Every time I look at my beagle, Messi, I go through loads of emotions as his story is a lesson of commitment, patience, integrity, and courage. Having a pet is not as jolly as it seems. It is not all about having a four legged to play with and emotionally complement us and keep us happy. It’s a constant hard work and commitment that can change one as a person and test one’s integrity. In 2014, I was living in New Delhi with my mom and her Labrador, Laddoo, when one day I met this 10-year-old boy in our colony, with a new beagle puppy who he named Messi after Lionel Messi. As they say that pets, especially dogs, tend to take after their owners’ expressions, Messi and the little boy had some uncanny resemblance. Messi and Laddoo bonded way too well, so much that each time Messi would run away from his house, we would find him sitting at our door waiting for us to let him in. At many occasions, I would pet-sit Messi and he would be best friends with Laddoo. Laddoo, who is an epitome of unconditional love and innocence would spoil Messi with his pampering. We had our constant ritual of a play date until one day when Messi’s owners left for vacation for a month.

My mom encouraged me to take up the offer of pet sitting him as I was going through a low period and he kept both Laddoo and me engaged. Since the humans of the house were busy all day, Messi and Laddoo learned to spend time with each other in a playful manner. But being a beagle, Messi was extremely destructive. It was hard to identify what he chewed up when we were away. Anyhow, we were forgiving as we lived a very simple life aloof of material attachments. Laddoo Messi became an example of true friendship in our neighborhood. As the family was coming back soon, Mom and I decided to get Laddoo another pet because he was so used to having a dog in the house now. Simba, a new German Shepherd was on his way, but God had other plans. The family changed his mind about taking back Messi. They said he was too much work. After loads of discussions and energy draining arguments, we had to listen to our conscience and give Messi a home, as we feared he will be sold back to the breeders. And then started the real struggle, for the very first time we realized that dogs can go through severe insecurity and depression.

Messi’s behavior was out of control, he would jump off the balcony to revisit the little boy, who couldn’t convince his parents to keep his own dog. This was emotionally devastating for him as well and we had to seek agreement so Messi could keep seeing him without being taken to his old house. That’s exactly what dog behavior specialists would recommend too, to keep the dog away from his old premises, as the parting would always haunt him. It took immense patience for Messi to heal from the despair and move on. 2015 introduced us to a new challenge in life.

We were planning to move to the USA and dogs were a big question at that time. We evaluated lots of options of adoption for both or at least one dog. It was time to do what was best for the dogs as there is always a possibility that dogs won’t survive the long flight. But we made a choice, a choice to stick to both and take them along and be ready for whatever happens, for if something had to go wrong, it would, in front of our eyes. Paperwork, maintaining all the vaccinations, getting an NOC, and making sure that both the dogs are to the best of their health was an ongoing process for several months until they finally boarded with us a Lufthansa plane to Seattle. Lufthansa treated our dogs do their best capacity and we were surprised with their commitment to us and the animals. It was an extremely joyous and emotional moment for me when we met Laddoo & Messi at the Seattle airport fine! Fine was everything that we needed at that moment.

Since the last year 2016 until now they have been constant companions to each other as well as to myself. Here in the states, with ample trails to walk around and gorgeous off the leash dog parks and lakes, both my dogs have certainly arrived the best place they could have ever been. There is never a dull moment but always a question of commitment and constant effort that goes into this relationship of a human with the four Legged creatures. When I look back, it was never easy, when I look ahead, I feel it was all worth it! And this is not a story of human rescuing a dog, but of dogs rescuing humans!

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