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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Going to the Dogs

It is true.  We do have a dog.  The woman who gave her children stones to care for, in an attempt to help them care for something other than themselves, finally gave in.  Mean, is not a word that I would use to describe myself, frugal would be better.  I knew that if we had a dog, when my kids were small, it would be the writer of this post who would be clearing up the mess, and mess there would be!

Having had both the kids potty trained at the age of two, (yes, my own trumpet is being blown loud and clear,) the thought of having to repeat the procedure with an animal, was less than appealing. The fact you could not put a nappy (diaper) on a dog was another reason to say 'No!'  Molting would have been unacceptable, and I think it would have been considered cruel to have expected the animal to roll in sticky tape, before entering my living area. 

Giving them both a potato as a pet, didn't kill the desire to own a living creature.  'Can we have a rabbit?', they asked.  I bought a plant and explained that, if they watered it, and looked after it, after six months we would consider a rabbit.  Of course I knew they would get bored.  Mum's don't need a sixth sense for that.  So we settled on a goldfish.  Naturally, it was me who had to clean out the tank and take care of the feeding.  It was communal, so it had to stay in the kitchen. 

Unfortunately, although living for several years, our goldfish suffered a severe blow to the head early in its life.  I didn't drop him on purpose!  I was cleaning the tank and decided to transfer him to a smaller bowl.  He was slippery; goldfish are!  The next shopping trip warranted the purchase of a small net.  Casper, (he was a translucent white, or at least he was after the accident!) also suffered from stomach problems.  He may have been less likely to have been afflicted, had the food not lost its lid, and fallen into his watery home.  My reflexes in a crisis when no one is around, are very quick.  However, if I have someone upon whom to rely when something drastic happens, I panic.  Even though the children were small, they were in the kitchen, and watched as the flakes tumbled from the tube into the tank.  By the time one of them had suggested I scoop out the excess with the net, Casper had eaten more than his fair share.  Later that afternoon he ballooned, and was laying on his side, gasping for breath.  I am not a marine biologist, nor do I have an ounce of knowledge regarding animal physiology, but I am an expert in old wives tales.  A quarter of a paracetemol, spoonfed (or as near as) and massaging the fish's stomach, seemed to do the trick.  The fish managed to expel the unwanted food in the usual aquatic vertebrate way.  Within half an hour, Casper was back in the land of the living, and had escaped accidental death at my hands.  Samantha's friend, who was visiting our house, reported back to her mother, that I was indeed a vet, and had revived the fish with cardiac massage.  Perhaps these were the words I used, when she asked in complete amazement, 'What are you doing?' 

Casper eventually went to the fish bowl in the sky; he did not survive the move to our temporary home, where we lived for six weeks before moving Stateside.

Both my children wanted a dog.  Richard loved them, Samantha was, for the most part, terrified.  Richard became the adopted dad to Steph's two canines.  Samantha decided she would like a daschaund.  Electronically operated, and virtual pets were no longer acceptable.  Her record with a variety of fish was not successful, despite extensive research.  A fluffy tailed bunny had lost its charisma, and hampsters were far too mice-like for my liking.  After two years of constant battery, I wore down, and thought that perhaps it could not be too bad.  Dana suggested she do the research, and we both hoped this would keep her occupied for a long time.  My ideal would have been until she moved out!  Not only did she explore the breed, she found a breeder. 

Frank arrived at our office, in the palm of Samantha's hand, when he was five weeks old.  This was far too early for the dog, but the breeder apparently wanted to retire and assured us he was weaned (the dog, not the breeder).  Although very weak, and apparently inoculated too young, he survived.  As he grew, there were more anomalies.  The miniature pedigree was obviously the runt of the litter.  Almost a yard long, his top jaw protruded so far beyond his lower one, he could not pick anything up unless he lays his head down and grabs with his side teeth. 

My ex-sister-in-law-now-friend Rose was convinced that the story of me having a dog, was an elaborate ruse. It was not until Vicky came to stay and confirmed that my house was now occupied by a quadruped, did she fully believe it.  She then asked how they managed to get me drunk, or drugged, enough to say 'Yes'. 

The first few months were the worst.  I tried not to get paranoid when the answer to my question of 'what's going on', was constantly 'nothing!'  I knew I was being protected from the truth.  The exhilaration of finding out that there were such things as doggie diapers, fizzled into deep depression when I saw they were purely to be placed on the floor as an 'encouragement'.  Either Frank's eyesight was bad or his sense of smell was impaired, as he managed to walk up to the edge of the pad, squat and urinate all over the floor.  I am not sure if the length of the dog equates to the size of his bladder, but the amount of water that he expelled, seemed to indicate this was the case.  The dog had his own bowls, utensils, towels, and rubber gloves.  Call me strange (as some do) but the gloves used for washing up are separate from those used for washing the floor etc.  Doggie dirties of whatever form, required a different pair of gloves.  The usual floor cloth could not be used to wipe the mess.  It would have to be wiped by the dog cloth, then when it was clean, it could be cleaned by the floor wipe.  Yes, the words 'Mother', 'I've', 'my' and 'become', not necessarily in that order, come to mind. 

It was soon, very obvious, that this little furry pet was part of the family.  His personality was very defined.  He supports Aston Villa Football (Soccer) club.  If he talked, he would have a Brummy (Birmingham) accent.  He has a t-shirt for the club.  He watches avidly when they are on the television.  Perhaps it's the club's colours.

Today I was left with the dog, as everyone had things to do outside the house, and as I was baking, I was trapped in the kitchen for the duration.  That coupled with the fact that I didn't have a vehicle, meant I could not leave, unless I went for a walk, and that would be a waste without taking my four legged friend.  For some inexplicable reason, Frank has managed to get under my skin and for an even more inexplicable reason, I think I shall miss him if ever Samantha moves, and takes him.  Not that I like the dog, you understand.  Tolerate is a more apt word.  If it appears I am giving him a cuddle, it is more than likely I am just checking he doesnt need a bath. If I give him a treat, it is because he is so manipulative.  If......well you get the picture. 

Once Samantha does move out, I shall have a canine free environment in which to live, and enjoy it I shall, immensely.  Maybe I will become an animal lover.  Now that would be a new life, not....another story.

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