“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
With that monumental opening line in his classic novel, aul Charlie could well have been describing me and the hound.
It’s become something of a love/hate relationship, he and I, all things considered: Waffle loves me and I hate him. Only joking, of course (although, he does have his moments).
There are great times when I’m laughing at his cutie bumbling nature but there are also times when I fervently regret ever laying eyes on his hairy, yapping face.
Anyone who loves their dog will already be in the know but this is something I have only come to appreciate in recent years:
A dog can be such a fantastically great companion. Always happy, always up for the craic; just saying the word ‘walk’ out loud and he’s jumping about on his hind legs like a wacky kangaroo/meerkat love child. It’s an excitement that only the innocent can achieve and you’d think by the set of him I just relayed that he’d won the doggy lottery and he can sniff every dog’s bum in the world, repeatedly and for the rest of his doggie life.
Although, in a sense, he has won the lottery because something like a walk outside, while the epitome of simplicity, is for Waffle, an adventure every time. There’s so many tufts of grass to scent, so many places to mark your territory, so many sheep to growl at as if you’re an alpha male wolf.
To give him his dues, Waffle also has a set of deep, hazel eyes, framed in a habitually happy visage and so when he slopes over of an evening for his daily scratch behind the ears, it’s nigh-on impossible to say no – which brings me to my next point…
Increasingly, I find myself talking to the dog. There are the obligatory, “get-outta-that-dog!” when he ventures onto questionably mucky terrain or “for-godsakes-youre-wan-H-of-a…” if I find that he’s mangled yet another important document or family heirloom with his pearly whites. That kind of talking is par for the course, I think. The increasingly prevalent talking I’m referring to is more conversational rather than correctional.
In the morning, for example, I might greet him with a, “Hey the Waff – what’s the craic?” Or if an unknown car pulls onto the drive of an afternoon I’ll casually mention, “I wonder who that is, Waffle. You ever seen him before? Me neither.”
He never answers of course (he’s a dog) although he looks at me with an expression as if to say, “Wha?”
As I say, he’s a great companion to have around the house especially as it’s only me and him at home for most of the week, when everyone else is away at their respective schools or work and I don’t mind that the conversation is one way.
However, those are the best of times that aul Charlie was talking about. The “age of foolishness” or the “epoch of incredulity” or the “winter of despair” – these times also exist in abundance and lamentably, I wonder if it will ever be so.
You’ll think I’m exaggerating here when I say this; admittedly I have tended to administer artistic licence from time to time in the past to embellish a tale – but this is not one of those occasions. The reality is: There isn’t a day that goes by that Waffle doesn’t do something incredibly stupid or amazingly bold.
The incidents are so numerous that to list them all would be both tiresome to write and most importantly, tiresome to read. But I’ll give you just one example. This isn’t a big deal but merely one of the multitude of times I’ve wondered about Waffle’s mental health.
Last weekend, I was sitting outside in the garden enjoying a a cuppa and most likely, thinking deep thoughts about the secrets of the universe (I was probably thinking about food, to be perfectly honest). Next thing, I notice Waffle saunting around the corner but without clocking my presence. He walked straight up to the washing line and, performing his wacky kangaroo/meerkat love child routine, managed to snag a single white sock.
I was stunned. He KNOWS he’s not allowed to pull clothes of the line and in fact, he wouldn’t have committed this heinous act if he’d seen me sitting on the step.
“Get the Fintona out of that dog!” I blurted and immediately he dropped the sock and slunk away, his tail between his legs – literally.
“You’re wan…” I called after him, rising to retrieve the pilfered sock.
Five minutes later, after I’d answered the call of nature inside, I repositioned myself on the back step only to see the hairy bugger gallop past – running as fast as he could – with another white sock in his mouth. He glanced at me as he ran, the whites of his eyes flashing. It was almost as if he thought, “if-I-run-as-fast-as-I-can-woof-he-won’t-be-able-to-see-me-woof.”
“Seriously?” I asked the air in his wake, shaking my head with the air of a man who knows without doubt that his dog is taking the hand out of him. I didn’t bother to pursue the fleeing hound… rather, I reclined on the step and resigned myself to the promise that the springs of hope are only around the corner.
It was the best of times…
‘It’s an excitement that only the innocent can achieve and you’d think by the set of him I just relayed that he’d won the doggy lottery and he can sniff every dog’s bum in the world, repeatedly and for the rest of his doggie life’
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