I have two dogs, or poochettes. They are brothers by definition, not blood, and like many who share close quarters, they have adopted similar mannerisms and quirks while still retaining their individual personality traits.
They are crossbreed ‘oodles’, which appear to be the breed of choice for many these days. The poodle gene contribution means that they have fur, not hair, which is good news for all those who suffer from allergies, and those who don’t want to continually vacuum up dog hair from the floor, soft furnishings and rugs.
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When the decision was finally made that we would get a dog, Black and White (B&W) declared that it must be an ‘oodle’ or some other sort of dog which had fur, not hair. “Dogs,” he said, “are a lot of work, and I don’t want any extra jobs around the house!”
Oodles were not the dog of choice for either hipsterteens (HTs), who at this time were tweens. One wanted a beagle with soft caramel, black and white markings on its velvety, but hairy coat, and the other wanted a large dog – the bigger and more robust, the better. But the fur edict had been declared and the modest, and at that time, our grassless backyard was a very inappropriate place for an exuberant large hound in need of a great deal of exercise.
Photo of beagle courtesy fibroblast via Photopin and Creative Commons
Photo of large hound courtesy Claudio Gennari …”Cogli l’attimo ferma il tempo” via Photopin and Creative Commons
On my neighbourhood travels, I discovered some ‘oodle’ pups for sale and was instantly smitten, as almost every one is, with small puppies. The HTs and I visited after school, and I said that they could choose one each from the various litters.
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Does the dog choose its owner or does the owner choose the dog? I think it might be the former. The younger HT chose quickly and never waivered from his choice. The dog (Poochette 1) was one of the older puppies available for sale – a ‘geriatric’ at 14 weeks. His brothers and sisters long gone, he alone remained, and had been marked down from his original selling price, and was in the ‘bargain box’.
Photo courtesy Michael | Ruiz via Photopin and Creative Commons
The older HT looked longer and experienced more angst in making the final decision, but made a connection with a very small champagne coloured fur bundle (Poochette 2) from another box. He and his brothers and sisters were a mere 8 weeks old – available for sale at a premium price.
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Puppies have teething problems – literally. They like to chew and they are easily bored if they do not receive constant attention. Poochette 1 and 2 were typical puppies. On more than one occasion B&W had declared that “there was something wrong with the dogs”, that “dogs don’t behave in such a way”, when, of course, they were behaving the very way puppies and young dogs often do.
The collateral damage started to mount – they chewed the washing machine seal, and the hard plastic bumper bar on the front of the car showed teeth marks. Most spectacularly, an uneven patch on the gyprock wall of the garage turned into a gaping hole – large enough for Poochette 1 to get his head through.
B&W, being a highly structured and ordered person, devised all sorts of deterrents to prevent further damage. Anything chewable was put far out reach, heavy objects were placed in front of wires and cords, and, at night, they had to be crated to prevent any nocturnal misdemeanours.
When angry at the Poochettes, B&W called them ‘Dumb’ and ‘Dumber’ after the film of the same name. He declared we had our own Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne (aka Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels), the two good-natured but dimwitted friends, who caused chaos wherever they went.
Photo of Jim Carey courtesy twm1340 via Photopin and Creative Commons
Photo of Jeff Daniels courtesy twm1340 via Photopin and Creative Commons
I pleaded their case saying there was not a mean bone in either of their two small bodies; they were loving, affectionate, loyal, and always happy to see you. They were also quite clever and mastered the handshake paw trick in one simple lesson. B&W declared in his next lifetime he was coming back as my dog – what a life – he could do exactly as he pleased, chew whatever, and never get into trouble. He would be able to sleep away most of the day, do absolutely nothing, be praised lavishly for doing so, and receive copious amounts of unconditional love.
The poochettes are now four-years-old or about 28 years in human terms, and with age, has come maturity. Huge progress has been made with B&W and the poochettes have full access inside the house. The décor even matches their coats.
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Poochette 1’s coat is black and white, a classic colour combination that is inherently sleek and sophisticated and he blends into perfection upstairs. Poochette 2’s coat varies from off-white vanilla with a touch of cream, to the more effervescent champagne shades which are the perfect neutral colour palette to build upon. He simply adds another layer and texture. They are self-moving decorator items!
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A Dog Day Afternoon…
Monday afternoon was like any other with the Poochettes greeting me enthusiastically as if I had been away for eight years, rather than returning from eight hours at work. When B&W arrived less than 15 minutes later he exclaimed: “What’s wrong with Poochette 2?”
Poochette 2’s limbs were stretched out straight but his little body was convulsing in a series of epileptic type fits. His tongue was lolling sideways from his mouth, covered in red dots where he had bitten it while fitting. “Quick, wrap him a towel and we’ll head to the Vet.” The journey was taken at break-neck speed in B&W’s fancy car, which neither Poochette had ever travelled in before.
As we parked in the Vet’s driveway, Poochette 2’s heart stopped beating and his bowels instantaneously evacuated all over my dress. I entered the Vet’s surgery wide-eyed with distress in my fouled dress, and carrying my dog with rigor mortis. By some miracle, the Vet team was able to get Poochette 2’s heart started again and soon it was beating wildly. If his heart continued to beat at such a rapid pace, his organs would turn to fluid and he would die – so intravenous drugs had to be quickly pumped through his system.
But the diagnosis was not clear – it could be envenomation (a snake or spider bite), epilepsy, a brain tumour, or poison. The discussion began about treatment – first, Poochette 2 would need to be stabilised, then an MRI could be done at another surgery, followed by an extraction of spinal fluid to determine if the cause was bacterial, and so on. B&W, ever the practical realist, said “You are going to have to think about the cost of this whole exercise.”
We left with heavy hearts and instructions to ring at 9pm and again at midnight for updates. We were cheered at 9pm to hear that the fitting had stopped but dismayed again at 12pm when a correction was made to say that the fitting had continued. The next update at 7am the following morning confirmed that Poochette 2 had stabilised, and we should visit at the end of the working day.
I faced Tuesday tired and emotionally drained – the day was non-stop and allowed me no time to think or contemplate the situation. That afternoon, the trip to the Vet was taken at a more sedate speed, and to our surprise, our next-door neighbours were also at the Vet’s Surgery looking grim-faced. We passed on our bad news, only to hear exactly the same thing had happened to their Le Grande Poochette – a large Golden Retriever. Le Grande had already been subjected to the MRI and spinal fluid tap with no conclusive diagnosis, except that he now had a very unfortunate haircut – a reverse ‘mohawk’.
Poison it must be, we agreed, as did the Vet. Who could have done such a thing to two family pets? And, how did Poochette 1 manage not to touch whatever was tainted? Poochette 1, the greediest of dogs, would have wanted to share in whatever foodstuffs were available. No one knows what happened, whether it was someone baiting wildlife or an evil member of a dog-fighting ring, looking to put dogs in a stupor and then use them as bait to blood fighting dogs. Sadly the Vet, Police and RSPCA all said that dog poisoning is quite common. A report has been made and this may help in other cases and put a stop to such amoral actions.
While waiting for Poochette 2 to receive his discharge papers, we met Vince and Prince. Vince, a Labradoodle, was named by this three boy owners, and had made the name his own. Vince’s fur was closely shorn in a no-nonsense and no frills cut, and he was aching to get home to his three mates and muck about. Prince was a Shih Tzu, who true to his breed, either liked being a show dog, or when he tired of all the attention, he immediately relaxed and became a couch potato.
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Poochette 2 and Le Grande are both ‘on the mend’ and are expected to make a full recovery. In order to care for Poochette 2 on Thursday night, I had to cancel my plans to attend a book launch for One For All, a crime novel by Lea Scott, which features a female detective called Sol Ramirez, who sounds like just the right person to solve the case.
For more information on Lea and her books, visit her website.
Nota Bene: B&W was most distressed and concerned about Poochette 2 during this ordeal, and one can hardly believe it is the same man who was so stern with them in the beginning.