My ''kids'' before my kids

I was never a ''kids'' person. If I saw people cooing and aahing to a pretty baby, I would always wonder what the fuss was all about. I would dread if there was a baby or a small child sitting next to me on an aircraft and I wouldn't for my life understand what was so special about pregnant women??

Before I had children of my own, I was a complete pet lover. Sometimes I would wish that I had puppies instead of babies when I would get pregnant! Dogs and cats were my babies, especially dogs. I have always had dogs at home as far as I could remember (except for the last 5 years after I moved out of Mumbai). We first had a doberman named Caesar, then a poodle that we adopted or rather kidnapped (long story - some other time) called Andy. Then another doberman called Caesar again, then an adorable English cocker spaniel called Romeo and the present one I have back home in Mumbai is called Juliet (Julie in short). These are besides the few number of dogs and cats that I had in our building compound, in our weekend bungalow (outside Mumbai) or some that I had adopted on the streets with a special mention to 2 dogs - Brownie and Diana whose affection and loyalty was immeasurable.

I could spend hours together sitting with my dogs and cats, feeding them, talking to them, sometimes even listening to them. As a kid, I would come running back home from school to greet my pets, give them special treats when no one was looking and took them out for long walks. Every pet of mine was different, their needs were different and they all needed different kinds of treatment from me. But at the end of the day they all craved for love and attention. I got Romeo (my most favourite) when I was in my early 20's. He was one of the most affectionate and gentle dogs that I ever had. I used to treat him just like a baby, feeding him with my hands, grooming his long silky hair and long ears, taking him to the park, to the sea shore and practically everywhere I could take him with me. Julie was adopted just a year after him and they made a very fine couple. I once even celebrated their birthdays together giving a nice doggie party where around 6-7 doggie friends were invited and a cake was cut too! I remember on my first trip to the USA, I had gone crazy in a pet store and bought a suitcase full of stuff for them ranging from toys, to clothes to chewy bones! Romeo and Juliet had a permanent presence around me and if by chance I did go out without them, friends would stop me on the road to find out what was wrong! Both of them got along very well though Julie was the dominating one but Romeo was too much of an English gentleman to say anything otherwise. They both had a lovely litter of 5 puppies - the most beautiful cocker spaniel puppies I had ever seen. They all soon got a loving home each and thankfully mum talked me out of keeping any more pets at home since I was stationed outside Mumbai soon after. The years passed, I got married and got pregnant and I got a baby boy (not a puppy). The most adorable, handsome baby in the world. Life took a completely different turn after that. Priorities changed drastically and Romeo and Julie took a backseat unfortunately. But thanks to their loving nature, my son also started loving the company of dogs. He would follow them around, sit in their doggie basket with them, accompany me to give them a bath or just go for a walk with them. But clearly the title of a ''baby'' in my life had been passed on to my child and no matter how hard I tried I could never reverse it.

I have countless hilarious stories about my pets over the years - dogs, cats, goats, ducks - all to share....someday!

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