After the grief of losing Millie, the trauma of holding her as the vet put her to sleep, we had the discussion through the tears. The sensible, realistic discussion. Getting another dog would be stupid.
“We won’t get another dog,” said Val, “we’re too old for all that hassle, house training a puppy, walking a dog in the rain.”
“I agree,” I said, agreeing. “And there’s the cost, don’t forget the cost! The vet bills, the food.” My Scottish accent becoming more pronounced and parsimonious.
“Also, a dog would tie us down,” added Val, “we’d have to put a dog in kennels when we go to visit Graham in Majorca.”
“No, you’re right wouldn’t be sensible.”
We sit quietly contemplating our dog less lives.
“I want you to look at this.” Val sitting at the laptop.
“What is it?”
“A dog, a puppy.”
“But we agreed, we decided it wouldn’t be sensible….God, what a beautiful dog!”
“It’s a Cockalier”
“It’s half Cocker Spaniel and half Cavalier,” said Val, “It’s cute”
“Hmm, if someone says a dog is cute to me I’ve got the wrong dog on the other end of the leash”
“Let’s go and see it.”
We’re waiting in a drab KFC restaurant on the outskirts of a drab West Yorkshire town, the agreed rendezvous with the breeder. The plan is to follow him home and see the puppy and it’s home and parents, just to make sure it’s not a cross between a Pit Bull Terrier and a Cocker Spaniel. A Cockpit not a Cockalier.
“Says here, you should see the puppy’s parents,” me, on my iPad looking at an internet page with a list of must do’s and dire don’ts. “It says you must see the mother to get an idea of the size and temperament of the dog you’re buying. We mustn’t accept the first dog shown to you……….” I read on through the list and grim consequences of ignoring the list. As we sip our drab coffees and digest the dog buying guidelines a mud spattered Land Rover lurches into the car park trailing a billowing cloud of exhaust fumes. The breeder had arrived.
He was late, held up on the motorway he said. He had been travelling from Leeds.
“Y’reet, lad.” Lad? I must have thirty years on him.
“I’m fine, thank you. And you?” I feel like Prince Charles on a visit to a drab West Yorkshire town.
“A’m reet grand,m’sen!”
“Shall we follow you home?”
“No need lad, t’dog’s in t’car wi t’kids.”
The children in the back seat dutifully but reluctantly pass the puppy through the window to Val. The deal is done. Irrevocably done. Not only has the puppy gone through the window; so too has the long list of do’s and don’ts. There is no more chance of separating Val from this cute puppy than me swimming the Channel.
I pass the money over and receive in exchange a scrap of paper. I hopefully think it is a receipt but it is only the name of the food the new member of our family has been eating.
The Land Rover coughs into life in a cloud of blue smoke and we weakly wave goodbye to the Breeder and possibly, I thought, our money. As the cloud dispersed our puppy, snug in Val’s arms, gave a very small sneeze, confirming at least, that she was alive.
We are at the walk in surgery at the local vet hoping that we have bought a dog and not a turkey. To our immense relief the vet doesn’t ask any embarrassing questions about how we acquired our puppy. He just gives her a thorough check, declares her fit and gives her first injection, which, as it is straight from the fridge makes her squeal. Not as much as she will squeal a week later when she receives a double whammy; the second injection and the identity chip.
This morning (five weeks later)
Poppy who has the teeth of an alligator, wakes me at five o’clock (we go to bed at nine o’clock to compensate) by gently chewing my ear. I have trained her not to bite lumps out of me by gently nipping her ears with my teeth. Before she gets too frisky I take her downstairs and into the garden. Today the sun is shining and this chore doesn’t require a coat and an umbrella. While I stand listening to the birdsong, competing with the holiday jets taking off at the nearby airport, Poppy does her ‘business’, then I give her breakfast. If we are lucky she will go back to sleep but today she is hyper, so I give up on trying to sleep, get myself dressed and after a brawl on the kitchen floor trying to dress her in her new harness we set out for the park.
I am a dog tired but happy dog owner.