The hardest decision you’ll ever make: Part I
As a child, I had several pet hamsters and a pet rat. My father is fond of cats, and we always had a cat. But never a dog. As soon as Michael and I got married, we started talking about getting a one. I fancied a German Shepherd. Michael said they had bad press, and he wanted something smaller.
As soon as the couple and their dog left, I asked Mike, ‘What kind of dog is that?’ ‘A German Shepherd,’ he said. Really? I wanted one so badly I didn’t know what it looked like.
One day, as we walked by the St Albans Cathedral, we met our perfect dog. I fussed him, and he licked my face. Now I wanted a dog just like him: large, black, and long-haired.
Michael liked that dog. He said if we were to get a German Shepherd, it would have to be a long-haired black one. Of course we were getting one! How silly we must look walking around by ourselves—like a pair of loiters. If we walked with a dog, however, we would be walking a dog. And what a dog it would be! Everyone would see us, and say, ‘Wow! What a dog!’ And he would be our dog.
Immediately on return, I began searching. I should have been researching, but I had no time for that: we were already on our way to see puppies I found advertised in a local paper.
‘Remember, we are only going to look,’ Michael said, and I ‘completely agreed’.
The perfect dog
The breeder didn’t do it for living: she just wanted to let her bitch have a litter before spaying her (a common misconception). She explained the bitch was tall for the breed, as was the stud, and so the puppies would likely grow large. We liked the bitch. She was cautious but friendly and without apparent temperament flaws. Both parents had been screened for inherited diseases, and the puppies KC-registered.
The litter played and tumbled. They were fuzzy and fat and black, and they had chunky paws. One came to Michael, lay on his feet, and fell asleep on his shoes. Eventually, Michael needed to move his feet; so, he picked up the puppy and put him with the rest of the litter. The puppy promptly returned, lay across Michael’s feet again, and resumed the sleeping.
That’s how we picked our dog, or rather, our dog picked us. We put down the deposit, and I’ve never been more clueless or excited in my life.
An imperfect owner
I had no idea what to do with a dog or how to train one. Instead of reading up, however, I went to a pet store and bought a fabulous food dish, a tonne of toys, and the loveliest lead, then phoned work to book two weeks off so I would be at home when the puppy arrives and help him settle in. I was now ready for my dog. (That two-week holiday gave Tango nothing but separation anxiety, which he never got over.)
At first, it was easy, because Tango mostly slept. On my slippers. Soon, he grew into an impressive, even scary-looking hound, but he harmed no-one. Michael’s little nephew once slapped Tango on the face, and hard, but Tango just squealed and walked away.Continue reading “It takes two to Tango”
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