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Paws for happiness and companionship

Until you have adopted one, you’ll never know what you are missing

Loyalty has been defined as “faithfulness or devotion to a person, country, group, or cause”. Philosophers have disagreed among them on what can be an object of loyalty. According to an entry in Wikipedia, some phiosophers argue that loyalty is a strictly interpersonal factor and only other human beings can be the object of loyalty.

I object! Because I know who I can trust blindly today, who will be loyal to me no matter what the circumstances, who will silently comfort me just by being there. And who will never leave me or betray me. The one who will be at my doorstep to welcome me home from work every day as if it were meeting me after years and who will listen to me whine, rant and give vent endlessly, with quiet patience, and still come and give me a big, loving, peck after I am done.

Sounds perfect, doesn't it?

Which means I’m certainly not talking about human beings. I’m talking about those members of my family who are furry, four-legged, who are unable to speak or express themselves vocally. Yet they touch our lives as perhaps no human being can. They define the words Loyalty and Faithfulness as no human being ever possibly could.

My mother grew up in a home full of dog-lovers. She is an ardent dog-lover to this day. Her having always had pet dogs around her, it was no surprise that soon after my parents were married someone gifted them a Black Spaniel pup. And so, when I was born, Aster (as the Spaniel was named), was my first furry friend and pet. Since Aster, there has been no looking back. I suppose you could call it a legacy of sorts that my brother, sister and I also grew up with an inherent fervour and compassion for animals too — specifically dogs, in our case. Running around with a ball in the garden with them, watching TV while they sit snuggled up next to us or when they come and paw us irresistibly with those sad, hungry, eyes — these have been some of the happiest moments of our lives and will continue to be so. It also never fails to amaze me how intelligent they are and how quickly they learn and adapt to even new, unfamiliar environments. They respond to you sometimes in such a human way you are left speechless.

After I got married and moved to a different city, one of the things I missed — and do even to this day — are my three dogs back home at my parents’ house. Given our jobs and then a recent move to another country, we have unfortunately been unable to keep a dog of our own. But I have been feeling the itch, and it only grows stronger!

In the world of humans today where love, loyalty, brotherhood, friendship and compassion are mere words riding on the backs of malice, revenge, greed, betrayal and terror, there also exists a parallel universe that houses and breeds these magnificent creatures. While I am in no way condoning the capturing of animals for acts such as laboratory experiments, I believe human intervention of a different kind — of adopting them, providing them with nutritious food, warmth and love, bringing them into our homes and raising them like our own — exalts our kindness towards them. Their presence in our lives also has a life-changing impact on us that we don't even seem to notice.

Speak to any pet owner and they’ll show you proudly all the tricks they have taught their pet. But they’ll also tell you how much that pet has changed their own lives. It really is like therapy. For the hard-working person, it’s the best way to de-stress. For the lonely individual perhaps even battling depression of sorts, it is the companionship they need — just not in the human form.

We all could do with this kind of loyalty. And it becomes our duty to protect them from harm, to not turn a blind eye if we witness injustice being done to them on the streets or in homes, just as you would do for a fellow human being.

Until you have adopted one, you’ll never know what you are missing. The feeling is as magical as it is inexplicable, unconditional with a pinch of therapeutic salt. So come on, go get yourself a dog, a cat, a furry friend, to love and discover how, and change your life! And please, I would like to encourage you to adopt from shelters or those your friends may have found abandoned perhaps. They all need a loving home too just like orphan children do.

shairamohan@gmail.com

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 5:36:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/paws-for-happiness-and-companionship/article8037664.ece

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