Amidst the barks and giggles, I heard, “Ma, we shouldn’t have named him Leo. He thinks he is a lion but..”, the rest of the sentence drowned in laughter. I leaned on the window sill to see the yard, and there my baby was, busy roaring and puffing and trying to intimidate a cat. The cat was merrily sitting on the fence with a go-away-teddy-bear smirk on her face. After a few minutes of failed attempts, he came inside sulking, sat under my chair, and buried his face in my skirt. Other than slippers, my skirts are his favorite chew toys. Thanks to his sharp teeth, you will only find me wearing long tattered ones inside the house these days. 

 Pretty much like everyone else in the family, he has his share of quirks. At nights he only prefers to sleep in a small bathroom which is the farthest point from my bedroom. Invariably, every night he will end up closing the door behind him, get trapped, and then whimper to get rescued. He also seems to be a sworn enemy of my Roomba (robot vacuum cleaner, more aptly my electronic jhaaduwaali). An extremely picky eater, he doesn’t like any ‘food’ food. Unlike his two-legged brothers, my long lectures about health and nutrition don’t really work on him.  This giant baby may not be capable of hurting a fly but he is a wild, wild child. Only the husband and older son can take him out on walks. Despite developing a backache with all that pulling and tugging, my husband still loves it. Paraphrasing his words, watching Leo running freely in a park is a sight to behold! 

You may be wondering, what is this post doing on a spiritual platform like Fair point, let’s rewind our story a little. After enduring years of emotional blackmails/requests/harassment from children about getting a dog, in a moment of weakness, we said, yes. Oh well, we realized our mistake seconds after and kept trying to bribe our innocent children for the next few months. But no luck. Eight months later Leo arrived home! 

 Our problem: we, husband-wife were aversive to the idea of having a pet. We both are kind of germophobic and have extreme ideas about hygiene. Thoughts of having an animal freely roaming inside my home with an unclean body (and butt) gave me shudders. I used to google, “Should we clean dog’s butt after every poop?” and similar stuff.  We both have demanding work schedules and are parents to two active growing children. It means, the TO-DO list never ends, weekdays fly and so do weekends. Living in America means my home may have an army of machines, but I do not have the comforting support of extended family to lean on. Though we were ‘promised’ full support by our politician children, the truth is, Leo now weighs almost as much as my younger kid, and the older kid is getting extremely busy with studies. Basically, both of them are not able to help out much anymore!   

 For the first few months after he arrived home, I was overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, and annoyed all the time. He pooped five times a day and peed uncountable times. Also, we were covered with his bite and scratch marks all over. Puppies have shark teeth, I tell ya. “Why me?”, I used to wonder. I never ever wanted to have a dog. And then one day I understood. He was the answer to my prayers!

You see, I don’t pray much. But sometimes during my daily Vipassana sitting, spontaneous prayer arises, and usually along the lines, “let me be free of all my fears and aversions”. Now one of my biggest aversions is ‘bodily fluids’ especially when not mine. Did I mention, this little guy has the trickiest tummy? Every 3-4 weeks he will have an upset stomach, and I will find myself waking up 10 times in the night and cleaning up after him. They say, be careful what you ask for. You may just get it! 

But honestly, after eight months I can see my aversions softening. I am no longer obsessed with the thoughts of that little butt touching my floors everywhere anymore or the germs he brings from outside. So, if you are anything like me, I recommend getting a dog. It might be a fast track to enlightenment, who knows. And even if it is not, I promise I will always lend my shoulder to you to cry on. 😉 

 It took around 3-4 months for us to truly fall in love with him but now this silly, smelly, adorable furball is the apple of our eyes!