I’ve spent the last few weeks laughing at little Fred learning so much every day.
It’s true that he’s learned so many things; dealing with house rules (don’t piss on the carpet, yes we know its green and it looks like grass), meeting bulls, horses, rabbits, bolshy territorial blackbirds in the garden and a whole host of noises, smells, but most of all his humans yelling at the box in the corner, especially when politics are mentioned.
All of the things Fred has learned in reality translate into things I’ve learned from watching him learn.
This can be extended beyond the world of Fred. Fred is our family’s seventh rescue dog. We’ve had an eclectic pack over the years. First we brought home Poppy the Poo who was a very beautiful German Shepherd, named for her love of munching the brown stuff. Then there was Wammy, the bewildered Labrador cross who seemed to spend his life in a confused state between love and fear of everything and everyone, the only constant loves being water and sticks. Then we had Ben, known as Mr Fluffy but my ever patient husband put his foot down at standing on the beach and yelling “Mr Fluffy, come on Fluffy-boy”. It was pretty hard to accept this veto from a man who thinks nothing of baring his arse at the merest hint of a dare. Our fourth dog was Saxon, or Mr Waxxy-boy. This loping dog looked like a cross between a Foxhound, a German Shepherd and Victor Meldrew. His journey began when he was found tied in a sack on North Shields Fish Quay with his brothers and sisters. He was rehomed with a married couple, but the marriage broke down and Saxxy was given to a local boarding kennels for rehoming again. We ended up with him after boarding our other dogs at those kennels for the summer. He wasn’t destructive, just heart broken and it took a good 6 months before he wagged his tail and accepted his new humans. What can I say about the fifth dog, a Red Doberman named Paris, aptly named as she was indeed a high maintenance, attention seeking whining bitch. Again she had ended up at the boarding kennels we used. I swear when the owners of the kennels knew we’d booked our pack in for the summer they’d get hold of the most pitiful, difficult to rehome dog in the area and point it in our direction when we dropped off our brood. Sixth in the list is Holly, a beautiful pedigree golden retriever from North East Retriever Rescue. Her nature is as beautiful as her looks. Naturally over the years our dogs have died so our pack has grown and shrunk; no it does not get any easier. I know from speaking to some people, the loss of one dog is unbearable and they cannot bring themselves to have another in their life and that’s fine, absolutely great, people do what they need to do to protect themselves from pain. For me, I feel that I learn and grow as a person by having dogs and this includes experiencing loss and grief as well as the joy and at times frustration especially when cleaning up a pile of dog sick or retrieving a chewed boot from under a kitchen unit.
So, what have I learned?
I’ve learned that dogs don’t have all the shitty character traits that some humans have. What do I mean? Oh this should be interesting and possibly unpleasant reading for some people. If you think it’s about you, it probably is.
Dogs are rather simple animals, what you see is what you get. Feed them, love them, exercise them, and give them a warm safe place to sleep, discipline them with positive re-enforcement and job done. A dog is a dog; it doesn’t aspire to be anything else. It doesn’t care what car you drive, it doesn’t question your lifestyle choices and it certainly doesn’t go around criticising how you spend the money you have earned. I’ll expand what I mean by that last statement. Since I returned to the UK with little Fred, plenty of people have a whole shed load of opinions regarding our decision to bring Fred home. My emotional response is, “what the fuck has it to do with you”. That’s pretty tame for me. Actually what has it got to do with anyone else? What makes humans think they have a right to question how an individual or family spend their income? I can only assume that some festering boil of jealousy is at the heart of their stance. The only jealousy my dogs exhibit is cuddle envy, and even then I’m anthropomorphising, I’m pretty sure a dog sees one of the pack getting a cuddle and thinks there may be food and pootles across to make sure they’re not missing out.
Digging deeper into “what the fuck has it to do with you?” has caused me many silent musings over the last few days. So much so I’ve started a new cross stitch and it’s not even winter. My husband is naturally quite happy with my silent fury, as he’s been the recipient of an Eton Mess, Toad in the Hole and a very unhealthy barbeque. I secretly believe he likes it when I’m pissed off as I go into cooking mode; great for him not so great for his waistline.
I am waffling, anyway. So, why do people like to criticise how others spend their income? It’s not as though the money we spent on Fred would ever have made its way into the pockets of the people who made the criticism. The person who commented on the money we spent on Fred had said to my son, “So, do you think the dog is worth the money she spent on it?”
What was he expecting? That if I’d not spent it on Fred that I’d have had a moment of insanity and transferred it all into his piggybank. In all honesty, if he and his wife needed my help and I was down to my last penny, I’d swallow the penny.
Why the preoccupation with mine and my husband’s life choices? Does bringing Fred to the UK have any impact on his family’s life at all? No is the simple answer. So what’s the real reason for the question he asked my son? It has to be that ancient monster called jealousy which I mentioned previously, it’s judging everyone else by his own standard, and it’s the inability to understand altruism, the inability to feel unconditional love. For the sort of person who asks that question, they cannot understand that there doesn’t need to be a reason beyond “because it seems like a good idea at the time”. Naturally, they are dubious when people aren’t making life choices in line with their own selfish agenda. We certainly don’t expect a return from Fred, other than the usual dividends of having dogs; companionship, loyalty, dog shit, chewed shoes and vets bills.
Jealousy seems such a waste of emotion. How is staring at someone else’s life and feeling bitter about it going to make your life better? We’ll all be dead soon enough, the bit in between being a dribbling baby and being a dribbling old person is so brief, I can’t think of anything worse than feeling pissed off at what other people have.
I’ve never had a life plan, and neither do dogs. I like to live life a little bit dog, not like a dubious pig, living in a world of selfish endeavour whilst wallowing in a mire of shit and mistrust.