In Focus

Oni's life lessons for humans

For Bengaluru-based Chaitra Krishnamurthy, Oni means the world. In Sanskrit, Oni spells shelter and it's just right for her. She talks of Oni's journey and lessons learnt

On the 17th of December, 2015, I woke up to one of those days when you are happy for no known reason. Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the most beautiful days of my life!

My family and I decided to adopt a canine friend. We were never particular about the breed or colour. For us, it was the life that matters. We went to a shelter close to where we live.

The dog’s shelter was filled with so many puppies between the age of one and six months. The older dogs were placed in separate cells. They were all so desperate to find a home for themselves. Some of the puppies were cuddled up in a corner, the others were fast asleep only to wake up upon hearing a human’s voice and then run around to get your attention.

The situation was too overwhelming for me. I wanted to take them all home, treat the ones suffering from different kinds of illnesses and free the ones locked in cells being abandoned by their parents for multiple reasons. Also, the shelter had mainly female dogs and puppies as no one would want to adopt them.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, I couldn’t witness the sight. I told my brother to take the decision and walked out. A few minutes later, he came out with a little doll like thing wrapped up in his hefty arms. My jaw dropped as I looked at that little baby in the eyes.

It was one of the most beautiful and memorable moments of my life when I first met Oni. We named her Princess Oni Krishnamurthy. Oni is a Sanskrit word which means shelter and Krishnamurthy is my father’s name that became her last name. And then, Oni came into our lives like an angel.

She weighed 600 grams and was about one-month-old. She had the sweetest eyes and the most adorable paws. Watching her sleep was a beautiful sight! Her little belly sticking out and legs moving hastily as she ran in her dreams.

A week passed and her collar was already tight. Our little Oni was growing fast. She seemed healthy and ate well without being fussy. It all seemed so exciting in my head I thought she couldn’t be happier, with all her chew toys, bed and treats.

One day I noticed a few yellow patches below her stomach and around the urinary region. The first thought that struck me was UTI. But I knew the condition needed medical attention. We took he to the clinic and explained to the doctor about her condition. After thorough examination, the doctors told us that they’ll have to run a few tests on her as it was symptoms of Jaundice. The severity of it will only be determined through tests as she was too young.

When the reports appeared, we were told that the Jaundice had spread through her liver, because of which it was severely affected. The liver was damaged beyond treatment. It wasn’t the only issue, but she was diagnosed with Canine Distemper, too. She was anemic, which further affected the possible treatments as she was too young to undergo blood transfusion.

By this time, she had already gone through immense pain from huge needed being pierced through her veins. We couldn’t see her suffer. Her condition got worse by the hour. When asked the doctors what had to be done in order to get her out of what she was going through, they are presented an option before us; euthanasia. She was given three days’ time and we were told that there is no cure.

At that moment, I was blank. I couldn’t digest what the doctors said. But, I knew I had very little time to decide as her suffering would only increase. My family and I weren’t able to think straight. It was only two months since we lost Brutos, our previous pet dog, and I wasn’t ready to lose Oni.

That’s when we believed in her the most. The doctors could say anything, but we didn’t give up on her. Thus, started Oni’s journey. She had no appetite because of the illness, but we would prepare her favorite chicken liver puppy gravy and slowly feed her through tiny spoons. This helped her gain some energy. She was still sick, but we believed she would get better.

After a few days when we realized her situation wasn’t getting any better or worse we consulted another doctor, who played the role of an angle in Oni’s life. The doctor saw her and told us that she would start her medications immediately. She told us to believe that Oni would get better, I remember her words distinctly.

The medications began to work on her slowly and within a few days she was able to stand up, walk for a bit and identify others’ presence around her. She was taken to the hospital every two days to monitor the vitals. Her weight increased by grams and the number on the scale would bring some amount satisfaction in me. At the time, Oni was on high medications. That little soul wasn’t ready to give up, too. She overcame many obstacles at such a young age. She was a fighter.

After huge number of medicines, injections, routine visits to the hospital, regular monitoring of diet, and most importantly, immense love and care, Oni got better and began to lead a normal life while being able to perform basic functions by the age of 6 months.

Her fighting didn’t stop at that. When she was 8 months old, a tumor in the form of a skin tag appeared in her forehead. Upon getting it checked she was diagnosed with skin cancer. The tumor was surgically removed and we were told that the tumors can spread externally and internally as she gets older. she cannot be exposed to sunlight after 9 a.m. in the morning. The Canine distemper can recur any time. But, we know our Oni is way stronger than those diseases. We believe in her and she in us.

She turned one on the 18th November, 2016. Currently she weighs about 19 kilograms. She might have gotten bigger in size with bigger bed and more number of toys, but to us she’s still our little Princess Oni Krishnamurthy. The four-legged princess who loves bananas, apples and cries every time she steps on one of her chew toys accidentally. She stares at you with the toy in the mouth until you agree to play fetch with her. Will ask you to play tug of war with her rope at the oddest times. I wake up to her kisses and sleep hugging her tight.

I wouldn’t call Oni’s recovery a miracle. Rather, it was a fight that she fought bravely and the belief we held in her. We cannot imagine our lives without her. Everything she does is like a teaching lesson for us, after all animals are the most loyal creatures on the face of the earth.

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