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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Woofless in San Jose

I have to admit that as a non dog lover, Thatcher has won me over. His behaviour is so predictable and he is so eminently trainable. He is even tempered and for a puppy, very quiet. For some while I believed that he was a dud because he did not bark, at all, ever. My knowledge of dogs is sadly limited to a handful of unpleasant first hand experiences with vicious guard dogs in South Africa, as well as the wee yipper that lives next door. Of all the things that I know about dogs, one thing for sure is that they bark.

It took some while for him to find his bark and when he finally did, it was so loud, deep and throaty that we all collectively jumped out of our skins. We now all know the occasions when he is likely to bark:- when a stranger enters the property, through the gate, not casual passers by, squirrels, but he’s learning not to, when someone treads on him by accident or when playing with his doggy or human pals.

Quite restrained for any member of our household.

With this in mind, our family enjoys our usual noisy dinner, together at the table one sunny Californian evening. Thatcher lies inert in his bed whilst we discuss fearful things. Who is fearful of what and when and why? It is a heated debate. Each person believes that their own fear is genuine and justifiable, whilst everyone else’s is ludicrous. There is very little common ground. It is probably the first time we have ever managed to be able to have such a discussion, since more usually the mere mention of the trigger word would produce mass meltdowns and abject hysteria.

“I’m only really scared of Black Widow Spiders, not other arachnids, just the Black Widows.”
“Snot fair to pick on one spider!”
“I’m think I’m afraid of pain, personal pain. I have a very low pain threshold.”
“How can you say that when you’ve had four kids Mum? The only thing I’m afraid of is dolls.”
“Dogs? You’re afraided of dogs?”
“Not dogs! Dolls.”
“I can understand that,” adds her husband, “I’m afraid of masks……creepy.”
“Dey are not creepy. Seagulls are creep me out!”
“Nuffin is scary excepting for death.”
“It’s chaos of for me, that’s what I’m afraid of,” adds the head of the household although he addresses Thatcher, not the general company at the table. Thatcher lifts his nose as his ears prick up and tears out of the room, through the kitchen into the family room where he begins to bark, frantic. The boys canter off after him to see the cause of the commotion in the back garden.
“What is it dear?”
"A giant!"
"A giant?"
“Itza ball.”
“He is being afraid of dah ball.”
“He’s not afraid of balls! He’ll play catch for hours, he never gets tired out.”
“No! He’s afraid of the ball.”
“What ball? Which ball?”
“Dah one…….dat did be came over dah fence.”
“Oh……it’s great to have such good neighbours. You really need to be more careful where you throw them dear.”
“No what?” I put down my knife and fork and go and do what I should have done in the first place.
“See…….dat is not being our ball.”
“My what a windfall!”
“No……not a windfall……a ball fall.”

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