On the Sunday evening he didn’t eat, although he plainly wanted to, so first thing on Monday I took him in and left him for the vets to check him out. Sadly it turned out to be a horrible throat cancer and so we had to make a decision over the phone then and there. I was far more upset than I’d expected to be, usually I manage a stiff upper lip with the eventual demise of pets, perhaps it was because it felt too soon and too sudden.
We’ve had Badger from a puppy. He was born on the farm, one of six pups to Berry, my SILs collie who has also recently died. Cobalt our collie, inherited from our dear friend Ursie, was his father, an incestuous liaison that is probably against all the rules of good breeding and happened by accident.
We’d picked one puppy from the litter already, Indigo, who our son had fallen in love with, and were only intending to keep the one puppy. But when a family of prospective puppy buyers came to view the last three pups, this little ball of fluff with huge brown eyes kept coming up to me and gazing up with those eyes saying 'pick me, pick me'. Impulsively and irrationally we kept him too.
So there we were with a four year old, a toddler, a three month old baby and two border collie puppies to bring up. The puppies used to curl up on the baby play mat in the kitchen with Youngest, when I was cooking supper.
Indi was bright, energetic and eager to please, Badger, noble looking and we suspected slightly on the dim side for a border collie, but very loyal and protective of his family. He was always ‘badgering’ us for attention, so the name (given for the broad white blaze down his nose) became doubly apt . He was a total farm dog and hated going in the car. We tried to get both puppies used to it, by taking them to pick up the kids from kindergarten. In the end we gave up and they have always stayed home to guard the house, a duty they take seriously.
A stormy relationship with his father Cobalt, made the house less than peaceful as Badger grew up and there was much snarling and jockeying for the prime position under the kitchen table. They never did resolve their differences, so it has only been since Cobalt died a year ago that Badger has really had a chance to be the boss and lie unchallenged in all the best places.
It feels strange to only have the two dogs following me out to the washing line or the veggie garden. There is a gap. Indi feels the responsibility of having to bark for two at arriving and departing cars. Amy, the Jack Russell, tends to join in noisily only once the defences have been truly breached and the invaders are at the door.
The family has been clamouring for a puppy for months now, ever since my husband suggested that as our dogs are starting to get older we need to introduce and train the next generation (me as always resisting the pressure as long as possible). So we have to decide whether we will go the puppy route or adopt a rescue dog. We will be getting another dog, when the time feels right, but we will miss Badger for a while yet.
|Badger joining in Youngest's birthday party six years ago.|