My name is Hades. I’m a dog, and I’m female. To be more precise I’m a Staffie cross. The Staffordshire bit is obvious; you just have to look at me. The other bit is less clear. I’ve got longer legs than a typical Staffie, a sleeker body, a glossier coat and all round I’m much more athletic-looking. Well I think so anyway. It’s been suggested that I’m part Boxer, which would probably account for these differences. It would also explain why my owner thinks I’m bonkers. I’ve heard him talking to people when we’re out walking and he says that because of the Boxer in me I’ll probably stay bonkers all my life. I object to that a bit because I have my serious moments, but I have to admit it doesn’t take much to get me going. Another dog running after a tennis ball will do it; or children playing football, or a dog carrying a ball; or a cat; or a squirrel. Almost anything really. Because of my parentage my owner can’t decide between “Baffie” or “Stoxer” when describing me. As far as I’m concerned “dog” will do. What’s gone before is now water under the bridge, as they say.
Let’s get one thing straight. I didn’t choose my name. Nor did my owner, come to that. As a puppy I lived with a nice young couple who taught me a few things and were very good to me. But they had a baby and things changed. They were still good to me, but the baby became the focus of their attention and I think they found it difficult to look after both of us. It became a question of the baby or me, and for some reason I still don’t understand they chose the baby. Weird choice, I thought, as the baby was a lot noisier, had to be carried all the time, needed to be “changed” a lot, whatever that means, and kept everyone awake at night. I thought the choice would have been a no-brainer, but what do I know. Anyway, the decision was made and I was taken somewhere where there were a lot of other dogs and put in a large cage. We went out for lots of walks, had plenty to eat and drink and saw quite a few new people who came and said hello, but then went away. It was OK, but it wasn’t like home. I’ve been here a while.
So let’s get back to my name for a moment. I don’t mind it at all. I answer to it when called – well, most of the time. I have heard a few people say things like “why ever did they call her Hades? Was it because she’s black and a Staffie? Did they have a warped sense of humour?” I can’t see what that has got to do with anything, but I’ve noticed that sometimes some dog owners, usually with much smaller dogs, seem to move away from us, even crossing to the other side of the road. Pity. I’m not proud. I’ll play with any dog, even those ridiculously small ones that yap all the time. Anyway, Hades is my name and, as I said earlier, I usually answer to it unless there’s something more interesting to get involved in.
So where was I? Oh yes. I was in a large cage in a place with lots of other dogs. The people there were very nice to me, but they had lots of dogs to look after so I had to spend a fair bit of time on my own. That got boring, as I really like to know what’s going on all the time. A few people came to see me and spent time with me in a nearby field throwing balls for me to fetch. That was fun although they wanted me to give the ball back and I just wanted to chew it. I enjoyed those times, but those people never came back again. So I carried on watching people come in, say hello to me, pat my head, maybe throw a few balls and then go to look at some of my other doggie friends. They then went away with one of those and I never saw them again. It sort of gets one down a bit. Is this really my home now?
Well, there I was at the Centre watching yet more people come and go and then one day another man came to see me. We played fetch, although I only gave him the ball back if he gave me another one in return. Fair’s fair after all. He came back to see me again and we went for a short walk, then he left. A few days later he came back, we ran around a bit on the grass and then he took me away in his car. That was something new. No one had done that before. So I felt a bit guilty when I tried to jump into the front seat and managed to rip the large blanket thing I had been sitting on in the back seat. Still, I was only two years old, and everyone seems to agree that I’m bonkers, so that’s my excuse.
In the car I sat for a while and looked out of the window, but soon got a bit tired so I stretched out on the seat for a rest. I suppose I went to sleep for a while because the next thing I knew was we were getting out of the car and going into a house I’d never seen before. I went off to explore. A whole house of new hidden places and new smells is a wonderful thing. Everywhere I went – and it wasn’t a big house – I found new things to sniff and one or two to lick. The small back garden – and by “small” I mean very small – was even better because I could smell that other animals had been there before, mainly cats, but something a bit stronger I couldn’t identify. It smelled good, though. When I came back inside there was a bowl of food on the floor in the kitchen. It would have been ungrateful of me not to eat it, so I did. Even the bits I managed to drop over the floor. Perhaps I should slow down a bit. The same goes for the water bowl. Perhaps I could try to keep most of it in my mouth rather than splashing it all over the floor. Maybe I’ll work at it. Or maybe I won’t. It would mean concentrating on something other than eating and that would be hard to do. Concentration isn’t exactly my strongest point, except for eating of course.
While we’re on the subject of food, that first bowlful, what I actually tasted of it, was very nice. If was different from the stuff I’d had before, although I liked that as well. To be honest I haven’t found any food I haven’t liked. I also like those chewy sticks. My owner now gives me one after every bowlful of food. If he forgets I follow him around and give him “that look”, which usually does the trick.
That evening we went for a walk beside a nearby river, my new owner and me. It was so exciting. There were new smells everywhere. You wouldn’t believe how many dogs had recently walked that way and how many more we met out with their owners. I didn’t know where to sniff first. Most of the dogs we met seemed friendly enough, but a few were obviously grumpy and growled at me. Some of the owners didn’t want their dogs to say hello and pulled them away, which I couldn’t understand as all I wanted to do was to give them a good welcoming sniff. My owner stopped to talk to a few of them and some patted my head, which I’m not that keen on, but as a friendly sort of dog I suppose I have to put up with it. There was a lot of talking about what kind of dog I am and where I’d come from. I heard the words “puppy” and “bonkers” quite a lot. Some of the dogs were carrying balls in their mouths, but I soon realised that I was very good at dislodging them and grabbing the ball myself. This didn’t seem to go down too well with either the dogs or the owners, but surely it’s their dog’s own fault. If they can’t look after their own tennis balls then I might as well have them because I can look after them. Actually that’s not quite true. Look after them, I mean. As far as I’m concerned tennis balls are for ripping apart as quickly as possible once they lose their bounce. That goes for any kind of ball – rubber, plastic, rope – in fact anything that people can throw. Oh, and sticks too. There’s nothing better than ripping branches apart, pealing off the bark and chewing the ends. And then there’s those funny sticks some people use to throw and pick up tennis balls. One bite and the stick snaps in two. It’s easy, but some people don’t seem too happy about it. They shouldn’t make them look like branches.
Now I’m in my new home and getting my new owner sorted out. He’s got a few odd ideas, but I’ll soon get him straightened out. Later the first evening we went into the small back garden for some reason and my owner waited while I had a good sniff around. After a while I sat down and looked at him. There wasn’t much else to do. I mean, how was I to know that he wanted me to pee? I didn’t need to just then. We went back inside and I was left in a room downstairs with my new bed. My new owner scratched my head, patted me on the back then disappeared and closed the door. I waited, but he didn’t come back. I didn’t like that. I was just getting to know him and he left me alone. I didn’t understand. Whining helped a bit, and scratching on the door was OK, but didn’t seem to achieve anything much, so eventually I thought I would try out my new bed. When I woke up it was still dark outside and I now needed a pee. There was no one to ask to open the back door, and holding it in wasn’t comfortable, so I found a corner of the room, peed and went back to bed after another whining session at the door.
The next morning was interesting. I admit I did do a bit of whining and scratching at the door, then got a bit excited when the door opened and perhaps I jumped up a bit too much, but I was happy to have company again. After all, it had been a long night in a house I didn’t know and in any case I needed to pee again. Talking of which, my owner was not too happy about my peeing on the carpet, although to be fair he didn’t shout at me. He did seem, however, to be muttering to himself while he cleaned things up.
After a bowl of my current favourite food – that is, whatever was put in the bowl – we went for another walk by the river. It was still dark. There were lots more smells, but not many other dogs or people. I heard my owner mutter something quietly about five o’clock being a bit on the early side for getting up, but as long as I can remember I have always been wide awake and ready for a pee and a few other things at the same time every morning. It’s a great time to be up and about, although not everyone seems to agree. I noticed that as soon as I’d managed to poo on the verge my owner picked it up in a bag. He’s done that every time since then. It’s weird. I can’t see why he would want to collect my poo, but it does give me a chance to have a bit of fun. Pooing in long grass isn’t very popular with my owner as he seems to have problems collecting it all; stopping to poo in the middle of the road is also a good one, especially when there are cars around; pooing in a dark corner at night gets a bit of a reaction, as does stopping to poo on the pavement in front of lots of people. But I feel that you’ve got to get your fun whenever you can. I also noticed that he only collects it for as long as it takes to find a bin to put it in. So, it’s fun to walk a long way past all the bins and then poo. That gets a reaction too.
When we get back from a walk I have my paws wiped whether I need to or not. It’s all a bit difficult because my owner tries to make me stand on the mat inside the front door, and it’s not big enough. He seems to mutter a lot if I stand on the carpet before he’s wiped my paws then he disappears into the kitchen and comes back with a bowl of water and scrubs the floor. It all seems like a lot of hassle for just coming through the front door. Anyway, without getting too far ahead of myself, a few days later I noticed a new longer mat over the carpet and another bigger one on the floor in the room we sit in. I think they must be my mats as my owner keeps leading me to them. So, I now sometimes take food out of my bowl in the kitchen, carry it into the sitting room and eat it on the mat. Seems fair to me, but my owner seems to mutter a lot, picks it up and takes it back to my bowl – that’s if I haven’t managed to eat it first, and I’m very good at eating really fast. It’s the same when we’re out walking. As well as all the delicious smells I keep finding everywhere it’s not unusual to find something nice to eat that some kind person has left on the ground, often inside interesting boxes that need nudging open. My owner usually tries to stick his fingers in my mouth to remove what I’m trying to eat, and in the early days he usually won. But I’m a quick learner, at least where food’s concerned, and as often as not I now manage to swallow the stuff before he can get to it. More muttering, usually, but I don’t mind. Overall I think I’m settling in well. I think I’ll like it here.
All photos/images taken by D Crocker
This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.
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