My husband and I share our living space with four delightful, unique, quirky and oh-so-lovable furry 4-leggeds. Sometimes I get confused about who runs the show but mostly I just bask in all the love that floats around our home.
Starsky, our alpha male, is something of a brute. He’s UNBELIEVABLY excited to see each new day and greets every morning with a happy dance, his claws clickety-clacking on the floor of his bedroom (yes, the dogs have their own bedroom – of sorts). You can hear the frenzy mounting in his morning dance – where are the humans – where is my food – I want my couch – get up lazy humans – when will breakfast be served – come on people – it’s breakfast time… let’s get this show on the road, this boy’s hungry like never before, I want my food, feed me, feed me, come on, feed me…
Starsky is all about excess. He inhales his food. He doesn’t lap water like other dogs, he throws it out of the bowl and catches (some of) it on the way down. He has no idea of his size or weight or the reach of his tail. Especially the reach of his tail. His spatial awareness is challenged. And challenging.
His striking good looks and unusual colouring draw lots of comments when we’re out and about. As does his habit of trying to mount EVERY dog that he meets, especially teeny-tiny little poodle types. Given that he weighs in at about 40kg (88lb), this is not a pretty sight. Or experience. Especially if you’re the poodle-type in question!
Starsky is loyal and protective like many canine companions. But mostly, this dog is ALL about love. What he may be lacking in the brains department, he more than makes up for with his humungous heart. Sometimes, he gets his love delivery quite wrong but there’s no doubt that his intentions are pure.
Hutch is my blonde angel dog. He’s pretty much the antithesis of his brother. He’s gentle and soft and humble and wise and refined. If he were human, he’d be aristocracy for sure.
Hutch is not nearly as needy as his brother and doesn’t check in for love as often. He’s very clear on what he likes, though, and he’s not above insisting that it’s time for affection. Now. His version of paradise would be having his head scratched and his ears rubbed. Permanently. He loves, loves, loves belly rubs and is never shy to direct your attention in this direction.
Hutch is showing early signs of arthritis and he’s usually a bit slower to get going than his siblings. It’s quite usual to find him reclining on his bed in the morning waiting for sure signs of breakfast being served before he springs into the day. He has good days and bad days and it’s heart breaking to see a spirit so willing in an already fragile body.
There’s one exception to everything I’ve just written about Hutch. There’s a moment, unfortunately on most of our walks in the forest, when crazy seeps into his brain. He forgets all discipline and manners and tears off huffing and puffing like a dog possessed in pursuit of whatever poor creature he can see up ahead on his path. It’s infuriating behaviour and generally terrifying for the other owner (of course he sets off his siblings as well). This wild huffing dog mania drives me as demented as his brother’s clumsy, body awareness issues.
Number 3 to arrive was our feline ruler, Huggy Bear. The queen of disdain, my gorgeously aloof kitty cat is full of contradictions. She’s mostly a one-person cat, except when she’s not. She’s usually quite comfortable with her own company, until she decides that I need her attention. When her moment is perfect for a rub and a scratch, I’m obligated to drop everything and respond with just the right amount of pressure in the exact spot that needs attention. I live in fear of a delayed reaction time seeing me ignored for the rest of eternity!
When we lived in the wilds of Africa, Huggy was a warrior, a stalking, hunting, predatory creature. Since we moved to New Zealand, she’s turned herself into an inside being. She still hunts on occasion, but we’re much more likely to be presented with moth bodies or the occasional lizard tail than the rats and mice that used to abound. Personally, I’m quite happy with the new deal and I hope she doesn’t feel too short-changed.
Despite her general distance, there are moments when my heart literally melts for this cat. On the rare occasions she nestles into my lap for a nap and her little body surrenders to mine, I can feel her telling me she knows she is safe and loved and in that moment, her life is divine. Mine too.
And last but by no means least, there’s Captain Dobey. She’s a different kettle of fish entirely. The boys were 4 when she arrived and upset the apple cart and I’m not sure they’ve entirely forgiven us, five years later. Dobey is relentless in her pursuit of attention, whether that’s from human or animal audiences. She teases her brothers mercilessly and I have no idea how they tolerate her shenanigans.
Dobey is very clearly the centre of her own universe. Her feelings are easily injured when things don’t go her way and her sulking could put any teenager to shame. Despite the prima donna tendencies, deep (deep) down, it’s really all about love for her. She simply can’t believe that anything or anyone she encounters could do anything but love her without reserve, right from the first time they meet.
She’s also quite clear about her requirement for cuddles with a human at some stage of her day. This doesn’t mean a pat on the head in passing, this means full body contact on a bed or a couch for a decent (as judged by Dobey) amount of time. Fortunately, Dobey is the best doggy cuddler I have ever known. She knows just how to mould herself into your body and doesn’t toss and turn, even during longer naps. I don’t usually need much encouragement for daily snuggles as they’re a treasured part of my day too.
Dobey is the watchdog in the family and usually much more alert than her brothers. I’m not sure, though, that her watchfulness is matched by her bravery. She’s been known to terrorise little dogs but her best friend is also a little dog and I can’t quite unravel this contradictory behaviour. Girls will be girls I guess.