My Pet Story: Oscar, my friend and teacher

Oscar was well loved by the writer’s family, and left them with a lifetime of precious memories. Photo: Bhavani Sundaram

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It is difficult to write about a soul which has touched your life, affected your existence and made a difference in your outlook towards companions. I have been debating writing about my pet Oscar for a long time but every time I sat down to pen a few words on him, my emotions took over and I was unable to continue.

Oscar was a mixed breed with some traits of a pointer, with black spots on his body and black patches on his face.

He came into my life as a puppy – I can still recall that it was winter in Delhi and I was home from my boarding school in Mussoorie, India. It was a chilly morning and I was fast asleep under my rasai (quilt) when I felt the warm licking of a pup.

At first, I thought I was dreaming but the licking and gentle nudging continued. When I opened my eyes, I saw two beautiful, soulful eyes watching me. It was love at first sight, and it lasted for a lifetime.

They say a pet changes your entire outlook in life (yes, that’s true!). The moment he entered our lives, we were blessed with his presence. He was a joy to behold, a spirited pup, full of energy and adventure.

Every day was an adventure with him. If he was not busy chasing sparrows and crows, he would be playing with a ball, or pulling away at old rags and socks. He loved eating and was a big fan of curd rice, much to my mum’s delight.

Oscar soon become an indispensable part of our family. He was loyal to the core and his most favourite person was my mother, who fed and bathed him and let him sleep in a warm “cocoon”. He loved going for walks and exploring nature around him, sniffing away, and stopping at every lamppost to mark his presence.

As time passed, Oscar grew up to be a handsome dog much loved by all who met him.

Over the years, every time we moved house, we took him along with us. We have fond memories of him travelling by car and rail. There were times when we would sit silently gazing ahead, with my arms around him or he resting his head gently on my lap I miss those moments.

Age soon caught up with him and he gradually slowed down, and also started greying which made him look more handsome and precious.

Then one day, when he was around 14 years old, he suddenly fell sick with jaundice. We were all saddened and scared! My mum rushed him to the vet’s, and my driver and mali (gardener) who were terrified of him lifted him ever so gently and placed him on my mum’s lap. The moment they placed him on the vet’s table, he gave my mum a soulful, thankful look before he died. He was buried in our garden facing my mum’s window. After that, she never had the heart to keep a pet.

Today, all I can say is Oscar my friend, I am sorry I was not there with you in your last days and I always regretted it. I wish I was there to hold and hug you one last time and say goodbye. Even after all these years, I can feel his presence around me, watching me, protecting me. And every time I peel peas, if one or two peas fall down, it’s as if Oscar was waiting for them as he used to.

They say pets never leave you. Though we feel their absence every day, they leave behind so many precious cherished memories that last a lifetime.

Thank you, my friend, for being my spiritual teacher, who taught me love, compassion, caring, giving and made me a better human being. Today, as I take care of strays and pets, I see Oscar in all of them. He is never far away, is always beside me, my silent companion for life.

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