A new dog has moved in. He’s been here for over three months now so I think he’s staying. I hope so. His name is Harry and he’s a very small, curly-haired white dog, who’s a Bichon Frise, according to Deana.
I wasn’t sure that I wanted a friend but Deana thought it would be good for me after Mum died so we drove all the way to Somerset to collect him. I was a bit confused about where we were and what we were doing but then for some reason we had to walk him on a beach behind where he was staying with a foster family and I couldn’t stop grinning. It’s been so long since I had sand between my paws. Hundreds of memories came hurtling back – things I’d not thought about for years. I remembered living in Malta and how Deana would take me and Mum to beaches so that we could have a good run and how even though we were afraid of the water, we loved how soft the sand felt. I remembered finding a dead fish that tasted delicious even when it got horribly stuck in my jaw and Deana had to prise it out. I used to love the smells and the little rock pools, the seaweed and the way the sand just made me and Mum race as fast as we could.
I know I have dementia – everyone says so – and sometimes I forget why I’m upstairs or how to get from one room to another. There are days when I’m sure I’m young again and I will find Mum snoring in bed or catch my old owner sitting outside in the garden, like she did when we lived with her in Austria. Sometimes there are days when everything looks new and frightening and I forget I’m at home, in my house, safe with Deana, Bano and Sid. It’s as if I’m doing everything for the first time and that scares me. But I knew the second I touched the sand that I’d done this so many times before. That I’d had many happy times running up and down sandy beaches. Deana and Bano kept taking pictures of me because I couldn’t stop beaming.
This beach walk wasn’t really for me though, it was to see if Harry and I got on. But I didn’t so much as look at him, not really, I was too busy having a good time. And anyway, Deana knows I get on with every dog. I might bark a lot when I see someone I don’t live with, but it’s all talk really. And then suddenly, Harry was in the car with us on the way home and that was it – he moved in for good.
Harry has had a hard life, which makes me feel very protective of him. He was on a puppy farm for seven years, with no love, no bed of his own and no one to feed him treats. He was scared of treats the first time Deana gave him a chew to gnaw on. He ran to his bed and wouldn’t go near it. So I had two. Now though, he takes mine if I’m not fast enough, and he’s learnt about stairs which is something I don’t bother with very often, not intentionally anyway, though as I said, I sometimes find that I’m upstairs and I can’t remember why. He runs up and down the stairs all day – he can’t bear to be apart from Deana for a second. (This takes some of the pressure off of me; I don’t have to worry about what she’s doing all the time, I just wait for Harry to report back to me). And he likes to gather things and take them back to his bed for a closer inspection. He likes rubber gloves, tissues, anything from the recycling bag. He’s particularly keen on exploring Sid’s room as there’s always something interesting on the floor in there, he says. Although he only has one eye, and eight teeth (the people on the puppy farm didn’t care about his health at all) he manages to find lots of interesting things to chew on.
I’m happy to have another dog live with us. I’m used to sharing everything and it was confusing to be the only dog when Mum had gone. Now I have Harry. He likes to sleep next to me and sometimes I let him and he likes to share my food and I don’t mind that either but Deana wants me to eat by myself as I’m a bit slow at eating at the moment. When we go for walks I make sure no one bothers him. It’s like having a little brother.
What’s also nice is that he’s not completely house-trained, not yet anyway. We go on three or four little walks a day in the forest across from our house and Deana is always popping him in the garden and bribing him with treats if he pees in bushes. He’s just about figured out the cat flap but he will only go out of it if no one is looking. Occasionally though, he forgets everything he’s learnt and he pees on things, like Sid’s school bag and violin case and he doesn’t seem to think this is strange. This makes me feel better as I’ve started to forget to go outside to pee too and sometimes I have no idea that I’ve forgotten until I see Deana mopping up the floor.
There are so many changes that happen with getting old. I had no idea these things would happen to me. I suppose they happened to Mum too but we didn’t really talk about it. But thankfully some things do stay the same: My family, my garden where I like to potter and my cuddles. And some changes, like Harry, are just good.