5 times dogs proved to be humans’ best friend.

“After a weird undergrad life and two years of majors in MSSW in India, it was time to bid goodbye and move to England. I took up drama therapy. I actually did not know you could major in that. So when I did, I knew I was going to do just that. Because, the coming together of drama and psychology was very much my calling. I was among mostly British students, pampered much and all of that. It was during this time that things started changing. As a student of counselling I underwent both sides, being a counsellor and the person letting it out. I realised, only when you try to help someone else find themselves, is when you understand how broken you are. So while going through many cases, it struck me. It struck me that, that exact thing had happened to me years ago and it all came tumbling down now. I completely shut myself. I never had an issue opening up, so I did come out and talk about it. But dealing with adverse effects of sexual abuse had begun. That too being away in a far off country, with very less people doesn’t help either. I developed anxiety and was very much miserable. I soon came back to India in search of a job but I was completely broken and sick. I did not have faith in anything, not even my close ones. It was at this time that I remembered how much I have always wanted a pet. So when someone actually called and told me there was a golden retriever up for adoption, I couldn't contain my excitement. I literally cried on the phone itself. It was like I got a new lease of life and breathed fresh air after god knows how many months. My mom who panicked so much on hearing about the dog, is actually addicted to Neo today. She wouldn't let go of him for even a second. She would give me 3000 bucks also if it is for Neo, but not a penny for me. Neo, came into my life at a time when I needed him the most. He is my son and everything I could have asked for."

“One evening, my friends and I were walking the neighborhood dogs when they pounced on this little puppy. Scared, the pup jumped inside the garden fence and came out only after I intervened. When I saw her, I couldn’t believe my eyes! She was so small and her skin had all the possible colors a dog can have. Her big brown eyes overpowered her little face -- she was lost and scared. No one knew where she came from, so I took her home and gave my details to the nearby vendor, in case anyone came looking. I waited for 10 days, but when no one turned up, I knew I had to adopt her! The first 4 nights after she came home, I didn’t get to sleep a wink -- she’d whimper all night and bark continuously. We made her a cozy bed out of old sheets but she’d sleep next to my pillow. I’d pet her and she’d put her paws on my little finger to feel safe. On her third day at home, mom named her Angel, because she reminded her of one! Now she’s so comfortable with everyone, she’s always asking us to play with her! And whenever we’re taking her to the vet, the entire family has to be there. Once, we were 9 of us at the clinic! I often joke that she’s a celebrity and I’m the chauffeur -- madam is that popular! Even her birthdays are more special than mine. We decorate the entire house with balloons, bring her a special cake and a meal of chicken and cheese -- that’s her favorite! And of course toy gifts! She even changed the environment at home. Initially, we all hardly spoke to each other, but now, we sit together every evening, discussing how our little Pomeranian has entertained mom all day, the new friends she’s made, or the fights she’s had. She comes with us on all our family vacations; she loves the mountains. The whole car ride, she’ll be staring out the window, enjoying the wind in her face. So it’s become tradition to visit at least one hilly place every year. Whether it’s birthdays, trips or just going for a walk, everyone’s life revolves around her. And we’re more than okay with it too -- no complaints. She’s the boss of the house; not to mention, the glue that holds the family together!”

“Growing up, my favourite movie was Hachiko. Every time I’d watch it, I’d nag my parents for a pet! Dad said, ‘First, finish school.’ And he kept his promise! On the last day of my boards, I came home to a bark outside my door. I ran outside & saw the sweetest puppy–Dad said, ‘He’s family!’ We named him Jasper! Within no time, Jasper took over our hearts & my bed! And when he was 4, we got Zoey home–a companion for Jasper. The 2 of them became a classic example of ‘Can’t live with or without.’; I couldn’t get enough of them. But after graduating, I moved abroad for studies. I didn’t want to leave Zoey & Jasper behind, but I had to. University took up all my time, but even on the best days, I missed coming home to wagging tails. Jasper & Zoey missed me too. Maa would send photos of them lurking around my room on the family WhatsApp group. ‘They’re quiet without you’ she’d say. I’d console myself, ‘You’ll see them in a month.’ But then, Covid struck. I was a continent away from my family; loneliness engulfed me. To add to it, a month into the lockdown I had an accident. At a time when I wanted family’s comfort, I was by myself; I got depressed. I wouldn’t answer calls. This went on for weeks. Finally, Maa texted, ‘Answer on WhatsApp call, Jasper & Zoey want to speak to you!’ As soon as I answered, I saw Zoey chase her tail, stumble & fall. She then looked into the camera, & made the cutest face–I burst out laughing! After weeks… I felt alive. Only my babies could have done that. After that, I looked forward to these calls. Whenever Jasper & Zoey saw me, they’d put their paws on the screen. At times Jasper would angrily bark at me, as if to complain I’d been away for long. So, when the lockdown lifted, I rushed home; to my 2 loves! When they saw me at the airport, they jumped & licked my face–it was quite a spectacle in the midst of the buzzing terminal! Soon after, I got ‘Jasper & Zoey’ tattooed on my arm. Nothing like a distance, to make you realise what you value most…so this New Year is about them! And this photo of ours? It’s our holiday postcard! People, get ready to get cheesy, ‘New Year from the Bhatt siblings’ Whatsapp greetings!”

“Who is this?”

“Smokey”

“He’s your doggy?”

“No”

“Then?

“Smokey bhai”

He’s your bhai?

“My Smokey bhaiyya”

“I have always loved dogs and I had a dog when I was a kid, but unfortunately I lost it. When I moved to Bangalore and got a house of my own I adopted an indie puppy. Having a puppy is like having a companion by your side. He used to sleep next to me every night and wake me up with his licks every morning. I used to wait for the clock the strike 5 at the office everyday just so that I could go home and play. We used to go on long walks and I’ve in fact taken him on road trips as well. But the fear of losing it right before my eyes always scared me. In fact a lot of my friends who had dogs always worried about the dogs running away or losing their way back home when they were off the leash. One day when I randomly had this conversation with my friends we thought of launching something that would be a one stop solution to this problem. That was also the time where we were about to quit our jobs and think of a start-up. So we decided to design a collar belt that would have a GPS tracking system which alerted the dog parent if their dogs crossed the safe zone. Everyone loved the concept and we soon started working on it. Quitting a good job that gave you a secured lifestyle and trying out something totally new from the scratch was definitely not a cake walk! We faced so many technical glitches and also testing the product posed a difficult problem. But through all of the ups and downs I had my fellow friend waiting for me with those innocent eyes at the end of the day. Troubles seem to be vanished when he comes and curls himself beside me. I have my pillar of strength on my low-days; he is also the one who wags his tail when I tell him about my happiest moments. Life has always been great with him and now that he has his safe collar around his neck I can leave him off his leash any time without worries!

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