Megan was a godsend. The break up with my husband had been prolonged and emotionally draining, the cat was manic and no company and the neighbours were persistently sticky beaking. Village life has drawbacks and one of them is the insatiable appetite of the local community for gossip and currently, I was the centre of speculation. I realised this after letting a ‘caring’ neighbour in the house and found her rummaging through my cupboards. Luckily I caught her before she reached the half full his and her boxes tucked away out of sight. Therefore, the decision to adopt a puppy from the local shelter was not a hard one. A friend proposed the idea when I was feeling particularly flat. First, it would be company. Second, walking the dog in the Yorkshire moors was a way of keeping fit. Third, a guard dog would be useful for a single women living on her own and forth , a cute puppy would give the locals something new to talk about.
It seemed like a good idea, so one lunchtime we drove to the local animal shelter to work out the logistics. While we were there we decided to look around. It was here that Meggie and I had an Anne McCarthy moment. Just as the new born dragon chooses it’s new rider, one of the abandoned animals singled me out. A small, honey blond, 3 month old puppy with brown kaholed eyes and long lashes wriggled her bottom in excitement, jumped up and down like a pogo stick before making a bee line for me. In contrast to the other pups, who were younger, cuter , sleepy and just not bothered she was full of vitality. Despite being tied up in a bag and abandoned in woodland this youngster still appeared to be a loving and trusting animal. I did not commit but drove back to work to think it over. One long-winded meeting later, where the selection of a name for the dog took precedence over the need to know about pharmaceutical sales statistics in Outer Mongolia. I knew that I was going to adopt Megan.
Lurchers (a cross between a gray hound and a whippet) are supposed to be one of the more intelligent of the canine species. There were times when she amazed me with her ability to think things out. Most dogs chew shoes and anything smelly – my dog was a little more refined and developed a taste for books and music. Other dogs will be content with a game of retrieve, my dog made her own amusement:-.
Game one. Gallop through kitchen at speed, take running jump into lounge, land on newspaper left on the floor by careless owner and slide across the carpet floor. Take it in turns with the cat to see who can travel the furthest.
Game Two. Take running jump, slide down muddy hill, shoot off end into canal. Shake water out of fur over anybody stupid enough to be laughing at you. Repeat over and over again.
Game Three. Pull up and toss kitchen fabric tiles around floor, wait for owner to come home, sit and watch owner spend an hour jig sawing them back together. Do it again the next day, and the next day and the next day. ……I put an end to this game when I glued the tiles down. What I would have given to see the look on her face when she tried to pry them up the day after.
Game Four. When no-one will play with you, entertain yourself. Pick up a stick, chuck it in the river and jump in after it.
Game Five. Try to fool owner by stealing small amount of left over food from plate in such a way that she doesn’t notice. She was good at this one. Much better than the cat who’s idea of subtlety was to snatch and run, like the time she pinched the bacon out of my friend’s sandwich just as she was about to take a bite.
Not desperately amused by game five, I decided to teach Meggie a lesson. Loading some leftovers with chilli and canine pepper, I placed the plate on the table and left the room. Returning a minute later, the plate looked untouched and the dog was sitting on the floor down trying to look innocent. Her inability to look me in the eyes, the twitching brows, and the steam coming out of her ears proclaimed her guilt. But she didn’t budge even when I filled up her water bowel and placed it temptingly in front of her. An hour later it was time for a walk and she still hadn’t had a drink. It was a battle of wills and she was winning. I gave up and took her out down by the river. As soon as I let her off the lead she raced down the steps, stuck her whole head in the water and drank deeply. She learned a hard lesson and never touched my food again. However, after this incident she developed a taste for the table leg.
Ah well, win some lose some.