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When Your Child Becomes A Parent…What My Son’s Love For A Female Pup Taught Me

When I had reservations about bringing home a female pup, which would bleed and cause a mess, it was my son who taught me...

When I had reservations about bringing home a female pup, which would bleed and cause a mess, it was my son who taught me…

I was out for my daily walk and my phone buzzed.

‘Maaaa…’ shrieked my girl. ‘Come home fast. Khoi is bleeding.’ (Khoi is our nine-month-old rescued pup). 

I disconnected the call and ran home, thinking of the possible measures of intervention that would be needed. Call the vet. Apply first aid. Take her to the hospital.

I reached home to find the pup blissfully asleep while the children sat in silence.

‘Where is the injury?’ I demanded.

My boy smiled. ‘Not to worry. Your daughter has attained puberty.’

I heaved a sigh of relief. ‘Oh she has started her periods!’

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‘What is period?’ My daughter asked me. I looked at my boy who immediately sat her down and explained her the biological process.

‘But what about the drops of blood around?’ She asked.

Right! I had not given a thought about it.

Before I could think of something, she came back with some wet wipes and scrubbed the floor clean. Meanwhile, he gave the pup belly rubs to make her feel comfortable. ‘Even dogs get cramps during periods. Just like humans. She will need a mild painkiller and loads of pampering,’ he said.

It’s okay, periods are normal…

The girl emerged from the bedroom carrying a packet of sanitary napkins. ‘Can these be put on her?’

I said, ‘No, not for dogs.’ All children sat down with the iPad and searched on Google. Soon, a list was ready. I got the items home. But the pads irritated the pup and she continuously fidgeted around.

‘This won’t work,’ declared my boy. After a while, I heard a triumphant voice cry out. He had taken out his sisters underpants, cut a neat hole in the rear and put it on the pup. It fitted well and the tail stuck out through the hole. The dog did not protest this time and appeared comfortable. I sat down watching my eleven and six-year-old manage the situation with ease.

By evening, they had prepared a list of do’s and don’ts, which needed to be followed at home during this time – homeopathic medicines to relieve the cramps, frequent change of pants to prevent urinary tract infection, washing those pants with mild detergent and no use of soap during periods for the dog.

I watched them in awe. My thoughts went back to 2015.

I had just returned home after my second Caesarian…

On the fifth day, I suffered from post-partum haemorrhage. As I rushed to the bathroom, a steady stream of blood followed me. My boy who was hardly six years old, looked back in shock. But he had the presence of mind to pass the sanitary napkins through the door.

That night I sat down and explained menstruation to him. Since then my boy has been an active partner in my cycle, keeping a track of the dates, noting any irregularities and following the latest brands of sanitary napkins. This year my girl turned six and her brother took upon himself the responsibility of passing on the ‘gyan’ to her.

In June 2020, I decided to add a furry-legged baby to our family. After much discussion and debate, my boy declared that it would be a Labrador. ‘They are mischievous and good fun,’ he said.

Immediately my girl quipped. ‘I like these small lap dogs. I can keep it with me the whole day.’  

I sighed, ‘we had a German Shepherd when I was one, named her Begum and she would keep a watch over me.’ Our discussion regarding breeds continued for days.

A Facebook post caught our attention. It was about adopting breed dogs. We agreed unanimously that we would not buy but adopt a dog. ‘Ma, these young pups are in demand. But what about the ones abandoned every day? Health issues, financial stringency, lack of adjustment with the host and so many more reasons. Let’s bring in such a dog,’ said my children.

We refined our search. This time we were looking for an abandoned dog. But destiny had other plans.

It was a rainy day and we were held up at the bus stop. As we huddled closer to escape the rain, our eyes fell on a senior dog trying its best to curl up.

That night at the dinner table, my boy spoke up. ‘Can we adopt a dog from the street? They do deserve a home.’

‘But son…’

For the first time, he motioned me to stop. ‘Do you know when the British left India; they not only damaged our economy, but also caused harm to our animals?’ Now that was not my little boy talking to me. But a very serious individual. Silence reigned as he continued.

‘Our people fell in love not only with the English language or the fair complexioned people, but also with the good-looking, long-fur dogs that the Whites brought to India. The idea of having a cross breed emerged from that desire. If not a breed dog, let us have a cross breed. Our Indies looked better after the cross.

Can you imagine the number of Desi dogs abandoned when they left India? Therefore, this bias against the Indies is a deep- rooted problem. It will take years for our prejudices to vanish, just the way our obsession with fairness or all things foreign refuses to go,’ he finished with a sigh.

‘This is interesting. But I think it’s too radical for a boy like you,’ I stated.

‘That’s your biggest mistake – undermining me. If more boys like me show interest in adopting an Indie, think of the larger impact.’
Sigh! I did agree. He had made a point.

Why not a female dog, Ma?

It was at the same time that a friend informed us about a litter of puppies which needed to be rescued. It was a gorgeous litter of pups, a cross between a Labrador and an Indian hound. My children immediately demanded one to be brought home.

‘All are female. No question of adopting them,’ I stated.

‘Why not a female, Ma?’ They pestered me.

Well, I had to disclose my reservations against bringing home a female pup. I informed my son that a female pup would bleed and it would be messy. A male pup would be easier to manage.

‘Is that the only reservation you have against a female pup?’ He wanted to know.

I nodded.

‘I am shocked, Ma. When we had our sister, did you feel the same?’

It was my turn to remain mute. For the question hit me hard. I mumbled and hung my head in shame. He realized my discomfort for he stepped closer and sat down beside me.

‘All females bleed. That doesn’t make them lesser. You have been writing so much about menstruation. You have been quite vocal about it. Then how can you say this? Be it a dog or a human, a female will bleed,’ he said in a soothing voice. I managed a feeble yes for I was at a loss of words.

I learnt a lesson that day.  A lesson on parenting. Being a parent does not ascribe us a superior status. It is a relationship of equals. They have taught me important tenets of parenting. And I have gradually grown up with them, learning and unlearning lessons and imbibing values.

Image credit: Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

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About the Author

S Sen

Sreemati Sen, a Masters in Social Work (MSW) From Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She is a Development Professional, specialised in Psychiatric care of Differently Abled Children. That hasn’t stopped her from exploring other fields. Years read more...

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