How Dingo got her mojo back

2011-10-17 00:00

WE were given bad news by the vet. Our old dog Dingo was sadly not going to last too long. The lump on her leg was a cancerous growth of the malignant type that spreads quickly. Amputation was not an option due to various factors so we were told to care for her and give her pain tablets until she was in great distress.

Then it would be time to take her back to the vet for the last time. It was all rather glum and miserable.

So finally my ex and I agreed it was time to let the children have another dog. My son wanted a bulldog, the slobbery type, while my daughter wanted something like a Pekinese, with bulging eyes. I said that I doubted that the SPCA would have a great variety to choose from but I wished them luck. Off they went.

My ex has always been in charge of the animals. Our last dog was called Lucky — although she was not at all Lucky. It was an omen.

I should have been suspicious when my children returned from the SPCA with a puppy called Boss. Most puppies have names like Waffles or Tiger, but obviously the SPCA staff saw something beneath his cute puppy exterior.

He is very sweet. He has those brown forgive-me eyes. He is a very highly pedigreed pavement special. A cup of daschhund, a sprinkle of terrier, a smidgen of ridgeback and methinks a dose of Canis Africanis — African hunting dog.

He lives up to his name and thinks he is the boss and we are his minions. Like most puppies he has an abundance of energy, and thinks any form of discipline is a challenge. When locked behind a gate he simply digs his way under it and when dog biscuits are hidden out of reach he chews on anything in sight.

For a small dog he has the most amazing spring in his legs. He can leap onto chairs, tables and even counter tops like a springbok. I suspect he escaped from a laboratory where he was genetically modified by some

scientists, which would account for his strange name and genetic mix.

I think our old Dingo was rather depressed by the news of her medical diagnosis too, because she had been sleeping a lot and moping. But since the arrival of the puppy she has been revitalised. The pair of them have been wrestling and gnawing on bones.

Chasing butterflies and rolling in mud — it has been a delight watching the pair of them bonding. The only continuing sign of Dingo's illness is her limp from time to time and when the

puppy gets a bit rough with her leg she gives him a quick nip to put him in his place.

As I have observed these mutts in their new friendship, I reflected that as humans we too are prone to focus on the bad news and we almost wait for our sentence to be meted out instead of focusing on what we still have to enjoy instead.

Studies done on patients in hospital reveal that those who have the most positive attitudes are the ones who recover quickest from diseases or operations. The secret lies in wanting to live a full healthy life but also in having a reason to live.

Dingo is no longer focusing on her illness, but is delighting in playing with her new friend and enjoys her role as monitor, putting him in line. I think she secretly enjoys it when he digs a hole and gets out of the yard because he gets the blame and she sits back with a look that says: "Don't look at me."

He on the other hand is pushing her to test the boundaries, as if daring her really to live out her final days like a wild dog. This doggy pantomime is sometimes hilarious and sometimes frustrating, but mostly a reminder that we all need a friend when times are tough.

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