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Monday 13 June 2011

The New Dog

Last Christmas, my family played host to three dogs, and, a cat. Our fourteen year old border collie, (Police Woman Cass), belonged to my daughter and kept very much to her perceived duty of looking after the family, checking on the young (children, animals, etc) with a very strong idea of right and wrong which she was more than capable of indicating.

The ‘middle’ dog’ family name was Beaker.  She was bought as a Rhodesian Ridgeback. However, as she matured it became obvious that she was part Labrador.  Very shy and retiring, she was kept in her place by ‘WPC’ Cass.

Our third dog, Rufus was a 6½ year old pure bred Ridgeback who was nervous and clingy; not a good advert for the breed!

Anyway, on Boxing Day, Cass, responsible to the end, died of old age.

As the family tears dried, it became apparent a couple of weeks into January that Rufus was not at all well.  He was losing weight, and after three months of weekly visits to the vets, and numerous tests, my poor loving and foolish Rufus made his last visit to the surgery, where he was sympathetically put down.

Poor Beaker, who had, with Cass’s demise, thought that she would be top dog, suddenly found herself alone.  For the first few days it was great, but then she became depressed and un-responsive.

SO, a new dog! Breaking family tradition, a 7-month old dachshund, needing a new home from a loving family reluctant to give him up, was collected from his first home in Wales. I have never owned a ‘small dog’ and later I was to find out why!!

Renamed ‘Badger’ he quickly seemed to fit in.  Charming, playful, loving, and cheering up Beaker.  The two of them made an amusing pair. At night he willingly slept in his ‘crate’ (a modern version of a kennel), and returned to it without argument, as needed.

Everyone who met him, (the vet, and his many staff members) fell on Badger as a lovely little dog, sweet, amusing handsome etc, and almost all mentioned how they had either owned a dachshund in the past or, in two cases, had bred them. “I will have him, if you can’t cope” was a regular comment, always, as I now recall, with a big grin.

I did not twig.  I did not pick up on the regular phrase “if you can’t cope”

Badger, (bless his cotton socks) is now 10 months old.  He is still the cheerful, loving, bouncy, happy dog he has always been. He is a joy.

BUT, now, at 10months, the HOUND genes have kicked in.  When they do, not even I think that he is my dog.  He’s off, down in the heavily overgrown ditch that marks a boundary to my neighbours’ property, barking at their Larsen trap. Even if I see him and call, he’s off again, up to the fields on the hill, barking at rabbits that have gone to earth.  Twice he has returned with small pieces of stick wedged across the roof of his mouth, and twice he has returned with dead birds, (he doesn’t pluck them, just treats them as toys to be taken ‘to bed’). And of course there was the dead rabbit.  All fine, he’s a young dog after all. (She says through slightly gritted teeth).

This week he excelled himself.  He and the cat, (who is a voracious hunter) investigated the bonfire pile that now sticks out like a beacon of fun since the hay has been cut.  They put up two rabbits, and I left them to it.  Two hours later, the cat had returned for supper, but the Badge had not.

I am a worrier, often with out due cause, but can never stop worrying once I start, in case ‘this is the time…’  On investigating the pile of cut holly branches, broken pallets etc, I realised that Super Hound was trapped deep in the middle.  I am not up to this: hauling heavy bits of wood and being attacked by spikes as the rain threatens.

However, 45 minutes later, after much huffing and puffing, stings and scratches and a sore back, that the next morning complained loudly’, my ungrateful little hound was free, just to rush off again to the next interesting hedge!

I am now assured, (with the same grins) that he will grow out of this natural behaviour and become more home-loving, but in the meantime, I have just substituted worry for my children by worry for a dog!
© Penny Smale 2011
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