I failed the Don.

It was seven plus years ago, that I first brought him home. He would fit into my palms. He would cuddle up. Lick. Whine. Play. Sulk. Eat. Sleep. Bark. Everybody in the family was against the idea, although they loved him. Somehow, in that trying time, I thought he would bring some cheer to the family.

Today, two able bodied men, couldn’t hold him to a place. He did lick. He did sulk. I hope he eats. I hope he sleeps well. I hope he would continue to bark, with the same ferocity. For today, we gave him away. Today, I failed the Don.

We named him Don. I thought, he would stand for Don Corleone of the God Father fame! He turned out to be much otherwise. Although, the ferocity of the bark, and the ominous presence would scare the hell out of people, he was given to more gentle ways of the heart.

Ever loving. Upto pranks. Amma was his best friend. He would not budge without her word. And when she got dressed to go out, he would holler and bring the roof down. Only to wag his tail, as though it was made of some strange elastic band. It was indeed an elastic measure of his happiness.

I have many images of him. The most prominent, was when my wife (then, my wife-to-be) came home for a semi-formal meeting. He tore himself from wherever he was, and went to her straight. As everybody jumped in fright, he just knelt and just lied down at her feet. To me, it was a symbol of his saying “I am ok with her chief!”

The other was the image of him sprinting all through the home, upon seeing me after a long long spell away. He literally, sprinted back and forth for 15 minutes. At that moment, I only wished he could speak.

There are other images. He was a naughty fellow. He has chewed up stuff from the TV remote, to the best of footwear. And of course, the bone chews that we would get for him.

He has gotten older now. His pranks were getting too much for people at home to handle. For he stayed on in Madurai, along with Mom and Dad, as we moved on in life. For two old people to take care of him, besides taking care of themselves, was proving to be a problem. Plus, the travails of old age were showing up on him as well. And the Bangalore high rises are not kind to pet rearing at all.

Yesterday, he began his journey from Madurai, in a train. Today, at the railway station he seemed eager to get out. He was more used to freedom and large spaces at our home. Quite obviously, he did not find comfort in a small cage.

We handed him over to Karunas (formerly SPCA). They had basic facilities and they could take care of pets which the owners were no longer able to rear. I think, he had a strong understanding of what was going on. As we drove, he was all quiet. And would look at us with such dark gleaming eyes. And as I told him in my mind, “We love you, and I hope you will be able to take care of yourself”, and looked at him, he looked at me at that precise moment. And our eyes locked. For a change, I couldn’t continue looking at him for a long time.

At Karunas, Kamal was completing other formalities, I came outside only to sob and weep, leaning against the car. Much to the bewilderment of autorickshaw drivers who had ferried passengers to drop off their pets. I was called Deep Throat, and Hard Nut in many circles and here i was sobbing and weeping like a kid.

A sense of guilt enveloped me. I had brought him home. We treated him like royalty when he was with us. But, maybe he would have found a better home, where his future would have been much better. Maybe we should have brought him up differently. Maybe……Maybe I didn’t know. Today, I just failed him.

We handed him over. Took some snaps. And after Kamal walked ahead of me, I turned around, for one last long glance at him. My sun glasses were on, to hide the eyes that were erupting tears. He kept barking aloud. I could see his dark black mane, and his shiny white teeth. And the ferocious bark. I walked on. I hoped he could see my pain.

Its going to be very difficult for all of us to live without him. Amma will be most hit. She is perhaps going to miss him more than he would miss her. But, it was she who initiated this step, in the interest of his getting a better living. And it is she who will be most affected.

As I key this is in, there is a dawning realization, that life perhaps is moving into a different realm. And learning to let go, is an important facet of it. Of possessions. Of people, of love. And somehow, the ISABS experience came back to me : the importance of letting go of what people said and did, & move on.

I am not sure if I will ever be able to rear a pet again. While buying Don as a pup, somebody told me, “buying a pet is easy. But remember you are making a 10-12 year commitment”. It didn’t strike me as big deal back then, for his pranks as pup seemed all that mattered. As Upmanyu Chatterjee wrote in English August, “The ecstasy of the arrival, never compensates for the emptiness of the departure”

We drove back in silence interrupted by the occasional inconsequential conversation. Our minds were with him. He was no ordinary Labrador retriever. He was The Don. He would always be one for us.

15 thoughts on “I failed the Don.

  1. indianangel says:

    I can understand your feelings kavi! We have never had pets at home, so I’m not really sure what affection and love in animals is all about. But I think love is the same for all beings. BTW, have you watched this movie by Robert Redford ” The horses whisperer” – amazing movie directed and acted by Robert Redford. If you’ve not try watching it, and it talks abt the same simple message love is unanimous in all beings!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Feel sad fo Don. Hope he is taken care well in his new home. May the god give everyone in your family the strength to over come this sad moment.

  3. dont know what to say kavi !!

    do you get to visit him every now and then ? like we go visit people in old age homes ?

    somehow the way you wrote it, it feels like you are talking about leaving a person in a old age home..

    personally I could never justify it. but I have not been put on the spot. so, I do not know if I would have done anything different !!

    sorry to see what you are going through.

    time is a great healer.

  4. Swatantra says:

    The picture of DON is very cute!!

    Sometimes it’s better to try and fail than never to have tried at all!!

    Cherish the memories!!

  5. V N says:

    Thats quite a touching account, Kavi! I feel as if I can relate to what u have been through…

  6. Anonymous says:

    🙁 Now I am in tears. It reminded me of our Shakthi! We didn’t leave him… he left us, he died 🙁

  7. Jeevan says:

    That’s what we tell Dogs are Thankgiving. We too had a Dobourman as our pet, it was names as Cielo , it was very love on us, but in a uncomfortable situation we can’t control it. so we gave it to a Farmhouse. Hope Don would be happy in the home with other Dogs.

  8. Kavi says:

    I deeply treasure all your words of solidarity. It has helped me move ahead.

    We are not allowed to visit / see Don. But we hear, he is keeping good health, and is finding his feet in the company of similar pets. In the meanwhile, i have also been working on getting him a good benefactor who will adopt him. As i work things through gingerly, the pain still remains deeply embedded.

    But, am trying to be as normal as possible, and keeping myself extremely busy to stay away from free time to think. Life goes on. Thanks everybody !

  9. pria says:


    I know how it feels and he must have understood too. They can understand each and every word when you converse.

    I had a pomeranian and german sheppard. They both lived with me for 14 years and it was so painful when they left me within a gap of year. As you said, it easy to have them, but when they are gone, its difficult. I still remember and laid them to rest in my own garden with rose plants next to them. Its a memory which will never go away.

    Be strong and what you did was good for him.

  10. Keshi says:

    awwwwwwww Kavi why did u give away DON??????


  11. Kavi,

    I am surprised and shocked on reading your post. How could a similar thing happen to me. I like Blogging because I could meet people of like mindedness. Just now I replied to a co-blogger whose thinking was similar to me, and now I finished reading your post, which was similar to what I have undergone in the past. I grew up Simba and his son Pumba. I can write numerous posts on them. I think I can give a link to your post and ask the readers to change the names, because I underwent a similar experience when I moved to UK few years before. Even today my children are on tears, looking at their pictures. Last June, I visited Chennai and went to the home, where Pumba the younger one is being brought up. He initially did not show any sign of recognising me, and when let near me, he licked and licked and never wanted to leave me. As you said, the auto driver was wondering at the extra money, I gave him for allwoing me to spend few more valuable time with my great pet. Simba the elder was like my first son, brother and everything to our family. Who could forget a pet which has saved us five times by killing snakes which were considered dangerous for humanbeings?

  12. GuNs says:

    I came here from a link on Shark’s blog. She posted about her dog just like you did. I cant say anything more but an exact repeat of what I wrote as a comment on her post.

    As for Don, maybe he will love you to visit him occasionally. If you can ever find some time for that.

    Will definitely keep coming back to your blog coz I loved the way you wrote this post. Do check out mine when you get time.


  13. pria says:

    Was looking for my comment and looks like its gone???

  14. Shiva says:

    I know how it feels when you opt to, though unwillingly loose someone who had been around you and your family. Remainds me of the two dogs, Caesar and Tiger, German Shepard and a Rajapalayam breed we had when I was a kid, solely used for hunting. Remember how both died before waiting for me to grow up. Hope Don will be at peace, though Don Corleone was never in peace untill his death. I never thought you are Kamal’s brother! I have no option but to copy/paste the same comment in his post. 😉

  15. This is certainly sad…had your experience a few times. Those fellows are certainly our best friend. I remember the times of trust and joy. I feel for you sir, hope Don has a long fulfilling journey ahead of him.

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