Thursday, 29 May 2008


We always had dogs – when I was a child, a teenager, and after we got married we had several. Our kids grew up with a dog, but when our last and much loved dog died after our kids had left home, we said ‘No more dogs’.
We generally had ‘bitzers’ that someone was giving away, although in the list were a Corgi and a Red Setter. We were pretty laid back about dogs in those days, but then, wasn’t the whole community? Children could walk up and pat a dog with confidence, dogs didn’t throw themselves against the fence and make you fear for your very life as your walked past, and attacks on people as have been reported recently were pretty well unheard of.
You shouldn’t really have a dog when both people are working and you’re very busy. It’s not fair to the dog, home alone and prone to mischief. We’ve had mischievous dogs before – why, one of our dogs (in the days before you had to make sure you dog was fenced in and not roaming at large) came home once with a note pinned to his collar which read ‘Public Nuisance No 1.’ Really!
And so we resisted the urge to get another dog. Years passed, we retired, our yard returned to some sense of normalcy – no more dogs the size of a small Shetland Pony digging holes. We even landscaped, and made everything – well, in our eyes – beautiful.
But, but, we always traipsed past the pet shop window and drooled over various puppies, but dragged ourselves away without being seduced by little noses, and little pink tongues, and eyes that said ‘Take me home, love me, I won’t dig your garden up, and I’ll never, ever bark, or make a mess’.
After our grandchildren were born we started to say to their parents that all kids should have a dog, but as was kindly pointed out to us by said parents, perhaps not in the city, not when you don’t have a yard, not when you don’t have a fence, and not when both parents work, and kids are at child care and school all day.
Still we kept saying to each other ‘Kids really should have a dog’, and then that evolved into ‘We could get a dog, then the kids could have the fun of it too!’ What a good idea. But we still valiantly resisted – after all what would we do with a dog while we were away on a trip or a weekend or even for a day out?
And so our resolve held until the day just recently when we saw four puppies in the pet shop window. Four gorgeous puppies, and not these strange mixtures of poodles and spaniels, and dauschaunds and chihuahuas, but a real dog, pure bred and just beautiful. Perfect little white balls of fluff, guaranteed not to grow too large, easy to maintain, loving towards kids, good guard dogs, healthy and sound.
‘Oh’, I moaned pitifully, ‘If I could have any dog in the world that would be it’. ‘Come away!’ my husband said, grasping my by the collar and hauling me away.
However, the following week when we passed by the pet shop window again, there they were – still there, and still gorgeous. ‘I’m going to ask how much they are’, I said, and bravely walked into the shop, and weakly crawled out after picking myself up off the floor on being told the price. Good God, I could buy a small car for that, and so I put the whole idea out of my mind. Which is a very good thing to do, because having been married as long as we have, there’s a sort of thought transference thing that goes on – as soon as I go off an idea HE gets onto it!
A week later there were only two puppies left. We stood and stared, and this time I hauled him away by the collar. The next morning much to my surprise he said ‘I’ve been thinking about that dog all night. Would you like to go and have another look?’ In marriage speak, ‘have another look’ means ‘we’ll get it!’
And we did.
(1) bought a dog. And anyone who has a dog knows that that is not the final paragraph.
We then bought
(2) a collar;
(3) a lead;
(4) a water bowl;
(5) a food bowl;
(6) a bag of dried dog food – the very best quality there is, of course, and then we went home with our gorgeous purchase.
Almost immediately we found that we also had to buy
(7) a bed;
(8) a ball of twine to extend his lead so he could gambol freely whilst learning to stay home;
(9) shampoo – he’s white – why did we buy a snow white dog? Don’t ask me!
(10) A grooming brush;
(11) pet mince;
(12) marrow bones;
(13) disposal bags for his errrmmm ‘waste’;
(14) a ‘going out’ lead, as his first one got dragged through his errrmmm ‘waste’.
Then we decided he should have a kennel. He was sleeping locked in our downstairs laundry so a
(16) kennel was purchased, at about the same cost as a small cottage.
We then enrolled in
(17) Puppy School – what fun! If you’ve never been to puppy school I suggest you buy a puppy right this minute and go! Puppies everywhere, puppies barking everywhere, puppies fighting, playing, biting everywhere. Somehow in all this bedlam we learnt how to train him to sit, stay, heel and have some manners. So far the command ‘drop’ has eluded us, but I’m sure another course would put that right. And to teach these commands what do you need but treats –
(18) liver; and
(19) chocolate
He needed more vaccinations of course
(20) and
(21), and had to have some
(22) tummy bug tablets.
Then we bought more
(23) tablets which treat fleas, worms and almost all diseases known to the canine world, and at a cost to match.
(24) Witch Hazel is good for keeping ears clean we were told, used on
(25) cottonwool balls, and by this time we had amassed so much stuff we bought
(26) a plastic storage box to keep it all in.
At puppy school I was told sternly that my dog needed toys –
(27) a soft toy to go to bed with (I kid you not!);
(28) a rope toy to chew on – what’s wrong with the shoes, towels, chair legs and so on he’s already chewing on I want to know?
(29) A squeaky toy – and even though we bought him the cutest squeaky toy you ever did see – in the shape of a well known fast food chain’s red container of French fries, he’s not the slightest bit interested in it; and
(30) a rubber bone with knobs on it for his teeth and gums – fair enough!
(31) Tennis balls to play fetch with;
(32) a large rubber ball to play soccer with;
(33) a raw hide Frisbee; then
(34) a Kong - what on earth is a Kong I asked naively – well, it’s a marvellous toy which you can fill with treats and plug up with
(35) peanut butter to keep your dog amused for hours whilst you are away from home. I can tell you it kept us amused for hours watching our poor little puppy trying to un-clag his mouth of peanut butter. But he loves it, so all is good!
Then of course we needed
(36) plastic storage box No 2 for storage of his toys.
Then the little rascal learnt to chew through his twine extension rope, so we bought
(37) a length of chain with
(38/39) two cunning clips to thwart his escape plan. Not that I think that he wants to escape – I mean, he knows where his next meal is coming from!
You must cut his toenails I was advised –
(40) toenail clippers; and
(41) scissors to trim his cute little furry feet with.
A disappointing purchase was
(42) a car harness – we have no idea how to clip him into all those intricate straps and then clip him to the seat belt, and anyway – apart from licking the insides of the car windows – for some reason he’s perfectly well behaved in the car.
Then, if you are not a dog owner you may want to turn away now – we had to buy
(43) a pigs ear. I kid you not, a real pig’s ear complete with veins and so on. Or we could have chosen a pig’s nose! They sell these things! Someone at a party somewhere will be asked what he does for a living and he’ll reply ‘I cut off pig’s ears and noses and sell them to pet shops!’ And the questioner will promptly faint – as I almost did when the young man in the pet shop first drew my attention to them. I was in a state of disbelief – a neat little basket of pigs ears on the counter! The pig’s ear is for him to chew on. He seems to like it. I on the other hand pick it up by the very tippy tips of my fingers
Next we found out that shampooing our little puppy was out of the question – he’s a no wash sort of dog. Great, I hear you say, I should get one of those! But he still gets dirty and so I discovered that you have to ‘dry’ shampoo him. Thus I’ve ordered
(44) dry shampoo;
(45) plus postage.
I started his own
(46) file in our filing system – a record of micro chipping (which was included in the purchase price – whew!), and dates of vaccinations etc.
We have taken a million photos of him so I’ll just allot one number to them (47),
and no doubt there’s a million more to come, plus
(48) a dedicated photo album.
Now we have on order
(49) a medallion for his already heavily laden collar – microchip information, and
(50) Council registration. The medallion is perfectly plain and will have etched on it his own name and our surname (how cute!), and our address and our phone number. There is no way on God’s green earth that we will be buying diamante studded collars, jumpers or any other tizz for him! He’s a dog, for God’s sake!
While he’s still a pup he’s reasonably easy to contain, but soon he’ll be bigger and must have his freedom. We don’t have a fence – what to do? Why, buy a fence of course! Fence providing firms must just love pet shops – they sell dogs to people without fences, who then purchase fences, and so the world goes around. We have
(51)our fence on order – not just any old fence, a powder coated aluminium fence from the side of the house to the boundary fence, and not just one fence, oh no, but
(52) one for each side of the house, and each with
(53/54) a gate. I think we could have had an overseas trip for that little expense!
Now although I’m up to over fifty purchases – and we’ve only had him three weeks – I do believe there will be many, many more. I’m sure there’ll be vet visits, and kennel stays, and food, and more food. And he’s going to be
(55 coming up) desexed.
However, I must say in his defence that when he runs to greet me in the morning, and jumps all over me, and says ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, hurry up and give me my food’, and when he sits on command and looks at me with those gorgeous black shining eyes, I just melt and hole in our bank account seems quite worth while!
Oh yes, and the grandchildren love him!