In the year 1993, my Dad’s colleague, Sanjeev asked my mother to find him a male golden retriever. He knew she was perfect for the job since she had a dog before getting married hence she was regarded as the expert in canines.
The search began the next day. My mom found an ad in the newspaper about pups for sale. She promptly gave them a call and she got lucky. The next day she went and paid them a visit. There were about 7-8 pups running around. But there was one of them who walked up to my mother and sniffed her toe and then looked at her. She said “I’ll take this one.” She immediately got home and called Sanjeev to tell him the good news.
Sanjeev was so happy with his new little pup that his wife’s side of the family then told my mom to find a female golden retriever. Obviously, she did. Both families were so excited to welcome their little ones to the family. They named them Lara and Pluto. They both were made for each other. They asked Mom “how can we ever repay you?” Mom said,” you can give me one of their pups whenever she litters.
In the year 1998, we moved back to Delhi. We had just recently shifted to a new flat in Vasant Kunj and were busy trying our best to settle down.One day Dad got a phone call from Sanjeev. He said “Lara has given birth to five healthy puppies. Do you want a boy or a girl?” Mom said, “a girl.”
Dad brought her home. She was about a month old. She had beautiful soft brown eyes, golden ears and the softest fur. My dad made her sit on the front wall. She sat looking at all of us admiring her and she just put her head down. She had such a dodo look on her face. She was scared, she had her tail tucked between her legs. She stole our hearts from the minute she got home. It was meant to be. We named her Betsy.
It took a couple of days for Betsy to settle down. She would cling to mom everywhere she went in the house. At night she would quietly sneak on the bed and sleep next to mom at her feet even though dad never allowed her on the bed. But mom loved having her next to her.
After a couple of days, our shoes, the furniture, our rubber chappals, the newspaper, almost everything that came her way used to get chewed up. Clearly Betsy had made herself at home.
Don’t get me started on her initial phase of potty training. We all would wake only to find poop and pee all over the house. Every morning we would hear Mom say “Pose kar bethi haiiii!!! POSARD!” (you’ve done huge potty everywhere!!) This particular post dialogue is still laughed about till date.
But then of course, knowing my moms efficient training skills she had her potty trained in no time.
Soon we moved to a bigger place. It had its own garden in the front. Betsy loved digging up the garden. She would specifically eat only the jasmine flowers. My Dad loves his garden. He calls them his little children. Poor Dad used to wonder where the flowers used to vanish. Some days when we would come back from school we would find bird feathers here and there. I guess Betsy got lucky that day.
She was tough! A strong powerful dog! I can recall the number of times I’ve gone mud skiing and gone thud while walking her.
Betsy hated the garbage man. She used to see the empty milk packet through the garbage bag. I think she felt he was taking away her food. She hated him. She was always ready to rip his head off. He was petrified of her.
One day we were taking Betsy to the vet for her usual vaccinations. The car windows were open so she would be comfortable plus she loved the breeze hitting her face. Her saliva would fly all over the place. Suddenly we came to a halt because a bunch of buffalos had blocked the road. A few seconds later we were slowly moving and making our way through. Betsy was so disturbed she jumped out of the moving car through the window barked at all of them and jumped back in.
It all happened so quickly. We all were taken by surprise.
When Betsy was happy to see you after you came home she would take a cushion or chappal or dirty socks from the laundry basket and parade all around the house and wag her tail at 180 degrees and let out happy grunting noises. Until you didn’t acknowledge her the parading would not stop.
There was this one time we were awakened at 2am by Betsy’s furious barking. It was a different type of bark and it seemed to have a lot of urgency. My parents jumped out of bed and turned on all the lights. It was seconds later the alarm of our car went off. Dad immediately let Betsy out and he followed. He found the car door was open. Betsy ceased barking and started to sniff around the car. Whoever it was almost shat himself and skooted. Dad was reluctant to come back inside. But Betsy was gleaming. She knew she did right. Her eyes were beaming with joy and excitement. After that day we never faced burglary again.
My darling golden baby underwent a couple of surgeries. She had a uterus removed, a lump removed from her neck, she had a diseased bone removed from her hind paw. She had been through a lot but powered through!
Betsy was friendly with her vet, Dr. Inder and I would say much less kindly disposed towards his assistants. She greeted Dr. Inder with her tail joyfully wagging, moving 180 degrees. It was like she was greeting a long lost soul. His assistants on the other hand were greeted with a snarl or a quick snap of her jaws if any of them were within her reach. She regarded them as mortal enemies.
This meant being snarled and snapped at and perhaps losing a piece of anatomy if not careful. Along with the garbage man, postman, delivery boy, newspaperman, cats, rats, birds, peacocks, pigs, cows, buffalo, Dr. Inder’s assistants were assigned a low place in her order of things.
I can go on and on about all the crazy things Betsy used to do.
Me and Rahul were studying in the UK when my Mom sent us an email saying her health is deteriorating and her time has come. She said she had been visiting Dr. Inder regularly and Betsy was paralysed waist below. We both dropped everything and flew to India. Her doctor said she isn't going to make it and we would have to put her to sleep. Throughout my entire life Betsy never let me carry her. But that day when we went to the vet she couldn’t walk after we got out of the car. She just stood there. That was the first and the last time I ever carried my huge golden baby in my arms. I could feel my heart ache but I held back my tears because if I started crying my whole family would be howling. I felt I had to be the strong one and keep it all together. But we couldn’t control ourselves. We just let the tears flow.
It was very painful bidding farewell to my childhood sweetheart. My best friend. Someone who was always there whenever I needed her . Someone who I truly loved from the bottom of my heart. Someone who sat with me and listened to all my bullshit I would blabber about. Someone who taught me how to love unconditionally. There isn't a day that doesn’t go by where we don’t talk about Betsy and her crazy adventures. Betsy brought nothing but immense joy and love to the family. She will stay in our hearts forever!