I know many of you are cat lovers. That is fine but when the children
were growing up we were a family with dogs. That is one at a time of course as
dogs are less human with a mate in the house and two do not let you as get
close to them as one alone might.
One such pet, a golden Labrador cross was in fact my elder daughter’s dog
but he knew which side his bread was buttered so to speak and deferred to me as
he and I were the lone males in the house and we had a joint job of tending to
the female members of the household. He had in fact come from a Dog's Home or
pound. He was most grateful to have been sprung from prison and settled in very
At some stage the dog put away any dog shame and started speaking to us
all. Yes, I know it is hard to believe but myself, my wife and the three
children all could understand his dogspeak and if anyone was uncertain another
member of the family would be able to interpret his utterances. As head of the
house he did his best to call me by my name which came out as Mr. Kipper which
was his (or my children’s) interpretation of our surname. Soon all the
children’s friends knew that my name was Mr. Kipper because that is what the
dog called me.
His own given name was Caesar but he answered to almost anything although
Bongo was his favourite. He felt that Caesar was used more often in
admonishment as in “Oh Caesar, what have you done now?” Such was the case when
returning from Church one Easter morn. Caesar, cross that he hadn’t come with
us had found his way into our elder daughter’s bedroom and found her stash of
Easter eggs and eaten them, silver paper and all. Now this is bad practice for
dogs generally as they shouldn’t eat chocolate but being half human the only
result was some undesirable foil covered discoveries in the garden.
Caesar was most reluctant to sit on command and did only grudgingly as he
realized that might be the only way he would get a treat. The trouble was he
got enough treats anyway without such an indignity forced upon him as everyone
one of us would melt to his silent pleas that emanated from his eyes.
He was an amazing escape artist and although the back yard was fenced he
had sussed out the territory very well and if he knew that his friend Fred the
Dalmatian from down the road wanted him to go down the creek together, Caesar
would somehow shrink his body or turn his bones into rubber and force his way
out under the fence where even a Corgi would be stumped. If I realized quickly
enough that an escape had taken place I immediately went to their favourite
haunts but I had to be quick as once in the creek tracking invisible prey
pretending to be wild dogs or wolves they thought they once were they were
impossible to catch. They then wouldn’t return for hours. Fred would say
farewell in front of his master’s house and Caesar would plod his weary way
back up the hill to our place.
Often he would be too tired even to eat after one of these outings, or
perhaps they had both feasted on wild rabbit and would just want to get home
for a sleep. This however was not allowed as he was wet and smelly from the
creek and would have to endure the indignity of a bath before rejoining the
family and to get his desperately needed rest. After a nap he would be
rejuvenated and be one of us again.
When we looked after my wife’s parents’ cat all was well as both cat and
dog knew each other. As this often happened in winter months both Caesar and
Timmy the cat, felt that their place was closest to the fire in the Lounge, the
one who got there first chose a spot where the heat was just right. However when the other one also discovered the fire was lit they would push in front to
find the warmest spot. The one now shielded from the warmth would then get up
take up a position closer to the fire. This would continue until I would hear a
shout “Either the cat or the dog are burning, I can smell them”. One of them
had clearly got too close to the fire and their fur was singeing and I had to
become the fireman.