Coming from a farming home, I was used to big, shaggy dogs, usually mongrels or dolly mixture collies. Their purpose in life was in the first instance, to herd sheep. But I always thought of them as pets. At one stage, we had a pet lamb called Tubby, who thought he was a dog and no one ever felt the need to set him straight (I have written about Tubby in a previous blog post. His bloody demise is the reason I became vegetarian). I was never fond of Jack Russell terriers that occasionally stray onto the farm and found their nippy, wicked temperament hard to accept when I was used to gentle giants who loved me unconditionally.
After that, the only dealings I had with Jack Russell’s was in relation to my surname. My brother Derek was christened ‘Jack’ in his early days in secondary school. When I followed him a year later, I was sometimes called ‘Jacqueline’. What a witty bunch my fellow students were. Although it’s now over two decades since we finished school, I expect that my brother would still lift his head if he heard someone called out ‘Jack’ on the street.
In early September, a Jack Russell dog appeared at my back door. I assumed he was a neighbour’s dog out wandering. The following day, he was still there. As my daughter pointed out ‘he has a sore butt’. I was keen to get him home as soon as possible, took his photo, posted it on Facebook and tagged all of my neighbours. I assumed a speedy response identifying the owner, but no one came forward. Some days later, I brought him to the local vet to see if the mutt (by now named Charlie by my son) was micro chipped. He wasn’t.
At this stage, panic started to kick in. Charlie had started to take over my house. He had evicted my humongous Labrador Hudson from his comfortable bed. I was surprised that Hudson allowed it, as he is so big that he could have easily smothered him if he sat on him. Instead, Hudson looked at me forlornly, not able to hold back his hurt. The only time that Hudson stood up for himself was mealtime. There was no way a greedy Lab would share.
Feeding time at the zoo really became an issue - Charlie also started to upset my two half wild cats, Spooky and Sparky, belting out the back door between my legs when I attempted to feed them. On one occasion, he dived on one of the cats and grabbed her viciously by the neck, witnessed by my hysterical daughter. Thankfully Sparky is also spunky and escaped. After that attack, my daughter decided that she didn’t really like Charlie anymore and stopped walking him around on a lead. In the meantime, Hudson became a sulky teenager and spent most of his time in my bedroom.
The only time there was a ceasefire was when I brought them both for a walk. I only walked so far to avoid my neighbour who began to complain about ‘YOUR Jack Russell’ potentially leading her dog astray. I had explained to her that Charlie wasn’t mine, despite the fact I was now regularly pounding the tarmacadam with him on a lead.
Regular telephone messages and emails to the local Animal Rescue centre were not returned (I’m not complaining – I know they are extremely busy). Charlie’s butt wasn’t getting any better and his bum vapour was like agitated slurry (townies, you may need to Google this to understand). The end of my tether was getting closer and I knew that I couldn’t keep Charlie beyond last weekend. Trouble was, for all his faults, I was getting attached to the little critter. I made one last post on Facebook to see if I could find a home for him, before I contacted the dog pound, which mostly likely, would lead to a death sentence for Charlie in the following week.
In what seemed like a miracle, a friend of a friend contacted me almost immediately. ‘Does he had a sore backside?’, she asked. I could hear the ‘Hallelujah’ music coming on in my head. It appears that Charlie (I won’t reveal his real name, to protect the stinky) is a bit of an escape artist whose family were looking for him.
The following day, Charlie was collected, with a huge sigh of relief for all concerned.
Hudson’s delicate ego is recovering. He is sprawled out in his basket as I type. I treated him to a road trip to Clonakilty and a walk on the beach there (thanks Marie and Andrew) to reaffirm that he was the only mutt for me.
The cats have regained their laid back ‘‘we don’t give a monkeys about you ‘tude’’. The equilibrium has been restored in Poppy Cottage.
Til the next drama ….