Following on from yesterday’s post…
We went back with Ro, who was back from school by then. I took a sheet. The dog was not very clean, the house was smelly and there probably were fleas. The poor little thing was frightened and trembled when we took her. Miss P warned us that she had only been in a car once and had been sick. I said she was welcome to phone to know how she was getting on. She was obviously fond of the little dog and reluctant to part with her.
When Chester, our Irish setter/bearded collie cross saw her, he was thrilled. He sniffed her all over, while she cowered, terrified. We put him in the house and fetched her some food, which she wolfed down. Then I got a bucket of warm water, gave her a bath and dried her. I decided to walk both dogs round the village, so that they could get used to each other.
It was quite embarrassing as she was so thin, it looked as if I was the one neglecting her. However, by the time we’d been round the block, Chester was less curious about her and she was not trembling so much. When we arrived home, it was time for Chester to eat and I gave Kilda another small meal. It vanished in no time and she eyed his bowlful enviously. She couldn’t resist. She darted in to steal a mouthful.
Darling Chester stepped back and let her.
You could see the thought going through her head. “The huge dog is letting me eat his meal? He’s not a threat! He’s – he’s a pushover!!”
It was as easy as that. From then on, they adored each other. He never licked his bowl clean again, but left a little for her to finish. She deferred to him, but was unafraid. He did fancy her rotten and she flirted with him, wafting herself past when he was lying down and then scurrying away as soon as he started sniffing her. For this reason, we had her spayed as soon as the vet said it was time. Afterwards, however, she couldn’t understand why she had lost her power to attract and this made her rather miserable. I felt bad that we’d taken away her femininity, but it was too late and we’d had no real choice anyway.
The first time we let her out of the house, she ran straight to the chickens and started to chase them. I called her back and told her to stop. The next day, I saw her rushing joyfully, feathers in mouth, chasing an indignant and frightened bantam. I shouted at her and, when she came, grabbed her and told her she must never do that again. She was very upset and never did.
For a long time, we had to be very gentle with her. She was afraid of children and I always wondered if the local kids at her previous home had made fun of her owner, maybe chased or thrown things. It was never necessary to say anything if she misbehaved – a look would do. She liked to curl up with me in an armchair, but she always wanted to sit behind me. I still tend to perch at the front of chairs, although she usually stretches out on the sofa nowadays.
Her name was changed within a day, when Ro called her “Kill” for short. We decided to choose a name that sounded almost the same as Kilda, not to confuse her. It came down to Hilda or Mathilda, so Tilly it is.
Oh – and Sage was besotted with her in no time. He’s given up arguing with me altogether. As I’ve pointed out, I’m a very reasonable woman. I’m always going to agree that he’s right – unless I am. And in that case, he might as well agree with me.