Zoey (in black harness) playing with her friend

Zoey (in black harness) playing with her friend

“Uncle Zoey neeche khelne ayegi?” A kid inquired after ringing the door bell one Sunday evening! Since we don’t have kids, a request like this did amuse my husband and I. Zoey is our Labrador pup. Her idea of playing is clenching her favourite colourful squeezy ball and playing hard to get. The kids simply find it amusing and enjoyed running after her one evening.

With Zoey playfully barking as the kids requested her to be sent with them, we suddenly felt like parents to a growing kid who was grounded and her friends have come to plead her case. Some days later, a kid brought all his friends wanting them to show a dog living just below his apartment. Such incidents remind us how kids treat dogs just like one of their friends.

Our well socialised Zoey stays calm and is accepting of kids and is an absolute fun to watch with other dogs. There is a huge play ground right in the middle of the chaotic suburban traffic, where she can be off leash, chase birds, play fetch and even football every day. The place in the evening is full of kids playing and running around. The moment I reach the place and leave Zoey off leash, I hear a loud ‘Zoey Aa Gayi’ (from one kid to the other). This echoes twice or even thrice and within a matter of seconds, my lab is surrounded by kids happily running behind her and playing fetch.

Zoey’s presence often intrigues new kids who come to me with their innocently put questions like “Why are you cleaning after Zoey? Will she bite? Why doesn’t she play with me? Why is she so attached to her squeezy ball? Can I snatch the ball from her mouth?” With their endless curiosity come their tiring questions.

On day one, I found it rather annoying to answer all questions but as days passed, I found myself answering questions about handling a dog and the things you have to do when you get a dog home. In the coming days, the questions increased and moved on to random topics from  washing hands after playing with dogs, to avoid snatching anything the dog is playing with, to asking for permission before petting someone’s dog, just to name a few.

Months have passed and now kids and my pup are well acquainted with each other. I hope I have helped the kids be less frightened of dogs and more understanding of how to treat them. Hope this helps these future adults to treat animals with compassion.

As I pen down this article my pup is already nudging me with her leash in her mouth asking to be taken to the playground where I will again hear the loud yet unmistakably excited and familiar scream, “Zoey aa gayi, Zoey aa gayi”!