Another article from my column in the Irish Examiner’s Feelgood, featuring the seventh member of our house…the dog. Enjoy. (Oh and her name is not fluffball, she just didn’t give me permission to print her real name)
I believe there are three types of people in the world, those who love cats, those who love dogs and those who believe dog and cat lovers are unhinged.
I’m a dog lover, the proud owner of a lively, less than obedient mongrel who came into our lives three years ago following the sad passing, or ‘execution’ of our much loved Westie. She’d made it to fifteen, a great age in dog years, but towards the end become a rather cranky old lady with major incontinence issues. I’m hoping it doesn’t run in the family but I have noticed I’m already a little cranky at times!
Immediately after we did the deed I was heartbroken. No welcome home bark. No wagging tail. My children assured me they too were grieving but their mourning appeared to be rather different to my own. Whereas I wandered the house, missing her presence in every room, they followed me, asking every five minutes, ‘Can we get another dog?’ Yes, grief had a marked effect on them, so much so they now assured me that if we got another dog they would feed it, bring it for a walk and even pick up anything it might deposit about the garden or on a footpath!
Eventually, fearful of their enormous grief and greatly missing my companion, I agreed and in unseemly haste bought a tiny pup, a cross between a Shih tzu and a Maltese terrier. I explained to my gang that they couldn’t expect me to love her as much as I did our old dog, or bond with her immediately as it was just too soon. How right I was. In fact it took well over five minutes before I was completely smitten.
She was a cute ball of white fluff who as the years passed hasn’t grown much. Last Summer we brought her to the beach unaware that sea, plus fluffy hair, equals giant knots. The only cure was a shave after which we discovered under that hair lay the body of a rat and the tail of one.
Never before had she realised she had a tail, or that it followed her everywhere. Lying on my lap it would brush against her back. Up she’d jump, spinning furiously before racing off in an attempt to out run it. Occasionally she’d sneak up on it, giving it a good bite. We watched as over a few days she began to lose the plot and when I seriously considered buying a dog coat to protect her from her own tail, I realised I wasn’t close behind.
As Fluffball was our third dog I was confident, I’d train her quickly. Three years on she continues to ignore my every word. I’m at a loss to understand how I reared four children but have been beaten by a small dog? Lately, I’ve given up, but Yer Man, ever the optimist, is fully convinced he’s got her under control. She of course has little doubt it’s the other way round.
Take, for instance, the circus that is his arrival home from work. Every evening after six the show begins. His car pulls into the drive and our little lady runs to the door. There she waits, tail wagging, panting in anticipation. Finally he enters and barking wildly while jumping waist high she welcomes him home. Stumbling along he battles his way to the kitchen, his shouts of ‘Stop that barking,’ barely audible. Finally he reaches the press containing the dog biscuits and waves one at her. All barking ceases.
“Sit.” he commands before throwing her the biscuit.
“See,” he says, “I told you I’m the only one can put manners on that dog,”
As I watch Fluffball lick her lips I can’t help but wonder, ‘Can a dog laugh?’