There once was a young boy in the late 1980s who was realising his love for animals was different from what most people perhaps had or were absent of. His family members shared it, but they appeared preoccupied with their lives.

At such a delicate time, he got introduced to a white dog with brown patches that started living near his house. His aunt encouraged him and his cousin sister to feed the dog milk from under a black metal gate we had leading the to back lane of his colony.

We named the dog Scratchy as he would always be scratching himself, probably because he had fleas, mites or ticks but we were completely unaware back then of how to take care of a dog. We would push a small tea bowl full of milk from under the gate and call Scratchy. He would magically appear on the other side of the gate and lick the bowl clean.

I would love to watch his pink tongue slurp all the milk with such enthusiasm. Soon, he also learned to come when we whistled. One whistle and he would come right at our back gate huffing and puffing for some fresh milk.

We would end up meeting Scratchy once in a while inadvertently and he would stop our path jumping on us with a wagging tail and a slurping tongue while we went to play or when we went to the market. Though he wasn’t a particularly large dog, he seemed quite big to me due to my obvious small size. What bothered me a bit was he would dirty my clothes with his paws but it was more of an inconvenience than hatred but just to avoid getting dirty, I started hiding from his direct contact.

Soon, I started hearing murmurs around the colony. This dog jumps on everyone, he is a nuisance, someone has to do something. Before long, one day, I pushed the bowl full of milk from below the gate and called out for Scratchy but no Scratchy appeared. I whistled, I waited, I called and I also went looking for him, however far I was allowed to go at that age but there was no Scratchy.

These were days before ABC when MCD could just pick up any dog and kill them. Did MCD kill Scratchy, did some neighbour poison him, was he run over by some car or perhaps I would like to hope that he found a better place and a better home and lived out his days in love.

The reason we animal lovers cant take a step back is because we all have our Scratchys. Our painful memories and we all fear that these animal-hating forces may push us back to those dark days again when any dog could be simply picked up and killed.

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