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Thursday, 13 May 2010


I’m not an animal lover, per se. It’s more that I distance myself in case I get saddled with yet another stray moggy, or fall for that lonely mongrel dumped by heartless owners when its services are no longer required. I was very impressed to read that Barbara Woodhouse, the supremo of dog training, decided, at the height of her career, not to keep pets as she didn’t have the time to care for them properly. Barbara was acknowledging that time and energy are pre-requisites for all responsible animal owners; I think it’s the same for parents but we won’t go down that road today!

My sister, who lives in New Mexico, adopted an abandoned Border Collie mix and named him Séamus, in honour of her Irish ancestry. I’m not sure I approved, after all, what’s wrong with a real doggie name? Rover would not have been original but there are plenty of other generic names out that there that wouldn’t be confused with animals of the walking-on-two legs variety. Anyway, I only saw Séamus in photographs as he stood to attention beside the family he obviously adored. In emails I was informed of his progress as he hunted rabbits and squirrels, went with the gang as they cut their own Christmas tree each year, chased birds and anything else that moved in their large back garden. Visitors oohed and aahed over this large cuddly black and white pooch and he soon took his place at the heart of the family. He was there to meet and greet, ready to protect all and sundry, and do what no medication can do: take down your blood pressure as he endured endless caresses that knocked him senseless with pleasure.

It wasn’t until 2009 that I made Séamus’ acquaintance. I was mildly curious about this canine character, but I wasn’t at all prepared for love at first sight. Séamus (what a perfect name for this dog!) waddled over to sniff at my feet and decided that in all his fifteen years (105 in doggie time), he hadn’t met a family member he didn’t like so I was accepted instantly. I resisted for about two seconds and then found myself rubbing that itchy spot under his ear and making a friend for life. I went from someone who airily professes no interest at all in dogs, to a slobbering sucker willing to go walkies at a moment’s notice. I’d get up early and there he’d be; standing foursquare by the door, head cocked in that questioning way, looking down the long hall at me as I breakfasted in my PJs. "Ok, ok, I’m coming Séamus", I’d cry as I quickly shucked on my jeans, slipped yesterday’s t-shirt on my unwashed body, stepped into the nearest pair of shoes, stuffed the poo-bag in my pocket, reached for the lead and off we’d jolly well go. Out the side gate, around the front garden, across the road and all the way up to the arroyo where I’d gaze down in wonder at the dry creek below that could fill, at a moment’s notice, full to the brim with water gushing in torrents from the Sandia Mountains after a sudden downpour. Home again, and Séamus would flop down on his bed to give his arthritic bones a bit of a rest, while I would flop down on the couch to do likewise.

It wasn’t to be a long love affair between Séamus and I as his doggy days were numbered. He managed to keep himself motivated for the next 365 days until I arrived back on his doorstep to resume relations and carry on where we had left off. Down came the lead, and off we trotted as if there had been no break in our friendship. He peed with pleasure as soon as we hit the front garden, sniffed every single bush along the path, gazed with curiosity across the road at younger dogs who were chomping at the bit, dying to dash over to meet this old timer; I used to be terrified of these brash growlers and was ready to defend Séamus with my life, if need be. This time, when I left for home, after two glorious weeks, my sister said that Séamus would walk into my bedroom and wonder where the hell I’d gone. He’d stand there, confused, until he gave up altogether. And three weeks later, he too, was gone.

I like to imagine Séamus in doggie heaven where there are rabbits to be chased, friends and family around all day long to pet and cuddle his soft mane of black and white hair, and any amount of adoring relatives willing to go walkies at the drop of a hat all the way up to the arroyo and back home again.

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Blogger mic_comte said...

Good name, I will add it to my lists.

May 14, 2010 9:41 am  

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