02 June 2008

Arthur dog

Arthur is dog no. 2, rescued nearly four years ago now, just a day after his fifth birthday. To this day, we’re not sure how Arthur ended up in the car with us as we zoomed home along the M20. That hadn’t been the idea at all....

It was a Saturday and A and I decided to go off down to Croftview in Kent, to explore the possibility of finding a husband for Susie. It was definitely a recce although we did have our eye on a particular dog, Ben. Ben was a ‘proper’ greyhound in A’s eyes ie a white dog with colour patches, a rather recondite view in my opinion but one that A did like to wheel out every so often. So we duly took Ben for a walk but unfortunately, he had not yet been ‘done’ – as soon as Susie did a pee, he got rather frisky round her private areas, and that, as you can imagine, went down like a cup of cold sick. We handed him back reluctantly, citing irreconcilable differences and asked if they could suggest another dog that we could try. Well, the girls all chorused ‘Arthur’, thus it was that Arthur was put next in line for a playdate with old miseryguts. And it went off really well, which is another way of saying that Susie studiously ignored him - that, in her book, is all you’re going to get by way of acceptance.

So was this dog the marrying kind? A and I thought he might be but we wanted a little time to think about things. Someone read our thoughts and asked us whether we thought he was the one and we said, ‘yes, we think so’. Before we could continue with the ‘but...’, Arthur was barrelled into the back of the car – which got Susie’s attention, I call tell you. Hey mush, you’ve just invaded my personal space, so sling your paws now. ‘You’ve already had a homecheck so you can take him home now’, they said. What do you mean, home now? We’ve made no preparations. There’s no bed, no bowl, no name tag, we haven’t made the psychological leap to a two dog family yet, Susie is going to kill him in the back of the car and we’ll never be able to get the blood out of the seats. They waved us off after I hastily checked the boot to make sure they hadn’t secreted another one in there. And what do you know? We got stuck in a 3 hour tailback on the motorway and by the time they got home, Arthur and Susie were the best of friends. (That’s a Susie euphemism, meaning she allowed him in the house and left him half his dinner. But she did pee on his bed just so there could be no misunderstanding as to who was boss...)

Arthur is a big, soft puppy who acts more like nine months than the nine years he is soon to be. His finest hours came on the very first weekend he spent at the boat. First, he thought he was Jesus, stepping off the towpth onto the water and finding he wasn’t, disappearing unceremoniously under a boat’s counter. He didn’t try that one again. Then, moored down by Tamhorn Bridge near Hopwas, I let him have a little wander off-lead with Susie. It was early, there was no-one about and I thought I could trust Susie to pass on her good habits to the new boy. Suddenly, about 300 yards away, Arthur clocked a couple coming round the corner in company with their Weimeraner puppy. He shot off with Susie dancing on the spot wondering whether she should be bad and follow or good and stay, in the end deciding to be half and half by only going half way. I immediately ran after Arthur, fearing the worst, and was in time to see him bound up to the puppy, which promptly jumped into the cut to save himself. Except he couldn’t swim so his owner had to jump in after him. By the time I arrived on the spot, apologising profusely and lying through my teeth about a slipped collar, everyone was reunited dripping wet on the towpath. And they were remarkably good-natured about things, considering, merely cautioning me to take more care with keeping Arthur on a lead. Which of course I did. I was built for stamina, not speed, so there was no way I was risking another lung-busting sprint to save my dog from reprehensible deeds.

The funny thing is though that I have subsequently discovered that Arthur is the soppiest, gentlest dog when it comes to other dogs. He just stands there, letting a dog do his worst, and you won’t get a peep out of him. I found this out one Saturday afternoon moored near Rugeley. A chap was walking his Staffy pup past the boat at the same time as I was getting Arthur out for a walk. The pup took an instant liking to him, so much so that he climbed all over him and ended up hanging from his ear, like some bizarre dog earring. Arthur couldn’t get enough. Maybe my hound is gay?

No comments: