By Ronita Sinha
The day I brought you home Campari, is the day I fell in love with you. I christened you Campari after a wine-coloured lipstick that I adored at the time. You were, of course, black and white with ears that sometimes flopped and sometimes stood up. I wanted you to be the perfect dog. The perfection that my mother couldn’t find in me, I sought in you, so when everyone loved the perfect dog they would love the dog’s owner too.
During the first days of our lives together, I raced through my school homework so I could spend time training you. I issued commands like “Campari, stop!”, “Campari, sit”, “Campari, fetch the ball.” But there was an anti-force working in our household. In the exact way my mother indulged her son, she took to indulging you as well, so that you grew into an untameable and completely intractable beast. Forever sweet and forever loving, you were the terrier that could not be taught. Yet, my mother loved the imperfect you. I suspected because you were male, the love she had for her son easily rubbed on to you.
I do believe, dear Campari, if I had my way you would have been a different dog altogether, obedient, and sober and not always high on sugary treats. The best thing I remember about you Campari is how, by cocking your ear and turning on your ‘don’t you just love me’ look you struck an arrow through every human heart. You did make me the most popular girl in the neighbourhood.
The problem Campari was that you had this insatiable, although unintentional, penchant for bringing about your own demise. Yes, you were unwittingly but dangerously suicidal. Once you snagged your neck so inextricably on the end of a dangling clothesline that it took me a good hour to rescue you from the death-trap, while my mother threw up her arms heavenwards for a miracle to spare your life. I knew that day my mother loved you way more than she could ever love me. Unable to move, you whimpered in the most pitiable way possible. Then, the moment the last loop was successfully unsnarled, you cleared your throat like my grandpa and trotted to the kitchen to claim a sugar cookie as compensation for your ordeal.
Another time you ingested a robust dose of laundry bleach and had to be rushed to the vet to have your stomach pumped. Your attempts at taking your own life got progressively macabre. The very next week, you chased John’s cat up a ramp leading to the top of a water reservoir of considerable height. Sadly, in your excitement, you lost your bearings and shot off the reservoir like a bolt of lightning and broke both your hind legs. Meanwhile, the unscathed feline sashayed her hips Kim Kardashian-style and cat-walked down the ramp to safety.
Alas, Campari! The day dawned when no doting human could save you from flinging your life away. After a spell of several rainy days, a couple of City workers jimmied open a manhole yards away from our house to clear the rainwater that was clogged in its gut. The rain had stopped, a glorious rainbow painted the shy blue sky and, for what was a teeny-weeny fraction of a moment, the men looked up to marvel at its astounding beauty. The stage was set for the Final Act. Campari, my highly suicidal canine, you seized the opportunity of a doggie lifetime to snap with much delight at the strangers’ ankles. You flew straight as an arrow, missed the nearest ankle by a healthy margin and plop you fell right into the gaping manhole. Within milliseconds you were greedily sucked into its secret depths and like a wish-fulfilment, your four-legged body was swept away by the murky waters to a horrendous end.
Although the entire neighbourhood knew for a long time this apocalyptic day was in the making, when it did finally arrive every heart was weighed down at The Most Tragic Passing Of The Well-Beloved Community Canine.
Campari, I don’t know if I can ever love a dog more than I loved you but today I am going to bring Pecan home. Pecan is golden, Pecan is already trained and Pecan is female.
Ronita Sinha lives in Toronto, Canada. She has taught High School English and trained teachers in a past life, eventually settling down to a career in the Canadian insurance industry. She has picked up her quill to fulfil her lifelong passion for writing. Her work has been published in Women’s Era and most recently in The Magic Diary.