A mild sniffle somewhere near our house woke me up last early winter morning. My fingers tingling from the chill, I peeked through the window and rubbing my eyes clear, saw three tiny puppies huddling! Yes, they were so cute and their eyes yet to see the world. The fallen leaves made wonderful crunching sound as the mama came running through the crispy floor of dried leaves.
This piece of land is perhaps the only vacant area that houses so many beautiful fruit trees. The owner one day pulled down two of them, the most fruit bearing ones. The reason, the fruits get stolen and he thinks it is pointless keeping them. The fallen green leaves turned yellow and then to brown, hence, the crispy floor. The boundary wall separates our house and the land. Every morning I would crane my neck to see them. They were always in sleeping mode. Our affection towards them started to grow.
One evening the mama’s woof turned into helpless howl. We wondered what was wrong. To our astonishment we saw one puppy, stained with blood lay lifeless. We have wild civets; we call “Bham biral or Gandho Gokul” in Bengali, roam after dusk, here in our area. They are a real nocturnal nuisance and they stink! They climb trees, buildings and peek through windows. Newly born babies, puppies, kittens are vulnerable if left unguarded. They even steal food like fruits and vegetables. It was a painful scene to see the mama’s whimper as it sat by the dead. After sometimes, as if in ritual, it dug a small hollow and placed the dead and covered with earth and dried leaves. Rest in peace!
How time flies. The two were growing up. They now started exploring their terrain. The stumps were their pedestal for viewing their enclosure. With every passing day, the puppies learnt to hide under the leaves. They appear only when they sense their mother is around.
The winter chill was on its final lap. One night a sudden thunder storm brought incessant rains. Our sleep broke with the puppies’ feeble cries. This little territory has so many unknown creatures from snakes to mosquitoes and don’t know bugs. The floor has over grown shrub covers, making it pretty creepy. We couldn’t dare get in there. They cuddled and moaned till the rains stopped and the peeping sun brought some warmth. We wondered why the mama came so late to their rescue. We thought they wouldn’t survive but we were wrong. As the saying goes, “Survival of the fittest” is so true to them.
Within two months or so, the two started responding to our calls. First, their tails, then heads would appear from underneath the leaves. Sometimes their fights were simply funny but when they became violent the mama would make a shrilling howl and they sense the game is over. Kochor (Crunchy) & Mochor(Crispy) as we named them after one of our neighbors started calling them by those names. We thought the names were appropriate for the sounds they make as they trample and run through the dried leaves. They would stand, waiting for me patiently as I feed them with some food. Kochor pauses and puts her paws up on the wall, as it tilts its neck with violent shake of its tail. It leans to touch my hand but bounces back. Mochor is an introvert as it would only stare at me blankly, not as bubbly as Kochor. They are very different from the street puppies. So enclosed was their life that we are like strangers- it is like friendship from far. If the mother sees me, it would run at full speed to greet me or fling herself against the gate when he sees me coming, as if my arrival is the most important thing that’s ever happened to her in her life.. as if we have been friends for a very long time.
Its dinner time and the mama dog would sit far on the boundary wall and keep vigil on what we are feeding. She never ate the food we gave her kids.
Days were getting warmer and Mochor became sick and stopped eating. He kept hiding away among the shrubs or just kept lying under tree shades. He was becoming frail and looked sad. We couldn’t figure out what really went wrong. I tried force feeding him with some homeo medicine with glucose water. But every time it would run away but somehow we managed. Half the time Kochor would playfully pounce on Mochor’s glucose bowl. I would chase him away. The mama would groom him but it was so weak with little response. Kochor would try playing but he won’t move. After two days, he started limping back. I was optimistic! A little hope turned into a big sigh. He gave me a real scare.
We were so much observed with Mochor when suddenly the obedient Kochor disappeared. Assuming it has grown, we thought she must’ve found her clan. We were extremely apprehensive and very sad. After two days, the stinking smell from the land made us awfully confused. The municipal Corporation was informed. The truck came and lifted the enclosed bonnet. I saw piled up dead dogs and cats. It was a very sad scene. The man got down to the bushes and found kochor half decaying! The bushes are so thick; it is just not possible to locate anything .May be it died of snake bite. He picked up and placed it inside the truck. Heart stopping scene it was, seeing the mama and Mochor witnessing the dead being carried away. I couldn’t hold my tears. This is how street dogs survive I remind myself.