Clouseau came into our lives when he chose us. We were looking at a dozen puppies running amok, when out of nowhere he ran straight towards me and tripped over my foot. He then sat on the muddy floor on his bottom and looked up at me with those brown, round puppy eyes. He managed to steady himself and instead of running again, he nudged closer to my foot to nuzzle. His goal of running clearly forgotten. It was like nothing else was important, now that he had made up his mind. He chose us.
We drove back home with him. He looked back once and settled down in my lap, in the little red blanket I had brought along, overjoyed at the prospect of a car ride. But 15 minutes in and the skies opened up, lashing us with thunder, rains, and falling short of a hailstorm. That's when the whimpering started and continued all through the night, for the next few nights.
While we clearly fussed and fawned over our yellow, Labrador pup, friends and family stopped short of sharing our enthusiasm. We were just three months away from giving birth to our baby and they were worried for us. How on earth were we planning on taking care of two babies? We had acknowledged that it would be tough, but we laughed it off saying toilet training Clouseau and staying up nights to soothe his whimpering was good practice for when the baby comes.
Once we knew labour was upon us, we did a lot of research on how to introduce the baby to the dog. We were pleasantly surprised by the sheer volume of information on the subject. It was important for our puppy to know we weren't bringing home an intruder and that we would be spending equal amounts of time with him and the new baby. While sensitising Clouseau was fairly simple, fears from our family were greater to handle. What if the baby was allergic to dogs? What if he swallowed some dog hair? What if Clouseau nips the baby? They worried. A lot.
Dog owners are often found guilty of anthropomorphising their pets. And why not? Clouseau took to our baby boy, Kabir in his own sweet way. There was never any growling or barking. When friends visited to see the baby, he would run and block their way afraid of what they might do to our son. His protective instincts were at the forefront even for the new member.
We have been raising two babies. One slightly ahead of the other in the learning curve. Just short of a year old, Clouseau started throwing temper tantrums, something we are now facing with Kabir. We have learned, the hard way, to ignore when they act up – be it tearing open a throw pillow or a screaming fit for the remote. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Clouseau's strength being perseverance and his weakness? White bread.
We have watched our clumsy, rambunctious pup transform into a docile, serene and unflustered animal. Though fairly large we are never worried when we have children around the house because all our gentle giant will do is nuzzle up to them and allow himself to be petted. He is Kabir's closest and most patient friend. The sort of friend that allows you to sit on him and coo in his ears. Kabir has wheedled his way into Clouseau's heart and made a friend for life, simply by offering him a morsel or two from his plate everyday. While extremely possessive of his toys, Clouseau will let Kabir share and even nudge him playfully to initiate a game of fetch. We are fairly sure Kabir is picking up perseverance, kindness and the art of sharing from our dog and so we have relaxed our lessons.
Our family, for my son, will never be complete without Clouseau. Something that reiterates itself on a daily basis.
Stuck in a traffic jam while trying to find a parking spot I ask Kabir.
"Should we buy a small car or a big car?"
"A big car Mamma." He says without thinking for a moment.
"But it is so much easier to find a spot to park a small car." I reason in my most practical voice.
"But Mamma, we have to buy a big car. We need a seat for Clouseau, right?" He reasons back at me.