Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Odd Couple

We are at the stage now where we have to deceive our dear girl, Pep, in order to enjoy a stroll with the young dog, Jazz. It is far too hard - and too dangerous - to take Pepper for walks anymore and she's been this way.... well, forever. But now, with added cranky-old-lady pants on, I just will not put her, ourselves and any unsuspecting member of public in a position where one or all of us might regret it.

Don't get me wrong: she is not a "dangerous dog". She is SO misunderstood, though. Yes. That's what it is. Her unpredictability, brought about by her increasing senility and just generally slowing down and "feeling it" as she grows older, is too much to put on her. When under control, she is obedient to a fault usually, but now as she really declines, she is starting to defy even the most simple and reasonable commands from us. With this in mind, it's just not wise of us to assume and expect she will do what she's always done - my girl! My obedient, eager to please dog. I can hardly believe it, to be honest. And it is sad.

Pepper is not allowed within metres of the LGBB and stays behind bars (mind you, their run consists of the entire backyard and we live on 1/4 acre, plus they get the front yard expanse to run in as a special treat several times a week), I just cannot take that risk. The really sad thing, for both Peppy and the LGBB, is that Lolly actually really dearly loves our old dog. She is permitted to pat her under strict, unbeknownst to either of them, supervision and Pep remains on her most dutifully best behaviour. In all truth, Lolly is more likely to fall victim to an accident from the idiotic Jazz's giddy-happy tail wagging. She can whip a grown man to mercy at ten paces with that thing. Ever been wagged to within an inch of your life by a happy Labrador x Kelpie? Hmmmmmm, it's rather on the strong side and can bloody hurt against your legs, I tell you.

But I digress.

Today, as the extension to my birthday festivus, we went to swimming in the morning - and oh my gosh, the LGBB swims mostly unaided by Dad now! Has the floaties on, but is gathering her wits with direction and can actually move forward and stay more or less on track without his help!! Amazing, when we've seen her come from being dragged around as a six month old (seen here on her first day, before her first dunk... she is a water baby and has luuuuurved her swimming ever since) - and then we took Jazz out when we got home.

There is a really cute little weekend market up here and we sometimes go and visit that. But mostly, Saturday or Sunday (we vary the day we do it) are marked for us at some point in the morning by buying a croissant for the LGBB and Steve and I sharing a bag of little jam donuts. I grab a coffee from my fave haunt too.

Today was the first time we've taken either of the dogs. Pep is out of the question - she will never see it. Jazz deserves to go and get amongst it all, she is truly an enjoyment. Just a lovely dog who I don't want ruined by her sharing of the backyard with the other angry old girl. And she absolutely loved it today. Jazz is the sort of dog who is so (sadly, very very sadly) beaten up by the sadist top dog that any opportunity given her of being alone with us without Pep chomping her teeth across poor Jazz's face is all I feel I can do to give her a bit of fun. It's risky and tough, because, as the vet pointed out, Pepper is the kind of dog who will remember one extra hand-pat or morsel of food given to Jazz over her - and she'll slip in a swipe or a nip at Jazz at the next opportunity when we're not around.

It's hardly like Pep needs any more excuses either; two nights ago, they were both inside, asleep curled up on their rug by the door and I sneezed while Steve and I were watching something on tv. Confused by the noise and where it came from, Pepper was up and standing over the cowering Jazz, with Jazz's muzzle firmly inside her jaws, before I had time to turn and look. I was horrified at her speed and the nastiness - the vet said it's in her breed and is coming out the older she gets; she is a working dog, who never got her go on a farm. A suburban yard has never really cut it but she's had a very good life with us. It is really upsetting because she is, in essence, a really great dog. And loyal? To me, especially? She's beyond compare.

It's a dangerous business, sneaking Jazz out under the cover of every diversionary tactic possible, but it worked today. Pep is really getting so old, tired and hard of hearing - plus an increasing lack of care enough to get up - that she didn't notice us sidle Jazz out to the front via the kitchen door.

Walking along, we joked about how refreshing it was to take a dog out who could be patted by anyone or pass any dog in the street and she'd barely notice - although always so very happy to stop for a sniff and a patt from a stranger and their dog (not in that order) - compared to Pepper, who we crowned The Cowardly Lion. She really does have that kind of "Puddem UUUUP, puddem uuuuup" I-dare-you kind of attitude about her. And it's really sad, because she's been such a fantastic dog.

But man. She is just hanging on. And on. And on. To life.

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