Last month I failed to come up with anything. That which was posted was blatant plagiarism.
Um… is it still plagiarism if you wrote it in the first place? Ok… I wrote it. But our esteemed editor, seeing my complete failure to post, ripped it from somewhere unmentionable and covered over my failing. (ooh-bleedin’-er! (Ps. Thanks Ed))
The reason for my failing? I adopted a dog.
I think I may have mentioned (once or twice) that I volunteer at my local Dogs Trust re-homing center.
While I was there, our eyes met across an empty room. He flew across the room and threw himself into my outstretched arms. I just kinda sat there and got hit by dog. But we got on extremely well, so I adopted him (that’s the short version. I know, right? SO unlike me). Since he moved in I have been kinda busy and distracted. So I missed last month.
And because I have done nothing other than making an ex-stray feel welcome and comfortable in my home and life, for the last couple of months… That’s what yer gonna get.
His name is Dan.
I didn’t choose his name, but that is the name that he has had since he arrived at the Dogs Trust. He recognised it and answered to it. I felt that it would be rude to change it. Hell… How would you feel if, after introducing yourself, I started calling you Eric? (And Dan is not a bad name. If he was called Count Fluffykins McSnuggles the Third, we may have had to rework things a bit).
I haven’t been up the Dogs Trust since Dan came to live with me (not cos I don’t want to). In fact I haven’t done much that wasn’t Dan related. So this is gonna be a bit Dancentric.
I say ‘a bit’…
He came to live with me… um… a while ago. Has it been two weeks? Two months? Too long? And he’s settled in nicely. There were a few teething troubles. There still are. But he is a happy pup.
At first he decided the right place to go to the toilet was in the house. After all, he saw me going to the toilet in the bathroom. So he went as close to the bathroom as he could. We discussed this at length. Eventually we came to an understanding, he goes outside and I don’t get disgruntled with him going inside. This is fine while it’s warm and the door is always open. But it’s cooling down and getting rainy. And we haven’t yet worked out a method of him letting me know when he needs to go out. Accidents have happened since, but only on the doormat.
[Work in progress]
He’s a bit of a nervous bunny. I didn’t realise this at first, but he is a bravado filled scaredy cat. He’s fine when I’m there to protect him, but if I’m not… A number of times he has come belting into the living room and lept on my lap for comforting snuggles. When we went to investigate, it was only Charlie having a sniff around his garden next door or a hedgehog (oh yeah… I got hedgehogs in my garden ). He also gets dead agitated when dogs have the audacity to walk down our street. After all, did they ask his permission? From his chair by the window, he properly chastises their impudence with growling and barking.
It’s a bit strange, cos when we meet other dogs when we are out on walks he is dead happy to meet them and always wants to go and say hello.
The biggest problem is that he doesn’t like to be left alone. I slowly built up the time he was left alone, from just going outside and having a fag to having a slow stroll around Tesco. He was fine. Very happy to see me when I get back, but other than this expected excitement… fine.
A couple of weeks ago I went down the pub for a bit. With travel time, I was out for a little over three hours. He was very excited and happy to see me when I got back. After ear scratching and belly rubs that are all part of the joyful return, I walked into the scene of devastation that was the living room. The list of what he destroyed was extensive. It ran from the trivial, to the close to my heart. I was royally pissed off.
A few days later I went to a gig (at the pub. I’m a fan of one of the bands, and I’d paid for it, so…). I kinda dog proofed the place, a bit, before I went out. When I got back… trashed. Dan and I discussed my dissatisfaction. He seemed to appreciate that I wasn’t overjoyed by his actions.
Today I had to drive over to Canterbury to get him more food (I’m feeding him the same stuff as he had at the DT, and Canterbury is where I can buy it). Yesterday we had a fantastic day, so while I was out I bought him two new toys. He was gonna get one anyway, as he has pretty much destroyed all the ones I… um… stole from the DT. But great day yesterday, so two. Got back… living room semi-trashed.
I feel Dan and I have a new project to work on.
[Work in progress x 2]
Also, I haven’t yet mentioned the fact that he does not respect my predilection for nocturnality. We have developed a routine. The alarm goes off at 8:30 and I get up and get him his breakfast. I then go back to bed. The alarm goes off again at 11:30 and I get up. At least that’s the plan.
For a few years my sleep pattern has steadily slipped around the clock. I’m awake for the normal amount of time, but sleep longer. So the going to bed and getting up migrates slowly. Mine does, Dan’s doesn’t.
The past few days I’ve still been awake when it gets light. When the first alarm goes off, a zombie that looks a bit like me goes and feeds Dan. That same zombie then struggles to get back to sleep for more than an extra hour before the second alarm goes off and a cute, happy, pup shaped bastard jumps on my chest. ‘This is when you get up, right?’
He is awfully spry. So none of my bleary eyed punches have connected yet. And the sweet, innocent him thinks it’s just a game. If only he knew…
So far this all sounds pretty negative. So I hesitate to bring up his biteyness. When he gets excited he plays his favourite game. Biting me. It’s kinda my fault. I am used to ‘mouthing’, and know that dogs find it comforting and relaxing, so when Dan arrived I let him chew me (my hands and arms. If you made up your own filthy chuckles… Shame on you. He’s less than 5 years old. Shame!). He, like other pups, got excited playing this game and started biting too hard. When, one morning, whilst having a wash I noticed that the backs of my hands and my forearms were covered in bruises (after a minute to work from ‘OMG I’M DYING!’ to ‘oh, it’s just Dan’) I decided we should stop this game. Dan doesn’t agree. He likes it. So when he gets excited he launches himself at any hand, foot, arm, leg, nose or ear that I am proffering. And his definition of proffering is ‘not using for any worthwhile task’. Worthwhile task being ‘letting me chew it’.
The trouble is that he is easily excited. He gets excited by many things. Here are a few examples… Me getting out of bed. Me putting on clothes. Me putting on shoes. Me getting up out of a chair. Me walking towards the room that the food is in and has a way to the outside. Me going outside. Me coming back inside. Me sitting there quietly if he feels that I haven’t paid enough attention to him recently. Me paying him attention. His new toy! (It squeaks when he chews it!!!!)
Also, me telling him to stop is obviously taking an active part in the game. Me taking an active part in the game is even more exciting. Me getting angry is the part of the game where he’s allowed to start barking.
[Work in progress x 3]
But these are only my niggles. Admitted, some of my niggles are costly and others are painful. Pain I live with anyway. And who really gives a shit about books that my Gran left me?
What I haven’t yet touched upon is the absolute joy that he brings me. The fun that we have when out on walks. The smiles I get when I see his happy face and waggly tail. The warmth I feel when he snuggles up with me on the sofa and falls asleep in the crook of my arm with his head on my chest. The pride that I feel when overcomes his fear and greets a dog happily and then comes away when asked, or meets young children (who freak him out) but, after a bit of coaching to be quiet and gentle (both the kids and Dan), they get waggly tails and happy face licks (both the kids, and on one occasion Dan). And the love that I feel and receive every day.
Best thing I have ever done.
By the way… Dan LOVES his new toy (the other new one is hidden for now)
Epilogue – Dan met Eric tonight. Eric is a rather large spider that lives under my fireplace. For years he has scuttled out across the floor in the dead of night to do scuttly things. They haven’t met before. Dan was entranced. Eric did not appear overly enamored. Dan’s affection starts with noses and soon leads to paws. He isn’t known for his delicate touch. I don’t think my home has an Eric any more.