Sid and I learn our worth (or Zoya the Wonder Dog)
Last year Sid's brother and sister-in-law, Anand and Smriti, moved to Delhi along with their baby girl and their original baby girl - Zoya, the prettiest cocker spaniel, with a gentle temperamant and a love for carrots and cucumber. Our opportunity to have her stay with us came recently when Anand and Smriti with baby Dia in tow left for a visit to Langkawi. Zoya was given to us to guard with our lives and love unconditionally until her real mom and dad were back. We've had her over before for a shorter stint and she was a dream doggy, eating all her food, trotting down dutifully to do her stuff and sleeping peacefully by the bed. This time around since they are gone for two weeks and to ensure that she doesn't get too homesick we've been willing to bend over backwards to keep her happy. Zoya looks happy and she's also made us realize our true worth as her slaves! This longer stint with us has transformed her into this regal ring master of sorts, cracking her whip at us two idiots as we dance around her. I've had dogs practically all my life at home, but it's easy to forget how they wrap you around their finger, or paws really.
The easiest thing to forget is how a dog can stare you down when you're eating, forcing you to feed them as well, making you feel guilty with their unrelenting stricken gaze. I'd like to think that I'm stronger than Sid when it comes to this, but it's tough. I am constantly hurrying to his rescue when I hear him yelling "She's doing it again, I can't take it. Are you sure you're feeding her enough?". I have to proceed to yell supposed deterrents like "NO" or "DOWN Zoya" or "Stop scaring him" as he cowers on the sofa, his food held high above his head. Since she generally beats him down in the matter of half a second, she is now used to a variety of food, like slivers of Sid's french toast, fried fish, pepperoni,etc., that she feels is more interesting than the delicious chicken tikka masala that Smriti has left for her. So we are now subjected to the vigorous wagging of her stumped bottom when she sees us advance towards the kitchen, an excited dash when we open the fridge, an absolute woe begone look when her steaming bowl of chicken tikka masala and chapatis is placed before her, and a final look of resignation when we give her a carrot to cheer her up, which she gnaws hungrily since she is refusing to eat anything else. Repeated attempts by Sid and me to pretend to drop salami into her bowl, actually mix salami into her bowl which she manages to extract without touching the rest of her food, run after her with her bowl and so on are all in vain. As I scold Sid for spoiling her eating habits by giving into her whenever she begs for food, he gives me a defeated look "What to do babes, I can't take it when she looks at me like that. She might bite me"! At these times, I bite back the urge to give him a sharp one behind the ears and to yell at him to pull himself together and be a man.
How did we change from fairly self confident adults to this subservient duo within a week? This adorable fur ball has wielded a power over us that she is fully aware of and has caught us unawares. As she trots in at a ladylike pace with a pleased-as-punch Siddharth in tow she comes over to be nuzzled and allows me to plant a kiss on her snout. "Bubz, we're good for a couple of hours, after that you'll have get her to go down again. I've just bought another kilo of salami which will help"! I look over to Zoya who's selective hearing has perked up at the mention of "Salami". "Woof" she yaps impatiently and rushes helter skelter to the fridge. "I think we're going to need it a lot sooner than in a few hours" I say, as we both snap to attention!
P.S - In tune with this theme of salami and subservience, Zoya is greeted every morning with a smart salute by Siddharth, grinning jovially and yelling "Salaam (ee) Zoya"!