thewritersbarn

Writing because words are the essence of my life.


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P is for pegs, porridge, pants …and puppies

I can’t deny that having a puppy is a joyous, wondrous thing. Although my heart is heavy and my eyes prickle with tears often as I walk the fine line between grief and a new love in my life, I am blown away by The Writer’s Apprentice. I laugh aloud often. He is such a fabulous character. And a total liability!

He’s 9 weeks tomorrow, so I do expect the toileting mishaps and I don’t mind them at all. He’ll get there and I already think he’s pretty good. I am trying to teach him ‘sit’, but only every now and again. I’m not sure he even knows his name yet, so first things first.

Oh yes. We decided to call him Finley. We tried out Georgie (as his Dad was called ‘Best’ and Georgie Best seemed fun) but it didn’t fit him. We also tried Sydney, and Chilli, but again, no joy. Finley came to us because we sell a limited edition Suki Silver Tag Teddy Bear in the shop called Finley and they look alike. Like peas in a pod. Kind of. Except one is a teddy bear and one is a real dog… I know. Ha! So Finley it is and it’s perfect. Fin for short. Not that he’ll be short, far from it.

Puppies … how quickly we forget the trials and tribulations. The chasing around after them, tripping over them, the comical angle of the head, the sudden nerves and lack of confidence after blissful boisterousness! Not forgetting the tendency to go from 100 mph super zoomies to complete snoring exhaustive obliviousness in less time than it takes to check the spelling of boisterousness.

Tassels. What is it with puppies and tassels? I never knew I actually had quite so many clothes with tassels on them. At the moment I don’t have a wardrobe, because we live in a rented house that doesn’t have built in wardrobes, and as it’s only a temporary shelter, we haven’t bought any. My clothes are on a clothes rail. The puppy has selected several items that he thinks require pulling and chomping on. These have tassels. I have also just caught him chewing on the poncho thingie I wear when it’s cold and I’m writing. This has tassels. Of course it does. I channel my inner hippie well. I need to take a long hard look at my life.

Porridge. Porridge is to puppies, what heroin is to people. You apply porridge to a crazed four legged fluffy creature, sit back, and watch their docility increase exponentially. In Finley’s case this morning, he ate all his porridge, plus Betsy’s. The result? A happy napping puppy till midday. Betsy ate Satin’s porridge. Satin – ever hard done to – had to settle for some goat’s milk. Now the effects of porridge have worn off, Finley is awake, and chewing on … you’ve guessed it – tassels.

My laundry. I managed to get some washing done. This was a feat in itself. Finley kept running off with pants. Initially he wanted a bed sheet but this was too big for him, so he settled first for my pants and then for John’s. I had to keep going after him to fetch them back, only to return to the machine to find him scampering off with something new.

Once the washing was completed I went outside to hang it on the rotary spinner. Finley was introduced to the peg basket. Oh joy of joys – I remembered ‘the peg adventure’ with Herbie and Betsy. Plenty of my pegs are half gnawed. I shooed him away and started to hang the washing on the line. Herbie used to stand beside me while I did this and daydream about whatever it is dogs daydream about, always to my left, waiting for me to stroke his head, and ask “Alright, babe?” Finley didn’t have the inclination for daydreaming today though. He tugged at the sheet again which I was haplessly trying to attach to the line, and realising he wasn’t going to win, he skipped away. Once I’d finished what I was doing, I turned to see him lying contentedly in the grass with a purple peg between his paws, having a good old chew. I took it off him and he leapt away in delight, landing on a startled Satin, who was indolently sunbathing and minding her own business.

I had to giggle, but I did sympathise. Both Satin and I were a little hang dog when we went back into the house, worn out. Not Finley though. Oh no. He’s having a whale of a time.

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The Writer’s Apprentice

It was never a matter of if, and always a case of when, and so this weekend, my husband and I did a 530-mile round trip in 24 hours to collect a little bundle of fluff. We ummed and ahhed quite a lot. Was it too soon? Yes. Was he too far away? Definitely. Was I trying to find Herbie? Maybe. Was he the right dog? Who knows! But there he was, sticking his tongue out at me via the wonders of the Tinterweb, and I just knew he was the one. What if I let him pass and never found the right pup? I’m terrible for worrying about such things, and so insurmountable barriers had to be surmounted, and that’s what we did.

It’s a bizarre thing to be grieving for your BFFF (see previous post) and yet to be cradling this tiny ball of wonder. He is a salve to my crushed heart, Aloe Vera for my burning soul. But that’s not to say the pain of Herbie’s loss has faded, because it really, really hasn’t. This morning I had a puppy on the bed for the first time in years, and although I was knackered and it was far too early, he was funny and he made me laugh … and then my eyes strayed to the bedroom door where Herbie would have stood and issued a cool stare that said, “Are you getting up then, or what? I want my walk.” It’s been the same every morning since that final day (17 days now actually, not that I’m counting). My eyes flick there and he’s not there, and that’s when I weep for the first time every day, without fail.

But I’m going about my business better than I was, trying to catch up on the backlog of work.

Then mid-afternoon, a song came on the radio that I like and I picked the puppy up and cradled him and we had a little dance and I sang gently in his ear, my lips close to his soft cheek, and it was joyous to be in the moment with him … and I cried like a baby for the boy I used to do that with. Even fully grown (and he was quite a big lad, my Herbie) he LOVED to do that. We would pretend he was a puppy all over again.

And just now, I sat in the sunshine with a cup of tea after exploring the garden with the puppy and then I cried, because the sky was so beautifully blue and the sun so warm, and my sweet Herbie is dust in a casket in the living room, his name beautifully engraved on a brass plaque. And I miss him. I bloody miss him.

So, a puppy? What the hell was I thinking of?

Puppies are chaotic, but their development is incredibly swift. So far, in 24 hours, he has learned how to do the steps to outside. He knows where the water bowl is. He can do wee wees and poo poos in the garden, but has the occasional accident in the hall. He comes when I call, ‘puppy’. We haven’t finalised his name quite yet. He’s a marvel.

He has explored all the rooms, but is still a little shy about certain things and follows me around like a tiny fluffy shadow. Our old dog (Satin) is a sweetheart; she’s Grandma – gives him a wash when she can be bothered. Our Bedlington Terrier (Betsy) is having a right mard because: a) we left her in kennels overnight while we raced up country and how very, very dare we! And b) “I’m the puppy!”

Now she knows how Herbie felt when we brought her home. Bless her.

I have remembered how to do ‘the puppy shuffle’. This involves walking around as though wearing a large nappy, so that when he dives between your feet there’s enough space so that you don’t crush him to death, or kill yourself when you trip over him. His teeth and nails are like razors. My legs are covered in scratches because he likes to jump up at me. I like all of this.

I’m constantly confused about what and how much he needs to eat. I have a feeling he could just eat all day, but surely that wouldn’t be good. I need to take advice on this. Betsy was a big eater, Herbie wasn’t. Puppy is going to make 22-25 inches so he’ll be pretty big.

I laughed out loud (and alone) when puppy dashed out of the kitchen with the tea-towel clamped in his jaws. I’d just dropped it and off he flew, superfast. Jesus. This boy is going to be a Usain Bolt. I was less enamoured when he decided he preferred my specs (Gok Wans – bought when I actually had a salary and could afford decent specs!) to his chewie toy however, and rapidly retrieved them, only to find he had them again the next time I looked his way. And he has an obsession with paper … he finds it, he tears it up …

My specs. Paper.

Where is he now? Sound asleep (at last!) on my left hand side as I type at my desk. Let me repeat that. On my left hand side. Do you have any idea how that makes me feel? You will if you read my last blog.

He’s amazing and beautiful, I love him already, which is not to dishonour Herbie’s memory in any way. I hope not anyhow. I love Herbie as much as I ever did.

Let me introduce you to The Writer’s Apprentice. I think I’m going to cry again.