Dogs are most joyful, when they get to do the things that fulfil them – Dick Russell
The paw-crew’s favourite Romi Aunty is often heard saying, “Let dogs be dogs. Let them play in the puddle. Let them play with energy and instincts, as much with paws and mouth. Allow them to respect each other and form a natural order in the pack. Give them love but also space.”
Probably that’s why Romi has her way with dogs – dogs listen to her, as she listens to them with a lot of love, empathy and patience. Having grown up with dogs, Romi not only understands the pack mentality, but also respects the need for a natural order. “Dogs are pack animals; they instinctively know and form an order. It’s us humans who tend to complicate that order.”
So, when Romi brought home her current fur-kid Chloe – a beautiful German Shepherd – she didn’t want her to learn tricks but be well-behaved. German Shepherd dogs are known to be quite intelligent and protective, who require enough stimulus to turn into that perfect companion. “No dog is perfect, just like no human is perfect. Chloe still reacts to cats, but that’s about it. She is gentle with humans, especially with kids. She is calm while meeting other dogs. She doesn’t bark when the doorbell rings. Those were some of my basic asks,” Romi says.
But it didn’t happen overnight. It required training, time, effort and patience. Chloe’s basic training started when she was all of 4.5 months. The first step was to sit outside a children’s park patiently, watching kids play. It taught Chloe that kids are energetic and can approach her suddenly, but the deal is to be calm. Equally she learnt to greet people and dogs confidently yet calmly. Everything was going well; Chloe even started going to a doggy day care to play with other dogs and expend her energy. Romi felt confident enough to put Chloe at the same day care for boarding when she travelled for the first time since Chloe came home.
That didn’t go well, as Chloe suffered from severe separation anxiety. She not only stopped eating, but self-injured herself trying to break open from the boarding room. The holiday was obviously cut short and Romi rushed back. “Chloe didn’t even make eye contact with me for two days. I knew she was upset and I was too.”
Romi isn’t the kind to give up and neither the one to keep her children – human and dog – in a bubble. She started working on Chloe’s separation anxiety, exercising her enough before leaving her home unattended for a short period of time – 5 minutes, then 10, then 20…and it worked. “Every time I intended to step out, I would tell Chloe ‘Jao Buti-Puti’r ghore jao’ (Go and rest in your human sisters’ room – loosely translated from Bengali). Soon enough, she picked up the phonetics and understood that every time I said this, it meant I would step out but return soon; and Chloe was calm about it.”
Soon Romi started taking care of friends’ dogs who also suffered from separation anxiety. It was the summer of 2014, when she took care of 16 dogs of friends when they were away. That was the inflection point for a beautiful endeavour and facility, today better known as ‘Romi’s Home Pet Nursery’ – a crate-free facility. “I’ve learnt that dogs don’t like being confined and we respect that.”
If something is built by passion, it shows. It shows at Romi’s Home Pet Nursery too, because from chauffeuring to selecting songs to listen on the drive, from hand feeding to admonishing bad behaviour, from celebrating woof days – read birthdays – to special antics, Romi does everything with tremendous passion. Romi’s Home Pet Nursery is also a proof of how Chloe inspired Romi to create something driven by love for her dog. The facility – designed as a quaint Christmassy village – exudes paw-sitivity, where dogs huddle and play as much as they can rest and keep a distance.
“In the animal world, there’s a pack and that shouldn’t be disrupted. Rest, don’t think too much, just enjoy your life with your pup” – that’s Romi’s motto!
Chloe will soon turn seven and lives with her hooman pack – Romi, Tamal, Buti and Puti. And Romi’s Home Pet Nursery is all about dogs being part of that big pack.