Monday, 2 February 2015

Boxers, breakfast and bitching


Just two days in to the school year and already the morning was a disaster. It ended in tears. This can be, in part, attributed to any or all of the following factors:
  • Miss 14 left her phone on the school bus on Friday and is visibly suffering  from lack of social networking.
  • The fridge broke down and until the mechanic can get the relevant exorbitantly priced part delivered from somewhere in Outer-Mongolia, all of the perishable foodstuff is located in the old-but-not-quite-old-enough-to-be-retro-chic refrigerator in the shed, which, of course, is situated at quite some distance from the upstairs kitchen and dining room.
  • As a direct consequence of the above point, no matter how often Mr Turning-17-on-Thursday stands with the fridge doors wide open, for the first time in his life, there actually isn’t anything to eat in there.
  • Bad Mother hadn’t filled in the multiplicity of permission forms the school emailed to me her last week, which all had to be completed and returned by this morning.
  • It’s Monday.
 But for me, the problem was that both of the human beings under the age of 20 who occupy the same house as me spoke lovingly and gave attention to the younger of our dogs and completely ignored the other. The old girl. Even when I asked them to include her, pointing out that she wouldn’t be with us for much longer and she loves them too, they didn’t.  At first that really rankled. Then it made my eyes leak.

My most beloved canine companion is unlikely to make it through another winter. Casablanca has already lived beyond the average lifespan for her breed, and in the past few weeks has suffered a couple of minor strokes. Her dear droopy old face has forever been described with those clich├ęs that must make Boxers want to accidentally drop a juicy lump of gob on the speaker’s foot, or better still, right on the head of the recently coiffed fluffy slipper such humans mistakenly believe is a dog. Such ignoramuses repeatedly and predictably say Cass has a face so ugly that either (A) it’s beautiful or (B) only a mother could love it. Well, I adore that face. To me it is the face of trust and love. But now, my companion's already polarising face droops even more. And she lists to the right when she walks.

Still, she loyally pads behind me wherever I go.  I try to instruct her to stay and wait when I’m just heading for the bathroom or the laundry, telling her I will be back in a flash, but she pretends she cannot hear me. So the trip takes me a little longer than if I was alone.

The wooden staircase is bothering her. Going up is fine, but she has to work up the courage to come down. Her hind legs have betrayed her a few times and she has tumbled the last metre or so. And yesterday, she almost… almost… didn’t bother to jump up onto the bed to lean against me snoring contentedly while I was reading.

I hate that with the brashness of youth, my kids have made redundant a companion they cannot remember living without. Made her less valuable than her younger counterpart.  Less deserving of love. Invisible. Because she’s old.

I know exactly how that feels. 

So when Miss 14 directed a particularly snarky and hurtful comment at me as I was dutifully preparing school lunches of crispy fresh bread rolls filled with left-over roast lamb and arugula, complete with Monica Geller's secret moist maker, I didn't pretend I hadn't heard it. I didn't smile wanly and tilt my head in that way that says 'I know you didn't really mean that to sound as shitful as it was, Darling'. I didn't politely suggest that she mind her manners. 
I barked.
Loudly.
Ferociously.
On behalf of both of us, me and the other invisible old bitch in the family. 

And yes, then it all ended in tears.


14 comments:

  1. I think I have something in my eye now. Both eyes. A beautiful piece of writing.

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    1. Thanks. It's always easier when I write from the heart.

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  2. Oh, Wendy, it felt so bad reading about Cass! My heart goes out to the poor baby! I can totally understand how you must feel. My baby, Chikoo, a lab, who is 10 and a half, has slowed down, and finds climbing stairs and the bed very difficult, because of his weak hind legs, which give way at times, making my heart skip a beat. A big hug to you and to Cass from me and Chikoo. Take care, sweeties!

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    1. We dog lovers never get used to saying goodbye, do we? Thanks for your support.

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  3. And, your Cass has such a sweet face! One big kiss from me, just for her! :-)

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  4. I promise to pass it on... all the way from India to Australia!

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  5. This was so sad, I was really choked. What a beautiful relationship you and Cass have had over the years. She obviously adores you, following you around and snuggling up on the bed with you. I am so sorry she is unwell. Kids are so cruel sometimes, without even meaning to be, You know that when the time comes they will of course be devastated to lose Cass; it doesn't help that they are not making the most of the time now with her. I hope your Monday gets better Wendy, and that you and Cass have a lovely day together.

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    1. You're right, Judy. The kids will feel it when it happens. I'm getting in early! But Cass is still happy, so we'll just doddle along together as long as we can.

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  6. this post needed a Kleenex alert.....I remember those last few weeks with my beloved border collie, Maggie.
    This was a beautiful post, and I , for one, am glad you barked!

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    1. I didn't mean for it to upset people ... I tried not to be sentimental... I think it's the beautiful photos that are the clincher...

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  7. This is so beautifully written from the heart. The greatest gift I received was an extra six months of time with Molly, our 17-year-old cat, before she left us. I took advantage of every day to spend extra time with her, to just hold and love her. Maybe your children are aware that she doesn't have much time left, and they are backing away as a coping mechanism?

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    1. Thank you. And welcome to The Rock. Yes, I am soaking up our time and thanking her every day for being part of my life. Thank you, too, for your generosity about my children. I hope you're right.

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  8. Oh man...this is gorgeous. And sad..thank you so much for sharing this.

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  9. Well thank YOU for saying such kind things. It means a great deal to me that people bother not just to read, but also to comment on my writing.

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