She was beautiful.
Her jet black coat was exceptionally glossy and gave her a slightly demonic air that prompted us to name her ‘Buffy’, after the vampire-slaying heroine from a TV serial.
Looking back, if ever there was a more inappropriate name in the entire history of misleading nomenclature this was probably it. Contrary to her appearance she was docile and gentle to a fault, almost, as we often speculated, to the point of stupidity.
I can still recall the first time we brought her home. She was just a tiny black ball of fur barely a month old and was so used to living in a basket that she crouched in fear on the landing and simply refused to enter the house, intimidated by the size of the living room of our Mumbai apartment!
Now many of you may argue that I’m being harsh as she was just a pup. But let me tell you, the trend continued well into adulthood.
There was this one time fairly recently when a bee casually floated into the room. Milliseconds later, my wife ran out of one door and, galvanizing from a deep slumber and clocking 0-60 with a timing that would have made Ferrari proud, Buffy smoked out of another!
She rarely barked and growled even less. The only creatures that invoked these infrequent demonstrations of temper were pigeons. Sadly, even the birds seemed to see through her unconvincing attempts at aggression and it often took several mock charges with a mixture of growls and barks in varing permutations and combinations before they eventually, out of pure boredom I suspect , flew away.
Each effort was always followed by a proud trot back, much like a heroic soldier returning from a hard-fought battle and the demand a treat.
Despite the lack of vocal demonstrations of displeasure we could always tell when she was upset.
A typical case in point was when suitcases needed to be pulled out in preparation for a trip. She’d lie with her head on her paws pretending to be disinterested but the apprehension and sadness in her eyes as they followed our each and every move conveyed so much more than mere words – or for that matter, growls and woofs – ever could.
When she was really upset she had one very peculiar habit. She’d take one of a pair of our slippers and hide it.
Yes, it was always just one of a pair. And she would take it and hide it in the most bizarre of places.
The number of occasions where we, (it was usually my wife Vanessa who was at the receiving end) were forced to spend many a frustrating moment in search of missing footwear were far too frequent to be a mere coincidence.
Like most dogs she loved a car ride and she was in her element when we took her with us to Goa. Here she had something that Mumbai could never give her enough of. Space to roam freely.
Packs of stray dogs, often 10-12 strong, regularly frequent our ancestral property in Goa. When the house is vacant our CCTV is full of footage of them using the backyard to play and rest.
Buffy loved the backyard. When she was done exploring she’d park herself in the middle of the lawn looking every bit the part of a queen surveying her kingdom. What was surprising was the fact that, wild though they were, the strays seemed to respect this and always kept their distance whenever she was around. It was almost as if they acknowledged her ‘ownership’ rights.
She had been ailing for over a year and we were really hoping that she would be able to make one more trip to Goa. Sadly it was not to be.
She passed away 8 days ago.
She was as perfect a pet as anyone could ever wish for. For months we’ve been dreading the moment when she would finally sucumb to her escalating health issues. There were several instances when we thought is was time and she’d miraculously bounce back. So much so that we were actually beginning to entertain the totally illogical hope that she would go on forever.
The 14 years that she gave us were nothing short of gold dust and much as we tried to prepare ourselves, the last few hours were incredibly heartbreaking.
Goodbye you sweet, sweet dog. You gave us much more that we ever bargained for without ever expecting anything in return. Rest assured you will always live on in our hearts and we will never ever forget you.
I’m writing this piece in Goa, which as many of you are aware, I visit about once a month for a couple of days.
Vanessa was to accompany me on this trip. We all shared a special bond with Buffy, but the one that was strongest was, by far, the one between her and Vanessa.
We had originally planned to spread Buffy’s ashes around the property but thanks to Mumbai’s crude veterinary services we were given no ashes to spread. Also a last minute SNAFU concerning her flight tickets meant that Vanessa had to miss the trip and I travelled alone.
Yesterday, a very strange incident occurred involving my gardener and I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourselves whether or not it has a bearing to this blog.
The gardener normally comes to the property late in the evening for a couple of hours to tend to the garden.
He has a set routine.
He comes up the driveway and parks his bike outside the garage. He’ll then change into the gumboots I bought for him a few years ago as a protection from snakes and scorpions and leaves his sandals on the driveway near his bike.
Today was no different.
It was dark by the time he finished his work and he knocked on the French windows to indicate that he was leaving and went to the garage. I was working on my laptop when, a few minutes later, I was surprised to hear him knock on the window again.
One of his sandals was missing.
We searched for the next 15 minutes to no avail. One slipper had indeed disappeared and we suspected that one of the stray dogs might have taken it.
After he left, out of sheer curiosity, I brought up the video footage and one camera has a very clear view of him arriving, parking his bike and leaving his sandals near the bike.
I played – and replayed – the video clips several times. Right from the time of his arrival up until he discovered that the footwear was missing and switched on his mobile phone torch to search for it.
At all times both bike and sandals were constantly in the frame.
Now here’s the crunch: There was absolutely no sign of anyone – or any dog – picking up the sandal!
It’s a complete mystery how that sandal could have disappeared.
True love showing itself Ian & Vanessa. It’s not a mystery, it’s the “unless”….
Ha ha! Thanks Renaldo. I too am of the same opinion regarding the ‘unless’.
Vanessa DSouza says
My sweet sweet Buffy, come and take all our slippers… but just come back!!
Nice article! Brings back memories of Buffy…
If only that were possible… 🙂
very nice. love mysteries and the ending.
Jayant Atrey says
Dear Doctor , I don’t know what to say , but , once again my cheeks are wet with tears and memories of my gentle Angle made me weep with pains. I am not ashamed of my tears , but the thought , that she is no more with me and am alone in this world , is very hard to digest.
I know exactly how you feel, my friend. My deepest sympathies to you and your family.
Naumann Braganca says
I know how you feel Ian. But in no way would I be able to convey that feeling the way you did. Buffy I’m sure was also equally happy to have a family like yours to call her own …
Thanks Naumann! It’s been over a week but still unconsciously keep doing the little things at home as if she was here…
Vinod Dua says
Dear Doctor, what you wrote about Buffy is nothing but the deep love and emotions between both of you. I believe it cannot be one sided affair. Buffy loves you as much. I am in the midst of a similar phase in life where I have Brock a two year young Lab and believe me it is already developed into a deep love story. Even the thought of Brock leaving gives me shudders. It happend few years back when our Gemmy left us after 14 years of sheer pleasure.
Buffy’s departure must have been traumatic, I can very well feel.
On the positive side, I am sure she lived a life full of love and care and wherever she is May Her Soul Rest in Peace. And she will never go out of your existence. As I feel for Gemmy even today.
Many thanks Vinod. Only those who have experienced the love of a pet can understand the grief when they pass away…
Fiona Dias Miranda says
Don’t know how I missed this …but good I didn’t read it when she passed. The tears just can’t stop and I was a mess Myself – the time she passed . She was a beautiful gentle soul and memories of her are safe, warm, cosy and comfy. Had she survived the lockdown she would have not had to hide any slipper/shoe😀
Thanks Fiona…. she was a total idiot but a warm, beautiful, gentle one without a doubt! It’s been a year and a half now and not a single day goes by when we don’t think of her.