Someone said this to me the other day.
A phrase that could only be uttered by someone who has never owned a dog.
Regular readers will know that there are two rescue hounds in the Lennon household. Two dogs more different, you could not find.
Spice. Breed…well, in her health book is written “Poodle Cross.” Traces of Shitzu, Cyprus Poodle, and the colouring definitely indicates a bit of hunting dog too. Heard of the movie “Lady and the Tramp”? Spice is both. Freshly bathed, she walks like a model, wiggling her behind. Walking on the bondu, she stops, sits, and pulls thorns from her paws with her teeth and spits them out.
Charlie. Wire-haired Jack Russell. Smaller than Spice, but constructed from some sort of heavy metal. He’s essentially a breeze block with a leg at each corner. Bigger dogs come bounding at Charlie, teeth bared and growling. He stands, silent and neutral, as unflustered as a tiny canine Chuck Norris. He’s a born anger diffuser.
Spice is 6 months older than Charlie, and stands a little taller. She regularly asserts her dominance over Charlie, who obediently runs away and cowers. In truth, if it came to fighting skills, you would be foolish to back against a Jack Russell. Just ask a rat. However, Charlie came later to us, and he’s quite happy being #2, after all, he still ranks higher than Mrs L and me, the runt of the house.
Mrs L is on holiday in Sicily, leaving the rest of us unsupervised. It’s blazing hot, and the hounds have quickly worked out that wherever I am, is likely to be air-conditioned. I watch TV on the terrace at night, and Charlie particularly, starts hassling me for entry to the bedroom, where he knows the air-con will be on, cooling the room for bedtime. He gets comfy in the middle of the bed (rules, what rules?), while I watch the end of the movie. Spice takes her place at the foot of my bedside cabinet, at least for an hour, at which point she joins us on the bed. Wherever I move Charlie to (no mean feat) I find him up against me when I wake. He’s a pack animal. Spice? She remains aloof, in her own space.
Each morning, the three of us rise early and take a walk. If we go early enough, it’s relatively cool, as cool as it’s going to get anyway. Charlie pulls, desperate to get to some imaginary destination. Spice loiters and lingers. They both step on spiky seeds, which attach to their pads. Charlie simply walks on the other three legs, stride unbroken. Spice sits, ready to attack the offending item. If I admonish her, she gives me that look. “I. Am. Doing. Stuff.” I pluck the debris from Charlie while we wait.
Spice can smell, sense, hear a cat from two hundred paces. Charlie can step on one and not notice. Spice puts on an elaborate performance of snarling and snapping. I think she enjoys the idea that cats run away. Dutifully, Charlie goes onto full alert. When he chases things, he does so soundlessly. I get the impression that he’s not there for the pursuit. He’s there for the capture. He means it.
Occasionally, we are visited by snakes, both the harmless kind and the dangerous ones. Spice remains at a distance and alarm-barks. Charlie investigates more closely, before deciding that perhaps a bark is appropriate, summonsing the fat guy and his four iron. Charlie’s nemesis is a resident hedgehog. There have been at least four encounters, and it appears that Charlie is finally learning his lesson. Last time out, there were no quills in his mouth, and little, if any bleeding. The hedgehog appears to take the attacks in it’s stride.
My dogs are an endless source of joy and I can’t imagine being without them.
They greet me multiple times per day with enthusiasm, excitement and energy. They relish and cherish every second of life and would do anything for us, their pack. Their love is boundless and unconditional. They assume we’re the same.
We have a sign up in the house;
“I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.”