February 21, 2005

Which puppy?

First step in getting a puppy is deciding on a breed. This might seem straightforward, but it’s not something I’ve had a lot of experience with. Most of my dogs I’ve sort of ended up with, rather than actually choosing. They wandered in, and stayed when no-one answered the lost dog ads; a guy left and his dog stayed; my son wanted a dog of his own, then lifestyle changes meant I got a dog of my own; or I saw a puppy in a box at the markets and lost all reason. So I’ve had a German Shepherd Dog, Samoyeds, Australian Kelpies, Australian Cattle Dogs, and various unidentifiable mixed breeds.

For my last dog I decided to choose carefully, and was in the process of interviewing breeders and inspecting kennels when a little male cattle dog came and sat beside me. Every now and again he would reach over and touch me with his nose but otherwise he was content to just sit there. He’d go off and check what his littermates were doing, or inspect a noise, but would come over to where I was and sit beside me again. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the kennels and I wanted a female, and then not for three or four months, so I drove home. About two hours into the trip, I called the breeder and told her I was coming back for him ─ so much for dispassionate, reasoned choice.

He was a wonderful dog, but he had a hereditary disease of the central nervous system, which slowly paralysed him ─ Hereditary Polioencephalomyelopathy of Australian Cattle Dogs. He was just thirteen months when I asked my vet to end his struggle. Six months on, Diesel’s death has left a huge gap in my life and my other dog Thompson misses his company. So we are starting the process over again.

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