The Most Beautiful Puppy in the Universe
And the most desirable. I will have to beat people away with sticks when I take her into town* because everyone will want her. And she’s MINE. MINE.
It’s been pretty funny watching Olivia worrying about which puppy I should have. I’ve told you these are all mega-show-quality puppies so first choice goes to mega-show-quality bull terrier people**, and I’m standing humbly in a corner, hat in hand***, waiting for whoever is deemed to be the dregs. Simultaneously Olivia wants me to have the quiet one, supposing there is a quiet one in a litter of bull terriers, although since you probably want the sparkly outgoing one(s) to catch the judge’s eye at Crufts there is some hope that if there’s anything resembling placid I might get it.
But the other thing has been that Olivia has been terrified that I might not bond with a puppy I was simply presented with rather than allowed to choose, although she and Southdowner never were going to let me choose because I am a poor sad clueless vulnerable bull terrier neophyte and I couldn’t be trusted not to choose the puppy that was clearly going to grow up to be The Thing That Ate Schenectady. Olivia also knew that I had an early crush on Fruitcake but I was not going to be allowed to have a boy for my first bull terrier. So of course I was already going to be sulking about whichever little unwanted girl was vouchsafed me. —Are you kidding? I have been trying to tell both Olivia and Southdowner that I will instantly recognise my reject as actually the best puppy in the litter whom all the experts (including Olivia and Southdowner) were too stupid to recognise, that I will bond with her INSTANTLY and that in a year or two† I won’t be able to imagine that I could have ended up with anyone else.††
So Olivia told me a few days ago, trying to sound confident and decisive, that my puppy was going to be Pavlova. Great, I said, and I could frelling feel all my brain cells immediately realigning to crown Pavlova Queen of All. And furthermore, Olivia went on, Southdowner is going to be making a swing through in this general direction today†††, dropping off Croissant for a few hours with her future person, and she could come through here and leave Pavlova with me ditto.
This is, I have to say, a transparent ruse to get Southdowner involved with introducing Pavlova to the hellhounds and vice versa. Pavlova was fine with the hellhounds. Hellhounds, I admit, were totally traumatised by three puppies, even if they were only expected to meet one of them, but in my vague, I-find-the-weirdest-things-not-to-worry-about-or-maybe-it’s-just-I’m-still-not-quite-done-with-SHADOWS way, I was not expecting major eruptions and they weren’t . . . major. But there was a good deal of drama-queendom in the kitchen at Third House while the puppies gambolled and said, oh, neato, new territory! and the hellhounds said, Nooooooooooo, make it go awaaaaaaaay.‡ I had no idea Chaos could make a noise like that.
But we moved down to the mews after the initial shocking confrontation‡‡ and some lowering of the anguish level was discernable. Darkness went so far as to get up on the sofa between two people holding puppies, lie down, and at least pretend to go to sleep. It was noticeable that he had his butt to me and his head tucked behind Southdowner’s back . . . but he was on the sofa. Chaos continued to moan in corners like an unquiet ghost.
Southdowner and puppies left again tonight and you never saw two more crashed-out hellhounds. I feel a little unhinged myself. But . . . MINE. MINE.
* * *
* Which I will be doing a lot because you want to socialise your puppy anyway but Olivia and Southdowner have truly put the fear of God in me and I’m convinced that if you let your guard down for an instant the nicest, sweetest, most amenable bull terrier morphs into Bruce Banner in a bad mood and THEN. . . .
So we’ll be going to Mauncester a lot, possibly Zigguraton and . . . possibly bell ringing. Well, there are bell ringing dogs. Glaciation is not only out in the middle of nowhere^ it’s a ground floor ring. Since I’ll have to lock her up in her carrier while I’m ringing I don’t want any more kit to schlep any farther than I have to, and I can give her a bit of a walk around before/after without worrying about what we might meet.^^
^ It’s one of these Strange English Land Usage Traditions. It’s a public church, but it’s in the middle of a vast piece of private park land owned by some grandee. You drive forever from the front gate, winding around over little rivers and watching the deer bound away in the distance. Gaaah.
^^ I’m sure she’d be thrilled by deer. However my hand-brake reflexes are very well honed by six years with hellhounds.+
+ And sixteen of whippets before that, but whippets don’t weigh nearly as much. Hellhounds, like whippets, can reach pretty close to top speed in the 26 feet or so of extending lead—but with hellhounds if you fail to hit the brake in time they will knock you over when they hit the end . . . and long term readers of this blog don’t have to ask how I know this. Bull terriers don’t have the blistering speed but . . . they’re bull terriers. They go through things. Brick walls, armoured tanks, the ends of extending leads SPROINNNNGGGGGG, semi-attached human optional.#
# There have been moments these last few weeks when I’ve thought Olivia and Southdowner were trying to talk me out of getting my first bull terrier.
** Carefully vetted for giving them lives as dogs. Southdowner has been known to turn down serious money from people who want a furry winning machine.
*** So to speak. Not being a hat wearer much.
† Assuming survival of puppyhood. I’m not worried about her surviving, I’m worried about the hellhounds and me.
†† And when Olivia or Southdowner shows me photos of a littermate winning Best in Show at the Intergalactic Dog Trials I will try to appear happy and enthusiastic and not make it too obvious that I know a better dog.
††† She’s got family down here somewhere. She stops in New Arcadia when she can.
‡ And as Southdowner pointed out after I said ‘hey guys’ to the puppies and Darkness leaped over the waist-high half-door blocking the way into the Third House kitchen because I was calling him, I will need a non-hellhound-reactive call for Pavlova. I was embarrassed at the time—first rule (as Maggie says early in SHADOWS): if your dog does something wrong it’s your fault—but in fact once she’s a member of the home pack, she’ll become ‘hey guys’ inclusive. But she will need her own call name. Life at present is a trifle complex because she has the name that Olivia uses, Pavlova that I use here^, and her ridiculous registry name. . . . But she still doesn’t have the name she’s going to have to learn to answer to. But now that I know who I’m naming . . .
^ ‘Chaos, Darkness and . . . Pavlova’? Hmmmm.
‡‡ And I went bell ringing. Wild Robert was there, and I asked if Nadia’s baby was learning to play the piano yet (no) and told him I was getting a puppy and he said, oh, that’s nice, that’s like having a baby except all your shoes get eaten too.
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