What happens when the novelty wears off?

It occurred to me today, in the middle of this latest quarantine lockdown, that it is ninety days since my nanny went to the Rainbow Bridge to see grandad and all my buddies who have departed. And it made me wonder again about my life. I know I seem to be quite cogitative recently and maybe its because of the current situation with this virus and many other things happening. The time has flown since dad took the fateful phone call in mid August. Nanny and grandad are still in our hearts and minds. Sometimes I think I can see dad looking toward the heavens when I have allegedly done something silly.

I know I am a little disparaging about Lenny but it’s good to have a little brother to run around after, play with and generally share my life. I say it often enough however I am a very lucky dog to have love, safety and security showered upon me. Walks every day come rain or shine, food twice a day, biscuits and treats on other occasions and the pick of seven beds to sleep in all add up to me feeling happy. I am happy also that Lenny has somewhere safe to call home. He deserves it.

There are way too many other furs who don’t have the singular luxury of a bed, love, food or security throughout their lives and this makes me sad. Since the global virus marched its way through almost every country on the planet, I read about dogs being sold for extraordinary amounts of money because the demand outstrips the supply. Thousands of pounds for a puppy sold over the internet, on the back of no visit to see the little fur in its “home” environment, not seeing it with mum, sometimes a lack of health certificates and no check on any breeding or bloodlines. Are we a commodity, to be sold and bought in the same way as traders sell wheat, coal or motor cars? As sentient creatures, should there not be a more respectful and measured approach to us. I know that there are some people who look after us, breeders who make sure that they see where we will go, ensure we will be looked after and keep in touch for further questions.

People are at home for far longer than they used to be and crave company to combat their lack of social mobility. What happens when, or if, the virus is controlled a little and people start to carefully return to their places of work. What is to happen to the many pets who have been purchased and who may be left alone at home, almost fending for themselves with no walks, interaction with their humans and losing the regimentation of a regular daily life? I fear that a large number will merely be surrendered to a rescue centre, or shelter whose facilities will become bursting at the seams with the influx. I hope I am wrong, I really do.

Then we turn to the dreaded “C” word. Not Covid, but Christmas! How far will “pester power” stretch this year? How many dogs will be introduced to a new home with all the noise and joviality going on around us. Sitting there bewildered by this new places, brightly coloured surroundings and not knowing what to do, how to interact and feeling completely confused with it all. The novelty often wears off quicker than a Christmas Day dinner and we look for some guidance and interaction to make us feel wanted and loved. Maybe this year should be the time for people to do their homework before bringing us into a new home. Speak to a rescue centre, ask what would be the best dog to suit the human and canine needs and then see if there is an unwanted dog at the rescue or shelter. I was a Christmas rescue dog, my parents did their homework as far as they could, they spoke to the rescue centre, saw me three times, walked me on each occasion, asked questions and thought about me for about three weeks before I came home. I was, and remain, lucky because they persevered with me despite some difficult early months for us all. People will say “oh but the rescue centres and rehoming centres aren’t allowing visits” which is often times true at the moment. That doesn’t stop them from researching our traits, which would be the best type of dog to get and then ask more questions.

Maybe what I am saying is this. Instead of “What will happen when the novelty wears off” it should be “Don’t let us be a novelty in the first place”. We are a serious and timely commitment. We will love you, play fetch, sleep in strange places, make you smile and be your best friend. However we will also make you sad when we have accidents, fall ill, run off on a walk and need you to take us to the vet and clean up after us. This applies to puppies who have their whole life ahead of them as well as older dogs who want only to have their years of dotage in a warm comfy place with gentle ear tickles and soft cuddles.

Are people ready for that? If not, then think really carefully about our suitability.

Off with his head.

As my readers will undoubtedly remember I had the privilege, nay the honour, of showing Raffa and her mum around London before Christmas last year. Ok, Lenny and my parents came along to carry bags and pay for coffee and buns, but I did most of the work on the day. We had a lovely day and saw so many places that Lenny and I slept like the proverbial logs on the tube journey home.

When I woke up the next day I realised that Raffa hadn’t ticked off all the sights she wanted to see. We had missed seeing a Yeoman of the Guard, also known as a Beefeater.

Nearly all ticked off.

This bugged me for quite some time in the weeks and months that followed. Mum and dad could see there was something preoccupying me and we decided we would do something about it. We wanted it to be a surprise for Raffa and her mum. Sadly Raffa then made her longest journey to the Rainbow Bridge. This only strengthened my resolve to finish Raffa’s tick list. We decided to try and contact the Tower of London people to see if they could help us. I dictated an email for dad to send to the Tower of London and we waited to see if there would be a reply. To our surprise we got a really fast response which said they would be only too pleased to help us and we should correspond further to make arrangements. Once dad had made concrete plans, I had to rein in my enthusiasm until the day I could escort dad on the tube back into London. We had to be quite quick as the pandemic was beginning to affect travel and people so we knew we wouldn’t have much time.

The day arrived and we were on our toes early towards the station. Onto the train, and before we knew it, we were through Marylebone and heading to the park. I had done it a few times before. I felt like a professional commuter.

Dad, can we make this train go faster?

We successfully negotiated the tube journey and found ourselves looking out at the Tower of London. Suddenly my ears were being tickled by a tall gentleman in a colourful coat and hat. Yeoman Sergeant Towell was standing smiling and we went off for the photo to be taken. Whilst the picture was being taken we had a chat with him. He was very welcoming and generous with his time, given that there were still some people who also wanted his help in being shown around the Tower. He was a beagle owner previously and also told us that there is a beagle who lives in the Tower, but I didn’t get to meet him. It was great fun and I walked back to the tube station with a spring in my step.

This is for you Raffa.

Within a couple of days, the pandemic intervened and it took some time to get a nice frame for the photo which we would send to Raffa’s mum. We hoped she would be happy that we had completed Raffa’s tick list. I gave the picture a kiss and we sent it off. Now we had to wait to hear if we had done the right thing.

We had done the right thing. Raffa’s mum loved the picture. Phew. She said it was wonderful and lovely and was a fitting reminder of the day. Phew once more. We couldn’t let you down by not finishing the postcard, Raffa.

We must say thank you to the Tower of London as they were unbelievably helpful and happy to help us at short notice.