Ah, yes. I remember it well; lying on the couch reading a book… when a knock on the door broke me out of Patrick Tilley’s world.
My sister came in, all bright eyed and eager. “You wanna puppy?”
I thought about it for a few minutes and her expression slowly dimmed.
“Yes.” Was barely out of my mouth when she grabbed my arm and off we went. “What’s the hurry?”
“I don’t want you to change your mind.”
I wasn’t going to; it seemed… right.
So she drove me to a friend of a friend’s house. And there, in the backyard, were half a dozen puppies gambolling around their mother. Some were white with red splotches and bits of black; some were more black with white patches. Two were black with tan highlights.
As I stood there, looking at the six-week-old cuties, one black and tan puppy came up and sat on my feet, stared up at me. Nothing for it, then. I crouched down and stroked the soft fur. The mother, mostly white, came over and gave the pup a damn good licking, as if to say, ‘now, you behave’. She then licked my t-shirt, gave me a look only a mother can give… and walked back to her brood.
Well, what could I do?
That was Australia Day, 1992.
I bedded my new companion down in a cardboard box in the laundry. To make her more comfortable, I wrapped the mum-licked t-shirt around a hot water bottle and tucked in a clock. She was fine, for a while, and then hours later set up to crying. Puppy. Crying. A heart-wrenching sound. I leapt out of bed at bugger o’clock in the morning. She was sitting on the cold tiles. I fixed her another hot water bottle and settled her again. Nope. Not fifteen minutes later, she was howling again.
At a loss, I opened the back door – in case she wanted to… go to the bathroom. Out she shot, into the darkness of the backyard. Remember, she’s a black puppy, so the night hid her. Once my heart settled back down I went out and called for her. Not a peep. Had she escaped? Decided she didn’t want me anymore? Wanted her mother who was miles away?
Nah. She came trotting back, a happy puppy from the side of the house. To this day, she’ll do her business out of sight of people, or turn her back – if she can’t see you, you can’t see her and she’s okay with that. It’s nice to get a house-trained puppy.
Right now, Saxon’s yet to arise for the day. As a grand dame, she takes her time; as a grand dame should. She still enjoys her walks up the street – albeit slowly – still bravely comes to me when I’m feeling pissed off and can still look at me as if to say ‘well?’ (…it’s my dinner time, it’s time for bed, for a walk, for you to scratch mah belly…)
She’s a little blind, has a bit of Arthur-itis, which I manage with medication, and follows me around the house. When guests come, she’s a little mournful at sharing, but bears up stoically. She also has the ‘hey, I’m sleeping here’ look if you wake her up before she’s done (so cat-like, but you didn’t hear it from me!)
And so, I wish Saxon a very happy birthday; she’s been with me a long time and I hope for time yet. She’s stays out of love for me and I try not to give her cause to reconsider. Saxon is the last of the litter. A gorgeous mixed breed pup with eerie intelligence, who can still makes me laugh at her antics.
I’m grateful my sister dragged me away from that book. My life would be very different if not for Saxon steadying my ship.