Lifestyle

Thursday 2 October 2014

We have a problem with wee Pipsi but it 'looks' like we've found a solution

My wife was giving me 'the look'. This is a serious eye-lock during which real communication is possible. It usually precedes a state-of-the-marriage address.

"So," she said, "should we get rid of her?"

"Hmmm," I replied, "I have to say I am very tempted."

"What would Gracie say?" she asked.

Yes, there was our seven-year-old daughter to think of. "Well, she told me today that she and Pipsi weren't friends any more," I said.

We left it there, our minds filled with the image of our dog's face looking out of the rear window of the car as she is driven to the Dog Rescue shelter.

It had begun so well. Get a dog! Of course, what a great idea! Company for our little girl, and a cuddly presence for us.

We were dog people, after all, weren't we? Brought up with wet noses and dog hair on our jumpers.

My wife's childhood memories centred on her dog Willie. Grace especially liked the story of how Uncle Richard stepped on a Willie poo on the landing, and how it oozed up between his toes.

Me? Well, I had Homer, a golden lab, and Paddy, a cocker spaniel. I just loved the endless enthusiasm of dogs, the tail-waving, crazy, breathless joy of them.

I loved dog jokes (Gary Larson's cartoon of two dog bouncers outside a doggie nightclub, with one saying 'I don't care who he is, I'm sniffing his ass', is a classic) and dog stories.

Like the one I heard about a friend's father who lived in a draughty old country house. "You're cold, my dear," he said to an attractive lady guest. "We'll put another dog on your bed."

Pipsi was a rescue dog. We got her as a puppy from the DSPCA. She fell sick soon after we got her home, but a short stay in the vets and €250 later, she was back to her bouncy best.

She grew into a strange animal, a terrier type body on lurcher legs. She is the canine equivalent of a cross between Danny de Vito and Agnes Deyn.

"Her legs are so long for her body that when she sits down, her bum doesn't touch the floor," my daughter is fond of announcing proudly.

Naturally, all Pipsi-related matters fell to me. I walked her. Fed her. Brushed her. Toured the garden with shovel and bag. And, on one occasion, did some delicate extraction work after she ate a string of wool.

Immediately, I researched the matter in Home Comforts: the Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson.

This is a hygiene and domestic arts manual for those who are borderline OCD. Cheryl recommends putting a tea-towel on the stain and then piling books on top – osmosis takes care of the rest.

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