Sunday, 16 April 2006

Cleopatra Woofie Varghese

I had a wonderful, beautiful dog once.

Her name was Cleopatra. She was given to us by my mum's client/customer/parent of a child in my mum's kindergarten. I will always remember him for giving me my first wonderful dog. His name was Mr. G, and before he gave her to us, I was not too sure whether or not I liked him. He seemed too flashy for my tastes.

Anyway, once day he turned up at our place with nice golden brown puppy in the back of his Toyota van. He said the puppy was for us if we wanted her and that she was about 7 months old. At the time we wondered why he gave us such a beautiful dog, she was a great dane-hound mix, and she was simply beautiful. I remember he only asked my mum for a token RM1.00 and said that the RM1.00 was so that ownership would pass to us. Later it turned out that he also wanted free tuition, board and books for his daughter. I don't know whether my parents said yes to that, but anyway, that's not the focus of this story.

Cleo came to us when I was nine years old. I named her Cleopatra Woofie Varghese, and she was the most beautiful dog ever. My mum put me in charge of feeding her, and the first time I went outside with her pot of food which my mum had cooked for her, I called her name, she galloped around the corner, knocked me over, and started eating the food right off my tummy. I remember that it tickled!

She used to gallop towards me whenever she was called, and being a hefty 50kg would knock me over once she reached me as she could never brake in time. Sometimes she would go skidding past me and would do a handbrake turn, or rather a paw-brake turn, that was simply hilarious.

When I was ten, Cleo fell deathly ill of some stomach virus, the vet was virtually a fixture at our house, trying his best to heal her. The details are a bit sketchy now, but I remember how mum and daddy had to feed her little white and blue tablets and how she'd keep them at the bottom of her mouth, and then spit out the tablets when mum was not looking. Finally we learnt how to drop the tablets at the back of her throat the way the vet showed us, and then Cleo could not escape her medication. She was ill for two weeks and then she got better, to my eternal relief and gratitude to God, for all the prayers for her recovery that were answered.

Then when I was 11, one night our home was robbed. Cleo slept inside on the patio at night. When the robbers broke into the patio and started sawing through the dining hall grills, she tried to defend us from the robbers. She was just a fluffy little huge puppy that did not scare them at all. They hit her on the head with a 2' by 4' and she passed out. I was so worried she died, but she did not, she survived, and we enjoyed another happy year together.

Cleo lived with us on a large bungalow property in Subang Jaya, with some 16,000 square feet of land. We lived in half the bungalow, and my parents ran a kindergarten in the other half of the bungalow. Whenever there were classes, Cleo would stay at the back of the property away from the kids, so that their parents would not complain. Cleo loved children though, and would often sneak to the front of the property to play with the childen. Some muslim parents did not like this and complained to my mum that our kindergarten was not complying with the municipal by-laws and that they would take their children out of the kindergarten.

I was so afraid that Cleo would be sent away that I started making sure that she stayed away from the kids at all times. Sadly it was not to be, people started complaining, and the local councils threatened to take away my parents' licence to run the kindergarten. It was our bread and butter and my parents had invested a lot into the business.

So one fine day, when I was almost 12, my dad took Cleo and gave her to SPCA. He paid them RM40.00 to house her until they could find her a new home. I kept begging my parents to go and bring her back. I offered them everything in exchange for getting my doggy back.

Alas, it was not to be.

A few weeks later (despite my wails, my silence, my beseechments, my tears, my parents did not go and get her back from SPCA), Dad told me that because she was such a beautiful, beautiful, wonderful dog, a new family had adopted her.

My heart broke. And has stayed broken since. I guess by now Cleo has passed on already. If she were alive she would be almost 21! But I still miss her. Everyday. I could never again own another dog without thinking of Cleo, and dying a little bit inside, of grief, of guilt, and of anger.

I am such an emotional arse.

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