A doggy tale in the time of covid-19

By Guest FOMMer Laurel Wilson


Rex and assorted Canadian children

As anyone who knows me would realise, I love dogs and have had various four-legged companions ever since I can remember. ‘Foxie’ was the first one − a small, non-descript, furry golden mutt, who apparently decided our place was an improvement on her previous abode.

Then came ‘Rex the wonder dog’ (or at least, that’s what I called him), also a mutt, but who looked quite a bit like a Border Collie. As is the case with most dogs surrounded by small children, he was the soul of patience and accepted with good grace my various attempts to dress him up or get him to do tricks. He had an endless capacity for ‘shake a paw’.


Then came a hiatus of quite a few years, involving moving to Australia, going to high school and later university, when I was either not living at home or too broke to contemplate acquiring a dog of my own. (There was a brief interlude with a cat called Pith, but it just wasn’t the same…)


Tilbi and pups, including “Ankle-biter”

When I was more settled and could afford it, the sweetest dog I’ve ever known came into my life. This was ‘Tilbi’ (which I believe means ‘duck’ in one of the Aboriginal languages). This was an appropriate name for a Golden Retriever, although, apart from one embarrassing incident with a couple of tame ducks, she never got to follow that particular life path.

The closest she came to it was when the occasional ‘chook show’ was held at the Showgrounds over the road from our old place. Tilbi and her daughter Finis were in ecstasy whenever that event occurred, whining and scratching at the gate in a desperate effort to ‘retrieve’ those feathered objects of doggy lust. Apart from that, she was a most obedient and loving dog, who was fond of all humans, from toddlers to the rather ancient fellow who lived over the back fence. (Ed: One day Tilbi came home with a pot roast in her mouth (a neighbour left it on the window sill to cool).

A few years later, the most independent-minded dog I’ve ever experienced became part of the household. This was ‘Kia’, the German Shepherd (named before the vehicle of that make became popular, I might add – it was more a nod to our Kiwi rellies, as in Kia Ora, or ‘Hello’). She was obedient to a point, especially if she was in reach, but coming back when called was an optional extra, as far as she was concerned. But she was a very intelligent dog. For instance, in her later, more arthritic years, she struggled to get into the back of the station wagon, so we put a box down in front of the open tail-gate. She got the idea almost immediately. And she had a sense of humour. One of her favourite games was to play ‘chasey’ around the car when we were trying to catch her before going out. She’d eventually take pity on us and let herself get caught.

The latest four-legged addition is Nib, the mostly Staffie brindle ‘brick on legs’, who spends much of the evening acting as my own personal knee blanket. It’s wonderful in winter, not so good in summer. He is without a doubt the most obedient dog I’ve ever come across – for which we take no credit. He is most reliable about coming back when called, walks nicely on the lead, doesn’t respond if other dogs bark at him, goes outside when asked, gets out of the kitchen when I’m cooking, and seems to have quite a good grasp of various other commands, or as I like to put it, polite requests. His only fault is that, like most other Staffies, he ‘sings’, especially when he is in the car. And his ‘song’ is not pleasant to the ear…

See, I managed to get all this way without mentioning ‘Iso’ or ‘Covid’, but dogs have apparently come into their own during this period. Those with dogs are thankful for their company and the impetus to go for a walk. Many of those without dogs are apparently taking the opportunity to acquire one while they have the time to welcome one into their lives. Hopefully, they head to a nearby Animal Shelter to pick out their new friend, and hopefully, these new pets won’t find their way back there post-Covid.

I make no claim to the following observations being original, but I too have noticed that people have turned into dogs – roaming around the house all day, looking for something to eat; rushing to the front door when anyone knocks; peering through the window at the unusual sight of a passer-by; and getting terribly excited at the prospect of going for a drive in the car…

Patch and child

Here’s to all the dogs I have met in my life, including Bindi, Logan, Tosca, Patch, Stella, Moet, Dante, Winnie (the poodle – which scores the prize for cleverest name), Motek, Joey, Fleur, Spud, Darcy, Wally and all those friendly pooches who accept a pat from a passing stranger.

Postscript by Bob (taking a break this week while dreaming up new topics).

Our first dog was a cocker spaniel named Lady who was left with a family friend in Scotland when we all caught the migrant boat in 1955. Dad was heartbroken but the alternative was quarantining an old dog for six weeks at sea and then a month on land.

 Once settled in New Zealand we acquired a fox terrier with the imaginative name of Spot. He could be a crabby critter and Mum didn’t like him much for his habit of lying on the front step and then snarling when she tried to step over him.

He was a wee bit epileptic, Spot, and also had a habit of eating grapefruit then spitting shredded citrus out all over the lawn.

As an older adult I took up with She Who Tried For Best In Show who owned Tilbi. Later we acquired a litter of eight Golden Retriever puppies, keeping one (Finis).

 Now we find ourselves in 2020, as SWTFBIS points out, responsible for a rising nine-year-old Staffie who is quite needy but also quite endearing. He is slowly adjusting to life in the suburbs where people walk past the house (don’t bark, good dog, treat).

I usually cannot resist clicking on the many dog videos, gifs and memes which have proliferated as Iso forces dog owners to spend more time with their furry pals. I like the mindlessly cute ones where cats (or dogs) jump over increasingly higher stacks of toilet rolls.

If you have not seen the videos of Scottish sports commentator Andrew Cotter turning the daily antics of his two dogs into a sports call, there are quite a few. He may be bored but he definitely loves these Labradors – and, as with all dogs, it is mutual.

*Correction: In last week’s blog about the coronaconomy, I mentioned Jobseeker in the third paragraph and again near the end. It should have read Jobkeeper.





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