Almost seventeen years ago, a colleague at work told me that her dog had had pups. “They’re a cross between a red setter and a border collie” she said adding that “Bella” their mum was a gentle soul – “Don’t suppose you want one?” she asked. The words were barely out of her mouth when I made the phonecall to my hubby to persuade him we needed a dog.
And so we went to the farm to collect our pup, under no obligation to choose the “runt” but found ourselves drawn to this particular pup with two different-coloured eyes. There was just something about him.
As we drove home, our ball of fur Rodney snuggled on my husband’s lap and moments later threw up all over him. I’m not sure whether it was it the car drive or the trauma of separation that caused it. Rodney always seemed to be so attuned to life and his surroundings. Maybe rather than a skill acquired, it was something he was born with.
Rodders became our practice baby ahead of the birth of our first actual one. Â My sister sat with him while I attended ante-natal classes. Â I watched the neighbourhood cats suspiciously as they prowled along the back garden walls. Precious first born syndrome seemed to kick in with my puppy dog and Mama Bear was ready to protect him from ferocious felines!
And like most first borns, his every move and different pose was photographed. His energy was inexhaustible. Always running and bounding. Always excited and always bloody digging – but forever gentle. He was his mother’s son.
And when my daughter came to join the party, Rodney, though still adored, accepted his move further down the pecking order. He loved company which was just as well, as the numbers grew and grew. He was a horse, bad guy, good guy, unicorn, cushion, reindeer and scoffer of food the kids didn’t want to eat. He sniffed each new baby as they arrived home, and licked away the tears that fell for the miscarried ones.
He drove me crazy, robbing washing from the basket as I tried to hang it on the line and took us for a walk rather than the other way round – until lately.
Recently he got old, or at least it seemed recently. The passing of time seemed suddenly to creep up on him Â – and us. And the washing basket dramas were because he couldn’t see it, so he fell into it. And the walks became less about managing to tire him out and more about his managing to stand up. And that gorgeous face looked so tired and those beautiful two different coloured eyes, couldn’t see so well, but still looked at us so trustingly.