Yesterday, because I was wandering around the house with an expression so unhappy that flowers were literally shrivelling under my gaze, my mother declared that it was a good day to go buy a puppy. Ever since I moved home, I've been quick with the loud yelling of WE NEED A PUPPY! every time my mother walked anywhere near me - and it's been over a year since I moved home. I didn't realise that slipping in to a short burst of manic depression would be what tipped her decision, but any port in a storm.
To recap for those of you not paying attention, at the moment we have two elderly labradors, both now living out their twilight years sprawled across duvets and chairs, only occasionally getting up to eat, fart or both. We have two cats, both of which do a fine line in eye infections and vague disorders that need constant veterinary attention. We also have a time-share in a small jack russell bitch, who is really only good for snuggling and howling on command. What we need in this house, I have always reasoned, is a dog that can run, chase balls, and come when you call them rather than merely opening one eye and glaring at you. In short, a dog that works and isn't broken.
So, we packed the time-share dog in to the car, on the off chance the dog rescue centre would do a parts exchange, and trundled down the back roads of Wicklow until we found it. And by golly, them were some back roads. I had no idea Wicklow was quite so "Wicker Man" in areas. It was astonishing, considering what The Guardian said last week
about pretty, pretty Ireland being destroyed by the installation of infrastructure and networked motorways, and presumably the destruction of those quaint passages where the donkeys and carts used to traverse. They'd've wet their pants having found the back water that we drove through, and been very very grateful to return to the N11 where there's street lighting and tarmac and the absence of the noise of banjos and the scream of outsiders being burned alive.
When we got to ASH
, we were greeted by a massive, scary goose which honked at us, and a large grey dog who barked constantly for the duration of our time there. All around the house, there were cages with a variety of dogs of different shapes, sizes and conditions. Mum and I looked at each other and realised we'd made a terrible mistake. We're both the two emotional ones in the family, whereas the rest of them are automatons who would have been able to arrive, pick the best dog and leave. Mum and I immediately went to the cages where the sick and lame ones are kept and tried to bring them all home.
In the end, we settled on a tiny jack russell dog who has recently had surgery to remove his offensive man parts and was hacking up a lung thanks to kennel cough. All of our other dogs have been vaccinated against this, so it was okay for us to bring him home. The reasons we chose him were threefold:
1. He's very tiny, and very adorable. He's white and tan, with big black marks around his eyes, and he's got a massive tail which looks like a fox's brush tail that curls round around to sit on the top of his back and is almost constantly wagging.
2. When we took him out for a quick stroll on the lead, every time we stopped to look at something, he'd promptly sit on my boots and stare at me.
3. On our way back from our quick stroll, we went over to the pen where they're keeping a massive pig. The massive pig trundled towards us, presumably to see if we had food, and the little dog went mental with the high pitched hysterical barking, threw himself behind me and carried on barking by sticking his head in between my boots and shaking.
That's proper cowardice, people. That's what I look for in a puppy - always willing to put his master's life in danger to protect himself. That's a dog with priorities in all the right places.
ASH had called him Jasper, for reasons they never explained, and we didn't ask them to elaborate. On the long journey home, Mum and I were throwing suggestions at each other. For approximately one moment, we were going to call him Lee Carsley
, but that's because I'm evil and have a sick sense of humour, but yesterday we settled on "Dutch", because the people who run the pound were Dutch. This, I suspect, is going to change.