Thursday, 9 February 2012

Nan and why it is perfectly acceptable to lie for a dog

Nan had no capacity to resist an unwanted or unloved animal.  When challenged by Uncle as to why there was yet another cat living in the side passageway  she would look him straight in the eye and say 'That old thing?  Why I've had it for ages.' (Good fib for clothes, but works surprisingly well for feline acquisitions).

My parents usually ignored her entreaties to take the sweet little kitten, puppy, guinea pig, budgie, rat etc home - mainly due to the Sooty debacle.  Nan persuaded them to adopt a tiny, black spaniel-mix puppy as company for Suki - the dog she tricked them into getting a few years previously.  Sooty, being extremely incontinent, was shut in the kitchen overnight together with Mum's pride and joy (as a family it doesn't take much to make us happy) the new kitchen table and 6 chairs.  The next morning the floor was littered with puddles and wood shavings - Sooty being the canine equivalent of Jaws.  For many years  all female guests ran the risk of getting their American tan tights laddered if they sat at the kitchen table.

Nan turned her attention to the next generation of animal-rescue victims - me.  We were 'just popping in' to see her friend who happened to have five cuddly caramel-coloured puppies in need of a good home. 
'You should take one home,' Nan  insists ' Poor Honey must get lonely on her own' (Honey is probably the only dog my parents have been allowed to acquired without Nan's intervention/interference; a pedigree golden Labrador - as stupid as she is beautiful).  I argue that Mum has strictly forbidden me from coming home with any animals - ever again (even now the pungent aroma of the water vole that died in the box in my bedroom comes back to haunt me).  Also Mum would only want a pedigree dog - not some Heinz 57 variety.  Nan sniffs disapprovingly - we are in danger of getting above ourselves and deserting our working class roots.  But I am like a sandcastle in the path of the incoming tide - i.e. completely and utterly unable to defend myself, seeing destruction as my destiny.  There is no beating Genghis Nan.  Mum is to be told the dog is a rare type of Labrador; thinner, browner, less Labrador-like, but still Kennel Club approved.

I take the dog home.   My parents insist I take it away again.  After tears and promises, that I will take it for walks and do all the other unsavoury things you have to do for dogs, they relent.  Fortunately they forget that I am off to University in under three weeks and won't be taking part in the twice-daily humiliation of walking a crapping dog.

Despite this ill-starred beginning Sally (another top family dog name) becomes a much loved pet.  Dad makes her a daily cup of tea in her special mug; only he can make it the way she likes it (his words).  Although Sally achieved doggie Nirvana sometime ago (no - she wasn't really a great Kurt Cobain fan) she is gone, but not forgotten.  Dad seemingly incapable of remembering what Sister and I are actually called, addresses us as Sally.   Sister, being a kind forgiving soul,  ignores this lapse of memory - while I give a little bark.


  1. Haha! Your dad's error demonstrates exactly what a pet dog is - a surrogate child!

    1. I suppose she was cheaper to keep, didn't talk through the TV news or disgree with him.