By Purabi Dutta Chowdhury
It’s a year since Toffee crossed the rainbow bridge! I still find it difficult to accept that I will not see him even once anymore. Yet I know he is there in our hearts and very much part of our life and will remain so forever. There must be some significance why he left on his birthday. He must have wanted to assure that though he left us yet he will be there with us.
We have watched Toffee growing and evolving through the years. From a smart, quick learner puppy to an effervescent adult to a wise senior – his transformation was so gradual and seamless. As a puppy and young adult he was ready to mingle with people. In our Ahmedabad house he will so many times run off to our neighbours’ houses whenever he gets an opportunity. When we went for a trip, most of the times we would leave him in a dog boarding as it were not easy to find hotels which allowed pets. He did not seem to mind it happily going away to the boarding with whoever used to come to collect him. And boarding people never had any problem with him and always eagerly accepted him as he was very easy to handle. As we shifted to Delhi, I observed his tendency to run off from home totally vanished and started showing signs of unwillingness to stay in boarding houses though he never created any problem there. Looking at his unhappiness to part with us, we also felt sad to leave him behind. That’s when we started tailoring our holidays where he could be part of it. He travelled quite a lot with us by road and by train and also once by waterways when we went to river island Majuli, believed to be largest river island and a strong contender for a place in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. We had memorable trips to Baroda, Hrishikesh, Corbett, Bhimtaal, Amritsar, Goa, Bangalore (his birthplace), Orccha in Madhya Pradesh, Guwahati, Majuli Island and Nameri forest.
Toffee’s relationship with Aditya kept changing with time. Toffee was always very fond of Aditya. During initial years he treated Aditya as his playmate and equal. But as Aditya grew up enough to take care of Toffee, he started giving him the status of big brother. When Aditya went off to hostel we could not realize how Toffee was affected. Only when he came home for the first time from hostel after three months we understood Toffee’s feeling as he refused to acknowledge Aditya for quite some time! Later on he seemed to accept the situation and was happy to see Aditya whenever he was home.
Throughout his life he remained very rugged hardly suffering from ill health. In Orchcha he took part in a Heritage run with us and covered 10 km though he was already a senior by then. He was very fond of food eating almost anything and always begging for scraps whenever he would see us eating. He was quite obedient complying with our house rules and very well behaved in public. In all our extensive travels there is not a single incident of him damaging any property or getting aggressive towards anyone. He in turn got lots of affection. All our household helps at various places invariably doted on him. When we went on vacations, hotel or resort staff would happily take care of him allowing us to go sightseeing where he was not allowed. In trains kids would come to our compartment to play with him. People would come and pet him and take pictures with him though he was very camera shy. I have seen people mortally scared of dogs submitting to his charm including my niece.
Towards his senior years he grew increasingly attached to us and refused to go out with anyone unless accompanied by one of us though he remained fond of people. He also matured day by day and became very understanding. In his last few days, despite his suffering, he seemed to be aware of the agony we were going through looking at his condition and tried to offer emotional comfort through his kind eyes. In his final moment, he waited for me to join him and Sanjay in Aditya’s room unwilling to go without saying goodbye.
We did not know what to do on his first birthday without his physical presence. Then we got a way which would be suitable to pay respect to a gentle and affectionate soul like Toffee. We were thinking of donating blood under the scheme of Azadi ka Amrtit mahotasav. Earlier we sometimes donated blood on Aditya’s birthday and once all three of us pledged organ donation. However it never occurred to us to do the same on Toffee’s birthday. Few days back it came to our mind and today Sanjay and I donated blood in Jorhat Medical College.
This is our way of thanking Toffee for enriching our lives with unconditional love!