He was born on March 14, 2020 in Japan. An Aries boy just like both my other sons. We got him home on July 19, 2020, when he was 4 months old, and my life has gone topsy-turvy ever since!
The first night I couldn’t sleep. And that’s not because my new baby woke me up. It’s because I wasn’t sure if I had done the right thing. ‘Postpartum blues’ is probably the term for it. Something that I had never experienced with my two boys, but at this age it was a different story. “Had we done the right thing?” “Did we really need a dog in our lives?” “What if neighbours complain?” “What will happen when we travel?” Those and loads of other thoughts kept me tossing and turning the whole night and when sleep came it was fitful and filled with strange dreams.
The next morning just one look at my new pup brought a smile to my face as I took him down for our first official walk. It wasn’t a big hit as he tried to explore every single thing he found on the road with his mouth, chewing on sticks, stones, leaves, leaving me frowning, scolding and thrusting my fingers up his throat with some kind of a walk happening in between and absolutely no ‘toilet job’ as we came back home huffing and panting, walking up the five floors to my apartment. That story went on five times a day for a couple of days, and once I even told my son that if Loki actually pees or poos where he is meant to, I am going to throw a party! Nights of exhaustion and days filled with hard physical work, strongly brought to focus a niggling question of why exactly had I decided to become a new mom at 45?
Fast forward 2 weeks. August 2, 2020. We went on our morning walk, on a path close to my house where cars are not allowed, I let Loki be leash-free and he was happy to roam around without any restrictions, aware about his surroundings, aware about where I was, running to me when called and grudgingly even letting a stick or stone or his favourite berry fall from his mouth when I would give a clear command “Loki leave it!” I did my morning exercise, took a nice relaxed shower and lounged on my bean bag, having a cup of coffee as I started to write this blog post. We had made solid progress in just two weeks time!
I am a dog person. I could feel it in my bones as I spent most of my free time with my dogs growing up in Mumbai. Home dogs, stray dogs, small dogs, big dogs, long-haired dogs, short-haired they were all the same to me. Though I must admit I had a thing for floppy ears…and the longer the better…just like my Romeo’s! Going for long walks with my dogs, whether in Mumbai where I grew up, or in Lonavala – our weekend getaway, grooming and bathing them, sitting and chatting with them was something that came naturally to me and something that I loved above everything else. When we moved to Hong Kong from Mumbai 13 years ago, I really wanted to take my cocker spaniel Julie with me. But the exorbitant cost of moving, plus her age and compulsory quarantine, and the fact that she had already a good familiar home with my mum, made us leave her there. She was my last official home dog and she died 8 years ago. After that my only interaction with dogs was whenever I visited Mumbai for holidays and I would walk around my colony petting street dogs and feeding them biscuits. I knew my colony dogs were all vaccinated and sterilised and I always encouraged my boys to pet them and be kind to them. Sometimes a stray would be brave enough to follow us home, where we would bathe them and give them some treats. That’s how we found Bobby – a stray dog who is now our adopted building dog in Mumbai. But we never had the courage to have a dog in Hong Kong in all these years – well until now, until Loki!
Let’s talk about Loki – I’m really sure not how he sneaked his way into our house and into our hearts. One minute my husband, let’s call him K, and I were having a nice, relaxed Sunday afternoon walking around the streets of Kowloon, looking at little pups (mostly all small breeds) kept in the pet shops, and the next as I walked into one of the bigger shops, where I saw this cute little yellow Labrador pup, much bigger than the other pups, kept separately in a bigger, top open ‘enclosure,’ staring at us, asking for attention. Actually he grabbed my husband’s attention more than mine, as he asked the staff if he could take him out and pet him. They took us to a separate room where they let him free and oh boy…the way he bounded up and down the room, pulling down some towels, crashing into things, even getting at my backpack, my first thought was – “Gosh this pup is going to be so much hard work!” I had instead asked to pet a tiny 3-month old beagle pup who was quite excited too but was no match in terms of energy with this 4-month old bulldozer! I felt good letting these two pups out for a bit of run and then we thanked the staff and left. At the back of my mind I knew that bringing a dog into our lives was nothing short of a mid-life crisis for me as I was well-settled with my routine and loved my independence now that my boys were bigger. “Let’s think about it I said. We can always come back next week.” But then another thought crossed my mind – what if this lab pup was taken by someone before that? “Should we just go and see him again?” I asked K and we started walking towards the shop. I clearly remember that walk from the MTR station to the pup’s shop. The closer we were getting to the shop, the faster my heart started beating, my mind started clogging, I couldn’t even hear my husband’s words anymore, what are we doing, why are we going back there, are we planning to get that pup….my thoughts ran haywire! And there he was sitting in his little enclosure, excited once again to be let out. All I had to do was watch my husband’s face come alive as he held this boisterous pup. Was it that or was it just the fact that I had been waiting so long for a dog in my life, I felt that if we didn’t go ahead that day, at that very precise moment, it might never ever happen. So with my heart pounding, my breath short and my face devoid of emotion, I said “Yes. Let’s get him.”
My older son couldn’t have given him a better name, Loki, as this yellow ball of fur certainly lives up to the meaning of name – The God of Mischief. When I first saw him I knew he was going to be hard work, and he hasn’t proved me wrong! Bounding up and down our apartment running after balls, toys, sticks, paper and sometimes even thin air is what comes naturally to him. Biting, chewing anything which is remotely edible, sometimes even not, is something that he lives for. The war marks on my hand, my furniture, my slippers, my son’s hands and face as they usually like wrestling on the floor, are a good testament to that fact.
It’s funny how many things we forget about being a new mom. Those sleepless nights, the feeding schedules, the changing of nappies, the temper, the tantrums, the accidents and the constant visits to the doctor, the first times for everything, the dos and the don’ts, the rights and the wrongs, the anxiety, the stress, the excitement and the boredom – baby or puppy it all feels the same and I feel like I am at the starting point all over again!
Loki seems to have adopted us, rather than the other way round, as he runs our schedule, our moods, our house – bringing out the best and sometimes just a bit of madness in us. I also feel like Loki is quite a personality and seems to have a tiny bit of each one of us in him. From his cranky behaviour just before falling off to sleep and his zest for life (younger son), to his passion for food and love for naps (husband), to his intelligence and quick learning skills (older son), to his constant need for attention (moi!) – I feel that he encompasses us all. He feels like one of us – like a part of our family.
It’s been a month since we’ve brought him home and each day while we teach him new tricks that he quickly learns, I think every hour, every minute we are learning something new from him. Loyalty, affection, unconditional love, simplicity and boundless joy are just a few of those things. But the one thing that we all can learn from dogs is ‘Living in the present moment and living life to the fullest!’
For that I must say “Thank you Loki!”