This Sunday morning was a little disorienting. For starters, I woke up in our bed in the bedroom. My slippers were right by the bed where I had left them – I had had no cause to put them up on some out-of-the-way spot the night before. On my way to the loo, I didn’t have to carefully negotiate the little puddles of pee and look out for the occasional coprological booby trap. I wasn’t ambushed on the way by something small with teeth like a shark. When I shut the door, it didn’t get pushed in after a short while by a curious trespasser. The main door to the bedroom stood open all along, and I didn’t even have to shut it when I fed the dogs later.
All this was at odds with how it was for the month before. Around that time, the sound of a puppy crying in the immediate vicinity of our house had roused our sympathetic instincts, and resulted in Anjali bringing in a terrified little black puppy from the road outside. I had vehemently opposed her move, arguing that we were not in a position to have another dog, especially not a small pup that would be around for another 12-15 years (Anjali and I had agreed on this a couple of years ago). She was adamant, saying that she would find a home for it.
The first couple of days she was here, we hardly saw her. We kept her in our bedroom with the door locked, to keep her safe from our pack. When we were in the room, she would scoot under the bed, and find herself a hiding place amongst the suitcases stored there. She was so completely black that it was impossible to spot her except with a torch, and even then it was difficult at times, so cannily would she conceal herself.
We would haul her out from time to time and take her out into the yard on a leash, running the gauntlet of enquiring dog noses on the way. On these jaunts, she would sometimes stand petrified and be more or less dragged around on the leash; or strain away from Anjali at the other end of the tether.
Over a few days, though, she started gaining confidence and courage. She would come out and greet Anjali when she brought her food. My presence too was accepted. One day, Anjali ecstatically reported that she had got a few licks. A few days later, it was my turn. It felt great!
Gradually, she came out of her shell. From supervised ‘visits’ with our dogs, we took to letting her wander about as long as we were around. There were a couple of minor skirmishes with Soulkadi, who is always the most aggressive towards other canines, but on the whole she ruled the lower levels while the older dogs escaped to higher ground — the sofas, the diwan, the bed — to get away from her.
I had felt from the beginning that it would be difficult to find an adoptive home for her. So, about a month into her stay, I was beginning to waver from my position that she remain She-Who-Has-Not-Been-Named. A few names had passed through my mind – I liked Kiwi (since she was all black). But Anjali finally decided on Coffee – she likes hers black.
Just when it looked like our pack size had increased to four, though, Coffee found a home. Anjali had been trying everything she could all along, and from time to time we would try and identify new targets for our adoption efforts. Last week, we thought of our friends Elaine, Anushka and Sachin, who had lost two dogs over the last couple of years, and had adopted a young puppy. Why not try them, we thought.
Anjali’s call to Elaine revealed that they had adopted not one, but two pups, but Elaine was large-heartedly open to the idea of having a third. She said that, if not them, her sister-in-law on Divar had five dogs of her own but might be open to having another. Quickly, the deal was sealed and on Saturday morning, Coffee went to her new home. Earlier that morning, Elaine’s sister-in-law had told her that a neighbour whom she vouched for was looking for a puppy, so that was also an option.
We handed Coffee over, and met Elaine and Anushka’s dogs Mojo and Zober at the same time, fat boisterous little pup both. By the evening, Elaine sent us video of Coffee romping around with her two new housemates (though she was still wary of the new humans), and we knew she had gone to the perfect home for her.