This week I thought it high time the ‘Stare of the Dog’ shot a reflective glance back at that all important puppy period. So, with my breast-bone bursting under the strain of nostalgic delight, this post and a few other future ones will take a look back at Dudley’s wee formative weeks and months.
What better place to start than his birth. Ah, I remember it well. May 28th 2016. And like a 1970s Dad, I was absolutely nowhere to be seen, but then neither was my wife. Instead, we were lying, comatose in the garden of our modest Manchester plot, soaking up some rare rays of sunshine and attempting unsuccessfully to sleep off a set of savage ‘northern quarter’ induced hangovers. Having pushed out Dudley and his six siblings with teutonic efficiency, I would imagine his real mother had a tougher day, but then it was a pretty bad hangover.
For us proud parents-in-waiting, this was just a false start. Instead, the real chaos would begin nine weeks later. Up until this point, our only involvement – and by ‘our’ I mean my wife’s – was to conduct an extensive Internet search for reputable breeders, the result of which produced a great one via www.champsdogs.co.uk. As the days ticked by torturously slowly, each one bringing with it an adorable and thoughtful ‘Pupdate’ from Donna the breeder, the excitement within our house grew to ‘night before Christmas’ levels. Eventually, after about five weeks, the time came to travel to Blackpool and select our puppy.
The short drive flew by and we were in the living room of the breeder’s house in no time. Feeling like small children entering Santa’s Grotto, my wife and I were greeted by the sight of seven wriggling, snuffling creatures, all crawling over each other in search of food like rock stars in search of a tax loophole. Each one was adorable, each one smelt of biscuits (weird but true), and each one was totally oblivious to our presence. A quick glance around the rest of the room revealed what I assumed to be Dudley’s actual mum. Lying inert on the sofa. Treacle – in both name and colour – looked utterly shagged out and had a look on her face that suggested to me she was saying something along the lines of, “I’ve done my bit buster. Now it’s your turn.”
Keen to do our bit and help her out, we set to picking our pooch. One by one, each cuddly parcel of biscuit scented fluff was passed around, prodded and examined. At this point I realised we were fighting a losing battle. Each and every one of the little blighters seemed identical, each was half asleep by this point and lolling about drunkenly like a ‘Spice’ addict in an emergency ward and none of them had done anything noteworthy – like licking an ear or peeing on my wife. Who knew picking a puppy would be so difficult?
At least, looking at it positively, all were equally cute and cuddly, in possession of requisite limbs and in good health, but decide we could not. All I can suggest to those wishing to bring new canine joy to their own household is to go with a backup plan and have some failsafe mechanism for making your selection, because as I discovered, when the litter are all the same colour, things can get tricky.
In the end, we took advantage of a brief moment when the breeder left the room to measure the size of their testicles but then I realised, we’d be lopping them off anyway. At our wits’ end, we decided to seek the advice of the breeder’s son whilst she was away from the room, and he suggested we might do worse than to “pick the one with the green collar, the cheeky, characterful one.” We took his advice, made our selection known to the breeder, who by now was back in the room. After that, we bid them farewell, promising, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, to return. Only with less weaponry and more cash.
An even more agonising three-week wait crawled by before July 31st finally arrived and we were back in Blackpool for the collection of a small, brown and furry fella now going by the name of Dudley. He greeted us with a nonchalant welcome, peed all over the floor a couple of times and set about savaging the strip of ‘Vetbed’ fabric we had thoughtfully sent in the post a week or two earlier for him to have as a comfort blanket on his first lonely nights back at ours. Before we paid up and bundled him into the car, the breeder let slip that young Dud and his remaining siblings had spent some time that morning rearranging the wiring behind the TV and Wifi box.
But it was too late, for we had picked our boy and he had already passed the selection process.