A Shaggy Dog Story


Posted by in April's Magazine

 

My life has changed lately – three weeks ago to the day, to be precise – at a stroke, or maybe a pat, or even a paw. Bit of a shaggy dog story really – get it? Or fetch it perhaps… Enough all ready. Yes, the newest Leither in the neighbourhood is my German Shepherd (crossed with a Collie, a Lab, a Rottweiler, and god knows what else.) She’s a year and a bit old and hails from Ireland originally, via the Dogs Trust at West Calder, and she has turned her owner into a man obsessed.

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I had a dog when I was a kid, or at least that was how I thought it worked. Now I realise that my parents had a dog and I took him for the occasional walk, when it suited me. This time there are no kids to blame, this was our decision alone. As a result, Leith Links has suddenly become our second home.

It’s kind of interesting who comes out of the woodwork when you’ve got a dog. For one thing, complete strangers smile at you. Folk who you thought would know better, share their doggie screensavers. “What can yours do?” People ask. Mine can sit, stay and poo in the right place.

That’s enough isn’t it? She still tugs a bit on the leash, but she’s made friends with Hamish, and isn’t he the terrible one for nicking other dog’s balls? The world seems a happier, less serious place.

A whole world of behavioural psychology opens up. It seems it’s all about understanding the pack mentality and making sure your dog doesn’t get her job muddled up with yours. ‘We’re the top dogs and we look after you – not the other way round!’ The end result is she is happiest and calmest, when I’m in charge. I have to say it brings a wry smile to my face when I hear liberal- minded people emphasising the importance of hierarchy, discipline, structure and obedience. Some lessons here for the troubled times we live in perhaps, or is this just the tell-tale signs of my meandering rightward drift?

Oh and by the way she’s called ‘Tia’ – which is Spanish for aunt. That would make a Tia Maria an Auntie Mary!

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