Well, the idea is that Tess, my 13-year-old cocker spaniel sits quietly under my desk while I write (1 point to her) while Timmy the cat, who is 18, lies curled up nearby, slumbering though the day (1 point to him). The reality is often rather different. Timmy particularly likes walking across the keyboard (or wlkjinnnnnjas acccccccc sidngddslssdithl l 555555, as he would type it) and Tess just wants to eat all time.
The Happy Couple
She may be going a bit dotty in her old age, or perhaps she’s just greedy (behaviour certainly learned from me – so minus 9 from my score) but she sees every incident in her day as an opportunity for a new feast.
Despite living close to several beauty spots, her favourite walk is up the road by our local shops, where she can spot a dropped chip at fifty yards. I’m thinking of invoicing the Council for the work she does cleaning up the pavement around the bus stops every morning (+2 points), but she has no shame about lurching towards a toddler with an ice-cream or, when the sun is out and cafes put tables on the pavement, trying to snaffle a cup cake from an old lady’s plate (-6).
Thank goodness that she is blessed with charm. People round here seem to be very forgiving (10 points to them), and Tess knows how to wring their heart strings. Our local pet shop recently closed down. If I try to walk past it, Tess stops and nuzzles the door. An innocent passer-by might see this as a poignant commentary on the state of the retail economy. I know she’s just remembering how the lovely lady who used to own the shop would sometimes slip her a delicious little something while I paid for the low-fat dog food.
When I do manage to drag Tess to the park, she sets her radar to picnic detection. If no one is eating al fresco, she sniffs out treats in other dog owners’ pockets and pads along fetchingly beside them, waiting, with Lady Diana eyes, for the moment when they reward their own pets (-1 for naughtiness, + 1 for guile).
I used to be able to exert some discipline over this, but now, in her old age, Tess has gone completely deaf and, since all my commands were vocal, she is now a law unto herself. I can’t bear the idea of keeping her on a lead all the time, so I have to do a lot of apologising (-2). Fortunately, Tess looks very sweet (+3), so she usually gets away with her bad behaviour (and the odd sandwich) in the end.
The worst thing about Tess going deaf is that, for the first time in her life, she has started to bark. She barks when she is hungry (-3). She barks when anyone else is eating, cooking, or just putting away shopping, and whenever she thinks that I am giving her less than her due amount of attention. This means she barks when I talk on the phone (-4) and when I turn my back to do the washing up (-2). I think that’s partly because she would rather I used the dishwasher, so that she can jump in and have a good lick round the dirty plates while I load it up (-5).
Timmy, drawn years ago by one of my children. I can't remember who (minus 10 from me)
As I type this, Timmy the cat has clearly worked out that I am not talking about him, so he is waving his paw at my face, trying to persuade me that I haven’t fed him yet – which I have, (+1 to me). I’ll give him a cuddle, but that means I’ll have itchy eyes for the next few hours. I realised 18 years ago, when he was just a kitten, that I was allergic to his fur and his dribble, but my children had already fallen in love with him, and made it clear that if it was a choice between the cat or me, I would have to go. So I have put up with the itching and the sniffles over the years. (-5 from the children, + 6 to me).
Of course, with Tess and Timmy, as with the many (now deceased) rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, frogs, etc, the children promised that they would take full responsibility for looking after them (potential +5 to them). You won’t be surprised to hear that it turned out rather differently, even when those children lived at home (deduct 4). Now they are scattered round the world, and here I am, alone with the animals, ready to accompany them through old age.
We live in an upstairs flat, so as T & T grow older I will have to come up with strategies for getting them up and down to the garden. I imagine I’ll be buying a stair lift for the dog before I need one myself.
13 is a ripe old age for a dog, and at 18 Timmy is well over 100 in human years. But there is no sign that either of them is likely to leave the scene soon. And of course I wouldn’t want them to. Whatever the final count of the points on this page, they each get 1000 bonus marks, and my thanks, for all the love and fun they have brought into our lives over the years.