Monday, 29 September 2008

A dog for all seasons

Monster was still with us for what was to be his last Christmas although we didn't know it. He munched on all the things that are said to be bad for dogs but it didn’t matter He was a very old and huge Black German shepherd that was supposed to be put to sleep years before but wouldn’t quit. He was very loved and had overcome extreme cruelty to end his days living in comfort at Trallwm Farm animal sanctuary.
Winter came and went with swirls of snow and ice lacing the fields in which he loved to walk before summer slowed him to a halt. In August it was time for him to go to Rainbow bridge and he left us with broken hearts knowing that never again would there be a Monster like our Monster the head farm dog.

Time passed and we walked through the Welsh livestock market with heavy hearts. There were birds in cages for sale, shivering till their feathers could fluff no warmer and they would await their fate. And puppies in the back of pickups being offered up to thoughtless women who cooed and ahhed at them before parting with cash quicker than they would have for a bag of chips before discarding them as unwanted to the next person who could be persuaded to coo and ahh for a brief moment of time.
I complained to the auction office several times before loudly asking if they had a licence to sell small animals. The auctioneer swept off round the car park directing people to leave the premises before “She” caused trouble. One litter of puppies were so beautifully marked but so tiny that they couldn’t fail to have captured attention and I thought maybe that at least they would have homes to go to instead of freezing in the back of a pickup, that being the lesser of two evils.

The phone rang on a Sunday and a woman asked if I could take in. “She was pregnant, animals bought on a whim, made a mistake, had to go today”, all the jumbled words that we hear usually for horses coming in but instead this was two puppies with beautiful markings that were no longer wanted.
They arrived in a transit van and the people had tried to care for them to the best of their ability but the eyes that stared out of the big box were no different to the first time I had seen them. I knew that if I didn’t take them then they wouldn’t have a life but would be passed over for pound notes until the fateful day that they would meet the person who could afford a vet to dispose of them.
The little whippet Cream girl with a haze of Dark grey I called Snozzle and a voice just told me that the other, Bo jangles had just arrived home. The puppies were barely 10 weeks old but if their heritage was as described then they should be bigger and stronger.
The girl took after the whippet side of a “Long dog” but Bo jangles, definitely took after the Deerhound side of the family .I started them on a better diet and suddenly they could reach worktops and other inconvenient places in the kitchen. It also became apparent that Snozzle might well have been the result of an opportunist Whippet but Bo jangles parents were probably the same height and breed and therefore more likely pure Deerhound.
Snozzle went off to her new family and as much as I thought about homing Bo when he lay in our arms, laps and halfway across the sofa it was hard to tell him we were not his family and he our dog for life. It became harder as he developed habits that were already familiar to us.
Monster was always terrified of the open stairs in case an unseen hand pushed him to his fate. Bojangles also clings to the wall looking for an assailant. Monster liked the human bed but didn’t like the softness underneath him unless he was under the Duvet, guess where Jangles favours? They share strangeness in food with Monster liking sweet drinks and Jangles already stealing Cherry Brandy from unattended glasses, With the livestock, no cockerel claims victory from either dog’s paws. After all flapping chickens are fun but all other livestock is to be protected at all costs
The overwhelming presence is identical. Both dogs being HUGE, with dark swarthy features that smile down, on all other beings safe in the knowledge that all is well in their world. Both staying close as a family member can be without actually wearing the Wellingtons too.
As each day passes whoever this interloper is, he fits into the shoes of an old character with symmetry and its hard to see, while the shared spirit runs free on the mountain, where the old dog ends and the new dog starts. The dislikes too are remarkable. Monsters great Foe was Buster another GSD here. When Buster was a puppy Monster disliked him and would steal his toys and intimidates him to the point that they were kept away from each other in adult hood as Buster was big enough for revenge. Both liked other dogs and animals. On first meeting Jangles, Busters hackles went up in recognition and he will not go near him now without growling. Jangles treats Buster with no respect at all and will sit as close as he can with that old lopsided smile of quiet puppy intimidation whilst stealing the toys.
Whatever the truth a little of the old magic returned to our lives with the whispers and essence of a life past and a life just starting on its way as head farm dog at Trallwm Farm Animal Sanctuary.

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