The dog of many names

CW: discussion of dog death

I’ve had a lot of dogs over the years.

In the time before…

… there was Squid who became Paru who became Patti. She was my first dog. There were other dogs in my family, but they were beyond my memory or before my birth.

Before I got married, before the children, before I moved out of my parents’ home, I brought home a sweet little Kelpie-Blue Heeler cross. I called her Squid. For all of two days. Then my father decided she was “Paru”, which went down like a lead balloon with my mother, whose name is Parvathi. Then my sister chimed in with “she’s a chokli patti” (a stray dog), and Patti stuck.

Patti was lean and lithe and loved to run. We’d walk late at night and early in the morning and all throughout the day. Every moment I was sad or frustrated or fed-up, Patti and I would go for a walk. We walked a lot.


When she went missing one day, my father and I went into a panic. I rounded up friends, made posters and went searching. My father rang the temple and paid for a yajna in the dog’s name. IN THE DOG’S NAME. He never did a yajna in any of his children’s names.

When I moved out, Patti stayed. My beautiful Siamese cat, Piaf, adopted me, and Patti got fat. She became an old person’s dog, eating breakfasts of melted cheese sandwiches that my mother would make especially for her and then hand feed her, lying in her favourite spot behind the sofa or my father’s chair, a fog of flatulence hovering around her.

Patti saw the death of my father and the birth of my eldest child. She comforted my mother and made her walk every day even when all she wanted to do was lie in bed and be bereft.

And then, at 14, when her desire to walk outstripped her ability to get further than the front door, we had to make a quality of life decision. My mother couldn’t do it.

It fell to me. She was my dog, after all, even if she had become their third daughter.

I rang the vet.

I fed her a toasted cheese sandwich, I hugged her, I wept. The vet came to the house, we said our goodbyes, my mother locked herself in her bedroom and my sister and I held that sweet old dog as she drifted into a permanent sleep.

It was three years before another dog came into my life.


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9 Comments on “The dog of many names”

  1. Your post reminded me of my dear pet dog, Chikoo Same kinda baby, same kinda life, same kinda story! He passed away last year and I still can’t get over him!

    • I was just reading an article about how we become so deeply invested in our pets, and how they can sometimes feel even more devastating than the loss of people — I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s surely a huge loss. The worst for me was the death of our old flat-coated retriever, Shadow. He grew up with my kids, and saying goodbye to him was so hard.

        • ASha, I was just thinking of Shilpa when I read this post, and here I see Shilpa’s Comment:))). Pets become family and thus an integral part of our lives.And losing a loved one is never easy. Another one may come, but we cherish the memories of each one of these pets.

  2. Oh, these dogs of ours. I wish they could stay forever. I’m just going to go away now and miss all of mine. 🙂

    • She was such a good dog. She saved my Dad from being run over by a car once (I’ll get around to writing that story one day).

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