Monday, 7 June 2010

Who's going to clean this mess up then?

"Who's going to clear up this mess then?"

I knew it would be me. It came with the job. That of being a parent with a child who just had to have a puppy. Why we called him Roger I have no idea. I think it came from the need to take him for a walk to "do his business " as the expression goes. So it was me that called out to him "OK Roger, over and out" from fighter pilot talk of so long ago.

Dogs have always been one of the family both when I was a child and from soon after we got married. The names we gave them never were distinguished; it was always, Bob, Roger, Rusty and so on to make them feel that they were part of the family I suppose - one of us so to speak. Thinking back our dogs never aspired to greatness. They fitted in, did their job willingly and chose the warmest place in front of the fire as was their right.

What was their job you will ask? Bark I suppose, at both invited and uninvited guests. Knock small children over with their wagging tails and disappear without trace to show how important they were when you needed to shut them in when you were going out.

I used to catch a train to work which was only a few minutes walk from home. Dogs are not daft, we are. When I got to the station one morning the dog was waiting for me on the platform just to check to see where I went each day! "Go home" I ordered and he reluctantly slunk off while I just managed to get on the train before it left.

There was a time when our dog and one of the others in the street would somehow get out to meet each other to get away from humans for a bit to do their own canine thing. Ours had a friend from down the road that used to wait until ours had dug his way under the fence and then they would take off at a speed to make their calls; tease the dogs shut in and couldn't get out, chase rabbits and other smaller creatures quite fruitlessly and find some really foul stagnant water to bathe in. Then they would come home stinking, tired out and look at you as though to say isn't dinner ready yet?

My wife before we were married had a Labrador that had a penchant for chewing holes in socks when left alone and even tried reading newspapers and library books. That however usually resulted in shredded newspaper or books with the covers half chewed off.

Most of our dogs could talk. Not that anyone else would know that. We just put words into the dog's mind and one of us would sing it out in a dog like voice. Being dogs they would sometimes struggle with the language and mispronounce words and get names a little wrong. It certainly helped to be a little mad in our house as the whole family were putting words into the dogs mouth. One dog had extreme difficulty with my name and called me "Mr. Kipper".

I forgot to mention their most important job which was of course to love you unreservedly. They were very happy when you were too, and knew just when a snuggle up to you was appropriate if you were feeling down.

For all the dog messes of the foulest kind that I cleaned up I regretted not one because so much was given to us all by our pet dogs. And as each one took their leave many tears were shed at their leaving even though they stayed on in our hearts to be remembered and talked about many many years later.


  1. Enjoyed that. I moved around so much in my life that I never got round to having a pet of any kind, unfortunately.

  2. Yes, animal 'mess' is always worth clearing up. I've never been lucky enough to have my own dog but my little hamsters always break my heart when they go to the big hammy cage in the sky so certainly losing a dog is a big loss.. I like your working around the word 'mess'. It showed a great glimpse into the world..thank you..jae

  3. I made the ruling in our family that I would tidy up childrens' messes (of all sorts) and he would tidy up after pets. Fortunately for me the children grew up but the pets kept on coming. Now, when we look after our daughter's dog while she's away he still has messes t attend to!

  4. they are worth every mess they leave - I am dogless at the moment but still missing my last one. She died of old age but she and I were best buds.

  5. Well this is a sweet describtion of tiding a mess. Dogs are wonderful friends, especially the ones that talk. I've only allowed my children to have fish, a turtle, and chickens. No dog yet; I refuse to be the one to clear it up, the boys give me enough cleaning up to do!

  6. This made me get a little teary. I was thinking about all the messes I have cleaned up behind my lab and how mad he makes me... thanks for reminding me of all the love he gives me in return. What a special gift... It's surely worth it!

  7. As a dog lover and doggy owner of dogs now in doggy heaven, my heart is in my mouth and tears are welling up in my eyes from your poignant post. I adored your section about dogs speaking, "Mr. Kipper!" Your post, written with wit, wisdom, and love is a great response to the "mess" prompt. I'm not "S" and can't seem to link my typepad account, so this is still Gel.

    Gel (Http://

  8. All my friends knew the dog could 'talk' at our house - because he continued to do so when ever they came over (thank you very much). Needless to say they all refer to (you) my parents as those 'Crazy Kippers'.

    I forgot all about those wild forays he had with his buddy, I can blame him as an influence to my own teenage rebellions of the time.

  9. This was reminiscent of that dog-movie "Marley and Me"; an ironic title, given the "me" was a writer. I'm assuming this was non-fiction? Your bio warns me not to believe what you say.