When I returned to Mumbai after spending more than a month chasing my Passport and Visa all over India, there was a new family member waiting for me at home.
The cutest Labrador I’ve ever seen, he was already chewing through all my shoes and furniture.
And unlike Saddam, our beagle (who is still the love of my life), Castro was smart and toilet-trained within the first one month. Of course Saddam would get jealous when we focused our attention too much on Castro, so we had to show him lots of love too.
Castro became my flatmate Pranav’s personal pup, as he took up the responsibility of all the ordeal new parents have to go through.
My flatmates bought him from “Oh My Dog!!!”, the same breeder from where we got Saddam. I was a bit skeptical about the place because the breeder kept bragging about how healthy and pure Saddam was and that he had been given the best medical care and vaccinations, but there had been more than five occasions till now when Saddam fell seriously ill and the vet told us it had something to do with his genes and vaccinations he might have missed before we bought him.
But hey, it could be just our bad luck too.
And then a month ago, Castro started wheezing and coughing badly, continuously. We initially thought it was just kennel cough, which is quite common among young domesticated animals, and it is treatable.
But a few trips to the vet and we got the shock of our lives. Castro was diagnosed with Canine distemper!
Canine distemper is a fatal RNA viral disease that infects dogs. And there is no treatment for it!
“Your breeder should have vaccinated him against it”, the vet told us solemnly.
The vet suggested we put him to sleep because the chances of dogs recovering from Canine distemper is very small, and even the ones that do survive, will keep having life-threatening symptoms throughout their lives, making their owners’ lives miserable.
There was no way Pranav or any of us could do that to the sweet and adorable young thing.
And so the nightmare began. Pranav would make Castro breathe through a nebulizer at least 3-4 times a day and took him to the vet almost every day. And the medical bills kept piling up. Pranav even once spent 6000 bucks on cab fare to go from Mumbai to Thane and back just to buy a medicine worth just 80 bucks because that was not available anywhere in Mumbai.
Here are some happy photos of Castro before I get to the sad part.
Day before yesterday night, we got a frantic phone call from our maid. She was panicking, saying that Castro had collapsed while walking!
Pranav and I rushed home immediately.
There was so much tension in the short auto ride home… it felt like forever. The silence was deafening. The air was difficult to breathe.
We jumped out from the auto and ran all the way up to our apartment immediately without waiting for the lift.
Castro was lying on the sofa, breathing heavily. His face lit up when he saw us. But he barely had the strength to lift his head up. He couldn’t even walk anymore.
We held him in our arms. He loved it. His penetrating stares that night will forever etch in my memory. His breathing became heavier and heavier…
And then when Pranav held him close in his arms… Castro looked up at him, licked him, smiled for one last time and breathed his last…
We tried CPR, we tried our damn best to revive him, but this time, he remained at peace… the vet stayed with us on the phone the entire time…
Our other flatmate Sid and a couple of close friends too reached home soon after… everybody was in a very melancholic mood… Yes, we all cried…
But on one hand, the sweet little pup was finally at peace, no more wheezing, no more coughing, no more struggling… he must be running around and jumping everywhere in sweet Doggy Heaven now.
RIP Castro. You will always be remembered.
Here’s a short video I found in my phone… This was the night both Saddam and Castro kept disturbing me because they were playing with the toilet brush outside (the bathroom is out of bounds for them). And I kept throwing the brush back inside the loo but they somehow always managed to bring it back, so I decided to spy on them and catch Saddam in the act.
Saddam is usually the naughty boy, and as this video rightfully proves, he was guilty. But what surprised me was the involvement of Castro in this little crime too! At 0:47, you can hear me exclaim, “Uffff, you too?” on seeing Castro inside the bathroom.
Dayymmm sweet Castro, you are so going to be missed!