Ruby, our pomeranian-fox-spaniel hybrid was born in this house in 1999. She grew up alongside us, adjusting as much to our quirks as we did to hers. With both children away from home studying or working, she was the child my parents doted on. Every day for 14 years, she would have her first drops of milk fed to her by our hands before taking the rest herself. She would sit silently for an hour beside my mother while she prayed in the prayer room. She would politely peek in our plates when we sat down for our meals but never beg or demand, knowing fully well that she stood a good chance of getting something whenever I was around anyway. Though she would sleep in my parents bedroom at night, she would always wait for them to enter, no matter how late, before entering herself.
Ruby was very particular about her cleanliness too, thank God. She knew when it was time for her bath and never made a fuss about it. For some reason, we had picked a dog shampoo years ago which gave off a very citrus-y scent to the ol' gal after a bath. She too enjoyed it and would nudge and push for the bottle during bath time. And so, over the years, we never changed the brand of shampoo and we always had a pleasant smelling, tail-wagging, four-legged air freshener walking around the house.
In one of the most painful moments for everyone at home, Ruby passed away a few months ago. Losing someone who was there inside your house for fourteen years was a devastating blow to all of us. As much as it pained me, I realized in the days following her death that I loved her while always being away for long periods - college, post graduation, work et al. But there were two parents there at home who had looked after her from the day she was born and were now once more left alone. What heartbreak was going through their minds, I could only imagine. One day, while talking casually, it finally did slip from my father's tongue that my mother had yet to get over the loss of Ruby and still cried herself to sleep on many a night staring at the empty spot where Ruby would sleep beside her.
After that visit, in my mind at least, what had to be done next was obvious.
Nowadays, if I blindfold you and bring you home, you're going to start asking me about that scent of coffee beans that your nose picks up. No, I'm afraid I don't own any plantations. I don't have my own coffee machine either.
But it's okay. Because my parents do have a new child who smells like coffee.
Where Ruby was Zen-like in her demeanour, Snoopy is chaos unleashed. He is a beagle by breed but a vampire by nature, chomping on anything he sees (When he sees me, I imagine he feels the same way Obelix used to feel when he saw a wild boar!) Where Ruby would sneak and throw my ironed clothes around if she was mad at me for something, Snoopy repeatedly threatens to literally pull the pants off me while I'm still wearing them!
I still miss Ruby. I'm sure my parents do too. Once more, I will hardly be around as the new child grows up thanks to my profession. But I really don't mind. Snoopy differs from Ruby in every way possible except one: like Ruby, he is a constant source of laughter and happiness for my parents.
And the selfless love that this coffee-scented vampire-in-dog's-clothing brings to my house and my family... that is all that matters to me.