8.15am The front door slams shut in my face, and the sound of complaining children recedes until it is drowned out by the car coughing itself into life. Everybody’s in too much of a rush again this morning; too much of a rush to feed me; not even the slightest sniff of a sliver of their beloved bacon butties. I tried my whole range of ingratiating expressions (I do great pathos) but to no avail. The only attention I received was an insultingly dismissive “Get out of the kitchen; darn mutt’s always under my feet!” Well, they are all gone now; and the house is mine. All mine.
I follow my nose back into the kitchen; it tingles with the smell of food. The smell deepens and thickens as I track it to the bin; the thing I spot is a large plastic fast-food wrapper.
9.00am Not a bad haul; bacon scraps, ketchup covered crusts, congealed cornflakes, and that’s only from breakfast! Toward the bottom of the bag was the remainder of last night’s dinner – pork chops cooked in a delicious apricot sauce served with vegetable gratin and steamed broccoli. Mmmmm. Problem with this little culinary equivalent of an archaeological dig is that it leaves a quite a mess. This fact plays on my conscience for as long as it takes me to scratch my ear; after which I stretch, and decide to go for a bit of a lie-down.
9.30am (Yawn, stretch) Bored. Bored, bored…bored…bored. I feel dead restless, my muscles itch with energy. It’s time to head into my garden. I hit the flap at a rate of knots and surprise the life out of a cat crossing the lawn, yahoo! Ramming speeeed!
10.30am Missed, as usual, but got closer than last time. Cheeky cat sat on the fence washing itself at me in a most provocative manner, so I stood shouting at it as loud as possible for ages until it went away. A victory, of sorts.
11.30am Just finished my morning patrol. My earlier dawn patrol was just to empty my bladder and have a perfunctory sniff; on this one I really get to know what’s been going down in my garden. As well as last night’s heavy rain, Him & Her have dug-over the borders, and this has destroyed most scent trails. They spent rather a lot of time in my garden yesterday digging and putting loads of little green plants in the ground (I offered to help, but was rudely spurned) All that digging seemed to make them happy because they stood smiling at the garden after they had finished. Think maybe a little digging from me will cheer them up some more, and I do love digging so.
1.00pm It started to rain a while ago, and seeing as my gardening is about complete I think I’ll go in. I reckon they will be pleased; I’ve managed to scatter all that lovely earth all over the lawn as I thought it looked overly formal in such neat borders. The plants, bulbs, and shrubs are now strewn randomly for a more natural ‘country meadow‘ look, and a series of holes, of varying depths, engenders a split-level effect. All in all a job the Ground Force team would be proud of. My work here is done.
1.30pm Wasn’t till I got in that I realised just how wet and muddy my coat was. Had a good shake down in the kitchen, but it’s a good job the carpet in the lounge is so deep and dry. There’s nothing like a really good roll around to clean off sopping-wet, mud-caked fur. This garden makeover lark is pretty tiring, and that sofa has my name written all over it. Time for a bit of a nap.
2.30pm (Yawn, stretch) That’s better. Boy, have I got thirst now! A good lap from my water bowl just doesn’t quite hit the spot. This dog needs something a bit stronger. My trusty nose has long since detected a box of chocolate liqueurs in Her wardrobe, so I mosey on up the stairs.
3.15pm Success! It took an age of chewing and scratching, and my gums are sore from all those wooden splinters, but I finally got enough purchase to get into the thing. The bar is well and truly open!
4.00pm I don’t feel so good. Although I’m lying on the bed, the whole room seems to be spinning around. I think I’m going to…. Oh dear I have.
4.15pm Have managed to make it down the stairs, although I had another little accident on the way. Ah, a nice drink of water. I head into the hall, oh no, not again….
4.25pm Tummy hurts. Feel a bit sleepy….
5.45pm My ears seem to be even more sensitive than usual, and detect the sound of the car pulling up outside. There is the strangest taste in my mouth and my head hurts, although I can’t remember hitting it on anything. There is something unusual about the house, but I can’t quite put my paw on it. I head toward the door to greet Them as They come in, but some ancient instinct tells me that this is not a wise plan, and maybe now is a good time to investigate that space behind the shed.
6.05pm What strange behaviour. She seemed to think it was a good idea to go into every room in the house and scream in a most undignified manner. I think that He has done something wrong. I have realised that I have done something wrong too. The Boys come out into the garden looking for me; doesn’t take them long to find my retreat, but they seem pleased to see me. I crawl out and fuss them. (Giving my best ‘I’m sorry’ performance, which involves a slow and erratic wagging of the tail coupled with licking my lips - usually works!) Then Him & Her come out onto the patio and gaze open mouthed at my humble efforts at horticulture. They must be very pleasantly surprised, as they seem unable to speak.
7.00pm Am in the shed (or ‘cooler’) rather than behind it now. Think I might have misunderstood the situation. I am not at all popular. There was a fierce argument between Him & Her on a variety of topics, from whose dog I actually was, to when & how often I am exercised and fed. I have been threatened with something called a kennel.
8.30pm The house is quiet again after a long burst of activity with the cleaning machines. He has just come down to the shed and I have apologised as best I can. He has my lead, and after giving me a rub down says he is taking me for a walk to somewhere called Rose and crown as apparently, we both need the exercise. Glad we’re friends again. It appears a compromise has been agreed, instead of me being returned to the shelter (I've lost count how many times my new families have sent me back there), I am going to enjoy the company of something called a dog trainer. Assuming this is not a sportswear item designed especially to enhance my scarpering abilities I am under the impression that a person will be spending time with me and my family to give us some ideas on how I can help them stop arguing about me and how I can avoid these unwanted stomach aches that I seem to be getting. I much prefer this house to 'the shelter' so I am prepared to give it a go.
Dogs, just like people, come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can posses personality traits that can often be hard to fathom. Some dogs, generally the 'naughty' ones, are unlucky in that they have owners who often don't take enough time or pay enough attention to try and understand a little better the personalities and motives of their dogs and subsequently these 'naughty' dogs can end up on the 'canine-rescue carrousel', going from one new family after another and eventually back to the shelter to start the ride again. For anyone who may be suffering with a problem dog or a dog problem help is at hand and can be sought from sources such as dog trainers and behaviour experts through to the professionals who work at the canine rescue centres and have experienced similar situations.
If you or someone you know is considering giving up on a dog, please consider these two points:
1) Always try and see things from a dogs viewpoint. It's hard when your pet has just destroyed a valuable item of furniture or has escaped and caused havoc in your neighbours garden - understanding a dog's motives are the first step to eradicating un-wanted behaviour.
2) If you are at the point of 'giving up' and are considering re-homing your pet, only do so in the knowledge that you have exhausted all options - this means contacting and employing the help of a trainer or behaviour expert, speaking with and getting advice from others who may have experienced similar problems (i.e. staff at rescue centres such as the NCDL, Blue Cross or RSPCA). Above all, remember the commitment you owe to your dog who is not a possession but a creature who's life is entirely at your mercy and who will reward you with untold loyalty and affection if you and he can understand each other just a little better than you did yesterday.