While coming out to the reception area in the veterinary clinic the other day, I was met with a small Pomeranian dog barking at my feet. The dog wasn’t on leash as per the clinic rules and I wondered loudly about it (charming old me!). It turned out that the owner was a teenage girl — who gave me deadly look — before going back to her phone again, while the dog continued barking.
It didn’t affect me the least. Instead, it instigated storytelling — a gene that I inherited from my Dad — as I started relating to the receptionist the story of Siteeno, the Pomeranian that my Grandma owned long time back.
The dog originally belonged to an English neighbor — who upon leaving — sold the dog to Ammah’s cook for sixty Rials (and that’s how he got the name Siteeno: Siteen in Arabic is sixty).
Siteeno turned out to be a dog from hell as he was super aggressive with everyone — except for Ammah of course. He was a far cry from the other friendly Omani dogs that she owned before. If he wasn’t leashed, Siteeno’s pastime activity was to bark and chase you out of the house to the garbage at the end of the road.
This happened to a cousin and my uncle’s wife who’d almost had a heart attack. The funny thing was Ammah’s unreasonable defence of him: “But he’s such a sweetheart! He always places his head in my lap!”.
To solve this problem, everyone started calling beforehand so that Siteeno gets leashed before their visit. This didn’t stop his aggressive behaviour. He continued barking and trying to attack — which put a great fear in the hearts of my younger cousins, who were animal-phobic by nature.
One day, Siteeno disappeared! There were speculations among us about the cook, who was in the business of buying and selling animals for his own interest. Another theory was that one of the neighbours decided to dump him somewhere and save humanity from his wickedness. While the family sighed in relief and whispered: “Good riddance!”, Ammah was heartbroken that her dog was missing.
At the time, she was almost homebound and Siteeno was her faithful companion who had breakfast with her every morning. She sent the cook around the neighbourhood to look for Nasty Siteeno and guess what? He found him in the house of a Dutch neighbour!
Being highly conscientious, the neighbour decided to rescue Siteeno from the uncaring Omani owner who’d kept him outdoors (Sorry but this is where almost all of us keep our dogs!). She refused to give him back and the cook went home empty handed.
Ammah decided to tackle the Dutch by using her most deadly weapon: Her English-speaking daughter-in-law. She gave her a call and the daughter-in-law went straight away to the Dutch lady. Needless to say, Siteeno was returned at once!
Ammah was lying anxiously on her bed when he entered barking happily and jumped into the lap of his rightful owner! Of course, none of us were happy with the news that Ammah shared enthusiastically over the phone.
Siteeno continued being his nasty old self but not for long. After a visit of one of my aunts, he disappeared for good. Well, we had a silent understanding of what might’ve happened to him but nobody said it loud. Ammah was sad for while but when my aunt compensated her with a pretty white Persian cat, Siteeno was forgotten gradually. However, he remains in the memory of my cousins- now in their twenties- who’d always start their memories with: “Do you remember when Siteeno…?”
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org