The Story of Chaos (and Darkness), Part Two
I don’t remember how that first conversation with Lucinda went. What I remember is that there was a very high blither factor at my end and it is probably a credit to her faith in humanity—or in people who want sighthound puppies—that she didn’t suddenly remember that all eight [sic*] puppies already had homes to go to.
I remember she told me they were seven-eighths whippet and one-eighth deerhound. Their mom, her bitch, was one-quarter deerhound. The dad was not only pure whippet, but a major doodah doodah pedigreed whippet with lots of red lettering** in his background. The other thing I remember is that she asked me, sounding worried, if I wanted a bitch or a dog. Preferably a bitch, I said. There are only two bitches and they’re both already taken, she said.
Whatever, I said.*** Then I’ll have a boy.
And I made an appointment to visit them. † The next day. Well, puppies get older fast.
Both girls and the two biggest boys†† were spoken for. They were four or five weeks old when I first saw them—when she first advertised them†††— they were already fairly mobile and getting into things. I was met by several of them after I’d toiled to the top of the hill‡ and stepped over the Puppy Proof Wall‡‡. Fresh blood! they cried in one voice, and fell on me in a body.
Lucinda gave me a cup of tea and introduced me to the mom, Tarantara, and Doofus, an old Labrador who was moderately willing to put up with someone else’s puppies so long as it meant that all the extra visitors also paid attention to her. Then Lucinda began pointing out the four that still needed homes, and I sat down at puppy level to await developments.
Whereupon a little dark-steel-grey puppy with a few white toes and some white on his chest left the puppy-mob which was disembowelling an innocent terrycloth towel with a knot in it or similar, came pretty much straight up to me, threw himself on my All-Stars and began savaging my shoe-laces. Well, said Lucinda. That looks like a choice then.
Yes, I said, tickling his tummy. I’ll have this one.
Having got as far as deciding that apparently I was going to have a dog again, I still hadn’t made up my mind about whether I should have two dogs. See: control freak and obsessive. Two dogs means they have each other for company and the burden of putting up with a control freak obsessive for an owner is halved.‡‡‡ Lucinda told me that there was some question about the future of one of the bitches, because her putative owner had just changed jobs/houses§ and she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to have her after all. If she couldn’t, the little bitch would come available again—and Lucinda should know one way or the other by the end of the week.
This was now Thursday or Friday. I arranged to ring Lucinda on Monday about the bitch.
Darkness was mine. He had already put in for me and I take this kind of thing seriously.§§ The question was only about a second dog.§§§ So I went home and laboured over the question of the second dog, and decided EMPHATICALLY AND ABSOLUTELY that if the bitch was available, I would take her. AND IF SHE WAS NOT AVAILABLE I WOULD ONLY HAVE ONE DOG.
So on Monday I rang Lucinda. The bitch is going to her original person, said Lucinda.
Oh, okay, I said. Oh well.
But, she added. One of the boys is still available.
I am so pathetic. I didn’t even think about it. I said IMMEDIATELY, May I come see him?
Of course, she said.
I leaped in Wolfgang and we tore off toward East Persnickety. It was a cold wet day and the puppies were all indoors. There was my Darkness. Hey, good news, you’re going to have a friend. Lucinda ferreted around for a moment and then picked up one of the fawn-coloured ones. This one, she said.
I’ll have him, I said.
You don’t have to, she said, as I reached for my second puppy. There are several people on the list I haven’t rung yet.#
Mine, I said. Mine, mine. I then sat down on the floor and played Lapful of Two Puppies games for . . . kind of a lot of the afternoon. Lucinda didn’t seem to mind.## Darkness quickly showed Chaos what to do with shoe-laces. Lucinda gave me another cup of tea.
She had given me kind of a lot of cups of tea by the time I took them away at eight weeks.###
The rest is history.%
* * *
* Sighthounds and lurchers run to large litters. Twelve is not uncommon. Twelve.
** Which in British pedigrees seems to mean Kennel Club champions. Don’t remember what they do in the States. It’s been a very long time since I tangled with a pedigreed American dog.
*** LOCAL SIGHTHOUND PUPPIES. I CAN VISIT THEM. SIGHTHOUND PUPPIES.
† VISIT. LOCAL SIGHTHOUND PUPPIES. VISIT.
†† This litter had a Big Boy instead of a Big Girl, and he was big. I totally don’t want any big bruiser types, so this was fine with me.
††† She and her husband were both vets, although they work on the admin side. But they weren’t doing the ‘oh, we have a bitch, let’s breed her’ la-la-la thing. They had three people who wanted a puppy, and they wanted one themselves. If Tarantara had had a nice sensible-sized litter like Olivia’s Lavvy, Lucinda wouldn’t have had to advertise at all.
‡ They live a little outside East Persnickety, where I started trying to learn to ring bells the first time.
‡‡ Which got a good deal higher in the three or so weeks that I was visiting regularly.
‡‡‡ I was not a gentle, relaxed personality before I got Rowan, but Rowan had major separation anxiety which didn’t help the balance of my mind either, plus in those days the ‘treatment’ for separation anxiety was basically to ignore your dog all the time. What’s the point of having a dog if you can’t talk to it, pet it, or have it on the sofa with you?
§ I may very well be remembering this wrong, but what I think I remember is that the woman worked in the horse world, her housing came with her new job, and there was some question whether another dog would be welcome in her new yard.
§§ If Olivia is right about the personality swappage going on in Lavvy’s litter, if we tried this with them we’d have to try it four times, to ensure that I was chosen once by each puppy.^
^ If Southdowner is reading this blog, she’s probably shouting at her screen: THAT’S NOT THE WAY TO DO IT. THAT’S TOTALLY IRRESPONSIBLE.
There, there. The hellhounds and I have been very happy together (mostly) and you have Olivia firmly under your thumb.
§§§ And these were not valuable potential show dogs. I would be assuming that one of them would be neutered, probably the girl after her first season.
# I met one of them while out hurtling half-grown hellhounds. Oh, she said, those aren’t the whippet lurchers^ from East Persnickety are they? Yes, I said. You bought two of them? she said. You are so lucky. I was too late.
^ As I said last night, almost no one uses ‘longdog’ unless you’re in the biz.
## It’s a big kitchen.
### They threw up in the car. Of course. I was amazed to discover that not everyone’s puppies throw up in the car. I thought that was just what puppies did, like crap on the floor and destroy shoe-laces.
% I told Southdowner, the dog behaviourist, this story and she said nonsense, they handled him differently after they knew he had a home. Well . . . she’s the professional. But I like the amateur version. Lucinda said that Chaos had a complete personality change from that afternoon: that he’d been the shy retiring one^, and that after that he became all jolly and bold and . . . a pain in the neck. As if he knew. And maybe they did handle him differently. But a lot of the handling and socialisation was being performed by Lucinda’s teenage daughter and her friends^^, who were (said Lucinda) being very careful to handle all the puppies—and didn’t want to know who was buying whom because she/they couldn’t bear the idea they were leaving.
^ CHAOS. SHY AND RETIRING. SHY. AND RETIRING. I NEED A STIFF DRINK.
^^ Lucinda did the clean-up. The kids did the fun stuff.
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