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Monday, 17 September 2007

A dog, a Dog, My Sanity for a Dog. In other words, don't do it.

A friend e-mailed me this morning. Since her dog died a year or so ago she has been in strange mourning for her life as a dog owner. I would call it freedom.
Her husband, a glorious fellow in many ways, but fantastically selfish, too, has no time for such hankering. He’s enjoyed being well shot of the beast, but has recently – surprisingly – relented to the point of saying, yeah OK, to an “endearing” dog. Rather, one gathers, than to a repeat run of the fubsy old rescue mutt they had before for so very many years.

So she wrote, “But before I get carried away can you just remind me of the down side of puppy ownership, especially from a (possibly) irritable man's point of view?”
She wanted to know too, how Lolly (dog) got on with Maisie (cat), the complication in honesty over this part of the communication being that we inherited Maisie from this woman’s daughter. And that they don’t know quite how little partial we are to it. Gulp.

I wrote back:

“Downsides of puppies, hmmm, where do I start!
- Settling them in - first night was excellent. We were therefore smug. Second night the yapping commenced....
- Even though that is now fine, the brutes still want you up earlier than you want to get up.
- House-training, something which is still hit and miss. Crate training is meant to be the key because they're not meant to crap in them. Wrong. Lolly not only craps in hers more than happily but then dances up and down in it scattering faecal particulate matter with abandon. My, how we laugh. Despite feeding her at about half 7/8 and again at 2, she seems to retain plenty of Elimination Material in the system to dump sometime over night. More or less on pads, but…. It’s bearable now; however when the kitchen is done can see selves getting quite stressy about this.
- Chewing things, everything. Mainly pencils with us which are expendable, our shoes are safe – although we don’t push this. She seems to be more modern in her desires, heading straight for technology which is expensive and irksome for we've also lost the TV remote control, my mobile charger and the iron (yes, the iron) to her tender jaws. As well as part of the stairs, although the furniture seems currently more or less safe.
- Expense of putting in kennels for a mini-break.
- Claggy arse.
- Dealing with turds in the garden - we're lucky in that we can just flick 'em over the wall and into the field, but it’s less than lovely playing Hunt the Turd in the rain. Your neighbours might notice if large clods of poo start landing on the lawn synchronous with the dog arriving: there’s only so much for which you can realistically blame the cat.
- Damp and greasy beard waved enthusiastically through the air / across yellow sofa or white trews when hound has just had a lusty session at the trough.
- Wanton display of unpleasing "bits" right under your nose when trying to watch something improving like "24" on the telly and the dog decides to splay her undercarriage. Not nice.
- Stealing of food from table if you're damnfule enough to do something reckless like answer the phone during supper.

Good bits?
More hmmm.
Over to you.
Certainly a "pretty" dog is great to own, she has a fantastic "aaah!" factor, luring children like the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Lolly loves Maisie, Maisie hates Lolly. Sounds like the basis for a tediously long-running sit-com.”
---------------
She was not, I think, expecting such a robust response for she replied, “Oh my God....just phoned another friend who said none of those things! She made it all sound so eeezzzyy and the rewards so great…”

I wrote back:
"Yes, sorry to be bearer of grim news. But I am the worst person (second worse, to be honest, E is obviously The Worst) to talk to about this. Not a rosy glasses wearer. I do enjoy the walks, I suppose, and she is an enchanting little dog (apart from that unreliable *rse!!) and so loved by everyone … else. Teehee. A grim man called her "the darling of the village" and all that side is deeply gratifying to a shallow type such as myself, and I nod and smile and collect plaudits willingly. Bizarrely, the trainer maintains that she's very bright (we'd suspected she was a little bit dim) but another man said, in a “oh, didn’t you know?” sort of way, that Wheatens are THE worst dog to train. Very slow. And everyone else must just be nicer than us and clearly they don't mind splayed bits and greasy meaty muttony beards to the same extent!"

She’s not replied.

Then I met someone else who was chortling gaily about getting a dog.
“Are you quite mad?” I said, frowning. The woman has seen me in ill control of Lolly, her raring to go like a drunk fur coat, a crazed balloon at the end of the string of her lead. Me red in the face risking a dislocated shoulder and with a fresh hinterland (now that F8’s behaviour is sort of improving) of people to apologise to as Lolly charges through careless, enthusiastically greasy and bossy after dogs’ bums to nuzzle and noxious smells to roll in.
I ran through my list – well, it was fresh in the mind and I like to be helpful. But K reacted not at all to my caring suggestions, just rocked on the spot like the laughing policewoman. We see what we want to see, I suppose.
I spotted the signs of feckless idiocy, having been that same person myself just a few scant months ago: deaf to sound advice, back in a golden age where possessions were safe and one was not woken with the rooster by an importunate yap. When you could sit on the sofa of an evening without forced to respond to the tetchy clatter of claw on glass as madam decides to sashay back in from a session scaring the cat; and then have to leap to it seconds later when she wants to barge out again in pursuit of some unpleasant whim.

And yet we’re all at it. It’s everyone’s third child. And those with three or four children are madder still, boasting a concomitantly greater number of dogs. These people tend to be the more likely to branch into multiple hamsters and happily let their cats give birth on their beds. Is life not hard enough, people? Sit on the sofa and drink wine. Smell not of dog. Be free from the tyranny of handling dog food.
A baton passes and just as life gets easier, as the children become that bit less hard work, we pick up a big furry spanner – writing a large cheque for it, naturally – to throw in the works of our comfort, and put ourselves back to square one.
Barking, really.

30 comments:

Milla said...

How mean do I feel! Just went downstairs and caught the reproachful black gleam of a peeper through inexpertly trimmed eye. Gave her a big kiss (not on the lips) and apologised for being an old slapper after a cheap laugh selling my furry old friend down the river. Drew the line at tongues.

lampworkbeader said...

Oh Dear. Maybe I won't get one then. Had been thinking of a border terrier. Perhaps not.

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh, Milla - how true! But, like you, we just don't listen, do we? Same could probably be said of husbands - at least dogs always wag their tails and look pleased to see you (even if they don't often notice when you've spent £45 getting your highlights re-touched).

Never again, never again. (Mind you, I said that last time...)

LittleBrownDog said...

PS Have just sent off for an anti-barking collar at great expense from someone on eBay. It had better work, otherwise I can see us getting anti-social behaviour orders all round.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

We have tow becasue HIM wanted a dog, I said no for years as I knew I would be dog walker,only yesterday he was heard to remark that he thinks perhaps dogs were not such a good idea...too late for me to say told you so and beat him over head with Madame Grognonnes frying pan tho!!

Milla said...

No longer feeling mean. In the time taken to trot upstairs and wrote guilty comment, the beast snarfed her way through the car charger for the mobile. That the car is in the garage is of no account. The dog is most certainly in the dog house!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I wouldn't be without a dog, or two in my case. I love them. They do have their moments, however. Take Sparky for instance, our latest pup. Cute as can be but hard work. Very. Although she is calming down now. Why, it was only yesterday when she stole a ham sandwich off the kitchen table and had the decency to run off into the panty with it, tucked safely between jaws. I let her eat it. I thought it best not to wrestle her for it. I mean, in days gone by, she would have just pinched the sarnie and eaten it right there in front of you. No shame. But on the whole, a dog gives unconditional love and ours are truly faithful.

Crystal xx

LittleBrownDog said...

PS - Forgot to ask - how did your dog manage to eat an iron? The mind boggles! Is she the canine version of that tall man with the teeth in the James Bond films?

PPS - Also forgot to mention - reason why we have male dogs is that bitches always look so ungainly when they pee, whereas with boys you just get a jaunty cock of the leg.

Hannah Velten said...

LBD beat me to it - an iron? Well, I've been wanting to get another dog for ages and we are fairly close to being able to; but having read this - perhaps will hold off for a while! I've always been really lucky with my dogs - one dalmation and two black labs (all were wonderful) - is it just luck or do I turn a blind eye to their down-sides, I wonder?
Mootia x

vic said...

Having second thoughts about the new addition we are going to have! Bit late though, I've put a deposit on him. I'll concentrate on the good bits.(ie the walking)

Elizabethd said...

No dogs now. In the past lives I had a Bearded Collie, sweet but special needs dog, and my husband had countless shooting dogs. Living and shooting in Hampshire it's what you do, apparently. But no more, no walking, no cleaning up, but also no friendly face if you just happen to need one!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

it appears I come into the severely mad bracket with three ...two black labs ..mother and daughter and a spaniel. But they do live outside in their own quarters ...have visiting rights only ..into the house and have to behave as if they are at an old auntie's for tea...very sedately. there are trained by himself and HAVE to do as they are told first time...no messing...so they don't...would like to be dog free even though I do enjoy the walking

Exmoorjane said...

Ah, what can I say? As someone with a dog from hell I mightily concur with everything written. Am overcoming a mighty urge to use the phrase that starts with I and ends with so. Have to confess that swallowing an iron IS pretty hard to visualise....surely it sticks in the gullet unless wheaten terriers are like snakes with detachable jaws? I quake to think what she will eat when your house is freshly new and sparkly.....a fridge? An oven? The entire kitchen? We wait expectantly. jxxx

sally's chateau said...

Might need to push this blog in front of a few family members who conveniently forget that moi is chief dog walker/babysitter once they have all conveniently cleared off for the day !!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Thing is every owner and every dog is unique . . .what goes wrong for one owner with one breed is perfect for another . . . and they are restrictive and destructive and messy, but one look from those eyes . . . sunk again.

bodran... said...

Didnt i warn you about hairy dogs and claggy bits??? and you turned a deaf eye to my warnings...I'm lucky of all the dogs i've got, Poppy the cutest looking JRT bitch ever,, i would gladly throttle!! continuous yapping, crapping the minute you turn your back and scratching her arse on the carpet [Why do they do that when you have visitors]..is now definatly a tethered outside dog..xxxxxxxxx

Cait O'Connor said...

I've had doggy companions since I was ten and wouldn't/couldn't be without them, and cats as well. I have a lurcher and a border collie and an all-white cat who had a twin but she disappeared. If i had my way I would fill the cottage with animals. But we are not all the same and why should we be?

mountainear said...

On the death of our old bull terrier we managed all of 6 weeks before the cutest puppy wormed its way into our affections. Another English Bull. This one ate most things you'd wish it wouldn't - you know the sort of thing. Car keys. Batteries... and chewed on the soft and expensive limestone steps in our conservatory biting, chunks out of them. The window cills suffered at his jaw too - when we came to sell I stood plants in front of all the most gnawed places.

Husband then got himself a puppy - this was to be a 'working dog' but as far as i can see it's not much more than a mousehound.

Sometimes as they both loll about shedding hair and stinking, costing arms and legs in food and vet bills I wonder why we have them. But then what loyal, faithful, non judgemental friends they are. Then I know why we have, and love them.

Tattie Weasle said...

OH dear you had me weeping with laughter - Lolly sounds so like Gemma our bonkers whippet esp round the cats who make mad dashes from safety under the sofa to saafety out of the room when she's about - but afraid to say I am a bonkers/barking type and despite nodding in agreement over all you said still planning to breed from her next year...!

Withy Brook said...

Loved the blog and thoroughly all the different comments which prove that we are all different.
Lived all my life with dogs, until the last died nearly 2 years ago. We would both love to have another and if I thought that G. would accept that a dog does not necessarily need 2 long walks a day I might consider it!!
I have been building up to a blog on the dogs I have known - will go into it more there. It won't be funny like yours though!

CAMILLA said...

That is the reason why I wanted you to stay with us Milla, Love your wonderful wit, your humour, your ability to write so wonderfully. Yes a dog I'm afraid does it for me, but then I am the old "soft" touch. The bit where dog can smell bikkies, and strolls into the kitchen, taps his paw on the pantry door, as if to say, - "I tap my paw on the door like this, tap tap, and YOU open the door and give me biscuit".!!

The only thing I have to say about owning a dog, is when an owner buys a dog and then keeps them cooped up all day in a room, and does not even have hardly any contact with that dog at all, is sooo wrong, what is the point of buying a dog for this reason. This is not directed at you dear Milla, as deep down in your heart of hearts I surely know you are fond of Lol. Heck, I was warned not to take a peep, but the curiosity got the better of me Milla.

Camilla.xxx

CAMILLA said...

Forgot to mention Milla, of course one of your other attributes, terribly nice person too.!!

Camilla.xxx

Pondside said...

I wouldn't want to be without a dog - a Cairn of course! We only managed two weeks after our last one died before we said 'yes' to Rosie. She complicates our life, but is a joy. Of course we've raised dog lovers and they come home with their own dogs now!

KittyB said...

Oh Lordy. I remember saying blithely when we met - it will all get better - things will surely improve and soon. And I promised that you'd have a perfectly behaved dog by the time your kitchen came. Well, I lied. There it is. No wonder E looked so glum about the whole thing. Does he still? I'm imagining he does.

KittyB said...

However, we're still going to keep one of Gertie's pups next year, even though I distinctly remember saying 'never again - no more puppies' and that was when we had no floor coverings, no kitchen units, no carpets. Can you imagine? Yes you can, clearly. Oh dear, I've promised now. Bum.

Bill said...

As Milla's life partner and co-owner of said mutt, I can heartily concur with everything that she writes. I arose this morning to a welcoming turd. I knew it was there before I got downstairs, since the filthy beast looked as guilty as all get-out. Oddly, all the dog training books say that it's pointless chastising a dog after it's transgressed, since it won't know why you're doing it. Not Lolly - she knows full well why, not that I punished her, of course.

Posie Rosie said...

You forgot to mention that pungent dog smell that also takes over the whole house, especailly if they are damp, or better still, if they have delighted in rolling in pigs' poo, followed by some old dead rotting carcass.....could so relate to your list. Mist has finally stopped pulling all the washing off the line, but now keeps jumping fences and going awol...parents' dog keeps coming to stay, not allowed to put her in kennels, so not able to leave the island when she is over... as she happily takes over the kitchen chair, with all of her dog fumes, which she adds to with the odd gaseous fart every now and again...lovable old dog that she is...

CAMILLA said...

I knew of a lady in London who used to put a nappy-pad on her dog with little panties to secure together, well it's true, how mad is that.!!

Camilla.xx

@themill said...

Back in cracking form, Milla. Only sorry it took a near death experience to get you going again!

The Country Craft Angel said...

That was a timely reminder to me of the perils of puppies! Boys are driving us mad for another to go with the increasingly old lab. Hubby won't hear of it...and from your blog...I remember why...
I adore Simba now and get so much pleasure with him, he has been totally faithful and devoted to us. HOwever I have only felt this strongly about him in last year or so since he quietened down! (now nearly 9!)

Will tell the boys that it wouldn't be fair to Simba-he's an old boy and would have his nose pushed out...

So many dogs on this site NOT to get in the future....
maybe rabbit would be better...

warm wishes
x