My Dog is a Lush

January 10th, 2012 § 0 comments


529910990_imagesaas_f_improf_1198x897I live in a town called Tarifa. A port town, the transient locals never really feel settled until they own a dog, so the place is infested with them. From Pekinese to German Shepard, every breed is represented. And then there is one special breed of the town’s own making, the Tarifa Dog.

The Tarifa Dog is recognisable for its extreme independence, stubborn manner, excellent survival skills and quick temper should anyone attempt to interfere with its food.

The king of Tarifa Dogs is a mutt called Tafu; skinny, gnarly and father to half of the town’s canine population, Tafu is something of a legend. He is always on the prowl.

But it wasn’t a desire to join the legacy of Tarifa’s canine lore that inspired me to get a dog. My motivations were much more childish. I wanted a Labrador. I had a Golden Retriever when I was younger and was heartbroken when someone stole her.

I searched various pet shops but no waggy tails caught my eye. When a friend said his mongrel had just given birth to nine puppies and some of them looked like Labs, I hot-footed it over there.

They say that an owner never chooses a dog. The dog chooses the owner. When I spotted the nine six-week-old fluffy pups tumbling about on the floor my heart melted. It was impossible to choose one.

We played with them all trying to make out individual personality traits. One pup was particularly friendly and stood out because of her funny nipples. On a second visit, a little golden furball kept following me. When I finally picked her up, I saw it was the funny nipple dog. That was it. I took her home.

That was two and a half years ago.

When I first got her I realised I had entered a whole world of dogginess. First there’s the accessories, the coloured cushioned beds, the collars, the leads, the bowls; a girl could spend an entire afternoon on doggie accessories, but that might be a tad extravagant … also sad. This is the south of Spain not Venice Beach.

Taking her out for a walk was another doggy door-opener. Other dog owners stopped me to ask was it a boy or a girl? How old was she? What mix was she? Then they would ooh and aah over how cute she was. It was a world of doggie fluffiness.

As the years pass I understand more the lure of puppies for seasoned dog owners. It reminds them of a time when their own outsized hairball was cute and manageable. For a moment they remember moments of serenity that don’t involve tearing across fields and beaches in the vain hope of catching said outsized hairball.

My dog grew up fast. Unruly and feisty from the get-go, she quickly became a natural on the streets and a lover of nightlife. By the time she was six-months she was sociable, strong-willed and popular.

From an early age she liked to roam the unknown and the habit has not ceased with age. She relishes every moment free of the leash by racing down the beach at break-neck speed or slipping off into the back alleys of Tarifa.

She is always on a mission, always busy. Sometimes she likes to hook up with the other dogs round town and has her favourites. While some dogs are just good for a quick bum-sniff, others she regards as her fur-bond friends.

She has very little time for male dogs in general. If they bother her too much, she’ll attack. Can dogs be gay?

Despite this intense dislike for the male canine population, there is one mangy mutt whom she adores. I am sure their relationship is platonic because he’s been ‘done.’ He looks somewhere cross between a Spaniel and a Hedgehog.

He’s short, stumpy, shaggy and follows my dog at every opportunity. When they see each other, the two take a running leap at each other, then with my dog taking the lead, they bounce and dash off into the horizon.

This dog is owned by a spinster in her fifties. I have an innate dislike for the word ‘spinster’ with all its Victorian connotations, but there is no other way to describe this woman. Black-rimmed glasses, grey black hair worn in a lank pony-tail, clothes from a depressed era.

She has an epileptic fit every time she sees my dog coming and for good reason. One occasion after an all night bender – when they go they don’t come back till the next morning – her dog arrived back barely able to walk. Most likely a car him so her nervousness is understandable.

I have no idea what they do all night. Sniff out the best bins. Eat out of bins. Hang out with other dogs. Sniff each other’s asses. Sniff other dogs’ asses. Scour the beach for dead carcasses. Play with dead carcasses. No doubt it’s a night of non-stop full on woof madness.

And when she finally arrives home, her routine is always the same. Two full days she spends barely conscious on the couch. Yes folks, she sleeps it off.

The first day she is comatose while I wonder what whirlwind of activity could tire out a dog who otherwise makes the Tasmanian Devil look docile. The second day, she might move, but only because she has to go to the loo. Business done she’s back to the couch.

Some say that a dog assumes the traits of its owner.

I say, no chance! This bitch knows her own mind.

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