by Jeremy Lousada
This is a dog’s tale, or rather a tale of two dogs, small dogs. Those of you who keep and love pet giraffes, baby crocodiles and cats need read no further. Small dogs they may be, and perhaps like Pooh, of small brain, but few can have had such adventurous lives. They were almost certainly the first dogs ever to cross Europe by water from the North Sea to the Black Sea, they walked on the same stones the Turkish fleet was tied on before Lepanto, they chased baboons in Africa, hunted rabbits in the High Jura and lizards in the ruins of Troy. What they thought of it all we cannot be sure, communications were generally good but not perfect. In some cases, such as Rommel’s perplexity with sea water, the thought processes were obvious, in others the nuances of thought were beyond our communication levels and I have had to use some poetic licence. But let me start at the beginning.
Her father was high born of impeccable lineage, numbering champions among his forebears, and he himself, having championship pretensions. Her mother was an orphan and nothing is known of her maternal relations.
Their owner was my dentist.
Regretfully none of her vital statistics were recorded at birth, but I imagine they ran to about two inches in length and a couple of ounces.
I didn’t see her until nearly the end of January 1985. She was to be the first new puppy in our household for nearly twenty years.
The reason for this had nothing to do with a want of dogs in our household, in fact the opposite. Zimbabwe abounded in maltreated strays and mongrels of a parentage which would have baffled the best judges at Crufts.
My home at the time suffered from a surfeit of females, including my wife Jean and daughters Alex and Sarah. All were addicted to animals. We never had time to start with puppies. Abandoned strays and starved juveniles came to their attention with monotonous regularity. Others swamped by female households, will understand the pressures involved, but for those of you who have escaped the tyranny I will give an example.
Jean and our next door neighbour’s wife were chatting by the gate when an African passed dragging a very small cross bred Maltese poodle along by a piece of string. It was filthy, covered in sores and suffering from malnutrition.
Without considering what they would do with it subsequently, they launched themselves into action. The dog was seized, the owner threatened with prosecution unless he handed it over then and there, and finally five shillings changed hands to the complete satisfaction of the previous owner.
Left triumphantly holding a string with six pounds of dirty, tick infested misery at one end, they looked at each other in consternation. Only then did their respective husband’s strictures on the collection of further strays come to mind!
They made one of those unprincipled pacts so dear to female logic. Whoever’s husband returned home last would be presented with the specimen.