WE have a new puppy in the house, not that we particularly needed one as we’ve already had a dog for eight years now.
All that whining, puppy eyes and imploring nature. And that was just the kids.
We had to have another puppy – something else to love, cherish, stroke, play with and … pay for.
Yes, another mouth to feed in what’s already a house so busy the word ‘busy’ somehow doesn’t seem a big enough. Crazy’s a bit bigger and probably nearer the mark.
Countdown to puppy heaven started when we were on holiday in July. Premiership football managers reckon they’re under pressure. That’s nothing compared to the father of a 12-year-old who has set her heart on a puppy. And the pay’s far less. At least Premiership football managers can afford it.
I resisted like any father would, trotting out the usual well-worn and world-weary excuses.
“They cost a lot to buy and insure. I’ll end up walking it. The puppy will attack the furniture and chew anything in sight. Where will it stay when we go on holiday?’’
Yes, a veritable armoury of laudable excuses. I was sure to win the day and end up victorious and puppyless.
No chance. Every argument led to a counter argument and the battle – nay, the war even – was lost the moment my wife, Ruth, joined the 12-year-old prime mover in all this, Rosie, surfing the internet and looking at puppies.
Then came the call at work that they were going to look at one. I was staring defeat in the face. May as well run up the white flag.
And so as sure as night follows day and day follows night and night follows … well, you get the picture, the first litter yielded the one we had to have.
We took along our current dog, Snowy, to see which would ‘bond’ best with her. One leaped on her and ragged her ears. He was out of the picture. Too rough, too boisterous, too much trouble. But another rolled over and seemed to surrender. That’s the one. And so Betsy joined our household, bringing with her much whining, puppy eyes and imploring nature. Yes, Betsy and Rosie bonded well.
And if Betsy has shown one thing it’s just how well-behaved and manageable Snowy is. Apart from a bit of barking you can’t fault her with her total recall to her lead.
Betsy arrived about as house trained as an elephant. Thank goodness she’s so much smaller. All the usual ploys were used to get her used to the fact that the carpet may be a comfortable, convenient and warm place for that on-the-spur-of-the-moment toileting, but it’s not the right option from the owner’s point of view.
She’s improving at just above a snail’s pace, but we’ve had one trauma. She’s a born scavenger and will grab anything to chew – paper, purses, handbags, plastic toys, pencils – anything left hanging around.
So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Rosie looked up from the TV and proclaimed: “The puppy’s been sick.’’
Now there’s sick and there’s sick. This was a large brown pool and when we started the mission impossible of cleaning it up and removing the carpet stain there was a distinctive odour to it. Chocolate.
She must have escaped upstairs where half a bar of chocolate and a few orange thins had been left out in our bedroom. The box was still where we left it but no sign of the wrapper. That was under the table and empty. I opened the box. That was empty too. How had she done that and left the box exactly where it was? This is one sneaky dog.
But chocolate and dogs don’t mix as it’s toxic to them and the more we looked it up on the internet the more frightening it became with one site confidently proclaiming that half of dogs which have eaten a certain amount of chocolate will die and others may suffer long-term heart or liver damage.
The cocoa bean contains a chemical called theobromine that causes the potentially deadly problem – cue much distress, anxiety, phoning vets and more frantic internet searching as Betsy ran around like a 100m Olympic sprinter on steroids.
To cut what could be a very long story short she ended up on a drip in a veterinary hospital for 24 hours while she ‘detoxed’ – or perhaps that should be ‘dechoced’.
It had a happy ending for Betsy. Blood tests show that her liver and heart are fine and she came home to carry on where she left off.
Worse news about my wallet though as that’s taken a pounding to the tune of £317 of the blighters. Still, Betsy was insured so hopefully that bar of chocolate only cost me £75 and a night of ceaseless stress and trauma.
What a bargain! Oh, and guess who’s taking her out for a walk every morning.