I guess it all began when at around the age of six I happened to visit a friend's house, I think it was for his birthday or something. He had a beautiful golden retriever with the most chilled out personality, and being that age and having the tendency to fall COMPLETELY in love with things like this, I went home raving about all the good things that a pet brought to our household. As conversations of this nature go, unfortunately, the first attempt was thwarted..."proper", as my friends from Ghana would say. That was probably the one time that I asked for a pet, and I don't think I cared to specify which kind of pet I wanted. So, a couple of months later, I found myself picking out fish for an aquarium that I was being given. What? Well, on the surface of things it was 'appeasing the problem child', but in reality it was more like a let's-see-how-you-manage-these-beauties-before-you're-eligible-for-a-four-legged-land-lubber test.
Not a problem. I was going to do it. I was determined to succeed! The fish, two guppies and two mollies, seemed to be in some sort of Entente Cordiale to foil my ultimate success, however. Well, it was the guppies who ended up harassing the first molly, who died. Then they went for the second one. And finally, when there was only the two of them left, they just decided to kick the bucket all of a sudden. A grand total of 1 week. Bodycount = 4. Rohin's "Pet Care" Track Record = could it be any worse? I mean, what a way to begin! If it's any consolation to you guys who're reading this, uh, we still have the fish tank. It's empty and it's collecting dust on top of the wardrobe...but we still have it. Tanks for the memory? So, that was what happened with the first round of pets.
So, how does Rex figure in all of this? Well, he came along, one fine evening, like 5 years after the initial request, a fluffy, white ball in my dad's hand. I was shocked. Well, I would say pleasantly surprised, but I had been in boarding school for about 3 years already, and there was no way in hell they'd let me bring a dog back to school. Well, because Kodai didn't need another dog I'm sure, but also because it was against school regulations. Annnyway, and with a perplexed yet indignant look on my face, I asked my dad what 'it' was. He said it was a puppy. Not good enough, so I asked again, and more specifically, as to whose 'puppy' this was and what it was doing at our house. "Oh. It's for you. Do you like him?" Hell yes I liked him! But why now? And what for? Why the 5-year delay? Was his mother in some sort of 'international' quarantine all this while? Millions of questions seemed to be on the tip of my tongue as I stared down at this little ball of cuddly-fun. And the more I looked at him, the more I fell in love with him. He was petrified at suddenly finding himself in his new environs, and there was a bit of whimpering, but once he'd relieved himself on the carpet, in more than one spot, I think he settled down. There is still some debate about who named him 'Rex' between my mother and 'myself', but I'm going to stake my claim on my blog! And here's a picture of him a couple of weeks after.
As you can see, he was quite photogenic as a pup and into his 'early adulthood' so to speak. As you can also see, he was very very cute...or "cho chweet" as I tend to say when I get very emotional. Here's another picture with me trying to steal all the attention from this unbelievably cute puppy.
Yes yes...a regular sweetheart of course. Oh, and I'm talking about the pup, by the way. And that's how I left him at the end of that holiday. The funny thing was, and I still don't quite get it, that I didn't have to take care of him because I was going to be going back to school. Which left his 'upbringing' in the worthy and able hands of my parents...or my mother more like. So much for the whole but-if-we-get-a-dog-you'll-have-to-take-him-out-for-walks-and...-and-...-and-... spiel. And the other thing is, he was a pretty crafty devil to begin with, but it only goes one way from there. What do I mean? Take a look at the next picture.
That's my mom in a housecoat with Rex on her lap, who is giving the camera, which is my hands, a most impish grin, almost. The reason behind this grin, let it be known, is that he had grown attached to my mom in my absence, as she had grown attached to him too. Therefore, when I showed up at the house 4-5 months later, he did the whole who-the-hell-is-this-guy-and-what-is-he-doing-here thing. And that's how it went for the rest of that holiday. Whenever my mom started paying some attention to me and what I was saying he'd try and distract her. Or if it was my turn to try and point out one of the funny cartoons from the newspaper he'd growl at me to show his displeasure at my trying to move in on his attention-getting territory.
And let me not get into the fact that he had been utterly pampered, and therefore wasn't well trained. I mean, he was housebroken, and he wasn't allowed to come anywhere near the dinner table and stuff, but apart from that, he was a 'wild thing'. And that's good I'm sure, but not when you're trying to give him a bath and he's behaving like a trapped grizzly bear. Worse, try towelling him dry after his bath and he "kicks it up a notch" Emeril Lagasse ishtyle from trapped grizzly to tasmanian-devil-with-nothing-to-lose. Damn! But the most striking feature about him was his intelligence, which was more him being extremely sly than intellectual. And I know that's what all pet owner's say, but come on, if you know that we say it then you also know why we say it. Like, he'd know it was time for his night walk, after dinner, his dinner, when he heard the music for the Channel 33 news come on. He could be sleeping, unconscious or even half-dead, but the moment that music came on he'd jump up and look at one of us unsuspecting suckers to take him out for a walk. He also knew exactly what he had to do to wake you up, and he even picked up one peculiar habit, which is worth the mention.
No, he didn't learn how to smoke, if that's what anyone was wondering. He identified the fact that there were times in the day when my mom got a phone call from one of her friends, and that once she sat down to talk to them it'd be a good couple of hours before she got up again. This meant, obviously, that poor Rex was not getting any attention from the only other person in the house while there was a call in session...and my mom was on this end of it with a friend of hers on the other. So he did what any normal dog would do, I guess. He figured that if she didn't answer the phone, or was somehow unable to, then this issue didn't even arise. And that's exactly what he did. If the phone rang in the afternoon, then he would make it almost impossible for any of us to pick up the phone by putting on his most ferocious act and jumping up and pushing us away from the phone...he'd even go so far as to try and hold you back by latching on to your clothes with his teeth, but this was a last resort. What this meant for people who came home, apart from the whole 'comedy of errors' routine, was the opportunity to witness great scenes of absolute insanity; calls being answered by a single, surviving member of the household who looked like Robinson Crusoe on the day he washed up on shore, or calls being missed because Rex had succeeded in holding off a three-pronged advance. Crazy dog! He he he... Oh, here's a picture of him being his naughty self with my father.
As you can see, the 'hand in mouth' is just one such example of him clowning around. He's about six to nine months old in this picture. And he was a very loving dog. I think after his ninth month, or maybe his first year, he was moved to Kerala, as was my mother. And I've always wondered what it was like for a dog to travel by aircraft, because they're not seated with the rest of the human passengers. So, it was no wonder that when my mom first say him after the flight had landed he seemed pretty scared and disoriented. Kerala, to Rex, was a pretty crazy place I'm sure. Very different from the confines of the 2BR apartment in Dubai, but equally hard to get used to in terms of it's 'welcome to the jungle' kind of atmosphere. It's like people who've been born and raised in the city who shriek and damn near faint at the sight of a cockroach, as opposed to those who've lived without any fear of this 'insect'. I will say that I too was once in this category, but after constant criticism from my uncles who seemed to think that it was terribly 'unmanly' of me to shriek AND run in the opposite direction from a life form one hundredth my size, I had to buck up or face the music...again! And this is where he spent the rest of his days. Something had happened on the flight down, I'm sure, because when he came to the house in Kerala he had gone from barking, naughty dog to biting, don't-take-shit dog. And he eventually bit everyone at home. The victim with the most bites? My grandmother. There are many theories as to why this was the case, but I don't let that concern me. He'd changed, and this meant we couldn't let him run around freely because it endangered the lives of visitors/and guests too. But he was still a loving dog, and the people at home in Kerala eventually found this out, and all was well.
Rex passed away last year, I think it was sometime in August or September. He was about 14 years old, which in dog years is 98! He suffered a lot, which was terrible, but no one had the heart to put him down. We'd suggest it, but my mother would not hear of it. He lost all his fur, his eyesight was almost non-existent and he'd lost his ability to hear. About the only thing that seemed to work was his nose. The people at home in Kerala, my mother included, seemed more at ease trying to make Rex's last few days as comfortable as possible. And sure enough, early one morning, my mother said she heard him yelp rather loudly. When my uncle went down to check, he lay motionless. Peace at last...
And I know that my relationship with Rex was very wierd and it had a lot to do about who was in control, but it was almost like sibling rivalry. I'm sure my mother would've sent him to his room if he'd misbehaved...and if he had a room. He he he. Maybe this is how I make peace with a brother that I never knew I had until it was too late. May God rest your soul Rex.