My little Minnie,

by Ruwani Fernando
(Srilanka )

Nobody rejoiced when you were born. Only one person grieved when you died. One of 4 puppies born to a stray dog who hardly had enough to eat when she was feeding her pups, born during rainy weather, I don't know how any of you survived without a proper shelter.

We were newcomers to this area. I was told one pup had died very early, probably of malnutrition. I saw the three of you and your mother living here and there, and sometimes I gave her food. I noticed that the other two pups were with her often but you were there only some times. Later I realised you were minute in size and very frail, and that you were chased away from the flock more often than not, probably because your mother's milk was limited.

Sometimes I used to see you walking aimlessly about, maybe looking for shelter and food- a poor little puppy only about a month old. Then your mother died suddenly in our garden and the other 2 puppies stayed in our garden most of the time as well. You wanted to join but were chased away by one of your brothers. Then this puppy developed tremors, was ailing for 5 days and died.

I was never the owner of your mum, but when she was in pain, when she suddenly developed some sickness that caused her to die, it was to me that she wailed and told of her agony. It was in our garden that she chose to die because she trusted only us, and knew we would do her no harm.She was in pain and could hardly walk, but the night before she died she staggered to greet us, as we drove in.

Now there were only two of you, and I felt I owed it to her to look after the two of you. From that day — 29th of May — you were permanently mine. You stayed in our garden and found your own comfortable places to shelter. You got plenty to eat for the first time in your life. I named you Minnie and your brother Teddy. He was the strongest of the litter, robust and chubby. He was prone to pushing you and eating your food, but I took care that he did not get to do this. I made sure you got your share and gave you something extra too because you were but half his size.

You were not particularly good looking but in my eyes you were so sweet and quaint. A little doe-like face, large ears that stuck out, innocent eyes, a black snout, and bandy legs - you looked a little bit like an alien too. It was a joy to see you putting on weight and gradually losing your frailty.

Sometimes I would carry you and look into your face and in your eyes. I saw the innocent expression I used to see in your mother's face. That spirited dog, so thin and hungry and yet used to snarling and fighting anyone whom she thought threatened the wellbeing of her babies.

Teddy was cute, chubby, and a fighter, and may have found shelter with someone, but I knew I was the only who who would have taken you. I had so many plans for you, little Minnie. You would have been sterilized when you were old enough and when we moved to our own house you two would have had your own special place. It was my joy to see you growing up, to watch you enjoy the shelter, the food and the love to make up for all the suffering you had suffered in your little life.

Lost, hungry, lonely, homeless, chased away from your own flock, even now bossed right and left by Teddy, much better than you were but still frail and weak. But you were improving daily and the sight was so rewarding. Then on the 3rd of June you came running as usual in the morning, when I called, as usual Teddy was first and you followed. You had your milk, you had your rice and relished both.

I remember sweeping the garden at 9 am and you were well. At about 10.30 am I heard you scream loudly, strange yet faint, and I ran to you. There you lay on the ground, just outside my back door. Your head was lolling and your tongue was hanging out and you were obviously dying. You stopped screaming and I held you up very carefully and I could see you were dead. I just sobbed and sobbed and asked myself "Why? Why?"

What happened to you I will never know. Maybe you ate some poison, maybe you were stung by a viper, but your little life was no more. You suffered tremendously and just when you got a good life, and there was someone to take care of you -- it all ended. You had a good life only for 34 days.

I always meant to take a picture of you, my little minute Minnie, but I never got round to doing it so I can't upload your picture. You will live in my heart forever. I was not able to dig a pit to bury you so I put your tiny body inside a bag and put it where Teddy could not reach. The bag was so light even with your body in it, such a little thing were you. You were buried in the evening when help arrived.

I still mourn for you and cry buckets even though it is a week. Such a little dog who led such a sad life. Why did this happen when you got the chance of a good life. 34 days were not enough to make up for the sorrow you went through in your early life.

My heart aches so much for you. Maybe you screamed earlier and I did not hear. Did you look to me to save you and did I fail you ? I will never know. I have no answers. I only know the sorrow and the pain.

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