Split acorns and puppies

It’s not easy trying to write with a puppy underfoot, but as long as she gnaws at her toy, cube shaped and covered in tendrils and bumps and protuberances of all types designed to assist her teeth to grow strong and clean, all will be well. Before I need to engage in more active play.

The pup’s been here a week and again I feel like the mother of a newborn, preoccupied, alert to her every cry when it’s my turn to take responsibility for her. Fortunately, I get to share this load as I’m not the only dog watcher in this household. 

With my babies I was not alone, too, but babies are a much bigger deal than puppies and filled me with a deep sense of awe at the mysteries of life and a deep fear of death.

As happens most often in the middle of the night, I decided the puppy had a cough, a cough that in my imagination had me scooting off to the emergency vet in the dark, coughing puppy beside me and ready to die. 

I could not find the contract papers and details from the pet shelter from where we collected the puppy. They disappeared almost as soon as we brought her home. I did not take care of them because I assumed our life with this puppy would proceed without hitch.

This does not always happen I know, but the optimist in me insisted on imagining our puppy beyond puppydom where like the other dogs in my life, I need not be so preoccupied.

My two older grandsons stayed overnight too which adds to my sense of responsibility for the young ones who need support. My grandsons in the form of pancakes for breakfast and by mid-morning an injunction to get off their screens and come out into the world with me for a walk with the dogs, or a series of card games that we play in a stretch to shift into non technological mode. 

The younger grandson brought his pack of Exploding Kittens. I can’t get into this card game. I read through the rules with him yesterday and as much as I can now understand the moves more fully, this game still lacks something for me. I prefer the patterning of Uno, the repetitious nature of a card game that relies both on luck and some modicum of skill. A game I can play as well as the next person.

The corellas are back this morning. I expected them a week back ever since I saw the first lone scout circling overhead. Casing the joint. Ready to holler to its mates, come over here. There’s an oak tree resplendent with budding acorns. Plenty to eat here. 

I mentioned them to my grandson, the younger one said, 

‘They need to eat, too,’ he said. Live and let live is his motto but he doesn’t need to clean up the back garden once all those acorns fall, split open for their inner goodness. Along with the acorns there are endless twigs and even small branches snapped off in the bird’s eagerness to get at their food. 

When I take the dogs out for walks over the next few weeks whole streets lined with elms, oaks or plane trees will see their foliage scattered in debris across the footpath and road. The corellas are merciless, but my grandson is right, they too need to eat.

The puppy sleeps now after my grandsons exhausted her in her first of the morning play. And soon I will hover over them urging them out into the world. Another day beckons and the puppy is one week older. 

Corellas or not we must brave the day. 

Dog Babies

We keep the dog corralled in a sheep pen arrangement in one corner of the kitchen near the cat door. It is a tough life even for a dog, I know it. A tough life for a dog who would love nothing more than to spend his time curled up on my lap, or have someone throw bits of wood for him to fetch.

The dog is a ghost from my past, the dog whose tan colour belies the black of his ancestor, Peta, the mongrel who came to visit when I was a child and stayed against my father’s wishes, a dog we named Peta with an ‘a’ hoping that our father would not notice – this dog was a girl.
To think my father might not notice the dog’s gender puzzles me still. Gender sticks out like dogs’ balls, as the saying goes.

But we were little and did not want to notice the way our mother had one baby after another and that the dog, Peta, might do likewise.

The dog in my kitchen, the dog in the corner, who represents my past, stinks today.
‘We’ll take him to the pet shop to get him washed,’ I tell my friend. ‘I’m sorry he smells so bad’.
‘What a bourgeois thing to do,’ she says.
I cringe. Bourgeois? Me? Never. But I cannot take a lump of the past, a dog this time with a tail – not like Peta whose tail was docked – into my bathroom, and wash away the fleas and the stink.

My friend has a dog, a streamlined grey whippet, whose ribs stick out on either side. My friend is a writer, the real McCoy. She has a book to her credit and another on the way, a book like babies.

Our dog will not help to make babies. Our dog is neutered, spayed.

I think the word spayed, and I think of the garden variety, the spade you dig into the ground.
When Peta was little I imagined the vet would take a spade and hit her in the middle somewhere deep inside where she kept her babies, hit her whack, while she was anaesthetised and crush the bits that make the babies, the eggs that girls have and the womb, the place where the eggs are held. The vet might smash the inside bits so that no more babies can be made.

‘This dog is frustrated,’ my friend says. ‘He needs to get out more. He needs exercise.’
But I cannot walk the dog , not today, not with a broken leg.

My friend does not say it to my face, but I can hear her thoughts. They are written in the wrinkle lines on her forehead.
‘You are lazy. You do not deserve a dog. You are the one who stinks, a lazy negligent non-lover of dogs. I should get the RSPCA onto you.’

I show my friend to the door.

Peta flashes across the window of my memory, her insides restored, and all the babies who never were born follow close behind.