I grew up a cat person. In the first house I remember, we were adopted by a ginger tom cat from the nearby shipyards. He was named Gideon by my dad, and lived with us for sixteen years and a couple of house moves.
When I met my wife, she had a dog called Sydney. We didn’t get on at first, because Syd didn’t trust my motives, and I wasn’t sure how to treat a dog. Once we had figured each other out, we became good friends. Syd came to work with me at Uxbridge, and we would walk the station grounds together at lunchtime, and he would try not to catch the squirrels.
Thanks to Syd, I became a dog person. He lived to a good age for a terrier, gained an honorary commission in the RAF and a permanent place in our hearts. When he died, there was no question of replacing him.
We continued dogless for several years, until we finally emigrated to Canada. One of the things we had been promising the Weasels was that, when we got a house, they could get a dog. As I’ve related often enough in this blog, we arrived in the March, and I was adamant that the dog would wait until the summer holidays. Moose arrived in June.
For her part, Moose has always been a dignified old lady dog, except for the odd rip around the playing fields, or chasing squirrels. It was no problem at all to adjust to having a dog again, and Mrs Dim doesn’t like it when I settle down into a routine. She began to offer friends the chance to park their dogs with us when they went on holiday. This was good for Moose, she explained, but also good for me. The first couple of days are always chaos, but soon enough we settle down and having two dogs is quite manageable.
Which of course meant that Mrs Dim went looking for a second dog. Frankie was a rescue, and she’d already spent three years on the streets, we think. She was nervous around people and savagely aggressive around other dogs. Walks became very stressful, and looking after other people’s dogs was right off the menu for a while. We took Frankie to classes, had one-on-one training, took her on pack walks with crowds of other dogs. Gradually, we started to get to grips with helping Frankie. So Mrs Dim started bringing in other people’s dogs again. Once that first day was over, Frankie accepted them as part of her pack, and everything was ok. Unless you wanted to cross the room, or eat toast in peace or something.
This week, we’re playing host to two elderly Schnausers. The sheer amount of space four small dogs can take up is quite surprising, and the logistics of walking them, even when there’s two of you available for the job,are challenging. It’s nice, though, when you sit on a sofa next to three snoozing dogs, or when you fling open the front door to let all four go haring outside for the first time in the morning. It’s not been nearly as bad as I feared, which makes Mrs Dim smug. She’s doing this partly to knock Frankie’s corners off, and partly to knock MY corners off. She’s right, of course. Looking after the dogs has been a bit of a stretch, but stretching is good, and the next time I might not whine QUITE so much. Which is good, because the next dog that’s coming to stay is an enormous German Shepherd called Max….