Monday, 27 September 2010

11. Conception or Contraception?

I went to the chemist today to buy toothpaste and tights.  I nearly came out with a conception predictor kit.  I've no idea why.  No, we are not trying for number three. I think Big Daddy would like another critter.  But I've been saying that two is enough and that we should count our blessings, etc, etc.  I've also reminded him that I'm forty, growing a moustache and that anyway, we can't afford it.

Meanwhile, I have been looking at dog rescue websites and getting exactly the same reaction.  No, I am not one of those women who has her hair in a wispy bun, wears dangly earrings, long skirts and sandals.  I just feel our household is somewhat depleted.  I know Klefti cannot be replaced, but a pair if dogs is not a pack. Purdey and Tatty don't let me know when the postman arrives, or more importantly, they don't announce the arrival of my mother (she has a key). 

In any case, another dog would definitely be less work than another baby. 

Pros of getting another dog (aka 'cons' of having another baby)

Cheaper than an Banham alarm
It wouldn't disturb my sleep
It wouldn't need me to personally feed it
It won't need me to change its nappy
It wouldn't need me to wind it
It wouldn't need me to bath it
It wouldn't need me to dress it
It wouldn't need a sterliser
It wouldn't need a baby bouncer
It wouldn't need 250 muslins
It wouldn't need 125 baby grows
It wouldn't need dummies
It wouldn't need school uniform

You get the idea.

There's only three things a dog really needs:


Pros of having another baby

The girls would have a younger sibling
The younger sibling would have older sisters
I would have one more child than most of my friends (ok not a real reason)

The cons of both another dog and a baby are too many to list, although I passed off the pros of having another dog as the cons of having another baby, which was cheeky.

But haven't I got my hands full enough? You may ask. Yes, I have.  So if I'm idly thinking about getting another dog, what was I doing in the chemist hovering our the pregnancy and coneption testing kits?  Was it primal instinct that led me there?  Who knows.  All I know is that the ability to procreate is a wonderful thing, and I have yet to prove I can do it naturally and that niggles me, a little.

But right now, we won't get another dog, and we won't have another baby.  If anything changes, you will of course be the first to know.

Friday, 17 September 2010

10. A Playground Picnic

The Tank and Magpie are looking after Purdey.  They're watching out for him.  Making sure he's all right.  It's really sweet.  It's as if they know he is missing his 'brother'.  They stroke him, and are learning not to yank his tail or pull his ears.

They don't, however, look after Tatty, our ancient Westie.  They stalk her, poor girl.  Luckily, her self-esteem is high enough for her to shrug her shoulders and disappear.  Pronto.

The girls feed Purdey at any opportunity.  Magpie will look at a runner bean and think:

'Hmm, when Mummy's not looking I'll give the doggy a bit of a snack.' 

With her big navy eyes narrowing, she likes to feed Purdey furtively, but when he licks his chops, it gives the game away.

Or The Tank, who has taken an unusual dislike to breadcrumbs, might wonder if a well-excercised dog needs a fish finger or two.  She throws food at Purdey as if laying down a gauntlet, but imagine a Labrador going:

'I'm rather full, actually, but thanks anyway!'

This week I decided to do what mothers with one toddler and one dog do - take them out together to the playground.  Perfectly civilised.  In theory.  With a civilised dog.

While I have often walked Purdey and Klefti and the girls together - one big dog walking either side of my tandem buggy (I only wish I had a photo to share with you), until this week I have never taken the girls to a playground with a canine companion.

Taking the girls and the dogs to the park, where the former are strapped in to their buggy and the latter are taken off lead and are expected to bark and get excited, is one thing.

But letting the children loose, and tying up the dogs - or at least tying up Klefti - would have been another thing all together.

God bless his Greek white socks.  Had I tethered him up outside a playground, there would have been an immediate bark of indignation, causing all mothers and toddlers heads to turn towards the cachophony.

A post-mortal Klefti, looking down on this situation, might have said something like this:

'What?  You are leaving ME out here?  You must be kidding.  I'm not having this. 
 I'm absolutely NOT having this. 
 You can't adopt a beach dog, fly him 3,000 odd miles, give him the Life of Riley (whoever Riley was), and then take it away from him!'  Even for FIVE minutes!  It would be like asking your maid to come upstairs and sit by the fire, having a stiff scotch and a foot massage!  It just doesn't happen!'

Of course, in my anthropomorphic world, this thought amuses me, although Klefti wasn't a snob.

He didn't care how down on your luck you were, how posh or how common, as long as you received a hug with the same affection with which it was given.

Dogs are not prejudiced.  It's one of their greatest character traits.

In the post-Klefti era, being able to walk to a playground with Purdey, tie him up, and play with the children while he looks on dotingly (if a little nervously - 'are you abandoning me?') is a new experience all together.  Purdey can do submissive.  Klefti couldn't.  If you are wondering what I do with Tatty, our ancient but intermittently energetic Westie, she stays at home (a small dog getting tangled in the wheels of a buggy is not a relaxing thought).

We brought a picnic to the playground.  Toddlers are great multi-skillers.  The girls walked around with their fodder, playing on the roundabout and somehow never wanting to sit down, nor getting indigestion.

The Tank climbed unsuitable piece of apparatus after unsuitable piece of apparatus (there should have been a sign saying 'play equipment unsuitable for under threes, even with fierce supervision'), while Magpie collected autumn leaves of every shape, size and texture.  She passed a curled and veiny specimen through the railings to Purdey, who was rather hoping for a bit of sandwhich.

He had to wait for The Tank to do that, who forced it through as if the four-pawed recipient hadn't seen food for days.

So have I finally mastered the art of multi-skilling with a multi-species family which has been sadly diminished?

Probably not.  But it's a good start.

Friday, 3 September 2010

9. Barking with Angels

Klefti left us this week. 

On the last day he couldn't eat.  His bark sounded gargled, his breathing heavy.

People said I'd just know.  When it was time.  They were right.

What is hard, is the speed of the decline - only a month - and now, the silence.  Klefti was a noisy dog and a huge presence.  He could never be ignored.  Now I walk Purdey and Tatty, and expect to hear our Greek stray barking as he plays with a new friend; I hope to see his nose snuffling and his plumy tail wagging. Instead, he is invisible, alive only in my mind.

His ghost is everywhere.  They say that time is the Great Healer, and that ghosts will turn into memories.

Meanwhile I feel hollow, and sad, sad, sad.  I cannot forget that the moment he left us, his large, amber eyes darkened.  So it is true that in death a light is extinguished.