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I’m not sure if any of you remember Nibbles. Nibbles was the best cat in the world. He was noble, playful and most importantly, a doddle to litter train. He and I had a connection, he was meant to come into our lives and turn it upside down and inside out. I will always be indebted to the little feline who nibbled away at a small part of my heart, before plunging to his death from our balcony, whilst trying to catch an evil pigeon, who probably had no idea she was being stalked by an over ambitious cat who believed he could fly! Deep breath… Ah, well!

Now we have Misty. Misty was a whim, once again. But this time I was determined to do it properly. No strays, no cats, as they can jump out of balconies and no disagreements. If we were going to welcome another animal into the home, my husband would have to agree on it. And he did. Reluctantly, I must admit, but he did!

So I asked a trusted friend about her pug and how she acquired him and she passed on numbers. I made contact and the man showed me pictures. I’ll be honest here: in my enthusiasm to gain a new furry best friend, I skipped a few research points, trusting implicitly in the judgement of my very wise friend. And this is where I went wrong…

One Friday evening, a day or two after contacting the pet shop owner who would provide us with our dream pup, we were sent a picture of a fluffy, healthy looking snowy cocker spaniel. My daughter fell in love. I was determined; we were going to settle on this one, if she was healthy, of course. And so a pick up time was set for the following day at 5pm.

I was at a meeting during that morning, for women with International passports, residing in Calcutta, but my mind was elsewhere. I was watching the clock and shuffling impatiently on my seat. I simply could not concentrate while the polished and coiffured septuagenarian demonstrated intricate flower display after flower display, in oases of varying designs.

I was receiving updates from the pet shop man, confirming the health of our future pup. We were negotiating meeting places, as his original plan included me travelling for 2 hours there and back and I needed to know exactly what it was that I needed to make the transition from non-pet owner to pet owner, as smooth as possible.

Finally I was set free, I rushed out of the luxury hotel and tottered into the car, I still had another appointment to make before we picked up the pup and I considered whether the annual meeting with the International Ladies was really necessary for me this busy Calcutta morning. It was done, though, so I continued on my way. I picked up my daughter, who had been complaining of earache, and took her to the doctors. As predicted, there was a lot of dry wax build up and a course of drops was prescribed.

It was now 3.45pm. There was just enough time to make it home, eat a very quick lunch and head out to the middle of Calcutta Nowhere to pick up the newest member of our family. Travelling anywhere in Calcutta can take a minimum of 45 minutes and so we had to leave at 4, if were to make it for 5.

It was 3.55pm and my husband suddenly decided that he would also like to come along for the ride, check out the pet shop and handle the cash.

We complied and at 4.11pm exactly, we were in the car and on our way! My children and I could barely contain our excitement in the car and when we finally arrived, at 5pm on the dot, we almost collapsed into the anti-climax of realising the pup had not arrived yet. (Noone is ever on time, in Calcutta!)

Half an hour later, the wait was over.

What can I say! A floppy, fluffy little butterball of cuteness fell on the floor in front of us. We were told she was completely healthy, we went through her feeding, we held her and watched her walk, and flop and toddle and flop and then we held her and took her home.


Just before, however, I noticed lots of little insects coming off the pup. They crawled up to the surface of her coat and onto my arm. On her light fur, they were very noticeable. I brought it up with the pet shop owner and was assured they were completely normal and harmless and would be gone very soon.

Yes! They were gone and had turned into monstrous, evil brown ticks. Poor Misty was completely infested and so was our house. 1 and a half months on and we’re still finding them.

So I complained and I ranted and in my bid to do justice to my new little ‘furbaby’, I called for help. I was given numbers and introduced to various ‘pet experts’. These people come to your home, take your dog for walks, bathe and groom them, administer vaccinations and deliver food and toys on demand. They can offer to train your pet too and offer advice on a whole host of issues, including what to do with ticks when they invade a puppy too young for medication.

The answer is, ‘nothing’ apparently. All I could do was pick them out and drown them in alcohol. And this is what I have been doing ever since.

Misty though, in that time, has grown into a beautiful, sweet tempered, affectionate little pup. Ticks will be removed, I am certain.

She enjoys her walks and she can sit and fetch and drop and play tug. She knows how to handle each and every one of us in the household, including my husband, who seems to have softened slightly.

Our only concern is toilet training her. We need to get her out and about, now that her vaccinations are over and so I do. I take her out in the mornings and we walk up and down the gravel path allocated for ‘doggy business’ and invariably she’ll do it in a spot I’ll have to scoop that poop! I don’t mind though.

I like the way she wants to run around and sniff anyone who comes her way. I enjoy the feeling of camaraderie amongst the other dog walkers and sometimes I enjoy the music.

Every morning, we pass a neighbouring block of flats. From the third floor, or there about, behind shuttered windows and yellowing walls, behind the rags hung out to dry and the heavy whir of the AC, I hear someone beginning to play the piano; a few strained single notes and then some scales and then some chords. Very occasionally, if we are patient, we get to hear the beginnings of a melody.

The notes waft into the wind, carried away and mingle with bicycles bells and the rickshaw wheels upon the gravel. The chatter of the maid-servants on their way into work, in their many coloured saris, the drivers, the milkmen, the newspaper boys, the footsteps and the security guards. They all assemble into a morning concerto of activity, all before 7am.

If it wasn’t for Misty, I’d still be in bed dreading the alarm, drifting in and out of rage against the Laughing Club (another story). If it wasn’t for Misty, I’d miss the music.