Thursday, 19 August 2010

6. A Dog in Toddler's Clothing?

We were late for the Christening, but thank God, nobody minded.  Trying to hold squirming toddlers who are eating the service sheet is not my idea of fun, so we let the girls have a crack around.  But it was like letting wolf cubs loose at a picnic.  The girls released bibles from the safety of shelves; threw sandwiches on the floor, and The Tank ran down the aisle in the hope of pulling the alter cloth down, candles and all. 

The Aftermath was held in our friends' lovely walled garden.  But a peaceful Sunday it was not.  The Tank plunged her hands into soil, causing Big Daddy - who was trying to save his friend's shrub - to rip his trousers on the corner of a metal planter.  Magpie tried to eat gravel (the whole garden was gravel) so I gave her a dummy in the name of safety (being plugged-in is better than choking).

If this wasn't stressful enough, my little 'darlings' emptied two packets of Organix baby snacks - not our own - onto a pristine (Cath Kidson?) picnic rug, and sat on some cheese extracted from a sandwhich just for good measure.

Do I have a point, beyound sharing my children's misbehaviour?  Yes, I do.  I'll get to it in a minute.

Klefti, our eight year-old Greek stray, has returned to being Top Dog in the household.  You know he has lumps.  We hoped it might be a rogue infection.  Benign growths?  No.  He has lymphoma. 

We are a bit choked.  Hard to understand unless you have grown up with dogs and know that a canine personality can be greater than a human's.  I'm no misanthrope, but some people can be very dull.

But not Klefti.  He illuminates a room (or a park) with his big chimp eyes, wide grin, plumy tail and huge humour (like people, some dogs have a sense of humour, and some do not).  But he hasn't been known for his sense of propriety.  I remember when my father was dying, Klefti would put his huge paws on the side of the bed.  Dad would manage a smile, reaching out  to stroke him, the only thing that would cheer him up.

We are keeping Klefti going witth the same steroids that gave Dad a few years.  The drugs shrink the tumours, and special food fattens him up.  So we have him for a bit longer.  But that's not my point.

My point is, the more I get to know the Tank, the more she reminds me of Klefti.  I know I've touched on this before.

Towards the end of the Christening party, I sat down with a glass of Prosecco.  Magpie was having a sensible nap in the buggy.  The Tank was sitting on the picnic rug eating the Organix snack that she'd scattered across it.  Then she got up, and as if she could smell something on the wind, she scurried down the side return with her blonde elfin hair and new pink shoes, wearing a vest but minus a muddy dress, only to forage in a black plastic bag like a creature of dusk; like an adolescent Klefti.

Hands freshly washed, the Tank looked for trouble at the garden table and found it.  She stood on tiptoe and sank her hands - as if making an impression on Hollywood's Walk of Fame - into a homebacked Victoria sponge, delighting in sweet, sticky fingers.  Klefti was once barred from my aunt's house at Christmas for licking the ham and stealing a mince pie. 

That Sunday the Tank, never afraid of anything,  found her nemesis: a Robot vacumm cleaner.  When she pressed the 'on' switch on our  host's gizmo, it 'chased' her and she was dust. 

This reminds me of lighting a smoky fire on a wet, dark night in Ireland.  Whilst Purdey, our Lab, sat at the hearth like the gundog he thinks he is, suddenly Klefti was nowhere.  If Kryptonite is Superman's weakness, smoke is Klefti's.  It's the only thing he is scared of.

Our friends call The Tank 'spirited,' 'tomboyish' and 'brave.'  My mother says her granddaughter's face is electric and that she will grow up to be an athlete.  Who knows?

I only wish, like the mad Zookeeper that I am, that The Tank could grow up with Klefti.  They would make a formidable pair.

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