The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

A Day in a dog’s life

Malta Independent Monday, 12 May 2008, 00:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

I hear footsteps. A squeak and a creak follow as the door-handle moves slowly and the door is pushed ajar. I open one eye.

“Good morning,” says the human to me. I wag my tail in acknowledgement, but I do not move. I wait for her to come and sit beside me on the sofa, as she does every day. She will pat me through my blanket, and then she will push it off me and tickle my neck and tummy. She knows I love this pampering routine every morning.

“Come on then!” the human says after a few minutes of cuddling, beckoning me to the door leading to the garden. She is the mother in this human family, and she takes care of me like I might be one of her cubs. I hop off the sofa, stretch a little and trot into the garden, where I run a few times from one end to the other. A morning run is the best start to my day!

I especially enjoy barking to passers-by to say good morning, but they rarely wish it back to me. I think they misunderstand me, because they hurry along muttering to themselves. I hope they will want to become my friends one day, so I bark a good morning to them day after day. Anyway, the human cubs like me! Some stop to pat me through the gate, before standing in a group at the end of the street for a big bus to take them somewhere.

Back inside the house, the mother-human slides me a slice of buttered toast, which I take in my mouth with a grateful wag of the tail. But I eat it outside on the steps in the sunshine, mainly because she does not like my crumbs on her floor. Also, I am not supposed to be fed anything at the table or to snack throughout the day, but all the humans in my family break this rule when nobody else is looking. And I am not complaining!

I failed to appreciate my family fully until recently, when they took me to a place called “the kennels” for a few days. There were many other dogs there, but I felt very lonely. Soon, the spotted dog’s family came and took him home, and the white one in the pen near mine also left. My hope grew. I waited. Any other alternative seemed a worse prospect than living in confinement but in hope of returning to the family I had chosen for myself. Meantime, my inmates and I eased our distress by sharing our stories through the bars.

I was already a few months old when I met my family. I was hanging out with a small pack of dogs at a car-park. They were a varied bunch – the hardy and streetwise leader, the silly one, the carefree one... I had lost my mother and they let me tag along. Being so young, I was no threat to them – indeed they protected me – but I often felt like a nuisance, especially because I hurt my paw and began to limp terribly.

One night we did not get any food as usual from the restaurant nearby. Somebody had forgotten that we depended on the food-scraps left by the humans, which were left outside for us at closing-time. Sad and hopeless, we all retreated to the shelter of some parked cars. It was winter and I felt very cold and hungry.

Suddenly, three humans approached. All the dogs in my pack emerged from beneath the cars, hoping for some scraps of food, and I followed them to beg for my share. But I instantly took a liking to one of the female humans, so much that I just wanted to follow her everywhere, whether she had any food or not. She patted me and remarked about my coat being sticky from the sap of the trees. Then she saw my swollen paw.

The humans talked among themselves, then my favourite one walked away. I thought she was leaving and I really did not want that, so I tried to follow her. A passing car almost ran me over as I did. She picked me up and said, “It seems like I do not have a choice, as you do not seem to belong to anybody here and I cannot leave you like this...” My pack hung around as she put me in her car, assessing whether I was in any danger. Finally they wished me good luck and looked on until we drove out of sight.

At first I was a little afraid. I did not want to sleep alone in a strange new place but my human seemed to know this. She slept on a sofa and I slept underneath it. The next day I was washed and brushed and we paid a visit to the vet. Within a week, my paw was fully healed. I was so grateful for the warmth, the food and the affection that I received that I was the best-behaved pet anybody could wish for.

Within a month, however, I became so used to my new, comfortable environment that I forgot where I had come from, and began to misbehave. I fretted when the family left me alone in the house and would often create havoc! Once I was forced to remember my good fortune, I do not allow myself to forget anymore!

The mother-human calls me to wake up the father-human. I like this part of the day. She opens the door leading to the corridor, and I take a sprint. From the doorway of the sleeping room, I fling myself onto the bed and he stirs, then laughs, grabs me and plays with me very rough, holding me down while I try to wriggle free. He lets me go then grabs me again, and I try to catch his hands in my mouth. We play for a while then he begins to get ready to go out somewhere.

My first human, the one that brought me home, soon arrives through the front door. She and her older sister do not live in this house anymore, but I still do. I heard them say that they do not want to disturb me now that I have settled down. Or change my habits. The first human would always take me out on long runs without a leash and she still collects me to take me to the countryside or the beach sometimes. That is one habit I really like to keep!

Soon we are driving off. I stick my head out of the window and open my mouth. The wind on my nose makes me feel a little giddy and I like it. Before long we are at one of our favourite spots. I like this place because there is shrubbery and sand and waves lapping on the beach – so much variety for play!

I spring high through the grass, disappearing into it when I touch the ground. I run through the sand, enjoying the feeling of my paws sinking into it, and I dig a few holes here and there. And I chase the waves as they withdraw into the sea, but I become a wet mess when they catch me and I take to rolling in the sand. My human friend does not approve, but I do it anyway because it is fun and I do not get to do it very often.

I often meet other dogs when we come here, and they usually like to play with me. I forget all about the grass, the sand and the waves when I smell a dog, and run over, not heeding the calls of the human. We dogs have an unspoken law when we see each other, but humans do not understand it. We must sniff each other! I also like the opportunity to mix with my own kind at dog-terms. We chase each other, wrestle and playfully bite each other. Relating with a furry friend is so different from playing with a human! We play dominance.

I know I cannot escape a bath. First of all, it is almost always the case, and today I jump into a wave just as we are about to leave. The human is very unimpressed with me. I have changed to a black-speckled-with-gold colour from all the sand stuck in my long black fur.

The first human’s sister and her cub are at the house when we return. I do my usual over-excited greeting, partly because I am really excited to see them and partly because I know they like it – especially the cub. I want to play with him right away, as he is my best play-mate, and we understand each other really well. We begin to play ball in the garden, but I am soon whisked away to the bath as I had imagined.

I discover that the reason for the urgency of the bath is because of the late hour. Worrying that I might get cold while wet, out comes a machine that makes a horrible noise and blows hot air. I have never seen one before and I am afraid of it. The sister-human is my groomer, and despite my struggling I am forced to put up with it and end up looking like a fuzz-ball. To top the job, she dresses me up in some cub-clothes, having made a hole for my tail and all! I actually find the outfit quite comfortable and do not mind wearing it.

But the smiles are quickly transformed to wrinkles of concentration when somebody has the bright idea of clipping my fur! I love my family but on this one I fight with all my might, stopping just short of biting! I am out-numbered and they are victorious. Feeling naked and humiliated, I retreat beneath the sofa, as out of sight as I can.

The sister-human coaxes me out from my hiding place with a doggy-treat and the human-cub distracts me with my yellow squeaky toy. Soon I am playing “fetch” and forget about my plight. Now I am convinced that the clipping is not meant as some kind of punishment, perhaps for getting so messy at the beach. And I must admit I do feel lighter.

A wrestling game with the human-cub finishes me off. I am thoroughly exhausted and hungry. But it is a long time since I need worry about hunger. The father-human feeds me some very tasty food at the same time everyday! Afterwards I settle into my basket, which is where I lie until the humans leave the room. It is only just before the father-human retires that he settles me down with my blanket on the comfortable, soft sofa, along with Pookie, my white teddy-bear.

Food, play and warm, comfortable shelter guaranteed – this is the kind of “dog’s life” any dog could wish for! My fortune has whisked me far from the long and lonely nights in the cold darkness. But best of all, my human family have thought me the unspoken language of love and affection. I am faithful to them all for the unique part of my heart each fulfills.

This is the second in Melanie Drury’s, “A Day in the Life of...” series. The next one is due on 26 May.

[email protected]

  • don't miss