Did you ever have a dog that feigned disability? We did. When growing up in India we had a cocker spaniel named Tuffy (because, my sister said, he was all black except for a white “tuff” at his throat.)
Distemper shot. When a puppy, my doctor-Dad ordered distemper vaccine from the USA and administered it to him. Something was wrong with the potion, causing Tuffy’s front legs to collapse in spasms, into his food, on the floor, attempting stairs, everywhere.
Trip to the Vet. We took him to a vet who said he’d like to keep him. The dog stayed a week, and was returned, reeking of cod liver oil, emaciated, but so so happy to see us. (Mother had paid for him to be fed, but the vet denied any knowledge of this payment). It was time, the vet said, to put him down. This was at the beginning of our summer break, and Mother decided we’d do so, if Tuffy hadn’t improved by the time we went back to school. Then Mother got to work. Every day she bathed him in warm water, and massaged his front leg muscles. Every day he got stronger. But the spasms persisted.
Learning to walk. Meanwhile Tuffy was learning to co-ordinate his walking with the jerks, even, sometimes seeming to dance to music. That summer we took him on long walks (one a journey of 18 miles). Though tired, he was still happy, getting stronger every day.
Performance Time. That’s when the drama began. He loved an audience, and when the room was full of guests, no matter how serious the meeting was, he’d go into his routine. The strength of the spasms would “escalate”, making him collapse to the floor at each jerk. He would seek out the most gullible person (usually a her). “How can you allow him to go on living?” she’d remonstrate. “Can’t you see what a state he’s in???” To these noises he’d completely “lose it”, crash at her feet, and roll sorrowing eyes in her direction. Whimpering mournfully he would accept stroking and talking to, while the human would shoot angry arrow-darts at my mother or one of us kids. None of our protestations could change anyone’s attitude; we were heartless cruel beasts who didn’t deserve a pet. As the guests were leaving, he’d “struggle and collapse” a few times more for dramatic effect. After they’d gone, he’d be back to his usual bouncy self, innocent as ever.
Cow Chasing. As far as building community, Tuffy’s main job was to chase the cows from the garden. India, being a predominantly Hindu nation, believed that cows were sacred, and they were allowed to roam wherever they wished. Our (Hindu) gardener would whump them with a log to get them to leave whenever he saw them, but this was usually after Tuffy had alerted the nation with his “cow alert” bark, and the said Moo would gallup down the road. Our gardener explained that it was all right to beat them, just not kill them.
Now before you start feeling sorry for the bovine beauty, let me explain that they are indiscriminate eaters. They eat all the flowers in your garden, except marigolds. A cow also had a good go at my mother’s night gown that was drying on the bushes, the only one she had for our six year stay in India. A friend offered her another which she kept until furlough.
India vs Britain. Caring for a dog in India – walks without leashes, free-roaming over the whole compound, and sometimes visiting our cook’s house – was a totally different existence to Doggy Britain. Dogs here have a much more important role in building community. They go out on walks, and wait patiently, patiently, as owners talk and talk and talk to those they meet, sometimes sighing meaningfully as they slump into lying- down position as conversation continues. But their role is important. Timid passersby who are people- shy, are free to talk to the dog. Those who are pet-less build up a relationship with others’ dogs, thus fulfilling the need of all human beings to connect with the animal world.
April is Pet Month, and I just want to honour the love and affection, between humans and their dogs. Four or five friends have recently lost their pets, and are still in grief. Others easily recall warm memories of past pets and their close bonding, friendship. Our neighbours lost their old dog – one who actually belonged to the whole street, because he was so gentle and loving that everyone felt he was theirs and always stopped to greet him. We drank a toast to Bryn that night to say farewell to a true member of our community.
Tuffy loved cookies.
or bars, or triangles or..
Combine 1 cup (125 gms, 4 ½ ounces) plain flour, ½ cup (115 grms, 4 ozs) butter or margarine, ¼ cup (30 gms, 1 oz) icing sugar until mixed thoroughly. Press the mixture evenly, with wet hands, into an 8” x 8” square pan, or anything around 64 square inches (420 square cms). Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat 1 cup (180 gms, 6 ozs) granulated sugar, 2 eggs, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the zest and the juice of 1 lemon. Pour over the baked crust and bake 20 – 25 minutes more. (I think mine was a bit overdone.)
Cool completely before cutting into desired sizes. I turned them over, and cut from the crust, with a pizza cutter.
Mine looked like this. But the book looked like this. The taste is delicious
Cookies that Travel
In these days of lockdown when someone is far away but close to our heart, praise be for Her Majesty’s Postal system, working brilliantly as usual.
Bar cookies, drop cookies, and fruit cookies travel well. Brownies, of course are solid and immovable. Wrap paired cookies back-to-back in cling wrap. Fillers — shredded clean paper, Cheerios or unbuttered unsalted pop corn — should be placed at bottom of a lined box, and between layers and on top. The box should be so full that nothing jiggles when you close the lid and shake it gently. Write PERISHABLE AND FRAGILE on the outside of the package. Address according to the rules of your country’s postal service. .