Hope. That's what Swapna and I named her. She's an adorable dog adopted by the people of Heritage City (a beautiful township in Gurgaon, India).
Here's how Hope introduced herself to us. It was late evening and I was getting into my car to go home. Swapna was standing right by the car. As I was about to close the door, we heard a rustle of leaves from the general direction of the bushes ahead of us. Not knowing what to expect, we stopped and stared at the bushes. Rustle.
Out from the bushes jumped... a very happy dog! She bounded towards us. As if we were long lost friends and this was our promised reunion. Her tail wagged so vigorously that she had trouble keeping her balance. She was grinning away to glory, exuding pure unadulterated happiness.
She looked up at us, beaming. She's muddy brown with a black muzzle, and has droopy eyes that steal your heart away instantly.
We knelt down and began to fuss over her. How she loved it, every second of our undivided attention. We asked her where she was from, and with a decisive thump of the tail she almost seemed to say "How does it matter, silly, where I came from? I'm here now! That's what counts. Now go on, scratch my furry neck!" As I scratched her neck, she closed her eyes in bliss and began to lift her head up, towards the heavens. Every few seconds, she would return from her trance to give my hand a couple of licks. Then, it was back to the heavens again.
As Swapna and I patted her, she began to sit down ever so slowly and then, "shwick.." her fur rubbed against the concrete road as she turned turtle. Time for a tummy rub! Hope just loves tummy rubs. They make her so so happy; take her to a heaven much higher than the seventh.
After nearly fifteen minutes of pure happiness, I realised it was getting late and I had to leave. So I stood up.
Hope looked towards Swapna, hoping that at least she would have a heart and continue. After a final pat, though, Swapna stood up too and told her that this would be all for today. Hope refused to believe this. For a few moments she just stared into space. In belly-up mode. Dazed. Probably hallucinating that her tummy was still being rubbed. When she realised that we actually meant business, she gave me that look that said "You wouldn't really do this to an adorable thing like me now would you?" She was still belly-up.
"Yes sweetheart. I need to go home!" With those words to her, I reluctantly got in the car. And guess what she did. She went and plonked herself right behind the car so I couldn't reverse out! No one's going anywhere, said she. We tried to coax her into moving away. Pleaded with her too. But no. She wasn't about to let the party end. After quite a while and another tummy rub, she finally relented, with an "Ok fine, but just this once!"
I think that's perhaps one of the reasons why we called her Hope. Eternally hopeful that the good times will go on.
That was more than a year ago. Even now, when she spots us from a distance, she comes running towards us like she did that first day. The same smile, the same vigorous tail wag, the same enthusiasm. The good times continue.
Have you ever stopped to hear the sound that dogs' paws make when they run on a hard surface?
"chik chik chik chik chik chik..."
That's what it sounds like when she comes running towards us. Each time from a different direction.
Hope's capacity to love can put any philanthrophic human to shame. Unconditional love. That's what she gives us and that's what she makes us give her. When we go for walks in the evening, she always walks ten steps ahead of us, clearing the road ahead for us. Like the pilot car in a VIP convoy. Her definition of clearing the way also includes chasing away any cats that had the audacity to so much as contemplate crossing our path. As she marches ahead, charting our path, she has this unassuming air about her. Like she's just doing her own thing, isn't really with us or anything. Every ten seconds, though, she steals a quick glance back, just to make sure we're there. Sometimes, in her excitement to chase away audacious cats, she goes too far ahead and takes a turn away from the road. We continue walking, though.
"chik chik chik chik chik chik..."
She comes bounding back. Racing ahead of us to continue her "pilot car" run.
She's such a happy dog. I love how she surrounds herself with people who love her, and people who are able to accept her love in return. There's always the odd person out there who shoos her off, or scares her away. But that doesn't get her down. She sticks with the ones who make her tail wag. And the ones who give her tummy rubs!
Don't we all have a lesson or two to learn from Hope. Hope. Now that would be a good one to start with.