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  • Writer's pictureCharles Pennefather

Happy First Birthday, George!

I didn’t adopt George.

The last time puppies were born in my building was seven or eight years ago. I missed that feeling of watching puppies grow up immensely, having lost all but two of the previous batch of dogs to leptospirosis in a single monsoon, including the last dog who was born in my building, Patches. Last January, a very pregnant dog decided that my apartment building was her new home, and chose to give birth to eight puppies right outside my very window. This is surprising because it isn’t a hidden place like new mothers usually choose – it was in sight of everyone, but it was closest to me.

I wasn’t present for George’s birth; I only met him when he was three days old. He was the last but one to be born, said my mother, one of only two fully brown pups in the litter. He wasn’t my favourite – in fact he wasn’t my second favourite, either. However, a couple of months after they were born, their mother passed away from a disease. She had moved out of the building after the puppies were self sufficient, but I like to think she returned to what she thought was a safe place at the end. She passed away in the same place she chose to give birth, outside my window. As close to me as possible.

Then came the construction workers, to repair and repaint the building. Their noise drove away all the pups – except for George. This was his home, and he wasn’t leaving it for a few scary strangers. As if that wasn’t enough, Cyclone Tauktae decided to pass through in May 2021, and that was the first time I allowed George in my house. (We christened him Curious George ll, after the previous Curious George who was also an all-brown dog born in the building’s premises and exhibited the same curiosity as the eponymous cartoon monkey.) Once inside, he wanted to explore the entire house, but Marmalade didn’t like the thought of it. His mother also used to sneak inside the house regularly and needed to be carried back outside. Cyclone Tauktae was the first time I let him sleep next to me, to comfort him. Little did I know that that day was the first day of the rest of our lives. George, having been invited into the house once, knew that this was now his house as well, and stood outside the front door and whined for days until I gave up and let him in. I now have two dogs who occupy more space on my bed than I do.

I like to think that the strength of my desire to experience pups in my building once again manifested George’s mother, but I never imagined that I’d have an addition to my family in the form of an always-hungry, always ready-to-go-on-a-drive dog who fears nothing except LPG cylinders, toy dinosaurs, and one of my neighbours. He sometimes barks at things that have moved… as a result of him bumping into them.

Marmalade is a cat in a dog’s body, with very clear preferences and strong opinions that are almost impossible to change. George, on the other hand, is exceedingly malleable with the suggestion of a treat, greets visitors with unbridled enthusiasm, and loves me so much, he is willing to happily follow me wherever I walk, even if it means being chased by a pack of strange dogs.

I didn’t adopt George, but I’m sure glad he adopted me.

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