Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Saint Bing

Saint Bing, for sure; but he's definitely a dog with a wobbly halo.

From the outset Jane & I decided that Bingley was most definitely not going to be allowed on the furniture. This wasn't anything to do with, I'm now beginning to realise, the increasingly outdated theories of pack leadership or having a dog know his place; it just wasn't something we wanted. He's hairy, sometimes smelly and he's not going anywhere near the sofa. There was no ambiguity about it.

Has anyone else noticed how reality has a way of thwarting our expectations and resolve?!

As long as I'm not leaving the house I now usually leave Bingley to wander around, whilst I get on with whatever it is I'm doing elsewhere. I can pretty much trust him not to get up to too much mischief when he's by himself. But when I first discovered him curled up asleep on the kitchen sofa, I found myself facing a real dilemma as all my determination and resolve disappeared in the blink of an eye: he looked so comfortable, how could I possibly make him move!?

Jane felt the same way and I think that if one of us had said that they thought it was ok after all, then the other would have given in as well. I know that I would have! But we decided to stick to our guns and discourage him, though in my case there's definitely a degree of compromise: if I'm upstairs and Bingley wants to curl up in the armchair then so be it - I'm not there so I can ignore it! As long as he gets down when he sees me I'm satisfied.

At first getting him to relinquish this incredibly cosy location was difficult. In Lirael, the second book of Garth Nix's wonderful Abhorsen trilogy, The Disreputable Dog can grow suckers to help her gain traction when crossing the rim of a waterfall or sitting in the prow of a boat. The first time I tried moving Bingley off the sofa it felt like he was doing the same thing himself: he seemed to defy gravity and become instantly heavier, gluing himself to the cushion like a syrupy magnet.

But as with much else Bing's a quick learner, and I'm now used to hearing the thump of paws hitting the floor as I walk down the stairs; the only evidence that he's been sleeping on the sofa is a warm dimple in the cushion, because Bingley's usually curled up on the floor looking at me with sleepy eyes that say 'I've been here all the time, Rob'. And if I do catch him by surprise, then a gentle 'ah-ah' is all it takes to get him moving.

'Ah-ah'! What a useful little warning bark that is. Though it doesn't always work, as I'll tell you next time.

No comments: