Yesterday, for the second day in a row, and despite it being Sunday, I set out bright and early to take Model Dog to the vet. On Saturday morning she went in to be spayed - or 'splayed' as one ditsy old woman we knew used to say.
Poor Puffalump. (Model Dog's affectionate nickname springs from the fact that despite her long legs and undeniable beauty, she shares many characteristics with heffalumps.)
It has not been a good weekend for her. It started badly and only got worse.
We've had Model Dog for six months now, during which time she's never been out in the car on her own, so I quite understood her perplexity at being driven off without Top Dog and Under Dog. She didn't howl or whine, but there was a wary look about her that didn't respond to reassurances.
Although her nickname could be Tigger, because she is constantly bouncing, never far beneath her joie de vivre, remains the dog that was abandoned before she came to us. She is permanently anxious about being separated. We were told that she eventually found her way home again, tired, hungry and bewildered, the first time she was dumped, whereupon her owner immediately took her out and dumped her again - still tired and hungry. The second time he left her in a state of collapse outside a shop in some town, after telling someone what had taken place and saying he couldn't 'be arsed' about her.
When we got her from the Rescue Home, she immediately attached an invisible bungee to my knee. She somehow manages to slip through doorways simultaneously with me to avoid being left on one side or the other; she walks so close beside me that I have several times poked her in the eye with fingers hanging innocently at my side; and she watches me constantly, until she is sure I have 'settled' at whatever I'm doing, and won't creep away without telling her. If I'm inconsiderate enough to go off somewhere without her, she transfers her bungee temporarily to the In-Charge.
Of course, now that we are back into college routine, the In-Charge is not always at home, but mercifully as the months have gone by, she has become content to have the odd duvet-day if I have to go out.
It was not always thus. Before we realised the extent of her separation anxiety, we did have the Water Day, but perhaps it's unfair to mention it, as there was just the one incident.
Shortly after we got her, the In-Charge and I went to town to execute various commissions - as you do.
We left all three dogs happily ensconced in their beds in the kitchen - or so we thought.
When we returned a few hours later it was to find chaos of near-Biblical proportions. She had obviously jumped up to try and follow us via the kitchen window which - thankfully - yielded not, but in so doing she not only managed to turn the tap on (the cold tap - lots of pressure!) but also to swivel it round so that it gushed not down the capacious sink, but into the extremely receptive window sill.
It is probably best to draw a veil over the rest. Suffice it to say that the In-Charge was Not Amused, and even Less Amused when I laughed. The wall was saturated through to the outside, the floor was awash and opening cupboard doors brought forth walls of water Moses would have been proud of.
I daresay you are getting the picture.
We won't go into the dirty paw prints the entire length of the kitchen counter. Or Model Dog's completely innocent demeanour. That would be hitting below the belt.
She is much less insecure now, but even so I would have taken the other dogs with us on Saturday morning, were that journey not Top Dog's particular Torture, and had we not been bringing Model Dog home barely conscious afterwards.
Fortunately our vet is very user-friendly and despite the In-Charge's mutterings about being surplus to requirements, we both stayed with her until she was out for the count, and were back with her before she woke up.
The operation itself was completely successful, but the Needle-Lady (Who-Will-Be-Obeyed) commanded Puff's re-attendance for a post-operative check-up the next morning, Sunday notwithstanding.
Yesterday, on our return visit, the vet declared all to be well, but poor Puff wasn't a happy bunny and proceeded to be hideously sick on the way home. The after-effects of the anaesthetic, no doubt, coupled with the morsels of bread and pate she'd finally toyed with at midnight after her 30-hour fast.
I stopped in a deserted car park to clean the car up. I'm not a good traveller at the best of times - let alone in a vehicle reeking of vomit. Reluctantly Puff got out and stood watching me in her shapeless hand-me-down dress - an old, baggy T-shirt adapted to prevent her from removing her own stitches, should the desire suddenly prove irresistible.
She looked heart-wrenchingly forlorn and stared around the car park bleakly. I wondered if she was weighing it up as an abandoning-site.
I found my mind straying to the person who'd dumped her before. They weren't good thoughts.
As soon as I'd got rid of the worst of the sick, I helped her back into the car and stopped at the next garage to buy some hot sausages from their breakfast bar. Hot sausages are the food of dreams for Puff and I felt she needed cosseting. She ate two, after I'd broken them into little pieces, but apologetically declined the third. I put it back in the bag - I didn't want anymore cleaning up.
On the way home I saw a poster nailed to a telegraph pole. It was about children's rights.
Currently our Constitution doesn't provide a separate statement of rights for children, and Ireland has a referendum this coming Friday on whether to change the Constitution to include a new Amendment.
On the whole I think 'Rights' can be a difficult issue. Of course we need them, but people talk very glibly about their 'Rights', and it feels like we are obsessed with enshrining as many as possible in law; yet sometimes it also feels like the more 'Rights' we all have, the less well we all treat each other - as if 'Rights' somehow obviate both the need to focus on the individual and the requirement for the individual to assume certain responsibilities.
But be that as it may, the poster made me aware that I hadn't really thought about the proposed Amendment.
Yes - every child does have the 'Right' to be cared for (in every sense of the word) by its parents, or to be given over to someone else who will. No child should ever be abandoned or abused.
But neither should any animal.
And for that matter, every animal has a 'Right' to be cared for (in every sense of the world) by its owner, or be given over to someone else who will.
Maybe it's about time we had an 'Animal Rights' Amendment to our Constitution as well.
The 32nd Amendment.
Something that could then be enshrined in law.
(And maybe they could add in something about 8 out of 10 dogs preferring sausages for breakfast.)
In honour of Writing from the Edge's first birthday, I will be having a wonderful Giveaway!
Don't miss it!