Friday, October 23, 2015

Anjali - The Dog Protests

All kids go through the dog phase they say. Anjali is going through one now. Sadly for her Shobhs and I are not really dog people or pet people (not even human people for that matter). But Anjali has a surprisingly 'animal' side to her - where she is genuinely caring about animals and quite fond of them. It shows in little acts of hers.

So when the first signs of pets phase (hamsters, kitten, rabbits etc) came up an year or two ago we got her hooked on fish. The fish were ok but then they died after a while. Another round of fish came up and two new gold fish - Tutti and Frutti or something like that joined us. Then after a while Tutti or Frutti died and the other stayed. Then she also died.

But now Anjali is eight years old and far more articulate and cogent, clear in her mind. She sees the beagle upstairs with my brothers family, Max, and the neighbours who have a beagle too, and she is now rather set about getting herself a dog.

The first request came rather dramatically one day recently when she complained of feeling lonely. 'I don't have a brother,' she said sadly. I looked at her. 'At least I could have a dog then I would not be so lonely,' she continued
I smiled at her.
'Can I have a dog?' she asked me directly, seeing that it was going nowhere.

Pushed into a corner I said, 'Let's see. You could.'
And then I reeled off all the ways in which the dog might not be a good idea, mostly about - who will take care of it - because I am not.
'I will take care of it nanna,' she said all serious and good intent and fully meaning it. 'I will take it for walks, I will bathe it, feed it and all that.'
I nodded.
'Yea' she yelled. 'Nanna has agreed'. And then she moved on to her mother.
Shobhs was far less diplomatic with her and told her she is not convinced of the need. 'Full time care, vacations etc etc.'
So the idea stopped at 40% and mostly negating the idea.
One would think Anjali would give up her idea. (I'd have gone into a corner and resented the entire idea. Probably disowned my parents and never had a dog ever to punish myself. I am good at that sort of a thing.)

But the young lady was made of different stuff. For every objection of ours she googled answers. What to do with dogs when on vacation? What to feed dogs? How to train dogs? How to maintain dogs? What types of dogs are best and safe for children? Printouts started showing up.

'I want a golden retriever,' she said. 'How much does it cost?'
I had no clue. Maybe fifteen or twenty thousand? I hazarded. Everything is that much these days. She was surprsised they cost that much.
The next thing I know she googled the price of a golden retriever.
'It costs 1200 rupees,' she said. 'I googled.'
I was surprised. What? So I checked? Turned out it was a stuffed toy. The real ones were still in the 20-30 k range. Anjali and I looked at the prices and nodded.
'Don't worry about the price,' I said looking at her crestfallen face.
'It's more about whether we should or not. It's a responsibility. We cannot get it home and leave it alone after we get tired of it. They will be a part of the family for the next 13-14 years.'
'12 years,' she corrected.
She had done some research on how long they live.

The pressure is relentless.
'Dog,' she points on the road at every dog she sees. I squirm.

Next thing I see is that her screen saver is a golden retriever. In her things-to-do list getting a dog is prominent. Her folder is full of dog pictures and stories. She collected some stuff from the net and made an article addressing all our concerns about dogs -kennels, food etc. The dogs have already been named in anticipation - Jumpy when small and Bruno when big. How not to confuse dogs by giving too many names was also discussed. At the super market she points to Pedigree and Drools and says she will feed her dog that. At night she tells me her daily routine - walk dog, feed dog, play with dog, train dog. I will teach dog to fetch she says. Every day there is a subtle hint and sometimes not so subtle hints about getting the dog. When it gets serious she says she will get it when she is eighteen with her own money - when she is in America. This kills me a bit but I have had an experience when a pup was brought home many moons ago (when we were kids) and then it was left to the mercies of the gods. Our only dog Caesar did not have the life a pet deserved mainly because we are not loving persons - dogs and humans included. I am more a duty person. And I did not get the dog home - so all I did was my duty which was not enough. But I did feel for Caesar and his confined life.

The other day however Anjali's protest went to another gear. Anjali wrote a huge letter titled 'I really want a dog'. A text of some 400 words was typed, addressed directly to me and her mamma, telling us why she wants, how she will take care and all that. The end was a direct instruction for us to say Yes or No. There was space for mamma to write her suggestions and words and then my space. Both copies of the agreement or MoU were left on the computer table where I work. It is that - an agreement, MoU or whatever you call it - complete with signatures and all matters addressed.

Every day she asks - have you written your word or suggestion on it. I have not. I think I will.

Yesterday, I saw a stuffed toy of a cute dog on my table. Another hint.

This is just too much. Wonder what next? Will she prevail? Will she lose steam? Will parents find love in their hearts? Only time will tell. 

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