This is Lady, Rowena’s dog. Mum’s ducked off for a cup of tea. So, I’m doing some fast typing before she gets back. If you’re lucky, I might even include a selfie or two. I’m getting very clever these days. Well, clever might be a bit of an exaggeration. At least, I’m getting high tech.
No doubt, you’ve heard our devastating news that my canine companion, Bilbo, passed away on Monday morning. It’s hit us all very hard.
That’s when I first realized how much Bilbo did around here. That he wasn’t just chasing his ball and barking at anything with wheels. Rather, he was responsible for emotional support, and now I’ve inherited the job.
Quite frankly, being a relatively little dog, trying to support the rest of the family is beyond my capabilities. Of course, I mean well and do my bit, wagging my tail like mad trying to cheer them up. I’ve also tried splitting myself four-ways and giving them a paw each. However, I was being seriously over-stretched and thought I might snap. Unfortunately, I’m not real good with this grieving business. The humans are wearing their brains out with all their questions, and all that’s beyond me. I follow the KISS Principle instead… Keep It Simple, Stupid. That works well for me.
Obviously, I am not Bilbo. Yet, I feel those expectations.
Bilbo was philosophical like the rest of the family and got caught up in his own questioning. I remember how he was forever trying to work out whether he was human or a dog. Indeed, he was so hung up about it, that his brain pumped enough steam out his ears to power a machine. I warned him that all this overthinking was going to kill him, but did he listen to me? Obviously, not!!
Then, as if that wasn’t enough stress to burn his brains out, he kept telling me, that he wanted to find his real Mum and Dad. Find out where he came from. As if I knew! We dogs don’t have Facebook or Google…only telegraph poles, but they only record scent. There’s no quick way of matching DNA. So, I told Bilbo to live in the now. Accept what is, but he couldn’t help himself. I guess that’s one of the downsides of having a turbo-charged brain. You can spend way too much time tying your thoughts up in knots, rather than letting them flow.
By now, you’ve probably gathered that Bilbo was the philosopher, not me. Indeed, I’ve been called “simple”, but I prefer “straightforward” or “uncomplicated”…even if they are big words I plucked out of the thesaurus. Once, I even caught Mum Googling about dogs with special needs. At first, I thought this was something to do with fussy eating. However, Bilbo explained that I was simple. That there was nothing wrong with being simple, just as long as I didn’t get any bright ideas about trying to rule the world or being the Boss. Indeed, Bilbo was the boss and just like I’ve been doing my entire life, I played second fiddle. I was the underdog. Bilbo made all the decisions and I just followed (That is, unless it involved numerous escapes, escape attempts and food thieving rampages. Bilbo was such a goody four paws. However, there were a few instances, where he did consume the proceeds of crime.)
So, after this rather exhausting preamble, I thought I’d share a bit on what it’s been like to be an only dog. Or, “THE dog”.
I’m still getting my head around what it means to be an only dog. Like most kids, you always think you’re going to be better off on your own when your competition is “gone” (in whatever sense of the word). However, I hadn’t factored in the extra workload. Indeed, I hadn’t realized how needy humans can be, and how busy Bilbo must’ve been…a real unsung hero. Although he had what must’ve been a very heavy pat-load, he never complained. Even when he was fast asleep dreaming, he’d hear the call and climb up onto Mum’s lap. He was good like that. Never put himself first.
Anyway, I must confess that as much as I loved my original dog family and Bilbo, I’ve been dreaming of becoming an only dog. Not unsurprisingly, I’d envisioned some kind of dog utopia where I’d be getting double the treats, eat both our meals, and get twice as many pats. I also dreamed of having the warm, smugly dog bed all to myself, without needing to evict my snoring mate. I also thought I could chill out, without having to bark like a maniac all the time. I don’t mean to defame the recently departed, but I have wondered whether Bilbo just loved the sound of his own bark. After all, he was rather OTT. He went off at bikes, the posty and whenever we dropped the furless kids off anywhere. He also made a real nuisance of himself down at the beach. He was so obsessed with chasing the tennis ball, that he rounded up other dogs’ parents to throw the ball for him as well. If they dared to pause for any kind of breather, he got on their case and started barking, being incredibly pushy. I was so embarrassed that I sought camouflage, rolling in dead anything to hide my scent. I’d never seen him before.
However, as annoying as Bilbo’s constant barking and ball addiction could be down at the beach, he had my back. We were a team. Of course, I still have Mum and she means well. She keeps an eye on us at the beach, and thinks she understands us dogs. Indeed, she’s even had the audacity to write stories from a dog’s perspective. However, that doesn’t make her a dog. It doesn’t mean she gets us from the inside out. No matter how hard she tries, she never will. That’s just how it is. After all, she doesn’t bark. She doesn’t have a tail and she never sniffs anyone’s bottom to get acquainted. That’s just the beginnings of being a dog.
However, I humour her. Let her believe she’s an expert and I’m a few planks short of the pile. You can achieve a lot more when you’ve been flagged as an under achiever. No one sees you coming…or going…especially when you’re a rather well-camouflaged little, black dog with only the barest touches of white fur.
Anyway, I digress. As you can see, Mum has taught me how to write. She’s the master of digression.
So, here I am writing about life after Bilbo and what it’s like to be an only dog. Unfortunately, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.
Firstly, I actually miss Bilbo. I miss having another dog around here. Not that I’ve had much chance to get lonely. Mum hasn’t left me home alone yet. Instead she’s taking me everywhere with her in the good car. Well, that’s everywhere except the beach. As much as I love running around dog beach and catching up with my friends, none of us are quite ready to go back without him yet. Bilbo loved the beach. Indeed, he loved the beach so much that when he was a young whippersnapper, he tugged so hard on the lead, that his walkers became airborne, flying along like kites.
Secondly, I am feeling rather overworked without Bilbo looking after the family. They’ve been terribly upset and have gone on a real pat-fest since Bilbo passed. Obviously, they’re missing him terribly and I’ve become something of a surrogate. While it’s great to be so popular, I’m feeling very overstretched with everybody wanting me on their lap. It’s not easy trying to be egalitarian. What with giving everyone a paw each, I’m starting to snap, especially when they’re not in the same room. So, for now, I’m retreating to my bed, trying to wean them off me a bit.
Apparently, that’s why they got me when they did. Not because they loved and wanted me, but because they loved Bilbo so much, that they needed a surrogate. They needed another dog here in advance so that when he passed away, they still had a dog. None of this cold turkey business and fully embracing their grief, I was their emotional plug.
Well, I guess many dogs have a vocation. There are sniffer dogs, rescue dogs, Guide dogs, cadaver dogs. So, being a psychological support for my family, isn’t much to complain about. Love is a wonderful thing.
“Diet is “die” with a “t.”
Then, I received quite an unexpected shock. Rather than receiving double the treats and Bilbo’s food as well as my own, Mum’s put me on a diet. It seems that without “Big Dog” to make me “Little Dog”, I’ve become “Fat Dog”. Mum even pointed out that they could pick me up when I first arrived here and now they can’t. Meanwhile, I’m grazing the kitchen floor in search of scraps like a mad cow. So, reluctantly, even I concede that I might be just a little food obsessed. But who doesn’t indulge in a bit of comfort eating, especially during such a difficult time.
“Odie, let’s talk effort versus return here. You know, you can still lead a pointless life without all that running around.”
So now Dad tells me it’s my job to protect the house. Yet, since Bilbo passed, I haven’t felt like barking or defending anything. I even heard Mum talk about me losing my bark. I guess it will come back. Well, it better come back, because I don’t want to be plagued by Bilbo’s ghost. He was relentless in life. Goodness knows what he’s going to be like in the after-life. I’d better watch out.
Before I head off, I just thought I’d ask you if you have any tips of how to perk up humans? Obviously, I’m not an expert and I’d really appreciate your help.
Love & paw prints,