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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pinky and the Runaway Mutt

As an adjunct to an overabundance of progeny, several pets were introduced into the pandemonium in those early years. On reflection this was almost bordering on cruelty as I certainly had no time to look after animals properly.

Bruce, the West Highland Terrier and Bert the mongrel were around when Thaddeus was born. Bruce was perpetually infested with fleas, no matter how many pest killing baths he endured. He used to slink into the house unobserved and go to sleep underneath Hagar’s cot where there must have been a cool breeze.

Predictably, the entire house and my then husband’s hairy lower legs, became overrun with the parasites and had to be sprayed several times (the house not the legs). Bruce was a very cantankerous, irritable dog and I'm not sure if it was due to his unsightly and no doubt itchy eczema or the cortisone injections he had to tolerate on a monthly basis to get rid of it.

Eventually he ran away and despite advertising in the newspaper and scouring the dog pound every day, we never found him.

Bert, on the other hand was as wily and conniving as a Machiavellian villain. That serial escapee had me driving all over the city retrieving him from assorted well-meaning members of the public who had found him wandering the streets. No barrier proved too much of a challenge for Bert.

I swear his bloodline was part terrier and part kangaroo. We couldn’t figure out how he was managing his Houdini exploits until one day I witnessed him mid-act. He was literally climbing the fence in an anomalous fashion with the trained expertise of an SAS soldier.

One day he disappeared and there was no phone call alerting me to his whereabouts. We fruitlessly rang the pound who repeatedly insisted they hadn’t seen him. About two months later I was sitting with a coffee on my verandah and who should mosey past our gate but Bert, looking in fine fettle indeed.

On closer inspection, by the look of his collar and tags, it came to light that he had a new owner. And on contacting the owner, from where do you imagine he had been acquired? The dog pound of course.

For reasons I will never fathom (it may have been the pleading of the children) we settled financial scores with the new owner and took repossession of Bert.

Sadly he continued to decamp at every opportunity and we were forced to give him away to a good home with an allegedly impenetrable barricade surrounding the house.

About three months later we were driving along one of the city’s thoroughfares and spotted Bert galloping along the road with a broken rope trailing behind him. My then husband looked at me with a distressed, yet defiant expression.

We kept driving.