemed to be quite tolerant of humans though. I have taken many photos of colony dogs doing amusing things, expressing various shades of personality, but there are just as many memorable images that I never managed to capture. Among these: Noorie/Kaajal sitting right in the middle of the BSES park while youngsters noisily played cricket or football around her. When it was a cricket match, I used to think of her as the umpire, because that’s always where she seemed to be sitting, near the end of the bowler’s run-up. It was a remarkable sight, and she always looked very poised and content in this role. (I never actually saw her get hit by a ball, but I'm told that when this happened once in a while, her response was never more than a short and stoical yelp; she didn’t get up or run away. Unfailingly professional, a Dickie Bird of her species.)

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