Showing posts with label Black Labrador. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Labrador. Show all posts

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Dogs and friendship

A few weeks ago I persuaded my friend Emma to join me on an organised dog walk to raise funds for the Red Cross. "Will it be very doggy?" she asked hesitantly, after agreeing to accompany me. "Oh no," I assured her, "it's more of a charity thing really." (I should mention that Emma is not a dog lover, preferring to admire the canine form from afar - at a 100 yards if possible. She puts up with my own Labrador Pickle, but only because she is my friend.)

"Did someone say dog biscuit?"
So this morning we set off for our appointed meeting place in the rain. "Shame about the weather," we murmured, "oh well, never mind, we'll survive!" (and all those other inanities one mutters to show fearlessness in the face of the British weather system).

We arrived at the village hall - a.k.a. start of the walk - amongst a twirling, whirling pack of dogs. "Slightly more doggy than I anticipated," I said to Emma, by way of an apology, as we picked our way through multiple Labradors, golden retrievers, a couple of pugs, various terriers and a Cockerpoo. Pickle, it must be said, was in doggy heaven, careering around the garden in a sea of fur.

Monday 15 September 2014

In a bit of a pickle...

I have done things this weekend that I would never have dreamed possible a year ago, including trying to foist a pair of underpants onto a panic-stricken labrador in the dead of night. Why? you ask. 

Pickle, the black labrador
Feeling a bit cheesed off...
Why indeed. After months of agonising, we decided last week to have our dog, Pickle, neutered. The live sex-shows outside the school gates (involving a hapless golden retriever) finally pushed us over the edge. So I booked him in for the snip. The course of true love never did run smooth, Pickle.

It's a straight-forward op, the vet told us. Hmm... no mention of having to apply frozen peas four times a day to swollen doggy privates, or of smoothing steroid cream onto itchy patches down under. (When there is a wriggly, under-exercised dog involved, such applications require the accuracy of a surgeon's hand and the patience of a saint.) All the while, Pickle showed a gentle stoicism in the face of his tribulations that made us feel like evil, torturous humans. Only the Elizabethan collar - designed to prevent him from licking his stitches - proved a step too far. On the night we left him in his basket looking like robo-dog, we were roused from our beds by pathetic whining. Hence, plan B: replace said collar with a pair of protective pants.
Pickle in an Elizabethan collar
The ultimate humiliation

First, we tried a frilly, white pair from my own knicker drawer, but alas these proved too capacious. So then we resorted to a rather natty purple pair daubed with yellow stars that belonged to my son. Despite the fun colour scheme, Pickle was not impressed and spent the next ten minutes chasing his star-spangled bottom round in circles, while my husband and I collapsed in hysterics (again: evil, torturous humans). 

I am, however, happy to report that after a week of such ministrations, Pickle's privates are finally on the mend. He remains grateful to his various well-wishers, including several of my father's work colleagues, who have been sending kisses via email and notes of condolences for his lost parts. (They met Pickle earlier in the summer and have become loyal friends.)

The happy climax of this whole debacle was an unexpected confession from my husband the other night: "I think I am actually quite fond of the dog now and enjoy having him around." This is gushing indeed, coming from a man who told me last year he really couldn't see the point of having a dog.

So there you go, Pickle: no more one-night stands for you, my darling, but at least your daddy loves you. And when you're properly better, I'll take you out for a nice, long walk. It's simple pleasures from now on...


My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
An account of the author's childhood in Greece, growing up in 1930s with a bohemian family and a procession of pets.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Puppy love

So I finally have my third child. A lovely, little boy with a full head of hair, beautiful, almond-shaped eyes... oh, and a tail. Am I mad? Barking. Both my (real) children are at school, life is getting easier, weekend lie-ins are no longer just an aspiration... and what do I do? I take on an eight-week old puppy. A black Labrador with big, floppy feet and a bladder that can barely make it through the night. And, who needs an alarm clock when your new baby greets the dawn with a high-pitched howl? Hello sleep deprivation, my old friend, it has been too long. 

Pickle, the black Labrador puppy
Look what the stork brought!
It was actually my daughter who campaigned tirelessly to get the dog, but I would be lying if I said I was opposed to the idea. I have played a quiet hand, knowing that she was best placed to wear down my reluctant husband. So is the puppy my desperate attempt to reclaim motherhood? As my kids become less dependent, am I plugging the gap with a dog? Can I only exist if I am needed? 

All the rituals of preparing for the puppy's arrival were spookily familiar. Since June we have been writing to-do lists and going on spending sprees at the doggy equivalent of Mothercare: Pets at Home. Dutifully my husband built him a cot, sorry crate, to sleep in and we agonised over a name, until we finally settled on 'Pickle'.  

Puppy toddlerhood is now upon us. We spend our days toilet training, shaking toys, removing foreign objects from Pickle's mouth and heading off canine stunts on the patio steps. Earlier this week we even took him to a 'post-natal' puppy class so that he could play with other dogs! However, for all the challenges, looking after a dog is parenting lite. When we need a break, we shut him in his crate and escape the house for a couple of hours - with no associated visits from social services. 

Yesterday the kids went back to school and, thanks to Pickle, I didn't feel quite so bereft. His wiggly, waggy-tail welcome made the house feel less empty when I got home from the school run. And thankfully he can't yet utter those words I have heard all summer: "Mummy, what shall I do now? I'm bored!!" He just digs up the lawn instead. 


"I absolutely loved this book and will miss the family that I became so involved with over the past few days. I hope Emma has another book in the pipeline!" 
-- Annabel at CountryWives 

I welcome reviews of my book on Amazon!