Thursday, 12 July 2012

Young dogs and old dogs

Having Fraser here for a couple of days has, not surprisingly, brought various emotions to the surface.  It also made me realise (along with a recent comment from a friend) that I had never openly discussed Sam, the little bundle of Beardie who lived with us for a short while at the beginning of 2011.

     A happy afternoon on another boat, this time on Loch Shiel

Sam was born in November 2010 and the litter produced seven outstanding puppies - every single one had the potential to be a show winning champion, should you wish to subject a dog to that sort of life. The breeder, extremely careful of lines and DNA, knew that one of the boys was her next stud dog and that is why, when we visited the litter at five weeks old, we were not encouraged to make a decision about which puppy would be ours. The breeder had not yet decided which boy was staying and was keeping her options open. Management's recollection of the visit is that if we had fallen deeply in love with one particular pup and insisted then he'd have been "the one", but the 'eyes meeting across a crowded room full of squirming puppies' moment didn't seem to happen - perhaps I should have realised something was wrong at that point.

So, three weeks later we went back to the breeder and were handed a soft, fluffy bundle: "here you are, he's a beautiful boy, what have you decided to call him?"

To say the next four weeks were hard would be an understatement of monumental proportions.   Sam got on very well with Daddy and the two of them had marvellous games together but Management was away in London four days out of five. My role in Sam's life was to stop him doing all the things he wanted to do (escape from the garden, escape from his pen, get stuck under a log pile, eat furniture, pee on the carpet and so on).   The fact that I also provided him with food, shelter, company, care, games and as much love as I could manage completely bypassed his little canine brain. Bluntly - the dog didn't like me much and there was no bond, no chemistry between us.

The decision to return him to his breeder at 12 weeks old was not taken lightly, nor without tears, stress, agonising and even less sleep than I was already suffering thanks to Sam's refusal to settle at night. Sure I could have kept him longer "to see if things got better" but deep down inside I knew they wouldn't. Keeping Sam with us for another two months, three months, six months would not have helped.  What it would have done however, was leave a young teenager needing to be rehomed and that would have done Sam no good at all. Settling into another home at that age would be far, far harder for him than moving on at three months old. When he met up with his Mom again the two dogs were ecstatic and I suspect he forgot me within days.  When Ollie came to us all those years ago he was 8 months old, we were the fifth place he'd lived including the Irish puppy farm where he was bred.  This left scars which he never fully recovered from and I was damned if I was prepared to risk Sam being damaged in a similar fashion, regardless of the emotional cost to us.

Sam may not have been scarred but we were. Management had bonded with the little chap but acknowledged that as main Care Giver if I did not have a close relationship with Sam then things could not continue.  I also lost a supposed friend over the situation, someone who decided that as I had "got rid of the puppy" then I was a wicked woman no longer worthy of their friendship.   Guess it is easy to be that judgemental and opinionated when you don't know any of the facts. 

I don't know if we will ever be able to share our lives with another four-paws, to be truthful I no longer expect to. Perhaps one day The Universe will decide for us, something will happen and we'll find ourselves with a big mess of old towels to wash on a weekly basis and hair all over the carpet. I'll cross that rickety footbridge when I come to it.

I still miss Ollie; I don't look for him in the garden like I used to, but I want to see him resting under the shade of a big tree watching the world go by. I want to see him at the end of the sofa, I want to wake in the night and hear his quiet breathing.  When Ollie died Management said "a third of our family is missing" and that hasn't changed.   I pulled out a rarely worn jacket recently and deep in the pockets were scrunched up 'poo bags' and that hurt, it hurt a great deal.

His lead still hangs by the door, his paw-prints are etched on my soul.


  1. So sad Bilbo, we still miss Fatcat terribly, but I think a dog is an even bigger part of the family.

    1. SewAli, I might not be a "cat person" but I wouldn't ever under-estimate how important a member of the family a pusskins can be. Very glad I had the chance to meet your FatCat, he was a smashing chap :}


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