It’s our lovely Kara’s fifth birthday today. I only remembered at tea time, so unfortunately she hasn’t been spoiled as much as she should have (although she’s had plenty of cheese!). The first of our babies to turn five. It feels strange. She obviously hasn’t been in this house five years, as she was eight weeks old when we picked her up. Still, it’s a time to reflect, as birthdays often are.
Kara and I have a volatile relationship. She’s not the kind of dog that is always loyal and loving: she’s too smart for that. She’s loyal to the person who feeds and walks her. She does like the family to be all together in one room, often rounding me up once the kids are in bed so she can sleep on the sofa in the lounge (as she is now.)
Unfortunately we were as new to dog ownership as we were to parenting, when Kara joined us. And it’s easier to unpick the mistakes you make with a child than it is with a dog. So many of Kara’s most annoying habits are entirely my fault. That doesn’t endear you to someone!
For instance she is terrified of thunder. I’ve lost many a night’s sleep to cuddling next to her on the sofa while she whines and quivers. We know why.
The first time she heard thunder and cried, I was putting my baby daughter to bed. I comforted Kara much as I would have comforted the baby if she were upset. I took her upstairs with me, so her crying wouldn’t keep the baby awake, and I made a fuss.
Big Mistake. Big. HUGE.
Now we’re trying to unpick the damage, creating a positive association between thunder and cheese! It seems to be working but it’s a long arduous road.
The second annoying habit she has is following me around. That’s my fault too.
I was six months pregnant when we got her as a tiny puppy. I didn’t have the energy to rush around making sure she wasn’t chewing things or peeing on the carpet, so I would call her to me every few minutes. She learnt that her job was to always be by my side.
Drives me nuts.
It was also the start of our fighting, as tripping over a puppy you can’t see because of your ginormous bump tends to lead to shouting.
Her third phobia – the car – is also down to us. On a long trip to Dorset for our first family holiday she shared the boot with the pushchair. We think it must have rolled on her at some point because now she has to be lifted in the car, even if the boot is completely empty. She can be as stubborn, awkward, pushy, sulky and jealous as any of the children. She is definitely the first child!
Poor Kara. I wish we could go back and take a dog owners’ course before we bought her. Mind you, I think she was always going to be a bit neurotic.
When we arrived at the kennel to choose our new puppy, having decided on the labradoodle breed as best for a young family, there were two black puppies left. I chose the other one, because it had a curlier coat and would (hopefully) shed less hair.
As we walked into the office, my husband looked back towards the pen, and Kara was peering over the top, standing on her back legs (as she does so often now), looking pitiful. He melted and she came in with us too.
Of the two puppies, Kara was the only one interested in us. The other was more interested in trying to escape. So the choice was made and the puppy who didn’t want to be left alone came home with us.
She is a darling. She gives great cuddles, especially when I’m upset. She runs to the kids if they cry. She puts up with them saying “Go away Kara!” and then calling her back the next minute. She lives for chasing sticks and balls, swimming in the river and eating cheese. She can easily jump an eight foot ditch and approaches new dogs on her belly, begging to play. She’ll box with a terrier and chase with a sheepdog.
She makes me get out and walk everyday, and her joyous running teaches me to live in the moment. Her favourite place in the world is wedged between me and hubbie on the sofa. She’s crazy and annoying, boisterous and shouty, messy and greedy, she snores louder than my hubbie and her farts could knock out a grown man. And we love her.
She fits right in! ________________________________________________________________________________
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: ________________________________________________________________________________
Claire walked beside Bethan and tried to concentrate on what her friend was saying. Behind her, Josh chatted with another member of the group, not showing he was in anyway frustrated by the intrusion. Claire wasn’t fooled. She had felt his gaze on her more than once as they meandered back to town at a much more leisurely pace than Josh had set for the climb up to Mount Victoria.
She had to admit to feeling relieved that Josh was unable to finish what he’d been on the verge of telling her. Something about the intensity of his stare, when their eyes clashed, and the way he seemed to keep accidentally touching her skin or finding a reason to rest his hand on her arm, unsettled her.
“… are you coming? Claire?”
Claire looked into Bethan’s dark eyes and flushed as she realised she had no idea what the girl was talking about.
“Earth to Claire! Where were you, my lovely? You looked light years away.”
Claire felt the blush burn hotter and resisted the need to turn towards Josh, convinced that he would be listening to their conversation.
“Sorry, I wasn’t anywhere, just lack of sleep.”
“I thought you said you slept like the dead last night?” Bethan’s lips twitched in a coy smile and Claire wondered what erroneous conclusions she was drawing from Josh’s appearance out of the blue.
“I did, but I think that stupid ferry trip took more out of me than I realised. I’m truly sorry. What were you saying? Am I coming where?”
“On the ferry tomorrow? We’re going to pick up the bus at Picton and go kayaking in the Abel Tasman Park. The weather’s meant to be awesome for the time of year.”
Claire’s thoughts tumbled like white water rapids; churning with conflicting desires. She had to find out what Josh wanted before she could make plans, although she wasn’t sure what he might say that would force her to change hers. She needed to get on with her journey, time was slipping away.
Josh’s voice broke in on her confusion. “Why don’t I come over with you? It’s been years since I went hiking in the Abel Tasman Park, it’ll be fun.”
“But surely you don’t have your gear with you? I thought you were here for a conference?” Claire heard the protestations in her voice and wondered what Josh would make of them. Suddenly she didn’t want him coming on her adventure. He wasn’t the carefree Josh she remembered and she found his presence unnerving.
“She’ll be right. You can hike the National Park in trainers, it’ll be bonza.”
She raised an eyebrow at his sudden rendition of Aussie Male and he smirked. Aware of a strong compulsion to push him down the hillside, Claire merely shrugged.
“Sure, why not. Provided there’s room on the bus.”
Bethan gave her a sideways glance and Claire could tell she was trying to figure out her lukewarm reaction to Josh’s suggestion. She wasn’t sure she understood it herself. Maybe the past was better off where it was, rather than letting it intrude on the present. Nothing good ever came from going back: look at Michael.
Like an aviary of noisy parrots, the chatter of the group rose around her as they discussed where to go for dinner and what time the ferry would leave in the morning. Claire let it wash over her and walked the rest of the route in silence.
Related articles (yes I know two are mine: but they’re both about Kara!)
- Why I love Walking the Dog: 2013 365 Challenge #215 (writermummy.wordpress.com)
- Borrow My Doggy: Find your new furry best friend (styleandthensome.wordpress.com)
- It’s a Dog Birthday! (desperatelyseekingsparkle.com)
- Pretty Dog, Waggy Tail: 2013 365 Challenge #217 (writermummy.wordpress.com)