Archie, Bella and Toby.
Meet our dogs – well Archie and Bella are ours. Toby is my mum’s border terrier, who’s been staying with us for a few days.
The lovely pictures of Archie and Bella were sent to me by a photographer friend earlier this week. It was the same day as a small boy pointed at Bella and called out loudly: “Look mum, another pooh machine.”
I understand that not everyone likes dogs, and there’s no reason why they should. But I’d like to set the record straight regarding the “pooh machine” label. Like all living creatures they qualify for the first tag, but most definitely not the second.
Dogs have been a part of our family all my life, cats too at times, plus various other animals. Each one has had its own individual character, enriching our lives in a unique way.
I really can’t imagine life without dogs: my first was an excitable collie called Penny, my four-legged teenage pal; then my lovely long-tailed lurcher Tilly, who climbed many a Scottish mountain with me; I had an especially soft spot for my mum’s sheep dog Jess, who herded me 600 miles along the South West Coast Path; and now we have Bella and Archie, who may be getting weaker as they age in years, but both with personalities as strong as ever.
So many happy memories. And they bring so much more to our lives too.
As well as border terrier Toby, my dad, who has dementia, has been staying with us for a few days, whilst my mum has a well earned break.
It’s not just Dad’s memory that is going, it’s his ability to communicate and relate to things. From being someone who always used to talk a lot, he’s retreated into a little quiet world of his own. That’s where the dogs are brilliant at bridging the silence – he still laughs at their antics, takes pleasure in all of us going for a walk and enjoys making a fuss of them as they lie nearby. They’re a hairy-coated connection between us when other threads of life have little meaning to him.
It’s a strange thing the mind, and how we store our thoughts. Dad is having trouble trying to remember what happened five minutes ago. I’m finding it hard to forget something that took place nearly 40 years ago. Yes, I’m still wrestling with a few childhood demons, as I continue with the EMDR memory therapy.
It really is proving quite difficult at present – even impacting on my running, which is usually my escape. I hit a mental wall on a short run the other day and was upset when I got back. The dogs immediately sensed that something was not quite right and brought me their toys to cheer me up.
This coming weekend I’m doing the Cheddar Gorge Marathon – said to be a tough challenge because of all the steep climbs and steps. Still, one step at a time.
Talking of steps. This is my 10th blog. A minor little milestone making double figures. Thanks for all the support so far and the positive feedback from last week, defending me from the “boring” tag.
I felt it only right that I should defend my dogs from their “machine” tag. To us, our friends and family – including my gradually deteriorating Dad – there is nothing mechanical about them.