Dogs are a mixed blessing to old geezers. They know instinctively that we are generally kindly disposed towards them and they play on our old, foolish, and soft behaviour. I was dopey enough to have two dogs when we lived in the country.
One of the joys of living in the countryside is the arrival of spring. The persistent rain and mud take a back seat to the budding of fresh flowers and blossoms on trees. There’s an air of optimism that creeps into those dark, so-called lifestyle homes, buried away in numerous valleys a short distance from the major cities. However, there’s a mixed blessing about spring-time in the country because it’s doggie heaven for all the wrong reasons.
You see, spring-time is the season for not only the budding of new plant life, but the birth of numerous little calves and lambs on the surrounding farms. I am quite certain that both my dogs, if they have any concept of God at all, believe that this is the time that the supreme canine being decides to be beneficent with his offerings to the dog race.
When calves and lambs are born, not only are there ungainly but ultimately cute little creatures frolicking around in the paddocks, but their long suffering mothers – the ewes and the cows of the neighbourhood – also deliver afterbirths and umbilical cords.
There’s nothing a dog in the country loves more than squeezing his or her way through a slack piece of wire and batten fencing to inspect the hideous sights littered around the paddocks. This can be a relatively harmless pastime on days when there has been a decent bit of sun and the umbilical cords have dried and become crunchy treats. The dogs tend to eat them on the spot and then move on to other delights.
But the placentas are a different story altogether. They lie there in the paddocks looking like some alien spawn that has come to invade the previously seamless happiness of one’s little farmlet.
That, of course, is not how a dog views afterbirth. A dog, particularly one the size of our bitch Bella, can be seen almost getting down on her knees and giving thanks to the god dog for providing such a feast of rich nutrients.
Without so much as a ‘by your leave’ Bella will hoe into afterbirth and consume it in great slobbering gulps. To watch this process is to feel the bile rising in your throat and wonder whether the circle of life isn’t sometimes just a little bit gross.
Pete, my neighbour who has come so close to canicide (that is killing his dogs) on several occasions because of their disgusting behaviour in the springtime, tells of waking up one morning in his bedroom to find one of his wife’s dogs proudly sitting on the duvet at the end of the bed. His tail was wagging furiously, and in his mouth was a freshly harvested sheep placenta. The key message obviously being: “Daddy, didn’t I do well!”
Pete has a contract out on the life of this dog.
He has my sympathy. But dogs know that we’re just dumb enough to spare them. That’s because they’re non-judgemental of geezers, and they overlook the character flaws that other family members are wont to point out.
As Jerome K Jerome has observed concerning dogs, “They never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation.”
ROB HARLEY IS A TOP DOCUMENTARY MAKER, AN AUTHOR, AND A HIGHLY INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER. HE’S A WORLD RENOWNED STORY-TELLER, A SOMETIMES HARLEY-DAVIDSON RIDER AND A GREAT KIWI BLOKE.