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  • Writer's pictureAditi

Michelle - My Little Pugster!

I was anxiously waiting for my mother to pick up her phone. After a couple of rings, I finally heard, “Hello!” I let out a sigh of relief and started the conversation, “my friend’s pug has littered a couple of days ago and there was only one pup that survived. Can I bring her home?”

I knew what her answer would be, like all mothers say, ‘ask your father!’ Little did she know I was already ten steps ahead of her. “I’ve already asked Dad and he said yes!” I said. There was a long pause over the phone and then she finally said, “Yes!”

Home was about two and a half hours away. I had specially gone with my friend to his relative’s house so I could meet the puppies. Throughout the whole ride back home she was wrapped up in a soft cloth resting on my lap.

When I reached home, my mother was so fascinated. This little pup was really little. She was only the size of my palm. She was only 10 days old. I expressed my fear to my mother because she was the only survivor among her brothers and sisters. My gut feeling told me Aditi, ‘just take her home!’ It felt as if it was meant to be, she was waiting for me to come and save her.

New member to the family. Michelle Wong. She was just 10 days old.

My golden retriever Betsy was perpetually on high alert. She could sense something was up but couldn't figure out what was happening. She could smell another dog in the house. We didn’t let them meet at first. We were a little apprehensive that Betsy might not accept her or probably would bite her head off knowing her past history with birds, cats, rats and all the creepy crawly creatures who didn't survive around her.

Ma made her bed in a pink basket to manage for the night. She padded it with a soft cloth so she would be comfy. This pink basket was placed in the middle of Ma’s bed with padding on all sides of the bed so Betsy can’t reach her. She was fed baby milk with a dropper. Poor thing was famished after the long ride home. She slept through the night and was fed milk every two hours. That night, we named her ‘Michelle Wong.’ Well, ‘Wong’ because pugs originated in China.

The next day, first thing in the morning, we took her to meet Betsy’s vet. Dr. Inder has always been our saviour. He’s like the ‘Saviour for dogs.’ My driver Hari Om thought the new member of the family was a cat. I said, “NO! She’s a pug.” He said, “Oh! Woh Vodafone wala kutta?” I rolled my eyes and said “Haan ji bhaiya!”

After Dr. Inder examined her, he was surprised that she was still alive. "She is a premature pup" is what he said. She weighed about 668 grams to be precise and was about 4" in length. He put her on IV drip and we all stood there watching her and I thought to myself, 'she has survived so many days I'm sure she would make it.'

Dr. Inder told us what we have to do. But he specifically told us that she has to be kept indoors and we can’t take her out of the house for at least a month as her immunity was very weak.

Back home, Ma followed Dr. Inder’s instructions. Actually, my mother already knew what needed to be done. She’s blessed with a strong motherly instinct. She’s absolutely great at looking after babies, pups, kittens, squirrels, you name it! Gradually there was progress, she grew day by day. Ma started feeding her with a baby milk bottle and stopped the dropper. It turned out that we had to burp her like a baby after their feed otherwise she would puke out the milk.

Michelle drinking milk from the bottle.

After a couple of days I had to go back to Goa to finish college. But I regularly received pictures of Michelle & Betsy on my email and spoke to my mother over the phone every day to find out about the well being of both my darlings. In two month's time, Michelle grew beautifully. She was stronger, her features had changed. She was cuter than ever! She would cling to my mother most of the day and actually follow her everywhere she went like in the pug in the vodafone advertisement.

Michelle had made herself very comfortable. After sometime, we felt it was the right time for Betsy and Michelle to meet. We only used to make them meet once Dad would come back from work in the evenings since Betsy was most scared of Dad and we knew she couldn't cross the line. They both used to be so curious and smell each other. Initially, we used to make them meet only for a couple of minutes. But as time went by their meeting time had no limit. Betsy would curiously sniff her all over and Michelle would just freeze. Betsy on the other hand let Michelle do whatever she wanted. Michelle would cuddle up into Betsy's thick fur and just stay there. I think Betsy had some motherly instincts that poured out when she first met little Michelle.

Soon they became the best of friends. Betsy was huge and Michelle was small and dainty. She would make herself comfortable and cuddle up with Betsy and sleep during the day. But at night Michelle had to sleep in between Ma and Dad on their bed. Michelle loved Betsy's thick long tail. She would run behind and Betsy would run around in circles. Betsy didn't mind, she actually loved her company.

Michelle chilling in ma's cargo pant pocket.

Michelle would simply not bark. Betsy would bark at the slightest noise, or the tiniest disturbance. A short and aggressive growl that would make any stranger piss themselves!

When Betsy would bark, Michelle also barked. But her barks were silent barks. We would tell Michelle to bark, 'woof woof!' But she would go on a spree of silent barking like canons firing with no noise. It was so anti canine of her. This was a matter of concern to us and we asked Dr. Inder about it. He smiled sweetly, and told us her vocal cords are weak. As she grows they will become strong and eventually they did.

There was this one time when Michelle, being so tiny, got lost at home. We couldn’t find her anywhere. First of all, she was such a quiet little one she never said anything. We told Betsy to look for Michelle. Betsy was immediately at it. She sniffed around the house desperately in search of her little fellow mate. Finally, she found her stuck between two Godrej almirahs and let out a loud bark. How did she manage to get herself stuck there was beyond our understanding. We somehow managed to pull her out. Thereafter Michelle wore a ghungroo around her neck.

Don't miss the ghungoo around her neck. She loved chilling on her bean bag.

Michelle’s routine was fixed. She would wake up at 6 am. Go for a walk with Betsy. Come back and settle down with Dad on the couch. She would sit in such a way that her body has to touch dad somewhere. ‘Touch me somewhere.’ After that was breakfast time where she would eat whatever mom gave her to eat. Her favourite fruit was papaya and banana. She loved eggs and chicken. After breakfast, Michelle would come into my room and cuddle up with me on my bed soon followed by Betsy and we all would sleep for some time. That used to be the best feeling in the world. I could just lay there for hours with Betsy & Michelle. But they would eventually get restless and wriggle their way out.

In the afternoons Michelle would hang out with Betsy. They both would find a nice corner and sleep peacefully. By the evening they would go for a long walk, play in the park and head back home. Then they would both park their butts outside the kitchen waiting for dinner. They would be ravenous by then. Mom had trained them so well they knew they were not allowed in he kitchen. Betsy would patiently wait for their dinner to be served and as for Michelle she would be barking her head off at who ever was in the kitchen. But, until they were given instructions to eat they would have to be seated. They would wait for one of us to say the magic words, "Go and eat!" They both would guff their dinner. Betsy was super fast and as for Michelle she was just the opposite. At times Michelle would leave food left over in the bowl if she had enough to eat but Betsy would quickly eat up her leftovers as well.

Now and then Ma would give them both one bone each to eat. Betsy would demolish her bone and go hunt for Michelle's bone. Michelle would find one corner on Ma's bed and hide her bone there. But Betsy's sense of smell was so strong she would find it and demolish that too. Michelle would look at Betsy, shocked and heartbroken.

When Michelle was about 6 years old she developed a cyst in her uterus, we obviously got her hysterectomy done. She survived all thanks to their vet, Dr. Inder. She didn’t mind visiting the vet. Michelle would wag her little piggy tail and greet everyone. But the only thing she hated was getting her nails cut. Oh God! Don’t get me started. She would get so flabbergasted that her tongue would , at times, turn blue.

Michelle went through a really rough time after Betsy passed away. She smelt her ashes in the urn and she just hit rock bottom. She underwent severe depression and was off food for many days. It was all thanks to Ma to get her back to normal and pull her through. But it took her a while to recover.

Michelle was my baby. She was my everything. I cried like mad on the day of my wedding because I was leaving my little baby behind. I found it so hard to accept the fact I won't be seeing her everyday anymore.

Me with frog eyes, going to leave to get ready for my wedding. I just didn't have the heart to leave my baby.

One day me and my husband were on our way to work, my brother called me and said Michelle isn’t doing very well. I thought I would go to work first and meet her on the way back but my husband said, no, go home first, I shall manage work. I agreed. When I went home I saw my little baby girl sitting on the floor. She looked weak and tired. She looked at me and slowly wagged her piggie tail.

I and Rahul took her to the vet immediately. Mom didn’t come along because Dad’s flight was going to arrive within the next half hour.

The doctor gave her drip and some medication and said you would have to bring her back tomorrow. On the way back home, Michelle was sitting in my arms. Suddenly she was breathless. I didn’t know what to do. My heart was racing and I immediately told my driver to rush back to the vet’s clinic. But it was too late. The doctor said she didn’t make it. She had a heart attack. My baby girl died in my arms. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I brought her home in my arms when she was a small pup and she left this world in my arms when she was old.

My baby in my arms on her last day. Getting her drip at vet. My fighter!

Michelle is missed tremendously to date. She was one of a kind. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by where she isn’t missed or spoken about. She brought nothing but immense joy and love to the family.

May you be in peace forever my little darling. Love you always.

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