Radha felt alive and filled with the joy of knowing she was carrying pups. This was her first time, but her instinct was strong and somehow she knew exactly what needed doing at what time. Perhaps it was because her own mother had left her looking after her litter-mates. Or perhaps she simply had excellent breeding genes.
Neither of these were of concern to her. There was stuff to do. A key factor was ensuring maximum nutrition. Now was the time to really start to interact with all the humans. The strange lady who knew Unidog was always a good bet. Always cautious, Radha began to allow her closer so that she would be sure to get the roti or curd or whatever was on offer before either Kaneya or Krishna beat her to it. In fact, the amma seemed to be favouring her, because often she would call Radha round to the side, out of the view of the senior dogs.
Radha recalled that the lady had spotted her just at the time she and Daddy-dog had joined, so it seemed she understood the young bitch's condition. The lady would also chase off the B-pack if they showed signs of bothering Radha.
Additional food was located outside the ashram. For once, Radha extended her area of 'gathering', right the way down to the main road dhabas, where there were always scraps to be found. Competition was high amongst all the other canines, but folk here were generous and on the whole the INDogs ate well, with minimum altercations over rations. It was not long before Radha was putting on weight, both from improved eating and impending birth.
Secondary action was to search for likely whelping spots. She was often to be spotted sniffing around all the likely nooks and crannies of the ashram buildings and garden "hideys".
Radha was a smooth mover. She had the grace of a dancer and the speed of a greyhound, combined with the fluidity of a feline. One minute she could be seen and the next she'd be gone. This was a dog who had business to attend and there was no sign of doubt or the flightiness that had been present before. Although still not allowing herself to be touched, her presence on the quadrangle was now established and many were moved by her obvious strength and determination . In fact, it was difficult for the strange-amma to believe that she was a first time mum. Radha appeared to know exactly what was what and how to go about it.
Amma calculated the pups were likely to be born the last week of January, just a question as to which day of the week! Some of the keen students tried to find out where Radha had decided to 'nest', but nothing doing. She was smarter than that!
The amma also warned all the cooing and ahh-ing students not to get all 'broody'. Radha, for all her sweetness, was still a pariah and ought to be left to her own devices. Just as the other bitches had to bring up their litters by themselves - with occasional donations of scraps from compassionate residents - so Radha should also. Besides, getting involved in puppies was not appropriate, either for the dogs themselves who would have to learn to survive, nor for the students, who were here to detach and grow in their own way. One could be compassionate and help out with rotis, but otherwise - hands off.
Thus, for eight weeks, there was an air of expectancy and love. Even the kitchen staff started to show an interest and reserved food specifically for Radha. This was unprecedented, but such was the beauty and appeal of the little INDog. With liquid soft eyes and delicate body she was truly adorable.
© Yamini Ali MacLean