20 December 2011

We need to talk about...Walle

We need to talk about... not Kevin, but Walle (pronounced Wall-ee). No, no: my newly adopted three-year-old labradoodle is not wreaking any kind of havoc reminiscent of that other nasty fellow. Quite the opposite, in fact. The only thing other than his toys that Walle has ever tried to destroy by chewing is the old sheepskin I put down for him alongside my bed. And that being something very like rawhide, it's probably not too surprising.

It's not as if Walle hasn't got a perfectly good bed of his own. But that's in the living-room, where he could easily choose to sleep, and does when we are all in there. But there's no room for that big bed in my bedroom. And Walle always sleeps wherever I sleep – or nearby. He's not allowed on beds or chairs, and knows that. But wherever I sit, work or sleep – that's where you'll find Walle. At the mistress's feet, so to speak. Right now, as you can see, he's lying right here behind me, his morning walk over, a couple of chicken necks quickly gobbled and nothing better to do than snooze.

Walle has become more self-confident as the weeks go by. He doesn't (always) lie outside the bathroom while I shower. And if I tell him to 'Go' when I'm working in the kitchen, he will reluctantly trot off to his bed in the living-room. Otherwise, he lies at the very edge of the carpet that marks the division between dining area and kitchen, where he (usually) knows he's not allowed to enter. Two front paws might stray over the carpet's edge onto the kitchen tiles, but that's all. And he watches. I never feed him anything while I'm working in the kitchen, so he can't be expecting scraps. He's just...watching...ME.

At least now, when we've gone to bed, Walle no longer gets up just because I make a quick toilet visit or a trip to the kitchen for water. He does always come along when I check on Allen, though. He'll stick his snout up near Allen's pillow for a quick pet, or a surreptitious lick. But other than that, he's quite content once he's settled down alongside my bed for the night. And I've learned not to step on him as I get up for any reason.

Outdoors in our one-acre paddock that's fenced on three sides only – the fourth boundary being the big old farm dam – Walle generally runs free. Exuberance did once cause him to spring off down the valley, following the creek below the dam's overflow.That creek bed marks the property line between neighbours' acreage on both sides. It was a harmless enough adventure, with me in pursuit through long grasses on both sides of the creek bed. But some deep instinct had taken hold of him, and I couldn't help but laugh as his rear legs flew high, water splashing as he landed in the nearly dry creek's puddles. He slept very well that night, feet still twitching in those strange dreams dogs have, accompanied by little half-barks of delight.

And on one other occasion, while friends were helping unload compost onto plants that border a camping area at the bottom of our paddock, I looked up just in time to see Walle take off, ears horizontal, in pursuit of a big monitor lizard he'd found sunning itself in the grass by the dam's edge. The lizard executed a neat dive into the dam, and in plopped Walle right behind. He'd no chance of catching the lizard, of course. But still Walle plodded around among the water lilies, churning up mud and coming out a new shade of brown. I'm not a great believer in washing dogs too often, but no way could Walle come into the living-room without a hosing down on that day. At least he'd recently been shorn, making the clean-up a bit easier.

The only thing Walle asks from us – other than food and water – is to let him be with us. Preferably 24 hours a day, but if we need to be away for a few hours or half a day, he will tolerate that. Nothing gets chewed and there are no wrinkles to suggest he's taken advantage of our absence to sprawl across a bed or sofa. He is, of course, deliriously happy when we get home. But that kind of effusive love is little enough price to pay for such total devotion. And at the least suggestion that he might be allowed to come with us on some outing, wild horses couldn't keep him from hopping into the car.

When Walle first came home with me seven weeks ago, I thought his extreme devotion would be temporary. It worried me then, so the breeder gave me an article about 'separation anxiety' and I followed its recommendations. But now, even though Walle has settled happily into his new home, I know his 'attachment' to me is permanent. He's a one-woman dog. And though it took some getting used to – a bit like having a toddler follow you around – I'm not only resigned to it, I love it. I even think Walle knew I needed this unconditional love and affection, knew that his main job with us would be to care for the carer.


Red said...

Super introduction to your new friend. I know we'll hear more later.

Chartreuse said...

Thanks for visiting, Red. I forget if you have pets or not. It's many years since we lived a quiet enough life for pets. Now I'm so glad we made the decision to get a dog.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to read this. And I am so happy that he know his main job! Caring for the carer. Warmed my heart. Take care my friend, gin

Chartreuse said...

And warm wishes to you, Gin, for the holidays. I hope things continue to improve with your health.

Judy and Liklik said...

You and Walle have bonded so well and I agree there is noting like a comfort dog to enrich your life.I do hope our dogs meed someday - and get along. These days when Liklik and I have our walk along the creek, I go by grass or sand and she goes by water, splashing joyously, hoping to catch a crab or a toad fish and relishing cool water on her fur. I have to hose the sand and salt out when we get home because of licence, obtained by subtle infiltraion, to sit on the furniture. Will have to do something about that if we visit you.

Suz said...

Walle is wonderful and your little granddaughter is so beautiful.....such big pretty eyes.....glad you stopped by and wished me a happy anniversary...reminding me that one woman's weed is another woman's wee delight...and I see you know Stafford.....hee hee
he's a peach

Chartreuse said...

Lovely to see you here, Suz. I enjoy your blog posts often, but haven't been commenting much lately. In fact, I haven't been blogging much. But hope to correct that in the new year. Hope 2012 is good to you - and to all my blogging friends.

Gabrielle Bryden said...

Hey, what's my dog Sheba doing on your blog - hahaha - this could be written about my dogs - they both follow me around all the time (wait outside the shower, next to my bed on the floor, etc.,). If I shut the bedroom door they will go around the verandah and wait and the door on the outside of the house - I always end up lettin them in. Dopey as - both of them - but adorable and devoted.

Chartreuse said...

Gabrielle, I agree re both the 'dopey as' and 'adorable and devoted' descriptions! Walle's looking a lot better now that his short-haircut has grown out a bit. And he's really settled into our family. But how he hates this rain! I have to almost drag him outdoors, and then he stays under the shelter of my umbrella instead of going off to do his business, as he should. What a sook!

Stafford Ray said...

Walle (I did spell that correctly, unlike my last reference to Allen. Sorry about that!) is perfect to keep you company and to keep you moving!

About me

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I started this blog in 2009 when I became a full-time caregiver. My husband had been diagnosed a few years earlier with primary progressive aphasia. Over the next four years until his death in 2013, we went on a journey of discovery about this rare condition. My blog is about what I learned, how we both coped and how the journey deepened our love and appreciation of each other. Allen’s journey is over, but mine goes on.