Sid and I learn our worth (or Zoya the Wonder Dog)

"Bubz, I'm off with her, we may not get this chance again", yelled Sid as he streaked past me, a leash looped around his wrist attached to a blur of black fur.  The fur ball and him disappear in a confused haze of shuffling, sniffing and a determined look on Sid's face to get himself and his charge into the lift.  I sighed and sank into the sofa thinking about just a week ago when our lives had been so different and our self perception as well.  Sid and I love dogs and have always wanted to have our own, but unfortunately living on our own and being out of the house a lot means a lonely and sad existence for a pet. So until we arrange a less lonely existence for our to-be pets, we dream of the day when we will have them.  We think of playing with them, Sid's vision bordering on the violent as he would like to "throw and slap the doggy about for fun"  ("What? they like that!"), taking them for walks, cuddling them while watching TV and so on.  We argue about who our hypothetical dog will love more and where they'd prefer to sleep.  Yes, we border on crazy sometimes! So until that blissful day we pat all our neighbourhood doggies, secretly scheming on how to kidnap the downstairs labrador, Max, and forwarding each other "dogs for adoption" mails that we sigh at sadly and forward on to others.

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.

She's also taken a sudden aversion to going outside for her little walks.  For an oldie (she's 12 years old) she has immense bladder control and lies around unpertubed by Sid and my anxiety that she might explode if we don't take her down.  Ignoring our pleas, she retreats under the dining table when she sees us advancing with her leash.  We've been warned not to try and disturb her when she is under the table or asleep - the only time her gentle demeanour changes to a "eyes flashing, teeth gnashing" b*&^$.  Sid as usual cannot be seen as the villain so I am sent into the battle zone, while he watches from a safe distance muttering unnecessary instructions like "Just slip it over her neck" "Don't worry she won't do anything, just slip it"!  Once the leash is safely over her head our hero emerges and bellows "Come Zoya, let's go down" to which she responds with an amused nonchalance, probably thinking "I'll take you down, you wimp"1 The struggle to take her down continues through the day starting with the minute we hear her wake up in the morning, Sid tearing around the room with one leg in his track pants and one grabbing her leash screaming "Come ZOya, let'sssss go".  Three attempts later, Sid's still roaming around with one-legged track pants and a leash while Zoya snores comfortably beside the bed.  The evenings are no better with me pushing her bum from under the table while Sid holds a piece of salami in front of her (It didn't help much since she finally managed to get the salami out of my hand - who says she won't bite the hand that feeds her!)

We're also constantly scared of anything going wrong since she is the love of Anand and Smriti's life and we wouldn't want to give back a damaged pet!  We've calmed down considerably but even the slightest sneeze would have us dialing Langkawi, "She's making strange noises.  Oh ok, nothing to worry about".  We now only look worried when she is choking, which is fairly often since she swallows her carrots and is always looking like she's going to cough up a hairball, but nothing that a hearty thump on the back doesn't seem to remedy!  Sid of course has managed to do some damage or the other, tripping over and kicking a yelping Zoya while walking blindly towards the television, dropping a book on her while she quietly slept by his side of the bed, and opening the bathroom door on to her sweet expectant face when she was faithfully waiting outside.  Much hugging and kissing later she is pacified, but only to be attacked by Sid again! We also feel sorry leaving her alone and luckily her being quite deaf makes us able to sneak out the door fairly easy.  However, we suspect her of being selectively deaf so to be on the safer side we tip toe out, me trying to not fall over in my stilettoes, while Sid just tip toes in general since he thinks that is the thing to do.

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"!


Karen said…
Loved this tale of Zoya!

As for Sid wanting a pet to throw about, I can totally see my dad in him. He used to throw our cocker spaniel across the living room floor and she'd come scampering back for more. A sliding game they both loved inspite of the scars (on my dad's hands) at the end of one of their sessions.
Aviator said…
So well written Reem,but I wonder who's the subject matter here..Zoya or Sid?both were equally entertaining and amusing,enjoyed reading every little bit.(you've got a bit of James Herriot in you!..Write a book!!!!)
Anand said…
Absolute amazing and as Smriti says very SWEET and the photographs are also the greatest. reading it we nearly have tears in our eyes remembering her. But do not worry we will give u hopefully many more chances of writing many more blogs. ZOYA we miss u and so does little sis.
Saurabh said…
Another Good one Reem! I totally agree with Aviator on both counts. Cant decide who was funnier.Zoya or Sid?... & Yes, Write a Book... Most definitely!
Reem said…
Thanks all..glad it struck a chord with some of you and provided general entertainment. Yes, Sid is quite integral to all my posts, if you've noticed my earlier entries. So it's no wonder that he's crept into this one with Zoya.
Sudha said…
Absolutely amusing, Reem. You write so well…….have you thought of writing a book? Need an idea? Just collect all of your blogs and compile them as “Sidlogs”!! (Would be great reading for future grandchildren.)

Reem said…
Hi Taiji, thanks very much. Yes, my intention was to write a book about "My Life with Sid" so it's nice that you agree with me...I'm sure it will materialize soon.
Namita said…
Gosh Reem...she doesn't look 12!
By the way Sid must ask Ani about his equivalent of throwing the dog up, playing slapping, et all ;-)
Our dogs have to deal with quite a bit of it!!!
Reem said…
I know she's quite a sprightly 12...i think Smriti has ensured that her very healthy diet and her natural love for kheera and gaajar has kept her looking and behaving mych younger...a passable 6 or 7 really! I know the violent streak seems to be in all these guys :)
Kiran Sawhney said…
Reem I did not know you are a blogger too. You are quite a bundle of talents.

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