When I launched this Blog, I promised that it would not always be about hard and difficult subjects. Occasionally, I would write about other topics that are softer and gentler. Lately, I have been writing about tough things, such as war, addictions, and sports betting. Today, I offer readers an article that could be called “and now, for something completely different.”
This is about my special relationship with our dog Lupin. She is a gentle and friendly yellow Labrador who, through some sort of wires crossed genetics, speaks human and I speak dog.
When we finish a walk together at our front door, she waits faithfully for my rendition of a simple little ditty which I sing in my off-key baritone: “Were you ever in Quebec, donkey riding, donkey riding, were you ever in Quebec, riding on a donkey?” This was a song I used to sing to our kids when they were little, balancing them on my leg, and increasing the bounces, faster and faster.
With her amazing linguistic ability, Lupin adopted this song as her mantra. It became a kindly command to come into the house. Now, she waits outside the door until she hears her song. When Lupin will not move at the front door, my dear wife says to me: “Can you call Lupin?” I begin that favorite song and in Lupin comes.
As a would-be writer, I have a rather solitary job. When I am about to go up to my second-floor office to start work in the morning, I say to Lupin: “Do you want to come up and work with me?” Invariably she heads up the stairs with me. I asked a friend once whether this was because Lupin loves me, or she likes the treats she gets when she works with me. “Probably a bit of both,” my friend replied.
In the afternoon, Lupin and I usually go on the “Cemetery walk” in town. Again, with her superior language ability, Lupin must certainly be moved by the many names and dates on the tombstones. Or she may be inspired by the many dogs who have previously done their business on this walk with all the intriguing smells and results. For whatever reason, the Cemetery walk is where Lupin likes to do her thing.
Affection is important to Lupin, but I must admit nothing is as important to her as food. Anyone who has owned a Labrador understands that food comes first. Mealtimes are highlights for Lupin, and between meals she cleans up below the kitchen counters for crumbs or scraps that have escaped even the very high cleanliness standards of our household.
I have several names for Lupin. My favorite is Lupee, and her behaviour sometimes coincides with this nickname. I also call her Pup or Puppy. Please do not tell my wife, but I do occasionally call her “Sweetie” as well.
She pleases me by responding to “Dad” or “Daddy” or ”Puppa.
Her full name, Lupin, is more likely associated with her being in the “doghouse.” But the description she hates the most is “Bad Dog.” With this she invariably goes into a sulk and retires to her night-time home, her crate.
As my father used to say about one of his dogs, another Labrador, “Vanny is a tender plant”. Lupin also tends to have her feelings hurt easily.
The flipside of this is also true, she can be deliriously happy, and go on what we call a “puppy tear” running around in circles at a tremendous speed. We are especially happy to see her in one of her “tears.”
One of Lupin’s failings is that she has an addiction to apples. At our place in the country, we have a vast number of old apple trees, far more than we could ever use for annual apple sauce making. As the apples fall, Lupin is not far behind. She gorges herself, and then wakes up in the middle of the night needing to go out to poop out the apples.
Fortunately for us, as the fall advances Lupin and the deer that surround us ensure that most of the apples are disappearing. She will park her addiction for now and remember it again next year.
Lupee is important to me. I am told I talk to her a lot, after all she is a good listener. She is seven years old, the equivalent of 49 dog years. I tell myself that this is not even middle age, and she will live on forever, all the while enjoying that old ditty, “Were you ever in Quebec?” …