There are times, and this is one of them, when I do wonder what on earth I was thinking by bringing another dog into our home.
Oscar was settling well into being our beloved family pet and recovering from the effects of whatever had chewed away at the inside of his nose, that had caused us to consider seriously whether we could bear to put him through any more suffering.
Granted, he would be lonely whenever I went to the gym or out for a coffee, so I’d feel guilty when I closed the front door behind me but actually things were fine.
And then I said I would take on Raffles after his mum, my cousin, died and the rest of his family were not in a position to be there for him. He would have had to be rehomed here or sent back to Singapore where he was born, you see, and I felt sorry for him and thought it would be better to keep him in the family.
Don’t get me wrong: he is a cute and dear little dog, who loves nothing better than to snuggle up next to me in a chair or come and find me in the evenings when I’m in my bedroom writing this but he’s hard work.
For one thing, he cannot be relied upon to stay near me when off the lead. We’ve got hm to a point where he’s fine most of the time but, just as I begin to trust him enough to be blasé he suddenly disappears in the blink of an eye. Again, most of the time he returns but it’s always to his own timetable and not mine.
There have been several times when he’s been found running around and wandering.It was a particular nightmare when the builders kept leaving our doors and side gate open, despite being continually asked to shout them because of the dogs. He goes into people’s houses and had caused a rush hour traffic jam by running in the middle of the road by our local station. The wretched animal has no traffic sense, no sense really, and relies upon someone to stop and read the tag on his collar which he has to wear permanently for this reason. If I’m lucky the people returning him hide their judgments behind a thin veneer of sympathy but I have come across people with contorted faces and voices who tell me off for not keeping him under control. They’re right, of course.
I’ve managed to train him, every week, to reach the Kennel Club Good Citizen Silver standard, by the skin of his tartarous teeth, mind you, but I think he’s now decided that dog class is more of weekly opportunity to see and be seen rather than learn anything. Raffles does not sit: he drops flat to the floor. And yet when asked to lie down and stay he refuses. He will do a recall but ask him to pick up a ball and he runs around the hall bellowing like a lunatic.
I do worry about how much stress the arrival of Raffles in our family has put onto poor Oscar, a beloved only dog for 6 years. Suddenly Raffles is sharing his humans, his cuddles, his space, his food. We are very careful to maintain the feeding hierarchy, literally the pecking order, but we have to maintain a strict segregation otherwise Oscar can exhibit the full extent of his resentment. Like this evening, when Oscar, unprovoked, went for Raffles and they had to be forcibly separated. Before you sympathise too much, Raffles routinely dominates Oscar by mounting him. Raffles is castrated; Oscar is entire.
There are times when they seem to be rubbing along together quite nicely and even give each other kisses and play together but when incidents like tonight’s occur I do wonder if I have done Oscar a very great disservice by bringing this ginger cuckoo into our nest. It can’t be easy for him to see Raffles routinely cuddled up on my lap while he has to lie on the floor at my feet.
Still, I will NOT be responsible for another dog in a rehoming shelter so I’ll just have to persevere and hope that the dogs will eventually learn to relax with each other around food or humans. Raffles is likely to be with us for a very long time to come so I hope that happens soon.