Hundreds of abandoned and abused pups and dogs from all over the country, in desperate need of a “loving forever home” gazed beseechingly from my computer screen. Many of the dogs had paws as big as soup plates. But I needed a small dog which would fit into my very small flat.
In the days and weeks after my old Fox Terrier Pete died, I had to force myself to take the long walks I had enjoyed so much when he and I had walked in tandem. Everywhere I went there were people with dogs, jogging, throwing sticks, patting and petting like there was no tomorrow.
I felt the way I had as a teenager after breaking up with a boyfriend: everyone in the entire world was madly, head-over-heels in love while I was locked in lonely misery. I envied every person with a dog with the possible exception of the person walking a hairless, spotted dog which sprouted tufts of Dr Seuss hair fore and aft. I felt just as love-sick at home too. There was a dog-shaped gap in the world. Without a dog I felt some part of me had been amputated.
That’s how I came to be standing on an overcast morning at the Blenheim Railway Station with an armful of unfamiliar dog. The dog and I were supposed to be a perfect match for each other. But that’s not how it felt, at least not at first. The dog that arrived on the bus didn’t look right. She didn’t feel right in my arms. She didn’t smell quite right either.
It wasn’t an auspicious start, but Rosie and I are knocking about like old pals now, perhaps because she’s a bit like me: highly curious, a touch neurotic and hypersensitive but very biddable most of the time. Unlike me she’s quite the gymnast: she can shimmy under a fence by flattening herself like a starfish. Last week she climbed onto the top of ziggurat of magazines piled on a table in order to reach an errant toast crumb. Even as I’ve been writing this column, she’s been casually strolling around my desk top to investigate the clicking of the keyboard.
It’s still not clear what Rosie’s exact lineage is. I’m waiting on the DNA test results to explain some of her odder behaviours and the black circles around her eyes. If, as I suspect, she’s a Meerkat / Jack Russel / Lemur cross then she’s very much in vanguard of cross-species experimentation.
The popularity of Labradoodles and Cockapoos and other so-called designer dogs has begun to wane now that technology can produce inter-species canine hybrids. The Cawthron Institute has several inter-species dogs in development including the Rottapiller. It is believed that this Rottweiler/Caterpillar cross will secure a strong commercial return on investment. A guard dog which can trample, as well as bite, is likely to be very attractive in law enforcement and military settings.
The Foxrrilla, a Fox Terrier / Gorilla cross is targeted at vegetarian pet lovers. This designer hound will prefer bamboo shoots to meat, and be capable of hugging on command. Unfortunately, experimental production of the Labradile, a Labrador/Crocodile cross, has been temporarily discontinued for safety reasons. A dog with the high snack-drive of the Labrador combined with the jaws of a crocodile is currently considered too risky a proposition.
I don’t really care what the lab report says about Rosie’s genetic makeup. I feel so much happier now I am part of a little pack of two again, with a companion who will step out with me in all weathers and whatever the time of day.
The only thing that’s taken a downward turn is the state of the house and the car. The car has become a mobile dog kennel again with smudgy nose-prints on the windscreen and muddy paw prints on the dashboard. The house is once more adrift in dog hair. If it gets much worse I’ll be needing snowshoes for the trek across the lounge carpet to the kitchen to fill the dog’s bowl.