Tired of fending off the constant nagging from their relatives to have a child, a young working couple, Atul and Aditi, decide to adopt a pet. But since they can’t come to a consensus on which animal to adopt, they end up adopting a cat and a dog to appease both their preferences. Only, they hadn't anticipated the time and care a pet requires, or how a pet – or two! – might impact the relationship between them.
This is roughly the premise of Pet Puraan, a Marathi series that started airing in May on Sony Liv (available with subtitles and dubbing in other languages including Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam). The show touches upon the modern-day quandaries that couples grapple with: whether to have children, what does “having a complete family” mean, and how the pets impact their human caretakers’ relationships with each other.
While most pet-parents admit that their pets have brought positive energy into their homes, the animals have also helped them understand themselves, their partners and even other family members better. For Dnyanesh Zoting, writer and director of the series, pets had helped his mother and mother-in-law not have the usual socially ingrained expectations from their married children to procreate. Zoting and his spouse are parents to Simba, a two-year-old Persian tom cat, and Binku, the kitten who was featured in the series who he adopted recently. His mother and mother-in-law have finally accepted the cats as their family members.
“Initially, my wife’s and my mother found it tough to accept that we chose to have pets rather than children. They had to face a lot of societal pressure. But now, both of them adore Simba and Binku,” he says. His mother-in-law has even kept a family photo of them in her hallway, where she points out Simba as her grandson, Zoting recalls, with amusement.
Nurturing a life and having a pet's unconditional love is perhaps a major reason why many people adopt animals. However, the fur-babies also help their humans to learn to be tolerant of other human family members, and in some cases overcome fear of animals.
It took half a year for Mumbai-based Deepti Unni, 39, to convince her husband Sahil to get a pet. Sahil used to be terrified of dogs till Unni adopted Miso, a pahadi mutt pup brought all the way from Himachal Pradesh, last November. But now, everything is about Miso,” says Sahil, who entertains feeds and babysits the pup now when Deepti is too busy to. Unni partially agrees with Sahil that Miso takes up a lot of her time. However, she feels that in the last couple of months they have finally become a family unit, with caring for Miso bringing out different shades of each others' personalities. “Sahil is warming up to him. I used to think I was the patient one between the two but he’s the one who has been more patient,” she says.
In some cases, the pet has improved the communication between the family members. Charlette Machado’s mom was not thrilled when she welcomed a cat Niam, now 11-months-old, into their home. But now, Machado’s mother regales her with Niam’s antics like his fascination with seeing his own reflection in the mirror when she returns home from work. “Niam is brought calmness and keeps the atmosphere light. I have become more patient and we (Machado and her mother) talk a lot more now,” says the 35-year-old, who lives in Mumbai.
Gurugram-based Kanika Sood, 39, believes Yuki, the one-year-old golden retriever, is her lucky charm. The couple had moved to their own house from a rented home, just before adopting Yuki and didn't think they were having a child. They explained to their family as much. Last month, the couple welcomed their first child. “I guess Yuki made us a better team. He has made us think beyond our individual, selfish needs, and we’re more sensitive towards each other’s feelings, and therefore give our best,” Sood says. She admits that sometimes they have arguments over disciplining Yuki.
To a similar concern, Pune resident Krunal Bhagat, 33, and his wife had found a solution – to have continuous open and frank conversations. The couple adopted their one-year-old Labrador Fuji in May last year. Bhagat admits that they have spoilt and pampered Fuji. As a result, Fuji gets possessive when Bhagat’s wife comes to hug him or sits close to him. “All decisions are taken keeping Fuji in mind now – whether it is to step out, eat out, or go on a vacation,” says Bhagat. However, he feels, he and his wife get couple time and are able to have conversations while taking Fuji for a walk.
For Bengaluru-based Aishwarya Mohan, 35, and her husband, their pets – four-year-old Dalmatian Logan and an two-year-old indie rescue dog Nalli – do a great job of diffusing tension between the couple. “Whenever we argue or quarrel, Logan would distract us and remove negativity. That has helped us in a great way,” she says. It has also changed them in other ways. For instance, it has taught them to not get hung up on other’s mistakes, or material damages that the pets may cause. “Initially, Nalli would destroy the furniture, chappal, and so on. But we learnt to laugh it off. What can you say or do otherwise? We have learnt to live in the moment,” says Mohan. Taking care of the two dogs has also helped the couple with parenthood since they'd had their first child seven months ago. “It made it easier. I am able to read the non-verbal cues of my baby very well,” Mohan says.
While Pet Puraan with its comic circumstances will entertain and resonate with pet parents, the message that Zoting would like to leave through his series is to accept differences, overall, and to get along. No better way to do that than through the love of a pet.