I am an ardent and incurable dog-lover. I could never have one as a pet as I would never get anything done, so I make the most of visiting those belonging to others. My parents have two dogs. One is very small but very brave. She was once chased off a 300 ft cliff by another dog. The coast guard went down on a rope to the rocky beach below and brought her back up in a little bag thinking she was dead. Nobody will ever know how she survived. After regaining consciousness, she soon resumed her position as smallest, bravest family member and has remained so for many years. Though her legs are so short that her undercarriage almost trails on the ground, she marches stoically along for many miles with the rest of us, often proudly refusing the offer of being carried. I have to admit she is sure to exploit what respect she has earned when choosing her place on the sofa. The other is very big but very affable. I often wish I could either evolve or unlearn enough to have some of her traits... though perhaps not the dining manners or the appreciation of mud. Her finest quality is her unconditional love of everyone. She is always surprised when anyone, of any species, does not also adhere to this philosophy. Highly observant and interested in every aspect of nature, she spends time just watching birds or other animals without attempting to catch them. She has no fear; running at great speed up and down steep slopes, over bracken and through ditches, never looking at the next step but only her ever-changing destination, and somehow never hurting herself. Whenever the humans get serious or agitated she appears, ears down, tail wagging, a ridiculous old toy monkey or something dangling from her mouth, and an expression which simply says, “What?”. This is usually enough to help the humans put things into perspective.
My neighbours have a beautiful dog, which I adore. He knows it, so he cashes in on it when I’m around. He brings me disgusting rubber toys as if I’d be absolutely thrilled. He sits almost on top of me, leaning with all his weight, looking up at me with what must surely be a grin. He’s so happy, he loves people, and he just wants to play. There’s a good part of me that can relate to all that, and some parts that jolly well ought to. His simplicity always makes me feel lighter.
It seems some people are able to have pets and also get other things done, but not me. Dogs seem to know that they can easily emotionally blackmail me with just one furry look. Before I know it I'd be in a field somewhere playing ball-on-string or squeaky rabbit, and forget to come back. I think any animal could soon work out a way of persuading me to play, even when I've got grown-up human things to do. Give them a few seconds and they'll have me around their little finger. If they're the sort that don't have fingers, then little claw, or paw, hoof ...fin, wing. It's best that I make do with just visiting.
I did have a dog when I was very young. My parents perhaps did not quite realise what they were taking on at the time, but I thought it was a great idea. As if they didn’t have enough with a fractious two-year-old daughter and a newborn son, they bought a spaniel puppy. Throughout my childhood she was a faithful friend, and would always sense my feelings. Whenever I was sent to my room for being naughty (yes, every single time), her boisterous nature would become placid and consoling. She would sit very close to me until I had been forgiven and could come out again to play.
Sumangali MorhallSeptember 2004