Last week, when I mentioned the lost dog that we’d have adopted if she hadn’t been microchipped and therefore could be reunited with her owners, Martina said that she thought a puppy would be fun for Tilly and Dandelion asked how Tilly was when Chester died. So I’ll tell you.
Chester had just had his 13th birthday and I remember looking at him and thinking how well he was. But a week later he became ill, and when it turned out that he had cancer the vet asked if we wanted him to operate. I said no. He was very ill and he was old, and it was a large tumour on his liver. He hadn’t eaten for a week. I was sure it would be kinder to let him go and the vet agreed – actually, I think that if I’d said yes he’d have tried to talk me out of it. The vet came to do the deed here and I held Chester and we looked at each other, so that I was the last thing he would see. The Sage had spent the past week making an oak coffin – this went even beyond me for sentiment, but he was put in it. This was in the porch. Then we let Tilly and Khan out into the porch and they sniffed Chester’s bed and then the coffin, so they knew.
It was only a couple of months later that Khan was run over and killed, so since then Tilly has been an only dog. And her personality has adapted to that. She used to be very much in Chester’s shadow, in a good way. He used to leave food in his bowl for her, and she deferred to him in other ways. They were very good friends, and if Tilly wanted to go out, Chester would go to the door so that we’d open it for both of them. If someone came to the house, Chester was in charge of security. If I sat on the sofa, Tilly would snuggle behind me, or else Chester would sprawl along the top of the cushion like a leopard in a tree.
Now, Tilly is still too polite to ask to go out, she waits hopefully by the door, occasionally wagging her tail, until someone notices, unless she’s really desperate, in which case she emits a single quiet whine. However, whilst Chester threw himself against the door with a thump to tell us they wanted to come in, Tilly scratches the door, which now has deep gouges as a result. She is also a guard dog now. Instead of hiding behind someone when someone comes to the door, she bursts out barking, hackles raised – which is an act of course, she’s completely unaggressive.
We intended to have another dog after a while. I wanted a puppy again. In the summer would be sensible (although, since Chester was born in October we got him a few days before Christmas – he always adored Christmas). But then Al and Dilly got married that summer and the party was here, so it was put off. Then Squiffany was born the next Spring, so it was put off again. That summer, Weeza and Phil got married and the party was here, so that wasn’t the best time to have a puppy. The next year, the excitement was that Pugsley was born.
However, by that time I was keeping an eye open. I have few requirements, mostly negative; that is, the dogs I didn’t want to have. I’ve written about that before, I know. I prefer a mongrel, because so many dogs are have had ill health bred into them, and besides I’d be intimidated by a dog with a better pedigree than I have. Specifically, I don’t want a terrier, especially a Jack Russell (more courage than sense and they disappear down rabbit holes), a greyhound (no rapport), a Springer Spaniel (they need too much exercise and are working dogs and misbehave when bored), a very large (don’t want a dog bigger than me, and very big dogs don’t live that long) or a very small (I’d fall over it) dog. I’d like a boy with long blond hair. I have to say that my children think a girl with short hair would be much more sensible. That is the only whimsical preference however, all others are based on sound common sense.
Anyway, I didn’t hear about a dog. I didn’t want a rescue dog this time – with small children about I didn’t want to risk a dog that had been badly treated and I’d become less than trusting of the RSPCA, where my mother had always gone for rescue dogs. This had been fine at one time, but they’d stuck a couple of really difficult dogs her way and at this time of my life, I wanted a dog to be a pleasure, not a worry. It had to be trainable and trustworthy, as we have fields all about our partly unfenced garden, and we have free-range chickens, and I thought that although a puppy is harder work, it would be a better bet.
By this time, I was starting to think that it was high time – Tilly was getting older and I didn’t want her to be so old that a puppy would exhaust her. Friends were hoping their dogs would have puppies together – one of them was a collieish mongrel and one a labradorish mongrel, which seemed ideal, although the pups would probably be black or black and white. Unfortunately the pregnancy didn’t happen.
Tilly is 13 now, and although she’s in good health, she’s slowed down a lot in the past year or so. She loves her life and, although I think she could adjust to another female dog (though I also think she’d be jealous), I don’t think it would be fair to bring a puppy into the house. She adores the children, but wants extra cuddling after Zerlina has visited, to make up for the fuss made of a baby. I think a pup would be more stress than pleasure for her now. She’s a dear little dog and I wouldn’t like to upset her.