Man's best friend deserves his four seasons of life
Lay of the land
The seasons have shifted once more. For while there are still leaves on the trees, there are even more on the ground, making this county town look like a film set depicting the passage of time. Even the once-robust willows outside my back window are sickly sallow and losing their grip.
Which on a practical level means any dog owner might relate to my need to regularly sweep them up. Because whatever they say about not being able to see the wood for the trees, it's definitely a problem when you can't see the poop for the piles of leaves.
You don't want an awful sludgy sensation underfoot to alert you.
Winter in the world is mirrored by winter in the life of my waggy-tailed best friend. It's a sobering reflection on the all too frequent waste of precious life that this still perky pooch was already considered to be past it when he ended up in a pound, aged nine. With little hope, as a consequence, of salvation.
Even a young dog's chances are scarily slim: with strays kept alive for five days, while surrendered dogs get less than two.
Yet here he is enjoying his seventh year of extra life - all thanks to Dogs in Distress. These unsung heroes take dumped dogs into their homes as well as their hearts, fostering them till they find "forever homes" as they charmingly put it. And though Dogs in Distress is located in Dublin, its compassionate influence extends way beyond the Pale, as my furry fugitive illustrates. Proving that not only human city slickers but also canine ones can find sanctuary in the country.
Sadly, some people treat rescues as second-rate precisely because they were deemed worthless. Which is why Dogs in Distress, like most reputable rescues, insist on doing home checks first. This also reminds you of the responsibility involved in making a pooch part of your pack. Though most folk find that dogs give way more than they get.
Certainly, there are no deal breakers when it comes to my Deputy Dawg, even now that he's prone to having frequent 'accidents' in the house and needs extra care. This deeply amusing mutt from the metropolis has enjoyed such country pursuits as stealing a salmon from an otter, hobnobbing with horses and curiously sniffing at cows. Perhaps best of all has been watching him bound through meadows and fields, bursting with the joys of his second chance at life.
He's survived some close shaves over the years, thanks to fantastic vets and his spaniel stubbornness of spirit. And while he is now limited by ailments and age, one must philosophically accept that this is the price any person - including canine ones - must pay for the privilege of staying alive.
So here's to many more dubious deposits in my yard disguised by fallen leaves. And endless thanks to Dogs in Distress - and all animal rescues - who depend on our support and donations to continue to give our fellow brother and sister creatures the freedom to enjoy the four seasons that we all savour and deserve.