A red-plumpy tomato would always send Bozo in a mad tizzy. So, besotted was he to the by edible fruit, that he would literally beg, plead and snarl for the same. One of the favorite sports, we had at home was to hold a tomato high up in the air, say some 5-6 feet or so. And yet, the little ball of fluff would repeatedly keep jumping at the same, till he finally sunk his teeth into it. There never was a greater lover of the Spanish-discovered fruit than Bozo was. Ironically, when I had chosen him from a litter of 6, it was for the very opposite reasons.
Back in ’93, when I had first seen him, he was a shy, nervous week-old snow-white Pomeranian pup. Unlike, his brothers and sisters, he was not the excited kinds, and preferred to sit in the shadows away from the gaze. So, while the rest of pups crowded and circled me, he just kept away, as if he was some big-shot intellectual, who disliked such inanities. It was this strange quirk in him, that made me pick him. And so, Bozo became an integral part of the boisterous Chaturvedi clan.
Years, passed and the little fluff grew into a big man. Even though he was a pom, he always seemed like an overgrown rabbit to me, especially due to his big big ears. He was very amiable and very patient. In fact, his patience was severely tested at times, living in a house with four children of varying age, from the eldest me (17 years) to the little brother Shlok (2 years), Bozo would always be cuddled, kissed and thrown around by all of us. In fact, one of the weird things was that he hated to be kissed. He disliked it so much that you had to actually ensnare him into it.
Of the many quirks the wonderful guy had, was his strange knack of always picking up the wrong guys. In our neighbourhood, there used to be a couple of giants, a few Alsatians and two towering Afghan Hounds. Bozo, on encountering them, would always challenge them to a big fight. He would continuously bark out at them, probably calling something to their mothers-or-sisters because it used to really infuriate them. Even so, my puny little Hercules wouldn’t stop. I think, he almost forgot that he was pom or probably didn’t care. I am still much thankful to those minders who kept the leash tight. It is because of them that our lives weren’t accidentally shortened.
Bozo, also happened to be the best friend I ever had. For a young man reaching his puberty, he was a blessing. Every night, when I used to take him for those long long walks, I used to talk my heart out to him, of all my crushes, the lost chances, the friends, the enemies, the ambitions, the visions. I would keep on rambling to him. And, he would often peer at me deeply, as if understanding everything. In fact, I am sure, I caught him nodding at times, shaking his head in disbelief at the trivialities. And then at times, he would make those strange mellow grunts, letting me know that it was alright. Reassuring me that “this too shall pass away”. There was never a hindrance in communicating with him, he understood me, almost like a dear friend, a dear brother.
One of the things, Bozo positively disliked was taking baths. He just hated water and it used to be such an affair to just drag him for his bath. Once out of water, he would run around the house, trying to desperately shake off any water that would be there on the coat. He used to be so wary of the baths, that if he were to come to know beforehand from our conversation or preparation, he would hide under the table or something. So, whenever it was time to give him bath, we would use code-words around and catch him unawares. Besides that he was very finicky about his toilet et al. It was strange, but he would never pee or crap within the house, come what may. There were times, when we would have forgotten about him, so he would make those low pitiable sounds, make a little dance to attract attention, and then as soon as he was out of the house would then relieve himself. We used to be stumped by his amazing habit, imagine controlling his bladder et al for hours. It just confirmed our doubts that he was not an ordinary dog, but a gentleman or so.
Another one of his quirks was his special dislike for rats. Whenever he would see one scampering around, he would make it a point to nab it and kill it. Bozo had this strange cat like behavior that used to surprise us. Often we used to fret, whether something will happen to him because of such strange acts. And unfortunately, for all of us, something did happen. I well remember, sometime in ’97, while taking him for his walks, I noticed that he was having a bit trouble passing motions, and his stools were dark brownish. I did not take much note of it and continued so for some 10-15 odd days. But, the affliction only grew, and Bozo became progressively weaker in those days. Finally, when we took him to doctor, he was diagnosed as having sever gastroenteritis, and was in a terminal state. The vet told me then, that those dark brackish stools were actually blood. He was bleeding for the past many days.
The very thought hit me hard, here was Bozo, my best friend, who always understood whatever I said or uttered, was suffering so much pain and trauma, and yet I was completely oblivious to it. If only, I had been a bit more concerned, I could have saved him. To this day, I severely regret my carelessness.
Anyways, within a few days of going to the Vet, Bozo started slipping away from us. He would stay in a corner, eat nothing and groan. He would often look at us with those endearing eyes, as if he knew that he was leaving us. Then one afternoon, he just ceased to breathe. And so, Bozo left us forever.
In those, few years that he was with us, I learnt many things from him, about love, friendship, respect. But the most important thing that I learned was that god has made each and every speck of this world special. While we consider ourselves to be higher intelligent beings, I discovered that is not the case, and even the lowliest of god’s creation is endowed with qualities that we associate with humans. Bozo was not a dog, he was a person. A very intelligent, very somber, very loving, amazing person. He enriched our lives in the few years that he lived with us.
And to this date, whenever I look at a juicy red tomato, I am reminded of my little fluffy, who would do just anything for it. Strangely, I have developed a similar liking for the fruit/veggie. Could it be because of Bozo? I really don’t know.