Sunday, May 24, 2009

For Louis

Pic: Amy Sibraa

The day you were born I got a phone call to say you had arrived. I actually jumped up and down for joy at the news. When you came home to us you could fit in the palm of my hand. You let me carry you around in my handbag, with just your little head sticking out, and you came everywhere with me. We had just moved to Brisbane, and you were my only daylight companion in those first days. In no time we were each other’s best friend.

I was so proud of you when we went out for walks, you charging ahead on tiny legs, going a million to the dozen, always keen, even when those tiny legs gave out and I had to pick you up for the last leg home.

You used to hide under the coffee table and leap out to scare us. And you vandalized the flokati rug. It’s never been the same since the ‘cheese’ incident. You grew and found your voice. And you barked. And barked. All day, all night. I realise you were doing your job, but you drove us insane with your incessant yapping, right under our bedroom. It earned you a couple of kicks up the bum. You deserved them.

On the afternoon of your first new year’s eve, Mark took you for a walk around the block. You stuck your head through a gate, and almost lost it to a much larger dog, who also managed to get a decent grip on your neck. The ensuing scuffle saw Mark stick his foot through the gate, which saved your neck but broke Mark’s toe. It’s still crooked.

We had to find you a companion when the hormones kicked in. You were so happy to meet Mr Bear, and he became your bitch, in every sense of the word. At least you showed him affection. I suppose it could have been worse…

And then, when Sofie was born you were so excited to meet her. You loved her and wagged your tail whenever she so much as squeaked. If you were jealous of her, you never let it show. When Lucy came along, again you were as overjoyed as we were. She became a third and abundant food source, and you allowed her particular leeway when it came to vigorous pats and cuddles.

You were the dog who made timid children forget their fear of dogs. Wherever we could take you, you went. When we didn’t take you, you dropped your head, dragged your feet out the door and gave us your most heartbroken face. Every night at bedtime Mark or I had to drag you out from under Lucy’s cot. You thought you were one of the kids, and you were as much a part of our family as any one of us.

So when we lost you two weeks ago, it tore a hole in us. You were only five years old, and we had expected to see you grow old with our family. Not only was your death untimely, but violent and cruel. I wish everything about that afternoon could have been different. I can’t help thinking my negligence was a contributing factor. One more brick was all I needed to block that fence… but I didn’t see the hole. Those horrible dogs should never have been there. I should have forced the neighbour to get rid of them before something like this happened.

As we come to terms with your death, we also have to adjust to your loss. We all miss you terribly. Sofie told me this morning how much she misses your waggy tail. Lucy still calls to you in the garden. Mark misses your silhouette against the wall in the evening. My morning run is lonely without you, and there are people stopping me every day to ask where you are. There have been cards, flowers, notes and visits from family, friends and neighbours who loved you very much. You couldn’t have had any concept of how popular and loved you were.

To us, you were more than a pet. You were one of us. And a very good boy. (Except for the barking but now is hardly the time, is it?)

I should let you know that there is a new puppy coming in the next few months. He cannot and will not replace you, but he will fill the hole you have left. We will love him and treasure him as much as we did you. He has the same Grandad as you, so we believe a little of you will live on in him. But we will never forget you, and we will always remember you as the happy, loving and sweet little guy you were. Thank you for enriching our lives in ways you could never have known.

You will be in our hearts always.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Tale of the Snail

(With a nod to Julia Donaldson)

Here is a tale of a tiny snail,
who appeared in our tank with barely a tail.
So tiny, he looked like a speck on the side
But the speck moved a little and started to slide.

A snail! we all cried, What the heck? How the blazes?
And several other exclamatory phrases.
We gave him a name: it was Shorty the Small,
Our brand newest pet, and the smallest of all.

It took him forever to get here to there
But he covered some ground and explored everywhere.
The very next day, young Shorty the Small
Had doubled in size and was having a ball.

But... he wasn't a purchase, or even required,
So how in the devil was Shorty acquired?
And still the plot thickened - how can this be?
First there was Shorty, but now there are three!

They came out of nowhere, more, and still more.
How do they get in? Through a secret snail door?
FISH! Said the pet shop, they'll eat them for lunch!
That's how you'll get rid of the Shorty Snail bunch.

The pet shop explained how the snails found their way.
There wasn't a snail door, they were stowaways.
They arrived on the plants in their eggs as wee babies
To start a new life, and some more Shorty's maybe.

But it wasn't to be. We took home three fish.
Who seemed to be hungry for snail as a dish.
It's sad, but it's true, and we just couldn't look
So we set the fish free and opened a book.

In the tank the next morning there was less of a crowd.
The snails were all gone and the fish looked quite proud.
And ever since then, there's no sign of a snail.
And that is the end of the Shorty Snail Tale.