A Bitch’s Grief

2013-05-28 08.05.48Our dog Nala gave birth today. It was both a happy and a sad occasion: out of three puppies, only one survived.

We had Nala when she was just three months old. She is a mixed breed– German Shepherd and Labrador, mostly. The girls were ecstatic when husband brought her home, and named her after a character in one of their favorite Disney movies “The Lion King”.

We all adore Nala. She was the sweetest and friendliest little puppy who would jump around with glee whenever we arrive home from work and school or somewhere else. Of course we didn’t know how to train her but she never gave us any problem. We treated her like a baby at first and then like a sister when she got older. Then one day we found the house swarmed by neighbors’ dogs. Several weeks later, we noticed Nala’s tummy getting bigger, together with her appetite. Nala was pregnant.

Her puppies were born shortly after midnight. But in the morning, the girls realized two of them were dead. They took the lifeless little bodies away and buried them in the nearby public cemetery. Nala was beside herself when she noticed her babies gone. She went around the house sniffing every corner and scratching every surface she could reach. At the same time, she worried about the little puppy all alone in the storage room, as if she would lose it too. At one point, she got so agitated and started tearing ferociously at a box containing the kids’ old books, until it was reduced to pieces, all the while whimpering softly in anguish. And I never felt so helpless in my life.  Finally, she got tired and fell asleep, her baby nursing noisily in her embrace. As I smoothed her lightly heaving body in comfort, I saw the sadness in her beautiful eyes before they closed. I wish I could tell her that I share and understand her grief completely. Because I’m a mother too. Instead, I am comforted by the fact that dogs, unlike humans have short term memories [well, at least in this specific instance] and that she would soon forget about her loss, and will be back to her old, loving self. For the meantime, I need to boil that milkfish in the freezer so she can have some hot soup when she wakes up. Welcome to the club, Nala girl.

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