Our poor old Milo quit this life on Boxing Day 2021, but our step-dog, Grabber, padded into the breach to help us through our sadness. Grabber belongs to Beamish, the man who rents one of our rooms. This little Cocker Spaniel is the dearest thing.
Unlike Milo, who spent most of his days lying beside Whizz, Grabber, knowing I am the source of everything edible, cast his allegiance in my direction.
Apart from Bark, Berzerk and Sleep, Grabber has two main modes, Food and Pee.
In Food mode, he endangers both our lives by following me around the kitchen, almost welded to my calves, so that if I step back, I either tread on him or fall over him. The only time he allows us to part is when I move away from the food, leaving it on the worktop (at the back of course). Then, he remains fixed to the spot, his nose quivering, directed at the source of the smell, with a look of such longing and hope on his face that it’s hard to resist. Occasionally, if he thinks he can get away with it, he will lift his front paws to rest on the edge of the counter for a better view or in the hope of a surreptitious ‘grab’.
Also in Food mode, he raids our office bins. Weary of the trail of rubbish strewn over the carpet, Whizz and I have each been driven to purchase a second, lidded bin, into which anything that might be construed as food must be placed. Whizz is particularly partial to crisps, and their packets are a serious temptation to Grabber. Likewise, sandwich cartons, ice cream wrappers, anything really that smells of food.
As I mentioned, Grabber is a Cocker. He is also a very talented cocker. He can cock his leg without missing a step. On a pavement, he will mark every lamp post, letter box, gate post or hedge by performing an elegant, almost unnoticable arabesque. When I let him out of the back of the car for his walk, he casually cocks his leg against the rear wheel and as an afterthought, on the front one. Then the gate post, then the first blade of grass. By the end of a walk he can bearly express more than a drip…
Which is just as well as today, on our second lap of the quarry, we met a pleasant couple with a very excitable terrier. Grabber was not interested in this puppy, that ran round and round him unable to attract his attention from…
their picnic. In that instant, Grabber switched from Pee mode to Food mode. Fortunately I had anticipated this danger from some distance away, one developes an instinct you know. With a shout I encouraged the couple to lift up their picnic bag, which, observing the approaching situation, they did with alacrity. Undeterred, Grabber made an attempt on the contents of the man’s hand, a half finished, still being munched apple. Talk about embarassment. I called the dog off and to my amazement, he kind of shrugged in a doggy way, as if to say, ‘fair enough, I don’t like apple much anyway,’ then trotted over the towel and coat that the couple must have been sitting on and spotted a tall piece of grass poking from under the towel. You guessed it, he went straight into Pee mode, cocked his leg on the grass and showered the edge of the towel in urine.
What can you say to a couple whose picnic has been raided by a cocking Cocker?