A dashing young man with golden locks, he made many hearts melt when he laid his head on their knee, asking to be petted. Schnapps. Our third dog, but the one who taught me what it means to have a dog as a pet.
I grew up with dogs. Our first dog, Tikka came home before me and we grew up together. A graceful dog, Tika remains a fuzzy creature in my memories, which are mostly nurtured by what my family remembers. She grew up much before me of course and passed away at the age of 10 because of a cancerous tumour.
Frisky, who bounded into our life when I was 9, had a greater impact on my life. With her, I discovered how naughty and full of energy puppies can be, and how a dog grows to become the most loyal companion one could desire. But I missed out on much of her life too, seeing her only in the evenings when I returned from school and later college.
Schnapps waltzed into our life in summer of 2003, a tiny ball of fur who wormed his way into the hearts of everyone he met. There were very few people who could resist his charm. A dog with a personality, he was pronounced “too human” very early in life.
Schnapps loved fruits and vegetables, especially cucumbers and melons. We used to often joke that if given a choice between a cucumber and a leg of chicken, he would choose the former! Almost everybody remembers Schnapps jumping in the air, like he was on a trampoline, in excitement and anticipation of a melon treat! A pampered brat, he started his day with bread dipped in cream fed to him patiently by my mother. Asking him to sleep on the ground, or make place for a human on his favoured place at home, the diwan, was sure to earn you a sullen look. He looked down at all dogs (and most humans) in disdain, and was the most royal dog of our family. A trip in the car meant that he sat up in front, and if it was a long trip he curled up under the dashboard! He accompanied us everywhere, content to stay back in the car, sure that we’d come back soon, but refused to stay back at home. My father and brother were never able to give our car to the valet, for Schnapps was always there, irrespective of where we went! We tried in vain to teach him to sit behind, but failed abysmally and soon learnt to make place for him up front.
Despite his arrogant demeanour, he was a softy and very attached to each one of us in his own way. When my father passed away in 2006, Schnapps waited at the door every evening for him to return. The first time my mother traveled after my father’s death, Schnapps didn’t eat for several days. A smart cookie, he always knew when anybody was upset and was always there offering comfort and gazing at us with worried eyes asking us to snap out of it.
He became a rather quiet dog in his later years, though bread and cream and cucumbers remained a favourite till his last days. I wasn’t there to say goodbye to him, haunted by the look on Frisky’s face when she went on her last trip in the car. I didn’t have the courage to see him weak, a mere shadow of himself, and said goodbye to him, all by myself alone in my apartment several hundred kilometres away.
RIP Schnapps. Thank you for all the happiness you brought into our life and all the cherished memories.