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Let it be said that The Mom’s nomination as Doggie Carer In Chief was a self-nomination in many ways. She is ever the helpful person, but more to the point: she is a total sucker for a dog. Any dog, really. I fear that one day word will get out in the neighbourhood, spread through the doggie information board of the proverbial fire hydrant that she is willing and able to care for any canine who should cross her path or darken her door.

Though she is keen, of course, to take care of these wayward dogs that find their way to hers, what she’s really in the lookout for is a co-conspirator, sidekick and or fall guy.

Because the thing about being nominally in charge of all these dogs is that they provide her with a suitable foil to have completely ridiculous adventures, the likes of which would be relatively unseemly were she to just do them herself. In fact, sometimes I believe this is the entire point to having a dog: you can get away with so much more.

A friend of mine over here, who works from home in a shed, used to go out for a midday walk on his own, without a dog. The neighbours and locals used to give him funny looks and steer well clear of him because he didn’t have anything with him that required a walk or similar airing out or physical activity, such as a dog or a small child. Nevermind that a walk was doing wonders for his sanity. It wasn’t until he got a little Jack Russell to accompany him that people started warming up to him.

In fact, only recently I managed to make my first tentative forays into friendship here in my new English town. I was down the pub on a Friday night with a fiend who was in from out of town and we spied  a couple with two large dog-bags (ie. a bag in which to carry one’s dog), a couple of water bowls, toys and treats. We edged nearer and nearer until we were in a position to strike up a conversation. We wanted only to pet the puppies (who were in bags because they couldn’t be allowed to walk around in the general filth and muck yet, having not had their shots), but wound up spending the evening chatting to these people. You know you’re in good hands with other dog people. It’s a shorthand for decency really.

Anyhow, The Mom gets up to all sorts once she’s got a dog with her. She and Poochie used to go foraging in the woods when the flowers were first starting to come up, and they’d take in the sights: birds, garbage, new developments in local beaver dams. And when they’d go to what she called the Puppy Hills (and what the local teenagers deemed their dirt bike track) they’d get up to all kinds of mischief: ruining the jumps the kids had dug up, removing the planks of wood scattered about, and the like. On her own The Mom would have never been so brazen, but with Poochie at her side she was fearless.

It’s a similar situation with the current crew. With Mr Pants she’ll run around and the pair of them will skip gleefully off down the street. The Mom will listen to Crazy D as he goes over the Rules of A Walk, and she’ll promise to make the wee man adhere to them, which everyone knows is an outright lie. Because, like the puppy she’s left in charge of, The Mom finds these sorts of rules confining and in contravention to a good time.

With The Pig, The Mom comes into her own in the kitchen. The Pig is actually some kind of black hole for foodstuffs. She will eat and eat and eat until her belly is distended and she is unable to move. This will at no point call either of them to question any previous choices made that have led to this state of affairs. They’ll both simply lie down and wait for it to pass.

With Jewel, The Mom simply needs to exist. Jewel does the rest.

The lot of them follow her around the house as though she’s the Pied Piper and she may well be. They know a good time will be had, all the rules will be broken, and none of them will go hungry.

In fact, The Mom is pretty much a fan of all pets. When I moved over to England, I had to leave my parakeet, Newton, in her care. I tried to explain that he had needs that had to be met (most pressingly the drying up of his sinuses in the winter that required a bi-weekly steam session in the bathroom) and she nodded and assured me she would adhere to the previous routines we had set out. Which she did not. She and the bird developed their own routine.

As she has done with all of the dogs, and birds, and whatever else turns up at the door looking for a good time and safe haven. She’s sort of like the Switzerland of pet carers: don’t ask too many questions and just be happy that someone’s willing to take care of things.

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