Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Adventures of Frodo the Faller (6)

Frodo is a lovely family dog, enjoying the company of young and old but he has always wanted to be very close to me in particular – something about the hand that feeds, maybe? Since becoming a Faller his desire has become more extreme. He will hardly leave my side and going downstairs can be hazardous for he will not commit to going down until he is quite sure that is my intention too. Once confident that I am descending he then rushes past me. That is quite acceptable unless I am carrying laundry, a tea tray or supporting Dominie who is stiff first thing in the morning and needs help. On the flat again he trots ahead of me, glancing over his left shoulder every few seconds, consequently frequently hitting his nose or shoulder against my husband, the door frames, other dogs or anything else that may impede his progress. I am used to tripping over hungry dogs and cats, for they make their requirements very plain and usually settle after the worms have stopped biting. Frodo, however, will not let me out of his sight and follows me all over the house. When I went away for a few days he howled the whole time he was awake because I was absent. My husband expected daily a visit from the RSPCA. Even on our walks Frodo checks on me every five to ten seconds, sometimes to see if I'm checking on him and his turdy tastes. In short he is a 'Velcro' dog.

'Velcro' is the trademark for a clever method of fastening one piece of material to another. It was invented by Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, who had studied the burrs that stuck to his dog's fur and to his own clothes. Examining them under a microscope he saw that they had hundreds of hooks that caught on the loops of rough surfaces like clothing, hair or animal fur and resolved to reproduce them in material. A clever man and tenacious too, for although to begin with no-one would take him seriously, in 1951 he was granted a patent in Switzerland for his new fastener. He called it 'Velcro' from an amalgamation of the French 'velours' meaning velvet and 'crochet' meaning hook.

Owner/companions of epileptic dogs recognise the 'Velcro' tendency in their dogs. Epileptic dogs form a special bond with their people; maybe, in the deeper recesses of their consciousness they recognise that their people are trying to help them. Sometimes before a seizure when a dog senses that something unpleasant is about to occur – humans call this having or seeing an aura - he will seek out his owner, whether for comfort or acupressure or supplemental medication one cannot be sure. After the episode, the dog may remain very close to his person. Anything up to twenty-four hours before a seizure Frodo becomes exceptionally clinging and will not go outside unless I accompany him. Just like a small puppy he wants reassurance and company.

He is at all times a most responsive dog, coming immediately when called, spinning on a sixpence in his eagerness to return to us. All the stranger then was the occasion when he disappeared in the forest as dusk was falling and did not come back when summoned, of which more anon.

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