The Missing Case of Jingle Bells on Diwali Night
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way on Diwali? I'm not kidding.
Diwali is a time for families to come together, spread love, and eat sweets. A lot of sweets!! And of course, fireworks play a major part in making the festival more fun. It is the usual kind of Diwali I've celebrated every year. But Diwali 2020 was a little bit different. We had the fortune of hearing Jingle Bells too. You're asking, how so? Come with me.
It was the night of Diwali in Chennai, India. My husband and I work in Bangalore, so we visited our parents in Chennai for Diwali. There were crackers everywhere that made the Diwali night magical as always. After spending the evening with my parents, we commuted through the main road to my husband's parents' house. It was a night filled with fireworks and the streets filled with children lighting the crackers. When the children burst the crackers, their faces got lit too with joy.
We were enjoying the scenic view of the fireworks during our bike ride on the way home. All of a sudden, we saw a dog running almost in the middle of the street in a state of panic. It was no stray because it was not an indie dog (Strays are almost always indie dogs). It was a golden retriever. Immediately it was clear that it was a pet. We were riding in the opposite direction. In the few seconds we had before the dog ran the other way, we observed there was no collar on it. We also saw two boys chasing the dog on a bike in hopes of securely bringing the dog to the roadside. So we took the next U-turn, rode some more distance to find the boys with the dog on the side of the road. It was close to 11 PM.
We enquired with the boys (they must have been in their teens) about the dog. They said they chased the dog because it was running amok in the middle of the street. They didn't know what to do with it. Since I had an action plan in mind(With my little experience in rescuing animals in distress and collecting information related to animal welfare), I got the dog from the boys. I got their contact number too. They said they would reach out to the Facebook groups and inform us immediately in case they got some clue. We thanked them and said goodbye.
We stayed on the roadside for some time in case the owner came in search of the dog. While we waited, we posted the dog's photo on Facebook and shared it with our friends. Unfortunately, it started raining then. Since there was no collar, we couldn't hold on to him for long. (On a closer look, we saw that he was a young boy). He was pretty heavy and kept slipping away from us. So we decided to take him home, make him comfortable, and continue our search online from there. We couldn't get him onto the bike, so we caught an auto. Due to fears of covid, we were a little skeptical to take the auto initially, but this was the only way to get him home.
We reached home, lifted him off the auto, and carried him inside. Our parents already have an indie(He's named Bhairav). Bhairav started barking vigorously at the scent of a new dog. We took Bhairav out of sight to a different room.
Our young boy(let's call him Kutty for now) started panting heavily once inside our home. We gave Kutty food and water and comforted him for some time. Kutty was nervous initially, taking in the new environment and observing his surroundings. After a while, he started pacing, sniffing the objects around, and barking at the shadows. I thought of playing with him for some time to cheer him up. Is there a perfect game for a dog than fetch the ball? He ran excitedly, seeing the ball. He was so enthusiastic, I thought of reminding him he was a lost dog and not supposed to be playing blissfully. It is easy to make a dog happy. Isn't it?
Here I have to mention that even though we were dealing with a lost dog, the overall atmosphere at our home was nothing short of merriment. All of us took turns playing with him, and he didn't seem to mind that he was lost. In fact, come to think of it, maybe he thought he was on vacation? His initial nervousness was gone from being in a new home, and he was such a jolly happy dog. Our parents joked that we could keep him with us forever. However, we couldn't help but sympathize with the situation in Kutty's home. We had to return him to his parents, who must be going through hell.
So I continued looking for his parents online. I sent requests to join several Facebook groups related to pets, lost pets, and our current locality. It was already 1 AM. My husband and I took Kutty for a walk to ease his bladder. We fed him again after that. He ate like he had not seen food for a while. We prepared a make-shift bed for him in the living room, gave him a ball to play, and kept a table-fan near him since it was hot. His eyes looked droopy, so we left him to have a good night's sleep and went to our bedroom. It was around 3 AM when I finally got to sleep.
I got up at around 6.30 AM, came out of the room, and saw that Kutty was resting well. The minute I came closer, I realized that his eyes were open. He immediately sprang up and wagged his tail. He barked playfully, ready to start his first day of vacation. He put us in a good mood with his waggy tail and goofy tongue-out. We gave him milk and bread for breakfast. He devoured it as soon as the food hit his plate. Since we didn't know his food habits, we gave him food that wouldn't affect his stomach, in a quantity that would satisfy his appetite. I took him for a morning walk. Bhairav, our indie, who was on the ground floor started barking on seeing Kutty. Kutty didn't seem to mind and enjoyed his morning walk. I waited for him to poo, cleaned the place, and took him back inside.
A brief pause here. For those of you getting a little more inclined towards Kutty than Bhairav, Yes, Bhairav is introverted, barks at strangers, keeps a poker face, and doesn't smile. But, hey, introverts like Bhairav are people dogs too. Don't judge a dog by his face. Here's a video of Bhairav playing with his friend Brownie.
Coming back to Kutty's vacation. It was 8.00 AM. All this while, I was thinking of taking him to the locality from where he went missing. Maybe the people in the nearby locality might be able to identify him. If the search turned out to be unsuccessful, the plan was to take him to the nearby shelter since there is more possibility of someone registering for a lost dog. I took my phone and checked for the comments in the Facebook groups in which I had posted. Some people had enquired if the dog was for sale. I had to be careful in giving him to his rightful parents because there are people who kidnap high-bred dogs and sell them for a good wad of cash. I came across a comment in which a person shared a post from another group. In the shared post, a lady had posted that their dog was missing since yesterday night in the same locality. She said the dog's name is Jingle, sharing her contact information. There was a photo of Jingle too. On seeing it, I shouted excitedly because the resemblance between Kutty and Jingle was uncanny. It was the same dog with the goofy tongue-out!! And Kutty's real name was Jingle at last. Is it my imagination, or do I hear the bells?
We contacted the lady (let's call her Madhu for article purposes) immediately. She confirmed the street where he was lost. We had found him in an area nearby the mentioned street. She said she would come to pick him up immediately. We were greatly relieved that Kutty, I mean Jingle, was to be reunited with his parents. We were all smiles. Jingle was playing, not aware that his short but eventful vacation was coming to an end. As always, he was a happy soul without a care in the world. After some 15 minutes, we had a car park outside. We told Madhu to call for Jingle to check if he would recognize her voice. Jingle heard her voice and started pacing frantically. The moment she came inside the house, Jingle jumped on her and tried to climb onto her. She carried him like a baby, thanking us profusely. On seeing the car, Jingle ran inside, followed by her. Madhu and her husband thanked us one last time and went on their way.
After Jingle left, there was an air of silence in the house. Dogs indeed change your life for the better in a way you don't realize. Jingle's vacation in our house, however short, was something we would cherish for a lifetime. Undoubtedly, it was a Diwali miracle!!
Update: That evening, Jingle's parents came to visit us. They brought Gulab Jamun as a thank-you gift. We came to know that the couple had gotten married recently and that Jingle was an engagement gift from her husband. Madhu said she was distressed, couldn't get sleep the previous night, and their whole family was worried. Jingle, afraid of the crackers, had run away, ripping the leash somehow. She said she felt Jingle was lost forever because he was a breed dog. There is a great demand for the sale of breed dogs. For kidnappers, there's nothing better than a lost breed dog because there is a huge margin for profit. She felt extremely grateful that we took care of him for the night and said she'll bring him around sometime later. With that, the couple parted, leaving us with fond memories of Jingle. And Gulab Jamun, of course!!
Some fun facts about Jingle, as told by his parents.
- He eats a lot. A lot is an understatement to how much he eats. It explains why he ate as though he had not seen food in days.
- He likes to sit in the car looking through the window.
- He cuddles with his mom at night and sleeps in his parents' bed.
Hey there. If you have come to this point, thanks for reading :) I just want to bring up an important topic before concluding the article.
The narration seems as though finding the owners was a breeze, and I always knew what I had to do. It was hardly so. Jingle was a healthy dog, and there was no life or death situation, so this was fairly easy. In case of animal abuse or injury, the task at hand gets tougher. Identifying the animal in distress is the most important part of this process. It is a world where we see more and observe less. Once you identify and make the first phone call to the relevant rescue organization or shelter, you start having a little more faith in what you're doing. Trust me.
So, if you come across animal abuse or injury, never hesitate to make that first call. You might be the bridge between life or death for that animal.
Finally, be kind to animals. We can all do with a little more kindness in the world.