It was the dog’s birthday last weekend. I’ve no idea what age she is. There’s a one in 365 chance that we picked the correct day to celebrate her birthday. We know very little about her really. She wasn’t supposed to be our dog. For one, she’s part Jack Russell and part chihuahua. I don’t like small dogs. I especially dislike Jack Russells.
She found us by accident. She ran out on the road on a dark and rainy night and miraculously avoided being hit by a car. We stopped and another car stopped. She had gone under their car. Two men coaxed her out and put her back on the footpath. We watched to see what direction she would go. She watched to see what direction we would go.
I told them all not to get too attached, we weren’t keeping her. ‘I don’t like Jack Russells,’ I reminded them. ‘We’ll find her owner,’ I insisted
We walked up the road we’d found her on to see if any driveway might be familiar to her. She stayed beside us. We turned to leave. She left with us.
I told them all not to get too attached, we weren’t keeping her. “I don’t like Jack Russells,” I reminded them. “We’ll find her owner,” I insisted.
The DSPCA had no room at the inn. “Come back on Tuesday,” it said. The vet said she wasn’t a pup in spite of her tiny size. She wasn’t microchipped. And she wasn’t a dog who’d been well looked after. Her tail had been cut off. Her teeth were rotten. She was malnourished. “Stop looking for her owner,” we were advised.
Tuesday. She could just stay with us until Tuesday. We weren’t keeping her, I reminded them. There was no way I was getting another dog. We’d had a collie before. Seventeen years he lived, before he died and broke my heart. “He’s a dinosaur,” the vet said as she gently encouraged me to let him go.
Tuesday arrived. No one mentioned the DSPCA. We registered the part Jack Russell, part chihuahua with the vet
It wasn’t the first time a pet had caused me such pain. I was the child who took a notion and came home with pets without warning. Terrapins, (from my grandad), who escaped constantly and terrified my mother. They went to the local animal farm, across the way from us in Tallaght, my mam said. I missed them, but accepted that perhaps, as she said, the terrapins were better off living among the goats, sheep and pigs on the animal farm.
A classmate’s cat had kittens. Soon we had a kitten. He had to sleep in the shed, my parents insisted. I spent a lot of time in the shed. One day, on my way to school, I saw a car hit a cat that looked just like mine. I ran straight out on the road to try and save him. I can still hear the blaring of the horn as a car narrowly avoided me. It wasn’t my cat, my mam said. Just one who looked like him. My cat was a tomcat. He never came home. Tomcats just disappear sometimes, my mam said.
I owned a rabbit too. I don’t know if it was a boy or a girl. I didn’t think to ask the pet-shop owner as I purchased it while my aunt, who was taking care of me that day, went into the shop next door to buy some milk. The pet-shop owner wouldn’t take the rabbit back, no matter how much my aunt insisted, so she had to ring my mam to tell her we owned a rabbit now.
One day my rabbit was not in the hutch. It had gone to live on the animal farm too, my mam said. “When can I visit?” I asked. “Soon, when she’s settled in,” my mam said. I told the paperboy, who I had a crush on, about the rabbit moving, when he delivered the paper that evening. “You won’t be able to visit,” he replied. “That rabbit had a heart attack and died.” My crush was cured.
Tuesday arrived. No one mentioned the DSPCA. We registered the part Jack Russell, part chihuahua with the vet. “Let’s try get her weight up a bit and arrange to have those teeth taken out,” he said. He took some details. “She’s a stray,” I explained, “we just can’t leave her like this while we decide what to do”. “But you want to go ahead with her dental surgery?” he asked knowingly as he filled out our name in the owner’s section.
“Birthday?” he said, filling in the dog’s breed, name and weight details on the system. “Let’s just pick a date,” he continued.
For the last three years, we’ve celebrated a half-tailed, partially-toothed, much-adored, tiny dog’s birthday on October 1st. Seems I don’t dislike Jack Russells as much as I thought.