Puppy Love

Piper is staying with us for 12 days while her mum and dad have a break in Los Angeles. Piper has stayed with us many times since she was a young pup of eight months. Her first visit was to help cure our young son, Jonny of his wariness around dogs. He was eight and weighed about 25kg. Piper weighed about the same.

On that first night Andrew and I went upstairs to tuck Jonny in. He was surrounded by a lot of big black canine love. I guess he was over his wariness.

Now Jonny is 18 and filled with teenager stuff. Piper is 12 and showing signs of her maturity. She no longer comes on 10k runs with me, she is on meds to stop her incontinence, and her muzzle is whiter than it was in her youth. Her days are filled with many nana naps.

There are still signs of her youthfulness. Taken to a park after 24 hours of rain she ran and bounded and leapt and darted all over the place for about 10 minutes. She dived into the lake and chased the odd seagull. She still has a fondness to get over excited about stones and anything resembling a stick – even if it is still attached to half a tree.

Our house is also home to two cats. Billy is the elder and about the same age as Piper. And Adidas is five. Both these cats have grown up with Piper visits. But it has taken a long time for them to tolerate her. To start with both would become extremely scarce during the day, and very nocturnal while Piper was asleep upstairs.

They don’t bother with that now. But they have perfected feline warfare.

One will sit on the bottom stair, just beside the front door – effectively blocking two escape routes. The other will sit beside the lounge door which is close to the bathroom/laundry door, effectively blocking those routes. Piper will fret between them. She is the size of a large labrador with all the courage of the Lion in the Wizard of Oz. Billy will wait all day under our bed for Piper to come in for a nap, then a stealthy paw will whip out and attack. Adidas will spend the day asleep on the dog bed. Both cats will spend an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen waiting for food, theirs or Piper’s. It doesn’t matter. It torments the dog regardless.

Piper is asleep on the bed next to me, having a snoring competition with Andrew. Billy is lurking under the bed. He will sit there patiently until Piper gets down and then will hiss and growl.

Adidas will be sleeping on Piper’s bed. Just because she can. Last night she came upstairs and posed like a sphinx on the bed. Piper would come up to sneak onto the bed, see the cat, and whimper pathetically. This went on for about 30 minutes.

We love having Piper to stay. We appreciate that she is so well behaved. We respect her intelligence by spelling out the word W-A-L-K-I-E-S. We are amused by her telling it is time for the aforementioned activity when she comes to us with her lead in her mouth. We are overwhelmed by her affection and her belief that she is just little lap dog.

I love dogs. But I am not sure I want one for ever. Piper is a great compromise.

Plus when she goes home on Tuesday, her grateful mum will leave behind a bottle of duty-free gin. I think we have the best of both worlds.