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Published: January 27th 2020
Caring for a rescue dog in India has been a lonely task indeed.
Buddy the street dog returned to me from the temporary caretaker, with the report that he had not vomited for two days, and he’d been eating mounds of curd rice. I was skeptical. My doubts were correct. Buddy’s stomach is still sensitive. I need to give him very small amounts of rice and chicken and broth, and an anti nausea drug which he hates me for administering by spray in his mouth.
And what about the lonely feelings hanging over this project? If I had a kitchen and lots of supportive friends around things might be easier. But people here just aren’t that invested in helping animals—especially street dogs, since they’re all over the place and seem to take care of themselves. Plus, people are busy with their lives. Another way of saying they don’t want to spend their time doing such things.
I had already solved my problem of not having a fridge. I went out and bought a mini-fridge. It’s cute and it does the job and it wasn’t so expensive. Plus the sales guy said he’d buy it back from me (“very
best price”) when I was finished with it.
The first real challenge was to get some chicken and get it boiled. Easy yes? It was the day before a holiday, and places were closing early. I thought I’d waltz into the chicken restaurant and get them to boil some chicken. They had no chicken. He told me to go to the next “chicken stop” and get some there. I hopped a share auto and found the chicken stop—a place where they slaughter the birds and deepfry pieces for sale.
The person at the shop didn’t have uncooked chicken breast right then. He disappeared for 15 seconds, and came back with a small bird’s legs clutched in his hand. “You want some chicken, yes?” he asked.
I looked at the bird dangling in his hand, flopping around, sensing its fate.
I motioned toward the bird and asked with my eyes. He nodded. I nodded. I plugged my ears but heard the bird scream anyway from the back room.
“Five minutes,” he yelled. He appeared with the carcass and chopped away, and expertly carved a boneless breast and included the liver. Sixty rupees—not even a dollar. He
I’m getting attached to a street dog
He experiences separation anxiety. I can’t even step out for tea without him getting very whiny and restless.
double-bagged it and I clutched the parcel of warm flesh. Still screaming, I thought.
I stopped at the restaurant where I first wanted it cooked. The man there refused to cook it. I went to the hotel in the ground floor of the building where I’m staying. The cook accepted the bag, but it went into the fridge, where it stayed uncooked for a day, despite my repeated requests to boil it up.
By the next day, Buddy had arrived and I needed the chicken. But it was Republic Day, meaning everyone was closed or closing early. I got the bag and walked in the hot sun, searching for anyone who would cook chicken.
I asked at the corner tiffin stand, where they prepare tea and light snacks, not chicken.
“Go back there,” they said.
“I already asked there,” I said.
“Then go that way, there are many hotels.” They just wanted me gone.
I walked further. The sun was still bright and hot. I thought of the chicken meat warming in my bag.
I asked lots of people. They all said everyone was closed because of the holiday. Six men surrounded
me, asking me strange questions like, where do you want to go?
“I want to go and get chicken cooked.”
Now I was their responsibility so they couldn’t just walk away.
In my head I was asking for divine help. Sometimes that works.
“Go ask the woman in that first house,” someone said. Obviously the men just wanted me gone.
But I was up for anything on this hot holiday afternoon. I was very conscious of hungry Buddy waiting back at the house.
I walked to the first house and yelled, “Ma! Ma!” Out walked a young woman who had obviously been sleeping. I told her the men over there told me to ask her to cook my chicken for my sick dog. My Tamil was terrible. She put me out of my misery and told me to speak English.
“Ok I can do it. Come back later this afternoon and I’ll have the chicken for you.”
“Can you do it now? The dog needs it soon.” That was bold of me. Aside from asking a stranger to cook chicken for me in the first place.
“Okay come back in 30
minutes. I have a baby.” It was screaming from inside the house.
I walked up the street, sat on some cement under a tree, and wondered why getting chicken cooked had been so difficult. And yet it worked out. I was feeling teary-eyed, so I did what I sometimes do when I’m feeling sorry for myself and alone.
I texted a few people. Happy birthday to one person. Happy Republic Day to another. And a cryptic, “It always works out somehow. That’s what I keep telling myself,” to another friend. I was testing him to see if he’d respond and ask if I was alright. He responded, yes he did, with no concern or curiosity about my message at all. Instead he asked me to do something for him. I ignored his message. I had written a message to myself, anyway.
After at least a dozen mosquitos had feasted on me under that tree, I returned to the house and the woman came outside with baby on her hip. “Do you want the chicken water?” So glad she asked. Of course I did.
I heard her banging around in her kitchen. Then she returned with the
“Sorry you had to wait.”
My gawd. A stranger appears at her door asking her to cook chicken and she apologizes. I offered some money which she quickly refused. We chatted awhile and I told her my story about being in India. I always make up something.
“Stop by sometime and have a chat with me. Bring your kids.” She seemed pleased she could cook chicken for the foreigner and appreciated the invitation to visit.
So Buddy got his chicken. I ripped two chunks into tiny pieces. But that sensitive stomach! Still recovering from the deadly tick fever, and probably a host of other bugs.
He wants to live. I want him to live. He wants to enjoy his dog’s life. I want him to enjoy his dog’s life. He wants to be loved by people. I want to love him. Anyone who’s ever had a dog or cat knows the rewards. Unconditional love. Whenever you want it. They seem to know.
Please Buddy, please heal that tummy of yours. I’ll help you as much as I can in my remaining weeks in India. Even if it means walking in the hot sun and asking strangers to cook your chicken.
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