Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Fanfare for a Model

I am sorry to have abandoned you recently, but it wasn't intentional.
There has been aught on my mind.

You know those bathtub-moments I've mentioned before?
Well I've been having more and more of them in recent months.
Bathtub-moments can be good or they can be bad, but they are usually deep. Like the bath that spawns them.
Mine haven't been good. In fact they have been full of woe and peopled by ghosts in daylight.
They have centred around the divine duo.
And that in turn has caused me to hark back to the divine duo's mother, Juno.
She was my darling and missing her is still like toothache.

The divine duo as divine infants - or possibly enfants terribles?

The ghastly fact of the matter is, the divine duo will be thirteen this year. They were born in the fading weeks of the last century. They are Millennium Dogs. They are Special. They are Beyond Compare.
They are certainly Divine, but sadly they are not immortal.

My darling girl - what a good mother she was!

Alas we had to visit the Needle-Lady recently - she who is unilaterally loathed by all my animals, although she is kind, extremely competent and has known them all since birth or adoption. There are in fact three Needle-Ladies, which, I am reliably informed by those on four legs, only makes matters worse.
'But she makes you better,' I cry as I try to coax them out of the car.
'Huh! Look what happened to the Empress,' they retaliate. 'She was sad and sorry and you took her to the Needle-Lady and she came back dead. We watched while you planted her. We don't want to be planted.'

Therein lies the crux of my anxiety.
I don't want any divine funerals round here either, but time, tide (and trains) wait for no man.
Or dog.

Top Dog likes to be clean but he prefers the personal touch

On our recent, exceedingly unpopular visit to the Needle-Lady, it transpired that - as I feared - Top Dog has a slightly dodgy ticker.
He has been too generous with his heart for too long, and now there might not be enough left to see him through.
Under Dog's problems are more immediately obvious. He had a nasty accident many years ago, which nearly broke his back and although he made a wonderful recovery, it aches and nags him and he isn't as mobile as he was.
'It doesn't hurt in the woods,' he tells me brightly. (He's not very subtle, Under Dog.)
'I noticed,' I reply.
'It doesn't hurt in the river, either,' he assures me.
'That's because the river is so cold, nothing hurts,' I explain.
He looks slightly crestfallen. Obviously he'd hoped to be bumped up to two walks a day.
'Two swims a day might dissolve you,' I say. He doesn't look convinced.
Under Dog goes for a constitutional swim in the river most days - just a dip to rinse out his pyjamas, you understand. He, too, likes to be clean. The term 'swim' might imply something a little more energetic than the gentle immersion which actually takes place.

Under Dog rinsing his pyjamas

Trotting and swimming are fine, it's steps that are Under Dog's problem - jumping into the back of the car is no longer on his agenda.

You can see why my bathtub has not been the quiescent, lulling place of yesteryear.

'It is time,' I said to the In-Charge, 'to get another dog. Before push comes to shove.'
'Don't be ridiculous,' quoth he dismissively.'They're only plippies!'
It is a sad comment on the general senility of this household that both of us still refer to them by this diminutive term (meaning 'puppy') despite their grey whiskers.
'They are old men,' I said, but I could see the In-Charge's head ducking firmly into the sand.

So I took matters into my own hands and started watching Irish Rescue organisations on Facebook.

Over the last few months, there have been many dogs that have twisted my heart, brought tears to my eyes, or fond words to my lips, but none of them have wrenched my guts and shredded my peace of mind.

Until this:

Fordogsake Dog Rescue's picture

Even then I found myself thinking: A new dog? A young dog? A possible - a probable cat-hazard? Someone else to feed, someone to train, more fur to sweep off the kitchen floor...
And now, of all times...

Go and see her, I told myself.
Just don't do anything impulsive, I implored myself.
Just take it a step at a time.

Enter Super Model Dog - tall, leggy, gorgeous and photogenic.

We took the divine duo to meet her, and they all greeted each other like long-lost friends.
We took the three of them for a walk near the Rescue Centre and they behaved as if they had walked together every day for the last ten years.
We put her in the back of the car with them and they all slept the sleep of the just for the three hour journey home.
We stopped en route for a walk in the bluebell woods, and though we didn't let her off the lead, everyone was very happy.
It could all have been a scene from a movie.
In fact, I was quite disappointed not to find the cameras rolling as we got back to the car - they've missed a chance, there, I thought.

Everyone enjoyed the bluebell woods

So here we are.
She has learned to 'Sit'.
She has agreed to re-consider her first impulse to eat all the cats.
She assured me that she wouldn't dream of chasing hens if there were cats around to eradicate first - though later she asked me to wipe that from the record and apologised profusely. What she'd meant to say was she'd try not to chase the hens, and she can't think how 'cats' came into it at all.
She takes food from my hand as gently as whispering.
She believes in starting conversations with lots of kisses.
She thinks her name is 'Good Girl' - and she follows me around like a shadow.

So far the only thing she has taken a large bite out of is my heart.

She has, as the Rescue Centres would say, found her Forever-Home
In movie terms, I think we can call it a wrap.

A blissful sleep after a warm bath


  1. What a lovely post. Lovely words and lovely pix, I did so enjoy reading it. How old is Good Girl? And how did you teach her not to eat the cats? She looks like the type of doggie that would instinctively regard a cat as a bunny rabbit with a tail instead of ears and I would have assumed it impossible to teach her cat-manners.

    1. Thank you, Karen. We think she is around 18 months, but our vet might have a better idea. Teaching lurchers about cats is a tricky one - you are so right, they might as well have a little sign saying 'EAT ME - I am rabbit-flavoured' on their heads! Luckily we have managed it before, so I am very hopeful. The cats are very chilled around her, which really helps, and Top Dog and Under Dog are very fond of the cats, so that helps too. She is learning in leaps and bounds and we are doing pretty intensive training in this important early stage. She's being so good, and even wagged her tail when approached by one of the cats today! The wonderful thing about lurchers is they have such sweet natures, and happy, settled dogs are so eager to please, so fingers crossed...

  2. What a lovely girl she is. I am so glad you have her and she has you. What is her age?
    May Hobbs teach her manners and may they all be friends.
    I love Hobb's tender care of Top Dog.

    1. Top Dog has trained several of the cats to groom him. Pixie (my blind baby) refused to be trained, but Pushy and Hobbes both take the hint when he thrusts his head, gently but firmly, in front of their noses. So sweet!
      Yes, isn't Model Dog lovely! Most lurchers are great, big, soft couch potatoes (except when there is important rabbit chasing to be done, of course).

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Tina! I'm sure you will meet her one of these days!

  4. Lovely story which struck me especially because the Bailey dog is showing signs of aging. Less energy, more interested in laying down when we go out than chasing the ball or walking the yard, less interested in going outside generally and getting up on "her" couch is sometimes not a happening thing. She is not yet 9, but before we got her I read that average age for her breed(s) is 8 to 10. We will still have Shasta, but Bailey is my gentle girl and I fear and dread the day.

    1. Thanks, Carol - and you have my deepest sympathies about Bailey. Oh, how I hate those tell-tale signs. I know just how you feel - I can't even bear to contemplate it. Already I'm so glad we have our new girl.

  5. Hurray! A new arrival. Looking forward to meeting her when we're back home. Beautiful post and photos. Love to you both xo

  6. Thanks Ann. You will love her! She is a complete sweetie pie, and SO good! Hope your tour is going well!

  7. Aah, the joys of succession-planning! :-). Of course, it's all in the selection. I think it was the higgeldy-piggeldy coat that gave it away, perhaps supported by the twinkle in the eyes. Either way she seems to be a round peg in a perfectly round hole. May her ivories grow long and her wind be always sighing round your knees!

  8. What a lovely blog. I found you from the Beltra Country Market's Facebook page. I love animals and last week organised a jumble sale for Sligo animal rescue and the donkey sanctuary. Best of luck with your newest arrival.


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