Keith is beavering away right this minute redecorating our bedroom. I would cook him some lunch but I don't want to interrupt or else the new carpet will arrive before he gets done. I don't know how to tell our poor old Sally that she has to sleep somewhere else when her dad has finished the job. Unless she can promise me that not one hair of hers will make contact with the carpet.
Which reminds me, speaking of Sally, she had her annual vet check last Tuesday and was declared in good nick for her age. All the 38 years we've been married we've had dogs. Only ever one at a time because we never had the space for more.
First there was Shan, a dobermann who only lived to 2 years old. His rear end became paralysed and he couldn't walk. In those days, the early 70's, we in this country persisted in the barbaric practise of tail docking where breed standard called for it. And in the case of dobermanns it did. That's what the vet believed started Shan's paralysis: an infection of his spinal cord which had lain dormant since his tail was removed. We never again had anything but waggy tails in our house.
After Shan came Juggy Singh, a big German Shepherd who came to us complete with heavy metal chain, thick, iron-studded leather collar and green-slimey aluminium bucket to drink from. A Sikh bloke Keith worked with turned up on our doorstep and gave us the lot saying "You like dog, you have him," before turning on his heel and driving off. With his half a dozen kids and assorrted grandparents and aunties all living in the same 2-bedroomed house, the only place Juggy had was a much too tiny kennel in the tiny concrete backyard. I know about the kennel because the ex-dad came back next day and dumped it! Well, it did for firewood! What else could we do? Juggy became a wonderful friend, companiion and beloved protector and died 8 years later.
Sophie was a 7 week old yellow labrador puppy who joined us on 7th January 1979, my birthday. Just shows how good Keith is at keepimg secrets: he had chosen Sophie the previous November when she first came into the world but never mentioned it until he turned up at my office to collect me and said he had "brought a friend to see me too" and produced this tiny, fast-asleep ball of fur from inside his coat. She was always a silly bundle of laughs. Her hobby was collecting things. I would put socks on the radiator to dry on washday and she would take a big sweep along the radiator and run round the garden with a load of socks sprouting from the sides of her mouth. Unfortunately she decided one day to 'collect' a tee shirt, unbeknown to me. I saw her straining in the back garden (this is horrible, this) and I could see something just hanging under her tail.(I told you it was horrible) and when I investigated I pulled out (don't say I didn't warn you) not the handkerchief I thought it was but a whole tee shirt. How on earth she got that lot down we'll never know and what damage it could have done I shudder to think but she was none the worse for it.
Sheppy was another soon-to-be-homeless waif. Again, it was somebody Keith worked with who owned him (he worked with some funny folk). Sophie had died not long since and I had said, as you do, that I didn't want any more dogs. Losing them was too hard. Keith said "Well we'll just go see this dog....NOT TO BRING IT HOME, no, no, no...." Famous last words! We went to where he was about to be chucked out of and there he was - the most gorgeous rough collie (Lassie dog). His dad was a little guy only about 5'3" whhile his mum was tall and willowy. She had decided taking this powder puff (her words) out for a walk was not good for his image a\nd she wanted him to have a nice fierce Rottie. And a tatoo. But it soon transpired there was another reason: Sheppy was a killer! Oh yes he was! They had this budgie who was a great friend of the dog's and used to walk along on the floor behind him: dog moved, budgie moved. And so it was they had both stopped one day, the budgie close up behind the dog - 'dogging' his footsteps as you might say. Sheppy took a step backwards and stood on his best friend, squashing him. Mortified, he picked the budgie up and gently laid him at mum's feet. By the time this stage of the story was reached I was nearly weeing myself trying not to laugh. Well that beautiful dog just had to come and live with us. Of them all he was probably the best behaved dog we ever had. Terrified of cats and any vehicle with air brakes that go "pshshsht". Come to think of it, cats do that don't they?
And so to Sally, our jolly geriatric. She's a Heinz 57 big time and from the strays' home! But she's arguably the most intelligent of them all. Sheppy was thick as two short planks when it came to finding things but Sally, blind and deaf though she now is, has a heck of a nose. If I won't give her a biscuit you'll find her head down, bum up looking under the dresser and reaching with her front paws. So funny! At 16 she's still going strong. Long may she continue.
Gosh I really have rambled on a bit here so I'll go watch telly now.