Dangerous. Deadly. Threatening. That’s what they called it. But all I could see was an innocent puppy who needed love, care, and food. A lot of food.
I looked at the sickly figure, bones clearly visible under the skin and the sorrowful chocolate brown eyes. I winced, and feeling sorry for it, I ran inside to grab some food. I came back out with a piece of bread in my hands, greeted by the same dog running around in happy circles.
Despite countless warnings from my aunt and relatives, I was going to pet this stray. They hadn’t seen that these dogs could be gentle, so they didn’t know. Cautiously, I put my arm around to pet it.
I smiled at the sight and cautiously put my arm out to pet it. I loved dogs, and usually showed no hesitation, but this time I was more careful. Though it seemed good-natured, it was still a stray, and you never know what might happen.
Surprisingly, it let me pet it, tail wagging impossibly harder. I dropped the bread on the ground and it immediately gobbled it up in mere seconds. I called out to my cousin to bring some more, and he arrived, a new bread in his hands. He pet the dog too, grinning at the stray’s enthusiasm.
“We’ll call him Noko,” he announced. I laughed at the funny sounding name and tried out the feel of it in my mouth. I agreed, and it seemed Noko did too, trotting over every time we called his name.
Even as we were laughing and playing with him, I felt a wave of sadness hit me. I was surprised at the sudden emotion, and it soon became apparent why I felt a little sad. Because even if I was helping out this one little dog, I couldn’t help them all. But I wanted to.
Nobody deserved this kind of living. Starving on the street, eating out of the garbage, and having no one who cares what happens to it. Especially in India, where stray dogs were becoming a serious problem, whether or not they seriously acknowledged it. It was a battle, because killing the strays was inhumane and illegal, while neutering/spaying them was considered too expensive, so the dogs were merely left there.
But were there any solutions?
Naturally, curious about other people’s view on it, I googled it. But most people online simply wrote about how they’ve been attacked and the dogs should be put down. If only there was a way everyone could win. Something everyone would be happy about.
But there was a way I could help.
At that moment, in that situation, I told myself that one day I would do something that would notify this problem to the rest of the world. Write a book, make a speech, or open up a website. Because that day, I learned two things: that even the smallest change can help out someone and that first impressions aren’t everything. I thought about Noko, and how he would probably benefit everyday from me simply giving him some food.
Most people stayed far away from strays, but what if all they needed was a chance? I knew they could be really dangerous, but that was mostly because they were in conditions where they needed to fight for survival.
On my last day staying there in India, Noko stayed longer than usual, almost like he knew. It was strange, but it might have been that sixth sense that people say dogs have. I was leaving at about nine o’clock, and by the time I was getting ready to leave, I was surprised to find him still there. He usually left at seven, but he was still there, in the dark.
I gave him one last scratch on the ear, my eyes following his figure through the window of the car when I got in. I took my last glimpse at him and said my goodbyes, accepting but sad. Before I looked away, I caught the glint of metal chains against the harsh streetlight, on the corner of the street and forgotten. I turned back around in my seat and didn’t look back.
I used to be ignorant but never again. Never again would I be able to forget. Each time I saw a dog, the only thing that came to mind was Noko. Poor Noko, who would never know the joys of having a safe home, and food, and a family who loved you. I may have been younger, but I still knew at that time that everyone deserves someone who cares for you.
And now, I’m writing this essay. I’m writing this as I remember the coffee colored eyes that changed me. The ones that drowned me in ase This is the first time I’ve been able to do something that may help. I can only hope that this small change can cause a ripple that spreads. So someone else can know about this too.