Many times in our lives, we come across incidents that are remarkable and leave an impression on us. Story of “Three Legged Hero” is about one such incident that happened with my brother in the year 2018. I believe a story loses details as it passes more ears but I will try my best to narrate it as I heard it.
In the year 2018, my brother had just moved from Agra to Aligarh, (both are cities in Uttar Pradesh state of India), to expand our existing family business of handicraft and stonework. He rented a factory in a nearby town of Sasni, which is about 10 km from his residence in Aligarh. Like most people in India, his mornings used to start with a quick visit to the local milkman to get his daily fresh dose of milk. One fine morning my brother, as usual, went to his milkman but on the way, a sight caught his attention. He saw many newly born puppies were drinking milk from their mother but one of them was struggling to get closer to his mother. On closer look, my brother realized this poor puppy was injured and had front right leg almost separated from his body. Hence, he was crawling and dragging himself to get closer to his mother but was being shoved back by his siblings.
My brother had an epiphany and he picked the poor puppy in his lap and brought him home. He immediately went to the veterinarian to examine his wound and fed him some milk. The doctor examined the puppy and told my brother that since the wound on the puppy’s leg is few days old, the worms have started to nest in it and therefore, it needs immediate cleaning and bandaging. With that done, the doctor thanked my brother for helping a stray dog and bringing that dog to him in time as there was still life left in the puppy’s leg and still had a chance to re-attach it. The doctor referred the puppy to a specialized hospital in the city of Mathura that was a further 60 km away.
One quality I envy of my brother is that no matter how busy he is, he can squeeze unseen priorities in his schedule and get things done. He considered helping this puppy as a priority and he along with one of his employee took the puppy to the hospital in Mathura. On further examination, the doctor told my brother that unfortunately, the injured leg cannot be re-attached and rather it had to be surgically removed immediately to prevent the wound from spreading further. The sight of a three-legged dog can break anyone’s heart and my brother was no different. He felt despair that all his effort to save the puppy’s leg was gone down the drain. He felt pity for the puppy and felt compelled to adopt the puppy and named him “Sheru” (comes from “Sher”, which means “a tiger” in Hindi).
My brother decided to keep his new friend at the factory rather than at his residence as he was spending most of his time at the factory. In addition, there was someone at the factory all the time including the night as my uncle used to guard the factory; hence, looking after Sheru was easier. In the initial few days after surgery, Sheru had problem walking so he used to spend most of the time in a room. Mouse-sized Sheru used to get scared when someone entered his room and would hide under the bed. He stood strong, faced his fears and gradually realized that he was safe and treated well. Two months after surgery (and many visits to local veterinarian thereafter), Sheru started walking and coming out of his room. He started mingling with the factory employees and often played with them. Four months after surgery, Sheru started showing glimpses of a confident dog and would bark thunderously, run and chase down monkeys that would otherwise enter the factory and create ruckus.
Six months passed by quickly and summers arrived. My brother was happy seeing his friend transform from an injured mouse-sized puppy to a confident normal-sized dog fit for his age. In a warm country like India, it is not uncommon to sight a snake once-in-a-while in the middle of farms in rural India but villagers have learned to live alongside it despite the huge risk. My brother was spending his first summer in such a rural part of India and was unaware of this risk. One day at the factory an employee spotted a snake-like creature crawling against the wall and saw it disappear behind the wall. He informed my brother and my brother immediately had a lookout for it but found nothing.
Sooner the monsoon arrived and this is the time when most of the snakes are observed as their habitats are filled with water. One day, my uncle was sleeping in the factory and was woken up by a loud and unusual barking of Sheru. At that time, my elderly uncle did not recognize the significance of the bark. He got up, petted Sheru and dozed-off again quickly. The next morning, when he woke up, he realized Sheru did not run up to him, jumped or cuddled him, as he would usually do but was rather lying silently in the corner. On making his bed, the sight my uncle saw wrenched his heart. There was a dead cobra under his bed. My uncle realized the bark he heard at night of Sheru was to sign him off the danger underneath his bed that he failed to understand. Clearly, Sheru had fought this cobra in the night managed to get better of him and hurt himself in the process. My uncle called my brother who came to the factory immediately. He picked Sheru up in his lap and rushed to the hospital. Sadly, Sheru died in the hospital. My brother's friend who hadn't lived a complete year, who was never given a fair chance to compete in life, had died to save someone else's life.
My brother wept at his loss but realized that Sheru was not a dog but a blessing sent to save the life of my uncle. At the time of helping Sheru when he was small, my brother did not know that Sheru would pay back his debt manifolds by giving away his life. In the end, we were left indebted by the sacrifice of this brave-heart. I believe such incidents are destiny’s way of reminding us about the reciprocal nature of life. This story touched me deeply and I visited the factory where I saw the employees have adopted a new dog (in cover picture) to fill the void left by Sheru. He was and will always be my Three Legged Hero.