Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Adventures of Frodo the Faller (3)

Frodo at 6 months old

Until he was nearly three Frodo had led an uneventful life. The biggest change he had experienced was moving from his Lincolnshire home to Berkshire at the age of five months. The two older Dalmatians grumbled as a matter of form but soon Dominie was playing with him and Buddy was sniffing him surreptitiously – they had accepted him.
We had been wondering how he would react to our cats as the only felines he had seen hitherto had been at a distance in the cattery at his old kennels. Our two elderly blue Burmese were both now rather stiff and Pansy was going blind. Singleton's vision had always been compromised as she was cross-eyed – not uncommon in Oriental cats. They had always lived with dogs in the house and knew they were the superior beings and need not trouble themselves over this callow spotted upstart. We introduced them carefully and Frodo was fascinated by them. He sniffed and licked and they tolerated his attentions. This was our first indication of his enormous capacity for gentleness. When Pansy died, he and Singleton spent a long time sniffing about the house searching for her in her old haunts. Our cats had always been indoor cats, not having any fear of people or dogs, though we feared for them. Air rifles can be just as deadly as cars and we saw no reason to expose them to danger. A year after Pansy's death Singleton passed away and Frodo was miserable.

Our eldest daughter visited with her two dogs, Jake the Wonder Rescue dog and Tia the Labrador. Frodo saw how the long-term residents reacted, greeting the visitors like old friends, and followed suit. He was delighted to have playmates. Walking in the forest with the five dogs was an interesting affair. Jake was a very obedient dog – it had been beaten into him by his previous owners – until he was off the lead and running free. When he saw another dog he would rush forward to meet it like a long-lost friend, deaf to all calls to come back. Most times his exuberance was not rebuffed. Dominie, though big and looking fearsome, ambled up agreeably to other dogs, greeting those she knew with her chirruping, warbling cry of welcome. Buddy was more formal, the sort of dog who if he had been a human would have raised his hat and gruffly remarked on the fineness of the day. Tia, still very young, was always ready to play but Frodo was a different prospect altogether. He mistrusted, distrusted, disliked on sight any other dog that dared to come within twenty yards of him – or us. Suddenly our gentle boy was protecting his tribe. If the strange dog read the signs correctly and retreated Frodo was appeased. We soon learnt to hold him close when unknown canines refused to believe that their friendly overtures were being rejected and insisted on trying to sniff his rear end. Dogs can spin! He made a lot of unpleasant noise but would not have acted on it – 'all mouth and no trousers' as the saying has it. Nonetheless it was sufficient to cause the adrenaline to flow, human and canine.
Back at home he was the perfect gentleman once more apart from food. Like many of his breed he was a practised thief and lost no opportunity to supplement his rations with some of ours. Failing that, bird seed scattered on the grass proved agreeable though, judging by the end results, he didn't derive much sustenance from it.

Then came the day of the first Falling, of which more anon.

Dominie (facing) and Frodo playing, Wildmoor Heath, 2006

1 comment:

  1. No comments on this delightful post -- so I just had to comment. Frodo seems to be a perfect dog, even if he does tend to over protect his 'family'. Isn't that what dogs are supposed to do? Give him an ear scratch from me -- or whatever his particular favorite satisfying spot is. A tummy-rub, maybe? Perhaps not.

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