I have always loved dogs and they have tolerated me as perhaps a poor substitute for them but happy for me to go along for the ride.
So it was with Rastus. That wasn’t his real name, and he wasn’t my dog but I will tell you how I met him. It was a year or two back and Rastus was owned by an elderly neighbour of mine. Rastus didn’t know this, he thought he owned her. She had got him from the pound, she wanted a companion in her widowhood and had gone along to choose a dog and found Rastus waiting for anyone to spring him from jail, so was on his best behaviour when he was introduced. He was probably a bit quiet too as he had been deprived of some of his essential parts. My neighbour was probably given the usual sob story of a placid dog wanting a loving home to be a companion and all that trash, while he bored, ignored the implied instructions of how he was to behave. So he went home with her with his dog tag jingling on his collar. They don’t jingle these days as they are made plastic but she in her wisdom was entranced by this tinkling sound and called him Tinkerbell!
It wasn’t long before he had settled in and had made carnage of the back garden but she didn’t seem to mind as she couldn’t spend as much time tending the plants there as she would a have liked. This is where I came in and before long I was spending few hours a week tidying the place up and acquainting myself with Tinkerbell. Clearly he was out of control so I suggested I take him for a short walk after my gardening stint and have a cup of tea with her later when I brought him home. It took some time for him to understand that I was taking him for a walk and not vice-versa and it needed a few jerks on the lead for him to catch on but by the time I returned to her house he was happily walking by my side with an occasional glance up at me to acknowledge my status of nearly equal to his.
We got back to the house and were duly given a drink, me tea and Tinkerbell water and it was as I was sitting down in the Lounge Room chatting with my neighbour that I started noticing a few marks on the furniture and the cushions. I pointed out these puncture holes from the dog’s teeth to her but she had not noticed them. Clearly her eyesight was fading.
“Oh, Tinkerbell, you naughty dog,” she said.
He ignored her completely. So I suggested he be given just one room in the house to stay in, preferably the kitchen or laundry when she was out and she reluctantly agreed. He took no part in the conversation and decided he wanted to go into the garden so I got up and let him out and he straight away deposited a load in among the rose bushes, reversed and then covered it with dirt.
“Oh you are a rat’s arse.” I say. He wagged his tail, came up to me and jumped up to put his paws on me as if to say "Well that is a better name."
”I can’t call you Rats Arse,” I whispered. “I will call you Rastus instead, is that OK?”
I could swear he nodded his head, and that is how he and I became friends.
(To be continued)