Sunday, 24 July 2011

Missing my dog

I am missing my dog.

Fred arrived as a cute bundle of springer spaniel puppiness on 15 May 2010. As he trotted down the garden after the small son that first sunlit afternoon, I felt an overwhelming sense of well being. "My life is complete" I thought, "and I never even knew I was missing something".

That was before he playfully sank his razor sharp teeth into the small son's calf, and then, while small son was wondering how something so soft and cuddly could inflict so much pain, Fred bounced him, tigger-style and knocked off his specs.

Those first few weeks were fairly traumatic. I had grown up with dogs but never been responsible for one. In fact it had been my husband who had for many years gone on and on about how having a dog would be so great. He grew up with cats. He used to be in the Army. Before we had children and we lived in Army land on the edge of Salisbury plain, I commuted daily up to London. "It'll be great" he would say. "I can take the dog in to work with me. Everyone does". I gently reminded him that he wouldn't be able to take a dog to work when he was in Afghanistan but he tried to shrug that off as a minor detail.

Fast forward a few years and the opportunity to acquire a springer puppy came up. Small son had been in remission for a year and at school. Smaller daughter at playgroup, I was working from home, the time just seemed right. Strangely, the husband didn't seem so keen, but I didn't really hoist that in. Fred was sooo cute, with a perfect little liver spot on the top of his head. I was in love and I had to have him.

I knew I was in touble when, a few days after Fred's arrival, with the children terrified of another of Fred's 'playful'ambushes, and the husbands best shoes in tatters, the husband said "Well, the thing is, you said 'no' for so long that I thought you meant no for ever". This is husband speak for "This is all your problem, do not involve me".

We went to puppy classes, Fred stopped savaging the children, the husband, me, the furniture, the shoes... finally we had an almost civilised (well, for a springer) dog.

And then tragedy struck. October 2010, during a stay at my parents, Fred ran off a 30 ft drop and broke his back left leg. If I had been blogging at the time, I could have recounted in detail the trauma, the anguish, the months of the poor animal hauling round a load of metal work in his leg, the slow rehab walks and then further disaster when he ran off after a hare and came back limping badly. Subsequent xrays showed that the leg had never truly healed, and the fracture site was by then a total mess. We decided to have the leg amputated.

It was an awful decision, but from Fred's point of view, I am convinced that it was the right one. Within a few days he was completely comfortable on 3 legs. We had a couple of awkward leg cocking moments, but he has sorted that out, and now the only noticeable issue he seems to have is when his left ear is itching - cue smothered hilarity as the poor chap tries to bend round far enough to scratch while the stump twitches furiously. Awful but horribly funny.

And if you look closely - you can see the stump. But honestly - who needs 4 legs?

He does seem to be rather accident prone though. 3 weeks after being back on his feet following the amputation, I was running with him 4 or so miles a day, when one night I noticed 3 huge gashes under his front right leg - in the 'armpit'. There had been no blood, and no indication at any time that he had hurt himself in any way. He needed stitches, so £250 later, we were back to short walks on the lead etc. 10 days later, back to the vet for the stitches to be out at 09.00 and I made some smart alec comment on Facebook about opening a book on how long he could stay injury free. 2 p.m. that afternoon I was back at the vets after he had stuck his head in a patch of nettles and stung his eye so the whole of the right side of his face had swollen up....

And why am I missing him? Well, on Friday (29th July) we are heading off in Daisy our VW camper for 10 days at the Haarlem Jamborette ( with our local scout troop (husband is a Scout Leader) followed by 4 days in Paris ("1 day at Disneyland Paris and 3 days in REAL Paris" as the small daughter will tell you). Last weekend we were headed up north, leaving the kids with my parents while we attended a civil partnership celebration, and as mum is having Fred while we are away, it seemed the most sensible thing to do to leave him then rather than making a seoncd trip this week. But just because it's sensible doesn't mean it was easy. The children cried most of the way down the M1, and the small son cried at bed time for at least 3 days afterwards. "Fred" (my mum) has since written to the children telling them about what he's been getting up to on his holidays - mainly pricking his nose on hedgehogs, barking at his reflection in Mum's greenhouse window and digging holes in her veg patch (he clearly does have a death wish - or at least a very reduced sense of self preservation) and they seem OK now, but I am still missing him.

Still, he'll be back soon and I'm sure I will be blogging about what scrapes he has got himself into and what a nonsense he is, but the truth is - I MISS MY DAWG!!

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