Growing up Annie

Growing up Annie

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Althea Kaushal is a part-time screenplay writer with Happy New Year being her last film, amateur editor (she is the brains behind this operation), full-time mum and doglover. She lives in Jumeirah with her husband and two daughters.

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We’re a 6–girl family. And all of us enjoy that liberating feeling of being able to cry on demand. Needless to say, my long–suffering husband spins between tearing his hair out and opening his wallet in an attempt to assuage the deluge. He’s well trained.

But this piece isn’t about him and his harem. It’s about Annie, our oldest, who plays the ‘baby’ with all the panache of an enthusiastic seal.

Annie is almost 12, medically obese [though Sid calls her pleasantly plump] and strikes a fine balance between being a couch potato and a vacuum cleaner. Parenting her has, and continues to, take all of my collective strength, patience and ingenuity. In case you’re still wondering, she’s my oldest dog.

Ask anyone [an expert or your garden variety dog lover] and they’ll say with a fond twinkle in their eye that dogs are just babies that don’t grow up.

That’s such a load of bull! They’re babies that CHOOSE to not grow up, because if you really think about it, it’s


much more fun to be picked up after, isn’t it?

The point of this convoluted opening is to merely set the stage for the parental angst that is to follow.

I was expecting my first child when my husband, who has never had a dog in his life, came up with the bright spark of getting us a dog. He wasn’t going to get any opposition from me [given that I was chock full of insane nurturing hormones that had completely obliterated any rational thought]. After a lot of research for a child-friendly dog, we arrived at Basset Hounds. They are notoriously easy and good with children [no one thought to mention at that point, that they enjoy that reputation because they can’t work up the energy to create even the hint of mayhem].

Siddhartha got Annie from Bangalore. She was the runt of the litter [which we now know is because when prospective families came visiting, she was probably nose-deep in her food or passed out unconscious around the corner] Their first meeting had Annie innocuously eating a daisy stalk [that was also the last vegetarian thing the vacuum has since consumed].


On her arrival home in Bombay, one of the very first things madam did, was to curl up around Sid’s head and go to sleep. Her warm puppy breath had Sid totally convinced that this here, was the love affair he was meant to have. I did tell him at that point that she was going to get a whole lot bigger and maybe he should not encourage her to sleep with him. He scoffed at me and called me jealous!

He said that I was resentful that Annie had chosen him over me. The poor sod! Well, it took about three months for Annie to get to full-grown size and then some [ever seen a hippo? well, you’ve got the right idea then]. Sid has since then been relegated to the floor, given that she’s permanently ensconced in his blanket and pillows. Sometimes I wonder as I watch Sid curled up on the floor, as Annie snores in his bed above him, if he really does like the taste of humble pie.

Not happy with merely occupying Sid’s bed and heart, she has then taken joyful leaps and bounds at his wallet. Weak in the stomach [anyone who uses the roadside trash as an all-you-can-eat-buffet would have one, I would think] she has had Sid running up huge veterinary and medicine bills. And let’s not forget about the treats!

His socks, shoes, ipads, and general possessions all bear marks of Annie’s teething process [given that 11 years later


she’s still at it, Sid’s refrain that she’s teething is wearing a bit thin].

Her face, which has got to be the most depressed one in the world, has managed to convince her doting [I would choose the word stupid] father to keep feeding her. The proof of his hand-outs registers in the upper thirties on the scale, when her compatriots of similar build and age are a good 10 kilos lighter.

She is warm and kind by nature and anyone entering the house is immediately awarded a couple of shakes of the tail. For the complete Marhaba service however, one would need to open the fridge door; even better open the cheese tray. She didn’t get fat by accident, you know. There has been serious intent, focus and action behind it.

As her parent [since Sid is busy playing the good cop], I’m left with the other stuff- the crap stuff; the giving of the medicines, the bathing, the diet monitoring, et cetera. All of which is guaranteed to make me the dreaded parent Annie, however, is that rare soul who will love you in copious measure in the face of every trial and tribulation you throw her way.

Growing up Annie is a two-step process.
Step 1: You try.
Step 2: She won’t.
I have finally devised a step three to the process.
Step 3:I give up and peace reigns.

She’s our oldest baby and while all the three who came after her are at various stages of either being grown up or putting up a fair pretense of it, [Tarini is 11 going on 21. Maia is 7 going on 84 and Twilly is 4 going on 4] Annie continues to be a cuddly, warm, guileless and angelic baby.

And as I watch her sleep, sprawled across the bed, with her nose and ears now gone grey, with her eyes cloudy and her teeth almost all gone, there is something about her that still makes me want to lean over her, bury my nose in that familiar smell and whisper “Who’s mama’s baby girlie?”