From when I was a child, I have displayed a very special love for animals. I still get kidded for the pronouncement that has immortalized me in my family, “the chicken too are human.” (Okay, go ahead and laugh. Just remember that this was from a 5-yr old who absolutely adored her splecked hens and snow white rooster.)
One of my first (remembered) hysterics took place when I came home from school and found that my Magpie Robin had drowned in the toilet bowl because someone had left the toilet seat up. In an attempt to console me, my Uncle and our driver went out and came home - separately - with 24 Muniya birds. The transformation from uncontrollable sobs to ecstatic shrieks of pleasure occurred in the blink of an eye.
As I grew up, I stopped being so fickle and began to display deep, committed love for my pets. I got a parrot in 1981 - my Uncle again, and she is still living a healthy life today in 2007, mash’Allah. She has gotten extremely demanding and cranky with old age though, just like a human being. When I lived abroad, I would call home and not only ask after the parrot, but also ask that the phone be taken to the bird, just to hear her screech at the instrument. She is a much-loved member of the family. Her favorite pastime is nibbling on my Dad’s fingers.
We had numerous dogs over the years, Roadesians mostly and some mixed breeds, and no mother probably cared for her child more devotedly than I cared for the dogs - bottle feeding the very young, keeping scrapbooks etc. Between pet dogs, I bonded with the neighborhood strays, and once earned the title of ‘Kuttawali’ - I reveled in the title, in fact, rather than be upset about it (okay, so I am a little strange).
My parents’ house is on the short-leg of an L-shaped road, and my mother laughs that as soon as anyone turned the corner, they could tell if I was home or not - for if I were, there would be a semicircle of dogs sitting outside the house. Well they did occasionally take up station there, but they didn’t exactly maintain a round-the-clock vigil! Mom exaggerates so!
Sure I buy bread for the neighborhood strays, and name the puppies, and when one puppy got run-over by a rickshaw and was rejected by his mother I fed him milk and chicken soup until he got well. And I rescued a 4-week abandoned puppy and took him to my office where he gets leftover food (one of my jobs involve running a training center – talk about abuse of power, ha ha). You should see the greeting I get from him everyday. A hug with his front paws around my waist and a cuddle – no less! He’s the high point of my workday! If I am ever asked to send him away (a reasonable enough request, an office is no place for a pet dog after all), I’d quit my job - I wouldn’t want to work for an organization that is not dog-friendly! And if I ever leave this place, he would go with me, no question about that!
But just for these little bitty things, do you think it was fair of my mother to have bestowed on me the title of ‘Dog Queen’??? (To be perfectly honest, it absolutely made my day!)