It is a story of a handsome, affable and energetic dog, a male, half Alsatian, in my mother's neighbourhood.

We had baptised it with two names - Brownie and PP, the latter after the initial of its hostile host who liked to starve the vulnerable, forcing them to leave voluntarily.

Unfortunately, he had a big gaping hole under his gate, which allowed dogs unhindered movement to seek refuge from danger.

When still a baby, Brownie would stay in the safety of the house, venturing out several times carefully in the hope of catching our attention for a morsel or two of grub.

We would keep a portion of food for Brownie always. Over time Brownie mingled with the pack and eventually became its patriarch.

Surprisingly, he was magnanimous and would allow others to eat their bellyful first.

Shockingly, Brownie's life was cut short. He departed for the heavenly abode yesterday at mid-day. It was only a day before his demise, PP's wife, in whose house Brownie first found a safe shelter, informed me that he was lurking in the thicket in a neighbour's land.

Alerted by intermittent barking, she had asked a labourer to clear the thorny bushes to the source of the sound. There he was. Brownie was lying on his left side on undulating land with his head resting on the lower ground.

He started barking as soon as he saw me. I spoke to him words of comfort. He kept on staring at me, and I kept on telling him that he would be all right. I asked the labourer to help me feed Brownie some oatmeal, which he kindly did.

The next morning, I fed him a bowl of oatmeal and gave him almost two litres of water. I also wondered if he was hit by a vehicle as he could not move at all. He had no injury mark. But how did he get there? Or did some people drag him and leave him to die in the thicket? I called Animal Nepal, who kindly acceded to visit in the afternoon. After eating and drinking, he started barking louder. But after a while, he stopped barking.

My wife said, "Poor thing must have fallen asleep. God knows how many days he has been languishing in pain without food and water."Stricken by worries emanating from the cessation of his barking,

I went to take a look. His eyes were closed, mouth open, and his face was no longer what it was a few hours ago. We did not speak for a few hours.

She broke the silence, "We must give him a burial". We offered incense as a token of our love and respect to the departed soul.

My wife warned me: "You are getting too attached to the dogs". She wasn't wrong. I had to wipe my tears several times while writing this piece.

She also said maybe he was waiting to see you before leaving for good.

A version of this article appears in the print on October 7, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.