It’s St Patrick’s Day, and in Piddock Place, that’s a day for celebration. Not because we’re Irish, but because on this day in 2014, we brought our rescue dog Paddy home with us. Not that we intended to call him Paddy. He was going to have a Spanish name like Pedro, Pablo, Manuel or Jose. We were coming down on the side of Pedro, and then we signed the papers to make him ours, and looked at the date. What else could we call him but Paddy? Certainly not Teddy which was the name Kayla at the K9 Club animal shelter had given him. Tony absolutely refused to stand on the terrace steps and shout ‘Does Teddy want his dinner then?’ He reckoned it wouldn’t do his street cred any good, and I hadn’t got the heart to tell him it was way to late for that.
When we put him in the car to take him home, it was clear that the last time he’d been in a car was on his journey to be dumped by the canal at La Marina, because he went from being calm and contented, snuggled in my arms to fighting tooth and nail to get away. I felt a rush of loathing for whoever had put this beautiful, tiny, 6 week old bundle of fur through such a traumatic experience, and hoped it hadn’t done too much harm to him. For several weeks, I couldn’t look at Paddy without thinking how close he came to dying with his brother at the side of the canal, and I would fill up with tears every time. At the same time, I was thankful that he had found us, because from Day One he brought joy into our home.
Yes, there were problems. Like most puppies, anything he can get in his mouth is fair game, so I’ve had to bid a fond farewell to earrings, sandals, slippers, knickers – we call him Paddy Pervert because he loves to get hold of a pair of my unmentionables and chew them up, even a year down the line. Still, it saves on washing I suppose. And he has a fatal attraction for false teeth, having stripped the teeth from my partial denture and turned Tony’s into a 4-piece jigsaw.
His other fatal attraction is tissues – they’re not safe anywhere. Whether they’re in your pocket, up your sleeve or in your bra, he’ll go after them, as my friend Glenys discovered when she stayed with us. He can whip them away without you even noticing – although Glenys did notice when he went fishing in her bra. I sometimes think that if I wasn’t so honest I could make quite a good living taking him around the markets and letting him sniff pockets, because he takes anything else that happens to be in there with the tissue as well.
And Paddy’s a very keen gardener – although Tony isn’t very keen on his style of gardening, since it usually involves digging holes where they’re not wanted and transplanting fruit bushes. The most memorable instance of this was when he transplanted a blackberry bush into his mouth, and it emerged intact a couple of days later. Cue Mummy with a wet wipe and a tug, and one puppy sitting down very firmly whenever Mummy came near for several days after that. Still, he hasn’t done it since, so it was good training.
Speaking of training, that’s a work in progress. He’s a very intelligent dog – and also a very stubborn one. That comes from the terrier in the mix. Because he’s such a big, powerful dog – 32 kilos and still growing – I take him to training classes, and sometimes they’re a real source of embarrassment, but we’re getting there. He’ll sit and stay with the best of them, and for the last three weeks or so, he’s been one of the shining stars of the class, but it was not ever thus, as this post explains.
We have some great fun on our walks too, mainly down to Paddy’s genuine interest in everything he sees. There was the time the hare boxed his nose as he sniffed in the bushes. The hare ran and so did Paddy – thankfully in opposite directions, or I’d have gone flying down a steep 30 foot bank on the end of the lead. Mary Poppins I ain’t, so I was rather pleased that Paddy took the coward’s way out that day. Then there was the memorable incident of the Big Green Monster with the Pink Hat. A child had obviously lost her hat while out walking, and a helpful soul had positioned it on a bush, so that if they chanced that way again, they’d see it. To Paddy, though, it was a monster who threatened the well being of his beloved Mummy, so it had to be shown the error of its ways.
The latest ‘must have’ accessory on walkies is a stick. Any stick, from a few inches long to the width of the pavement or more. So, I’ve got a few scrapes around the calves, and the local palm trees are taking a bit of a beating. Paddy has a system whereby he carries his stick until he gets tired or fancies a change, then he puts it down and chooses another one. On the next walk, he knows exactly where each stick is, so he transports it a little further. When he finally gets them home, he gives them to us for the fire. Well, he doesn’t actually give them to us, we have to fight him for them, but if he was left to it he’d eat them, so we all get something from the exercise this way.
So, one year on, our nervous little puppy has grown into a handsome, happy confident dog who draws admiring glances everywhere he goes. Just a week or two back, a gentleman stopped us on our walk and asked if he could take a photo. I thought he was some sort of pervert, until he said ‘I’ve never seen such a beautiful dog, and I want to show him to my wife.’ That dented my self-image as a sassy sixty-something, but I was filled with pride that a stranger thought my boy was so lovely, they wanted others to see him too.
I bless the day Paddy was abandoned, because it brought him into our lives, and we are so much the richer for his arrival. Even if we’ve both got a few more grey hairs than a year ago, and the new teeth cost a fortune, we wouldn’t be without him, and we’re looking forward to many more happy years with our beautiful boy.