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Written by Disha Ramanan
In the frame: Scrappy & Shifu with Nobin and Gauri
Valentine’s Day has officially gone to the dogs this year. After all, how can we have V-day celebrations without our true loves? And apparently, we’re not alone in thinking this way either!
Lana Paws caught up with three fabulous ladies and their even more fabulous doggos. These three have given a new meaning to the term “mixed family”. At a time when people abandon their pets left, right and centre, these 3 didn’t use their marriage or partner as an excuse to let go of their fur baby. They also have some pretty great partners to raise their floofballs with.
To celebrate the Day of Love, we feature their stories – from Gauri G who is a mum to Shifu and Scrappy, Shreya who is Blackie’s momma and Vidha, proud mum of Aladdin & Lily! These ladies tell us all about how they made it work with their doggos and partners, and how they forged life together as a newly mixed-species family. Let’s see how Buddy and Bae got along in these modern-day furrytales!
Love At First Sniff?
We begin by asking them what it was like when their dog met their partner for the first time.
In the frame: Scrappy & Shifu
First up is Gauri, “I was already with my partner when Shifu came into my life. He pretty much met her the very next day. It wasn’t love at first sniff, but a day is all it took for Shifu to fall head over heels in love with him. Our second-born, Scrappy is legally his child and she came into our home last year after we had already moved in together. He brought her home so technically, he met her before I did. But Scrappy loves everyone at first sniff, none of us had to work hard for her love and attention. We just have to work hard to get her potty trained!”
In the frame: Blackie with her human-daddy and Shreya
Next answers Shreya, “While we were dating, he was slightly aloof; he wasn't scared of dogs but wouldn't pet them either. I was worried because he was not very familiar with dogs and she was a senior dog who was very attached to me. But when they met, she just melted into his arms and started begging for scratchies, non-stop. It was awesome to see him so amazed by this cute little mouse. Till date, he calls her his mouse!”
In the frame: Lily & Aladdin with Vidha and Akshay
Vidha opines, “Both Aladdin (our labrador retriever) and Lily (our desi girl) are at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to meeting new people. I wasn’t worried about Aladdin at all, but I was quite nervous about how Lily would respond to this new human in her life whom i was hoping she would accept as her human daddy over time. To my surprise Lily let him in sooner than we expected! Twelve months down and now she bullies Akshay for extra treats and non-stop neck scratchies on demand.”
It Takes A Very Special Dog Dad
Wow, that easy? This has us wondering if these hooman dads had to do something special to get into their new doggo’s hearts?
In the frame: Shifu with Nobin
Gauri is sorted on that one. “It didn’t take them too long to bond at all. My husband loves pampering them and since I’m the disciplinarian, he is the favourite parent (after my mom of course!). He’d gone to Amsterdam for some work and the maximum shopping he did, was for the doggos.
In the frame: Blackie enjoying her day out
Shreya’s hubby is honestly the sort our dreams are made of! She says, “They got along like fire. When we were planning the marriage, my parents were thinking of keeping Blackie with them as my husband didn't have any pet experience. But he insisted that she's our dog and she will stay with us.”
Vidha says she and her partner, Akshay, decided to leave it to their dogs to pick how and when the new relationship would progress instead of hurrying things. “While Aladdin is more accepting of new people, he is still picky about his favourite humans (why shouldn’t he be!). He loved Akshay immediately. Lily, being a shy dog, does not appreciate when people approach her first without her permission! We allowed her plenty of time to get used to Akshay’s presence before the wedding and only when she was comfortable and ready to approach him, he started engaging with her following her pace. This really helped and over time, step by step, Lily welcomed her new human into her heart.”
A Balancing Act
Doggo parenting 101 – it’s all about sharing responsibilities! We ask the ladies how the dynamic changed when their partners moved in, in terms of what jobs were the new dads going to do.
Gauri has a pawfect (human) partner-in-crime. “When Dutta moved in, Shifu was on cloud nine. She wanted to cuddle with him and was thrilled that he didn’t say ‘bye’ (it’s the word both my doggos hate the most). He takes them for a walk in the morning, coz they are all early-risers and no one wants to deal with me at 6:30 in the morning. When they are hungry, he also gives them the meals which usually means that he gives them three extra pieces of chimkin just to buy their love (it works).”
In the frame: Blackie with mommy, Shreya
Well, Shreya’s hubby sure seems to get the good bits of the job! “Oh, he gets the best part- The food and treats! I do the walkies, baths, vet visits and all the other things, but dad is her favourite because he gives her yummy chimken and treats!”
What’s Vidha’s take? “By the time we moved together, both the dogs were quite comfortable around my partner’s presence. However, in order to make the transition even smoother for our furbabies, we gave them enough time to get used to their new environment. We moved Aladdin with us first before moving in Lily since we knew she would require more time and patience. We did not leave them alone for almost a month. My husband and I enjoy walking our furbabies together. We share all responsibilities 50/50 (maybe 51/49, me being a bit of a control-freak dog mommy) i.e. from feeding, meal-planning, walking, researching, shopping to vet visits for our four-legged children.”
Saying I Do… and I Woof?
We wonder if all these adorable floofs were out-staging the brides on their wedding day. Was the doggo a part of the celebrations too?
In the frame: Scrappy & Shifu with Gauri on her wedding day!
Gauri remarks, “Yep, we stay in Bombay, while we got married in Delhi. We travelled by first class in train for the first time which was nerve-wracking for us but rather enjoyable for our two adventurers. We convinced the hotel to allow our dogs to stay with us in our room and the puppers were there for the wedding and the reception. One of my favourite photos from the wedding isn’t with the husband, it’s with the puppers.”
Shreya’s wedding guests seemed to have lucked out! ”Yes! She loved the fanfare. She played with every hooman, sniffed everything and claimed on every table and chair. Also got treats from everyone.”
Vidha shares her experience, “As much as we wanted them to be a part of our wedding celebrations, we consciously decided to exclude them for their own safety. Lily gets extremely nervous around new people and it would have been too huge a risk to take her to a new setting and leave her under other people’s supervision on occasions.” (Lily – we totally feel you, girl! Who wants to meet all those random new people anyway?)
Yours, Mine & Ours
In conclusion, we ask the doggo mommas what life has been like as a new family, and if they have any special family traditions.
Gauri explains, “Life as a mixed-species family is anything but ordinary. Also, because both daughters are quite different. One loves to travel, the other one gets motion sickness in cars, one is a true lady, the other one is a monster who is constantly on crack. One is a picky eater and the other thinks she’s a vacuum cleaner, one must sleep on a blanket and the other one must burrow in it. The only thing they agree on is playing, licking, being sassy, thinking they are the best and believing that the bed is made for them! As for traditions, we celebrate their birthdays with vanilla ice cream, and apart from that morning rituals of playing and each pupper getting pampered is a thing that simply must be religiously followed!”
In the frame: Blackie on her first adoptaversary
Shreya shares, “Blacks was abandoned earlier so we want to give her all the best experiences possible. We go to a beach every week and celebrate all special occasions with my family dog Toasty. We go for hikes and nature trails. We love to bask in the sun! And we celebrate Blackie's adoptaversary on the 16th of October.”
In the frame: Lily with Vidha and Akshay
Vidha rounds it up in a way possibly every dog parent can relate, “Every day in the life of a mixed-species family starts much too early. It's like a countdown clock from the time we step out of bed to the time we take them for their walk. Work, travel and leisure schedules always circle around their poop, walk and food timings. Travelling outside the city needs proper planning in advance and is not possible on the fly. But we’re not complaining at all. All of this is completely worth it when we come back to those wags and sloppy kisses. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
“Friends come over and gush over them and random people sometimes stop you on the streets to pet or cuddle them. I feel like a proud parent whose child has topped his class or something silly like that. It's like having a constant endorphins-on-demand remote at home that can be turned on with some kisses and cuddles. Nights are cozy and all of us snoring in rhythm is more ASMR than anyone can handle.
In the frame: Lily & Aladdin after a birthday celebration
“We celebrate our dogs’ birthdays with cakes, treats, matching accessories and the like. We also like to buy them new types of treats or new food often just to bring some novelty in their meal routine. On a more regular basis, my dogs love their hoomans’ netflix and junk food nights. When defences are low, puppy faces work better.”
All things considered, merging your life with another human is a big step, but throw doggos into the mix and the situation is all chaos, fun and compromise. But while there are adjustments to be made by everybody (you, your doggos and your partner), they are indeed worth making. Having a partner that understands you and your special fur family is someone worth holding on to. Conversely, being an understanding partner is just as important.
Vidha shares, “It is a big change not only in the life of your pet but also in the life of your partner. Even though we had innumerable discussions on what life would be like once we all move in together, it was still slightly overwhelming for my partner as the reality of being a pet parent hit home including multiple walks a day, inability to make spontaneous plans, our schedules tied to our dog’s routine, etc, and all this while we were still learning to live with each other. Aladdin, Lily and I got lucky with Akshay but it is important to make this transition equally smooth for your partner as for your dog/s. In the end, it’s a matter of time and loads of patience. And did I say how incredibly worth it it is!”
Well, we couldn’t agree more!