Friday, June 21, 2013

7th July 2001

I was 11 years old, so thats 12 years ago.

Each alternate saturday (1st and 3rd of the month) we had school, and it would be a half day, so it would get over by 12:30.
For a few years, on each of these saturdays my dad would pick me up from school, and we`d go somewhere, and do something fun. 

We would normally go to Khan Market first, which is like 2 minutes away from my school.

If you`ve lived in Delhi long enough I am sure you`ve visited Khan Market. And if you have, then you HAVE seen the pet shop that is in the middle lane called 'Windsor'. Well back in the day (when i was eleven), Windsor only had one shop, (the one on the right side).

On this particular day, (7th july 2011) while strolling Khan Market with my dad, we saw that Windsor has opened a second shop which was dedicated to cool pet accessories. It was the first time EVER I saw rainbow coloured leashes, and collars with little trinkets on it! It was just so exciting!

On a whim, my Dad and I decided to go check out a pet store near by called 'Companions' in Kaka Nagar.

It was a tiny shop, which had the cutest puppies I had ever seen.

There were two (british) cocker spaniel pups in there - one golden and one chocolate brown. The people at the shop told us that the golden one, a boy- is the best one they`ve gotten in years. I don't remember much of the conversation after that, but I just remember playing with the pup. I don`t remember what my Dad and I spoke about, or how we decided, but the next thing we were doing was going to South Extension to take out money! (clearly days of withdrawing money form any atm hadnt begun)

It was raining really hard and we rushed back to Kaka Nagar and we had our little pup.

I was really REALLY excited! I had NEVER had a dog before, just lots and lots of cat. I remember leaving so many msgs for my best friend (many years before every kid had a cellphone) that all her family members knew I had got a dog, expect her!

 I sat with this one month old in the back of my car as my dad drove us home. I remember the pup peeing on the seat!

One thing I DO remember was that my mother had NO idea what she was coming back to, cos she had NOT been informed! But don`t remember how she reacted either

My dad and I were obsessed with this pup. We got books on Cocker spaniels, how to train them, when they should be allowed to go out when they should be bathed etc etc. We did everything by the book!

A friend visiting from abroad was so smitten by my new pup, that when she went back, she got the exact same one! I can never forget her face when she first saw Rustam.

That`s what my dad named him. The 11 year old me didnt think that was a cool name, so I sat and poured through Harry Potter books with my best friend, and we tried coming up with a more 'cool' name. But nothing stuck.

Rustam was named so, as he was from Tajikistan , which was a part of Russia at one point of time. Thus he could be called 'Russi' .

At that point of time, it was legal to import puppies from other countries in the most appalling  conditions. i.e drug them, shove 4-5 in a basket and bring them in the cargo of a plane. Well I don`t know if it was legal, but its not down now. Thats how Russi probably came, just 2-3 weeks old. 

But I had another suprise waiting for me. In Russian. Since he was from Tajakistan, his papers were in Russian. We had to wait for them to get translated in English and come to us. After a month of having Rustam, the papers finally came.

His birth-date was - 29th May 2001. 
My Birth-date is 29th May 1990

It was not planned, buying the DOG was not planned. Yet I somehow got a dog, who was born on the same date as me, that too in former USSR!! I don't know if that was even his actual date of birth. But still a massive coincidence!

Russi was the only constant in my life, at least for the past 12 years.

My parents got divorced, I had a horrible time in school till 10th grade, at least academically, and had numerous tumultuous relationships with friends and family. But Russi was obviously always there. Though divorce school college and so on. 
I am an only child, so he was my sibling.

At the peak of my school life, when things actually started going well for me, and even before that, Rustam was looked after the caretaker of the house. 

Rustam, poor fellow was being fed the wrong type of food, and in the wrong quantity. I was unaware. Cos he looked fine.He was my first dog. I didn`t know what I should give him and what I shouldn`t. He always looked fit and fine. He was just so beautiful. With his long beautiful golden hair. 

 My Dad, who was quite meticulous and would`ve maybe paid more attention to these things, no longer lived with us.

Soon we realized his diet has been completely unhealthy and wrong, And we  fixed everything. My mum and I started taking care of him a lot better. Well okay my mum did, I helped :) He was eating right and everything.


But I guess huge quantities of food, that he was being given, in his formative years, had done the damage already.

Last year, around this time, we found out that he had stones. Really small sand like things in his bladder. And all the vets told us the reason for this condition was his diet.

All through last year, he just kept deteriorating. Soon he had to wear a diaper, which he did, without protesting.

But for a year, I think he was in a a lot of pain and discomfort. Although he never ever yepled or barked. He would be his normal self, just a little slower and with a diaper.

This March, after I came back from a work trip, he was visibly worse. He wasn't able to walk properly, and in a day his hind legs had given up.

He wasn`t eating, or had any energy to get up and walk. He would get two round of drips and anti biotics everyday. One part of me knew that this might be it. Another part, along with my amazing vet and other animal lovers in my life, thought he could get over this. I was even ready to get him a little contraption with wheels, to help him walk.

On the day of holi, he even walked, with the help of our center table. Took a full round of it. I was so hopeful.

28th March 2013

The next day, I stepped out of the house, after a week of just being with him. My help called me after an hour, that I should come back. It started raining. IN THE MIDDLE OF MARCH. I got stuck on a bridge, over the yamuna.

My help called me in tears, told me to hurry up and said "Woh ja raha hai"

I couldn`t do anything. I wanted to get off the bridge and run in the middle of traffic.

I called her again "Rustam Chala Gaya"

I still cannot get those sentences and the way she said them, out of my head. I wasn`t THERE to see him go. I dont know what I would`ve done or could`ve done. But there is nothing worse than not being there.

I sent a neighbour to confirm. And she did.

It was raining the day he came into our lives, and it was raining the day he went.
This birthday was really hard.
The joy of sharing your birthday, with your dog is no longer there.

When the 'neon' trend started, in 2011, I got him a neon leash and collar for his birthday. Now it hangs on my cupboard.