Pavlova made it through the night last night dry for the first time. YAAAAAAAAAY. I’m well aware that this doesn’t mean there is no more cage (or floor*) cleaning in my future but it made this morning that little bit brighter.**
I’m rapidly rolling into the Utterly Besotted phase—you thought I was there already? You poor silly people—so I should probably have a Puppy Moratorium Night here soon.*** Everybody thinks their own beloved someone or other is unusually special. But . . . Pavlova is. No, really. No . . . REALLY. Stop that laughing. Because worry is my natural state I’m starting to worry that when she hits teething or adolescence her inner 666† will emerge so I’d better enjoy the halcyon baby puppy days while I can, even if there are a lot of disgusting newspapers and mopping up involved. But for example: one of the few things I had been genuinely worrying about is that when we’re playing and she misses and nips me FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING THOSE MAY BE BABY TEETH BUT THEY’RE ALREADY IN A BULL TERRIER JAW. FRELLING. Also, blood. The hellhounds, who are not great chompers anyway††, were easily taught bite inhibition: in the first place, they had each other, and so when I cried like a puppy if one of them bit me too hard, they backed off instantly. Easy peasy. And they never drew blood in the first place. Pavlova . . . I was getting on for being swathed in bandages from the wrists down. And I asked Southdowner. She said two things: first, let her mouth me gently, so she knows the difference, and then if she nips too hard, scream and pick her up so she recognises that play has been interrupted. I’d been screaming, rather less voluntarily than with the hellhounds, and this had obviously worried her but I’m not sure she was quite making the connection.
So. While I wouldn’t want to rely on it—and teething and adolescence and 666 are still in our future—but in a week’s time I’ve gone from bracing myself when I play with her to letting her chew me (gently) because she’s figured it out. I’ve read the dog training books that say you mustn’t let your puppy so much as touch you with his teeth and this has seemed to me absurd as well as a big frelling nuisance. But this is also the sort of thing why I haven’t wanted to tackle something like a bull terrier with those jaws and that fighting-dog heritage. Maybe you really can’t let your bull terrier touch you with his or her teeth, in which case I’d better not have one because I’m too slapdash.
Southdowner and Olivia had also warned me (repeatedly) that bullies are the most stubborn and single-minded creatures on the planet, and that if you remove a bull terrier from something that interests him or her, the minute you let go it’ll be straight back to the scene of the crime. Um. No. Pavlova is still managing to eat more rotten apple bits than I am happy about, but when I pick her up and put her down in a different part of the garden it’s just oh well, humans are such control freaks, and she trots off cheerfully to try to fall in the pond or eat the smoke bush (which is about ten foot square).
Maybe she’s not really a bull terrier. That could explain a lot.
* * *
* Of course by the standards of a certain dog trainer who will not be named, the fact of ACCIDENTS means that I have ruined my puppy forever. Well, I’m not so perfect either, we’ll probably get along better this way. But I don’t know how you’re supposed not to have a few accidents out here in the real world. She isn’t even allowed to run around unsupervised—none of the houses involved in the McKinley-Dickinson ménage is really capable of being puppy proofed, and in the great scheme of things puppyhood doesn’t last all that long although it may feel like it sometimes and you don’t really want to put up major anti-puppy emplacements, all that cement and steel is depressing and no good for your hardwood floors. So when she’s out looking for havoc and mayhem (and Darkness and Chaos) I’m watching her. In theory I’m watching her all the time. In practise I may wash a few dishes and stuff a few pairs of All Stars back under the glass-fronted bookshelf which stands by the front door at the cottage and which I have forgiven for the lack of that bottom shelf because the All-Stars space is useful, and throw out a few truly elderly magazines which now I also have KNITTING magazines to read I probably never will get back to.^ And it doesn’t take a puppy long to pee/crap. The thing that brands me as a Bad Puppy-Ruining Dog Owner however is that in both cases she did it in front of the back door—the door I should have been there to open for her—and which would furthermore mean, had all gone to Perfect Puppy Trainer Plan, she would have been rewarded for. The joys of a food-oriented dog. She can hardly pee fast enough to rush back and get her bit of kibble. In fact I suspect that sometimes the reason she has to pee again so soon is because she cut the first one short because she was HUNGRY.
But the point remains. People are human. And so are, um, puppies.
^ I was buying petrol the other day, at the garage in Warm Upford I’ve been going to since I moved over here+, and I was talking to Filbert, who I have been seeing at that garage since I moved over here. We were talking about the weather, because that’s what you do in England, and which hasn’t been very friendly lately.++ We’d had the kind of wind that makes the eaves scream and the puppy bark and there not being enough pillows to drown it all out the night before. Filbert said, Remember that huge storm that knocked all the trees down? Memories of uprooted giant beech trees everywhere—leaving shocking craters of white Hampshire chalk—came immediately to my mind and I said, with complete conviction, Yes. He said, it’s twenty-five years ago—it was 1987. At which point I was too embarrassed to say . . . erm. Actually I didn’t get here till October of ’91. I have never been much good about time.+++ Well, I think some of those magazines are from ’87.
+ And which, let us not forget, discovered the mysterious misbehaving gurglehampfrod that no one would look for on a VW Golf because VW Golfs don’t have them, which was preventing Wolfgang starting reliably.
++ Not merely torrential rain but yesterday hail big enough to hurt while hellhounds and I were out attempting to hurtle.
+++ Peter yelps as if bitten# when he reads this sentence. He likes things to happen to a schedule and that schedule to be adhered to. Poor man.
# Or hit by yesterday’s hail
** I emailed Southdowner and Olivia last night that I AM NOT CLEANING UP AFTER AN ENTIRE FRELLING LITTER OF PUPPIES^ and if anyone has an urgency about getting a litter out of Pavlova she is going to have to move down here for two or three months.^^
^ I have. But I was younger.
^^ And then we can both be in floods of tears when our first puppy goes to its new home.
*** KES tomorrow. That’ll do it. I was going to run a KES tonight but clearly I had to tell you about Pavlova’s triumph. Um . . .
† Scone, in this litter. Olivia is wondering who she dares sell her to. She doesn’t want to cope.
†† Especially not of food.
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