Sunday, 27 November 2016

Misty's diary: coping with a puppy – principle and practice

Well, I told them. And when they didn’t listen, I showed them. I hope they’ve learned their lesson.

The domestic staff have introduced a new dog – or rather, far worse, a new puppy – to the household. I told them how badly I felt about that when they showed up with that little tyke Luci. I know I’ve got used to her and we basically get on OK now, but that’s no excuse for keeping on doing it. They can’t be in any doubt what a dim view I take of such proceedings on their part.

They went ahead anyway. The new thing’s about the size of a medium rat but with less meat on it, and apparently goes by the name “Toffee”. I’d warned them what would happen so when they blithely went on and did it, I acted on my warning. I vanished. I was gone. Vamoosed. Into the garden, over the fence and far away.

It’s true that the little Luci saw things differently.

“But you’re still coming back for your food, aren’t you?”

Well, of course I was coming back for food. You’ve got to eat, haven’t you? I mean, what does she think? How naïve can she be?

Still, mustn’t be too hard on her. She’s young and doesn’t get it. What I was doing by disappearing was taking a stand on principle. What I was doing by coming back for my food was taking appropriate action in practice. Principle is great but practice really has to come first.

After all, a principle stand makes you feel good about yourself, and boy do you need that when there’s a new puppy in your life. But not getting your feed can leave you feeling strangely thin, which must be a most bizarre feeling (I imagine) and would rather undo any good done by the stand on principle.

Anyway, I made my point. But you do have to show tolerance towards the benighted. So after a while I came back and hung around the house a bit, just to show them I didn’t hold grudges, and could be magnanimous towards the afflicted. Of course, I got a bit afflicted myself, by that Toffee-thing – it kept running at me and trying to nip my ears or my belly, worse than Luci when she was small – Luci was never that young, anyway – so I had to resort to some of the old tricks that I hoped were behind me for good, like hopping up on a dining chair under the table cloth, and laughing at her.

Safe on a dining chair:
out of reach but able to keep a baleful eye on puppy antics
Still, she seems less sensitive to that kind of behaviour than Luci was. She keeps coming back for more. Toughy-toffee, I say. Still, there’s nothing much a good cuff around the ear with velveted paw won’t cure, and for the few things it won’t there’s always just a gentle reminder administered with the very ends of my teeth. Delicate they are, my teeth, but if I say so myself, pleasingly sharp too.

I’m gratified to say that she seems to be a quick learner, that Toffee. The smallest of implied bites produces a little squeal and then a welcome cessation of annoying attention. Welcome peace.

What I don’t know, though, is why it’s always me that has to train these new arrivals. I did a good job with Luci, but you know how it is: a good job, well done is only ever rewarded by another even bigger job to take on. And toughy-Toffee’s certainly going to be a challenge.

Still, she has at least one weak point. I’ve never seen anyone like her with food. Once she’s got her head buried in a bowl of the stuff there’s no getting it out any more. I watched the domestics literally struggle to get a bowl away from her. She’s like a silent version of one of those ghastly vacuum cleaners they use on their carpets, though with her it only works with food bowls. Hers, Luci’s, anyone’s she can get her nose into.

I’m just glad my food’s up high, where I can get it but Luci can’t. It’s way out of Toffee’s reach. Long may it stay so.

Because if she ever got to it, I’d end up as hungry as if I’d disappeared in practice as well as in principle.

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