It’s A Dog’s Life – March 2018
by Rolo – the Border Terrier
March is the months for mums, with Mother’s Day on the 11th this year. I haven’t seen my mum since I was eight weeks old, and to be frank, I’m not sure I’d recognise her if I met her, assuming she’s still around of course. I’m sure she’d be proud if she knew how I turned out, although she might want to review her skills in the puppy disciplining department. However, I like to think I’ve given ‘Her Indoors’ the opportunity to develop her mothering skills by extending them to me. I’ve had a number of roles in my life, but once the ‘Juniors’ had grown up and left home, child substitute was one I easily slipped into, after all, there is a school of thought that we dogs are stuck in permanent toddlerdom anyway, so it’s not a big stretch for a dog of my talents.
Firstly, like children, we dogs take a lot of looking after. I need someone who can provide clean bedding, brush my fur and make sure my teeth are attended to. Whilst I am more than capable of sourcing my own food, ‘Her Indoors’ seems to strongly disapprove of my culinary self-service choices, so she provides me with my own cuisine, which, rather like when the ‘Juniors’ were at home, often involves stuff in tins and packets.
She also has to look after me when I’m ill and source suitable medical attention when necessary. Unlike the ‘Juniors’ however, who have the NHS, she also has to pay for my health care which is only right and proper. They might be happy waiting patiently for overstretched staff in drafty Victorian facilities, but only tasteful décor and shining porcelain is good enough for me. I do have my own medical insurance, but in spite of ‘Them Indoors’ religiously paying out ever increasing premiums for my entire life, I’ve only ever used it once, and then most of the claim wasn’t covered, for reasons hidden in the small print. If, of course, ‘Them Indoors’ had decided not to insure me, and taken a chance on me being healthy, I would have had to develop a complicated and on-going health complaint that would have cost them thousands, as a protest against their lack of fiscal generosity and forward planning.
Another sense in which I’m like the juniors is that I like my creature comforts and expect ‘Her Indoors’ to provide them. Not for me some draughty old kennel in the garden. I need a warm radiator and even better, a woodburner, with priority access rights. ‘Him Indoors’ is a bit stingy on the central heating front and has insisted
that the thermostat was stuck at 18 degrees, long before it became fashionable for environmental reasons, and the ‘Juniors’ always moan when they come home about the coldness of the house, but I’ve got fur so I’m not so fussy. Although I don’t like to be seen agreeing with ‘Him Indoors’ I have some sympathy with his advice to ‘wear a jumper’, after all, I come with my own as a matter of course.
I also rely on ‘Her Indoors’ mothering skills to ensure that I’m suitably entertained and mentally stimulated. I have so many toys that ‘Her Indoors’ has had to buy me two toy boxes: one for the kitchen and one in the garden, to house my collection. I got one toy for Christmas that I particularly like. A treat goes in the middle and the toy closes round it, fastened by Velcro, a bit like a flower with the petals shut over the centre. I then have to find my way into it so that I can get to the food item. Most enjoyable.
Probably the only area of ‘Her Indoors’ mothering skills that I’m not keen on are her efforts to impose her, sometimes rather arbitrary, standards of behaviour. I don’t want to be unreasonable or ungrateful but why should I ‘come’ or ‘sit’ when she tells me and what is a code of behaviour if it’s not a framework within which to tactically manoeuvre? And her only other downside, which I’m going to draw a veil over, is her attempts at home crafting, particularly knitting, when it applies to me. Does she think I have no taste?
Still, by and large, I am very grateful for her mothering skills, and as she’s had me all my life, I can, with some legitimacy, blame my faults on her. So, on Mother’s Day I will duly present her with the ultimate accolade by rolling over and allowing her to tickle my tummy. What more could she ask for? The ‘juniors’ will have to do substantially better than that however, after all, she’s had them for longer and she really is their mum!
Rolo’s book ‘The Last Rolo’ is available from The Malthouse in Herstmonceux, Heals in Five Ashes, Barnett’s in Wadhurst, The Courtyard Café in Rotherfield. The new book ‘Sit, Stay, Roll Over’ will be available from Amazon or online at www.helenstockton.co.uk/store or by mail order from Magnet call 01825 768077 – both priced at £6.99 and £7.99 respectively plus £3.00 P&P if applicable.