Moderation is the Message

Dear Lottie,

Happy New Year!

This is just to let you know that Ned is on his way home. As you know he does suffer from separation anxiety however this time the symptoms were not too severe, thankfully. He kept phone calls home to a minimum and he joined in the activities with everybody else, even enjoying them. You were never very far from his thoughts of course. We had a chat and to be honest your name was not mentioned. My theory is; ‘out of sight out of mind’. I know you will agree having, as you do, a very mild case of separation anxiety yourself. I remember it being said that quite soon after Ned has left you at his sister’s you settle down in her cosy bed for most of the time he’s gone. Almost as good as a holiday, better even! The odd thing is the anxiety returns when the time comes close to returning home doesn’t it? You know the sort of thing; mounting agitation while luggage is packed, the compulsion to get into the car and then the intolerable irritation at not getting started. Goodness, at this point the urge to chew is very strong. We sent him and his friends off with a good meal and that seems to help.

But this is not why I’m writing. I’ve been interested in the workings of the mind for as long as I can remember and recently I’ve picked up a book by Bruce Fogle called The Dog’s Mind. Not a recent book yet infinitely readable. Nothing in there you don’t know about already, obviously. I’ve benefited greatly from learning about body language, about the different message that can be conveyed with the tail, and the ears. Who needs speech? Me obviously! And as for the part on prenatal and neonatal influences on the brain, well all I can say is I’ll know better next time. As far as I know you never did do the motherhood thing. I have. Believe me it is not all it’s cracked up to be. You are well off growing your nails long, keeping your figure and playing football with Ned. Gahzooks girl, can you run!

Did I ever tell you about Nero the Bloodhound puppy? He was separated from his mother far too early for his own good? I just never imagined his behaviour towards me was all to do with him thinking I was his mother! It was fine when he was small, well sort of fine. But as he grew in size his demands and needs grew in size too and I found it hard to cope. One night he had belly ache and I allowed him in bed with me so I could rub his tummy, I was that tired. Obviously I wasn’t helping much as he growled in my face. His teeth were very long by that time and that was the end of us being close. Thankfully we were separated when he was entering his terrible teens. I was OK about it by the way. Later on, when I’d visit he would remember me and greet me as he would his own mother. He was fully grown by then and so I’d need to hang onto a cloister post to keep steady.

I’m glad to say I was able to nurse Nero during his last illness and was there when he passed on, bless him. We made our peace with each other at the end and I was glad of that. Some said he had no interest in pleasing anybody and therefore was difficult to be around. It was all explained by early separation from his mom, that’s my theory. Yes, we had our problems too. However I remember him to be a noble one and in spite of being hampered by poor eyesight and hearing he was a fearless guard dog. Greatly aided I must say by an acute sense of smell which his family is known for. He died eleven years ago in December.

Thanks for listening, I’d not thought about Nero in ages and it was good to talk about him. I guess it was that Dalmatian puppy I mentioned yesterday that got me remembering. She, by the way, started her socialization at six weeks. Apparently the training lasted from four to six hours a day, imagine that? Thank goodness she was not separated from her mother during that time.

See you in about three weeks; I’m looking forward to that. Perhaps you can explain that leaning thing you do which only those familiar with your family know about directly. And also what exactly does it mean, as it says on the T-shirt, ‘Greyhounds have been kissed by angels’? Uh, can’t find the T-shirt…

P.S. I heard this great song called Squeaky Deeky over the holidays. Why not get Ned, or his wife, to download it for you. You’ll love it.

I’m publishing this email for all of those who are Crackers about dogs; and cats and animals in general. Moderation in all things I say.

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2 thoughts on “Moderation is the Message”

  1. Hello Rev Mugo,

    thanks for your letter – I know how Ned worries! I did have a great time while he was away (chasing a pheasant, if you must know, and slept most nights under a lovely warm duvet). There was a bit of bovver with a rather silly puppy called Rosie that stayed for a couple of days, but a quick snarl and a nip in her direction sorted that out. I gather her humans are pleased as she has been better behaved at home since I taught her some manners! And to set the record straight I have been a mother – can’t remember much about it.

    Looking forward to seeing you too!

  2. Rev. Mugo, you might enjoy ‘How to Speak Dog’ by Henry Coren. Please let me know if you would like to borrow my copy. Trog recommends it!

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