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Who would have thought a day such as this would come?  I have been wound round a puppy tail, not to mention four puppy paws, muddy at the best of times, with nails to boot and made to dance to puppy tunes as opposed to iTunes which till recently provided the music for the only-in-the-mind dances of mine. It is days since I have written anything except incomplete pieces lying scattered here and there in the crevices of my mind. Have you tried writing or reading when your pup is barking shrilly into your ear (that they are ringing), “Come and play with me! NOW!!!” ?! So all I do these days is post pictures of a puppy in its myriad moods and actions.

Since I have to dance attendance (Yup, I seem to be doing a lot of dancing for someone with Plantar fasciitis) to said puppy on her outings, I also get to click outdoorsy stuff like sky, clouds, flowers, leaves, birds, butterflies and such. But don’t be deluded into thinking that, that is an easy job. It is not. Not with a puppy who has taken into her big strong-boned head, with which by the way, she butted my nose today morning much like her Master with his elbow (What’s with everyone aiming for my poor and pretty nose?) years back, that my sole attention belongs to her and to no one or thing but her.

That’s Luci for you, just as demanding as giving. I love that.

Before stepping out on those outdoorsy jaunts for the poohs and the pees to be safely delivered where they belong, I don’t forget to take my camera. No, no, I don’t want to photograph her doing her ‘job’. Time hangs heavily on my hands while she looks around for the perfect spot to do her thing. You know dogs, unlike humans, happy to be doing their job everyday at the same pot in the same spot, like a bit of variety. So while Luci noses around, I utilize the time to click whatever catches my fancy. The beautiful blooms and flitting butterflies and the sky are ever ready (well, not the butterflies, the flitterers that they are) to present their countenance to me to be captured while I wait. So are ferns, leaves, dragonflies and such.

It is rummy how I have begun appreciating Nature more with Luci on the scene. I never knew this tiny garden of mine was visited by as many colorful butterflies as I see fluttering around. And birds! Crows, mynahs, treepies, brown-headed barbets, koyals, king-fishers, and some more whose names I know not. There are so many kites circling, gracefully gliding, sometimes sitting like statues on the coconut trees. How come I had never noticed them all before?

With so many subjects to choose from, I aim to put (rather, stretch) the capabilities of my point and shoot camera to good use. But Luci is having none of it, not if she can help it. There I’d be on my haunches aiming for that perfect click of the pretty bloom, when she’d come gambolling, leaving her digging and rolling on the mud aside to jump on me and sometimes climb all over me.

“What are you doing? What are you doing?” her tail seems to ask, as it wags nineteen (perhaps more) to the dozen.

If I push her aside and try focussing again, she jumps on the plant, bites off the precise bloom I had been focussing on. Talk about possessiveness. The next step of hers is to make a try for the camera. Can you imagine what a Labrador pup’s strong jaws and teeth can do to a flimsy camera? It is one of my worst nightmares. In my mind’s eye is a terrifying picture of finding my camera in bits and pieces with Luci presiding over the remnants with a quiet contentedness of having achieved what she had set out to do. It actually gives me sleepless nights. Before I turn in for the night, I check off items on my fingers and make sure that they are beyond her reach: my glasses (no reading without them), the iPod, cell phone, camera and my library books. Only after making sure that they are all safe do I slip into the land of the Nod.

So you can imagine with what speed I move from the squatting to the vertical when she jumps on me, forgetting all click worthy subjects for the moment as also my age and the accompanying creaky joints. But I am proud to say that I once clicked a picture sitting on my haunches, one hand focussing the camera and the other holding a frisky three and a half month old Labrador at bay. Perhaps I should have looked for a job in the circus all those years back. Hmmm… Anyways, from now on, I am going to include that in my bragging rights. And don’t you dare tell me the picture could not have come out well. It did too, totally shake-free.

Pups (or may be Labrador pups) are very intelligent and JEALOUS. At least Luci is. She does not like my attention being held by anything other than herself. Butterflies are difficult to capture with a point and shoot camera at the best of times. But I have managed to do my bit with a lot of patience (which I have in abundance) and a pot full of good luck as well. After all the butterfly has to decide to stand still for a second at least. Enter Labrador pup into my life and clicking butterflies has become an uphill task. Butterflies flit like nobody’s business. It is almost like they are singing, “Catch me if you can…”  (in this case with the camera of course) like in the famous song about the boxer Muhammed Ali.  Just at the moment my patience is going to be rewarded from somewhere comes Toofan Luci and chases the butterfly away!

I don’t remember our first dog Goofy holding me to ransom in this manner. Or perhaps I was too busy bringing up two human pups of my own that I did not have as much time for her or she for me for that matter, she being the fan of the Martians in my house. Pah! Do you remember the race I won with so much difficulty, a once in the lifetime thing? When the Martians return home, Goofy used to be all over them. Me? She’d raise her head and give me a look as if to say, “Oh, it is you? Back eh? Welcome home.” And back she’d go to whatever she had been doing. Grrr…. In fact even when I returned home after an absence of a month, it is the L & M who had been with her and had been away only as far as the airport to get me who got most of the attention. In fact I used to ask the L & M to wait outside the gate and step in only after she had given me my rightful share of tail wags and licks.

But Luci?

She is the lamb to my Mary. Wherever I go she goes. She waits outside the bathroom while I am inside. She walks beside me each step of the way when I take clothes out of the washing machine, put them on the line, and take them back inside. She is at my feet while I read or surf the net (maximum time allowed is half an hour at a time). When I call her, wherever she is (unless of course she has something in her mouth she wants to hide from me knowing the ticking off she would get as also the object being unceremoniously yanked out of her mouth) she comes hurtling down so much so that I am worried she will push me down and break my bones one of these days. And what when I come home from an outing? She has eyes and ears for no one else till all her welcoming routine for me is over. And what I give in return, she accepts without any show of ego.

I believe that was what I had been looking for all my life and crazily enough, I was looking for that sort of love and devotion and acceptance in human beings. To love with your whole heart, what do humans know of it? To accept love with the whole of your being, what do humans know of that? Humans ration out love and what’s more, they don’t even know what to do with the love offered and showered on them. The grace and delight of acceptance and wholehearted giving is alien to human understanding. Do you see my poor battered hands? They are gifts of love from her.