I just watched Marley and me, and all my memories, wonderful memories of ten years came rushing back. While watching the movie, I was transported into my life 12 years back; to the day we got Elsa home. The day had not really started well. We were moving to Bombay from Bathinda. Everything at home was a mess, tempers were high because our Truck was supposed to leave in a day and a lot of things remained unpacked and chaotic. Also we were to travel to Jalandhar to collect the pup; by late morning, we were contemplating ditching the idea of driving 250 kms. However it seemed that Mohey aunty had already started preparing dinner. It would’ve been rude not to go. The drive to Jalandhar was no better. Almost two accidents and a forgotten packed lunch later, we reached Jalandhar late night fuming and extremely hungry, attacked the dinner Mohey aunty had prepared for us, and were ready to call it a day. We were shown the pups, but the three of us were too tired to acknowledge and appreciate.
Next morning after breakfast, I saw Elsa with her mother Hilda in the garden. It was an extraordinary sight. Hilda was helping Elsa climb the stairs (an art Elsa finally learnt years later).They seemed to be in deep conversation, it looked as if mother was bracing her daughter for the future ahead. I had always been scared of Hilda, she was a big dog. She had this aura of ‘I’m no cuddly dog’. I dared not approach any of them. So I watched from a distance, Elsa was so tiny and delicate, but I could see she was a bouncy little thing. I loved her already.
And then mother and daughter were separated. It felt really cruel, I could feel both of them weeping, and it broke my heart. Elsa was the smallest of the 8 litters, the blessed 8th, and aunty also informed us that she was definitely the rogue of the bunch; I wasn’t surprised. We welcomed Elsa into our lives with open arms, excited at the prospect of nurturing and loving her. I got a glimpse of what my parents felt when I had been born, and clearly for all of us, Elsa was love at first sight.
And so started our life with Elsa.
Of course I’m sure Elsa did not feel the same at first. It was definitely not what she was expecting, not a warm beautiful home with a big garden her mommy might have told her about. She came into a completely disheveled half empty home, I could see the disappointment in her eyes, when I put her on the floor, she did not go venturing anywhere but gave a disapproving look around and then looked up at me with unsettled eyes. She stayed close to me the whole day. We hardly got much sleep that night, and most of the time Elsa slept on my lap making it very clear that she wasn’t very happy with the arrangements. We three were very eager to please Elsa, so we got her treats, played with her and tried to keep her happy while being in the constant frenzy of packing. She did respond warmly, but we all realized our lil’ Elsa had the ‘princess mentality’. And even though the last two days in Bathinda were hell, there was a change in our demeanor especially my father’s. Elsa’s arrival took the tension off the air. My father had been very high strung, constantly yelling when things weren’t going right but now he was calm and happy. Things continued to go awry, with stuff breaking while packing, constant mix ups, boxes not loading properly, but no one was particularly upset. I remember how one of the packers dropped a box while taking it downstairs and Elsa first giving a startled jerk and then barking stridently at the person, and we were all gushing over her reaction forgetting about the box. Elsa became the highlight of everything.
We moved into a guest room the day after our truck left for Bombay. Mohey aunty had warned us that when pups are separated from their mother, it takes them a while to settle to their new environment and might cry often. From what I remember, Elsa cried only the first night and that was because she did not find her bed (a cardboard box, which I had lovingly set up with our old clothes so that she gets use to our body scent) very comfortable. I got her up on my bed, and she slept quite blissfully and might I add horizontally—a habit which became a huge problem later as she grew in size. I smiled to myself as I felt Elsa’s warm fur close to my face and the gentle rhythm of her beating heart, she felt comfortable; Elsa had accepted us into her life too.