Valentines Special! Are You The Love Of Your Dogs Life?

Somebody once asked me who I would save if my wife Emma and Tommy were hanging off the edge of a cliff. My immediate response was to say that Tommy would not be daft enough to fall off the cliff in the first place. That did not go down well.

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Nope, shes not having that

What I said was untrue, firstly of course my wife is not daft. God knows she watches enough quiz shows on the telly. Secondly Tommy is a complete idiot sometimes and I know for a fact that if I threw a shoe over the edge of a cliff he would leap gleefully after it and find enough strength when he hit the bottom to chew it to little pieces. So why did I immediately jump to Tommys defence?

Today is Valentines Day and whether we are old romantics or not love is most definitely in the air. A day when children try to guess who gave them their first Valentines card, hoping it was not that strange kid with the eye patch and limp. When newlyweds surprise one another with spa weekends and lonely singletons everywhere sit watching their letterbox in hope that this might be the year they receive card that is not off their Mum. But today we are taking a look at the most unbreakable love of all. The unconditional bond between man – or woman, and their dog.

THE NEVERENDING STORY, Barret Oliver, 1984, © Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection
If only Tommy could fly…

History is littered with examples of great human-dog bonding beginning as early as the cavemen who would team up with the wolves to hunt for food. From then on man has continued to make wolves more cuddly descendants their inseparable friends. I am sure that there are may great leaders that have owned dogs that I could name, a lot of decorated Generals and Admirals that have gone boldly into war with their trusty dog at their side. But at the moment the only famous dog duos that spring to mind are James Belushi and Jerry Lee in K-9, that flying dog with warts in The Neverending Story, Nanook from the Lost Boys and not forgetting the most famous dog/human pairing of all time – Scooby Doo and Shaggy. They have even conquered time and space together in the form of Doctor Who and K9.

I digress.

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He chewed out the shape of a heart. The dog is a genius

I have the best wife, I really do. But is she waiting for me when I walk through the door after a long day at work, ready to greet me with dozens of kisses as if her day had just become a million times better because I came home? No, not usually.

Does she sleep with my sock on her pillow next to her face just so that she will always have my smell close to her? I doubt it.

Does she follow me to the bathroom and rest her head at my feet whilst I’m sat on the toilet or stand next to the bath so that he can lick the soap out of my hair. I’m glad to say she doesn’t.

Will she get up and follow me out of the room even if she has just sat down and doesn’t want to get up again but is compelled by some instinctive urge to always go wherever I go. Definitely not.

Tommy does all of these things. Sometimes I think it must be exhausting for him having to do these things every day without fail as if he has some kind of canine OCD. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, I guess that most of time I am the Alpha in Tommys eyes – I walk him, feed him, (try to) train him etc and with that comes staunch loyalty and devotion. It’s obvious he worships me but does he love me more than Emma or James?

It started off so well…

It is interesting to see the different relationship Tommy has with Emma and James. Emma was the person who collected Tommy on the day he was ready to come and live with us. Since that day I think it is fair to say they have had their ups and downs and Tommy has come very close to being throttled on more than one occasion. Her shoe collection has halved in the last year and I won’t even tell you the lengths I had to go to in order to cover up the carnage after he chewed her jewellery box and ate more than a few of her earrings. I think this is why he seeks her approval every chance he gets. Emma is very authoritative with Tommy, a lot more than I am so when she gives him praise and a fuss he laps it up! I think this rocky relationship is one of mutual respect that has a slight edge which could turn to fisticuffs at any moment but is ultimately built on love.

The best relationship Tommy has is the one he has with James. It is just how we would want it to be. We call Tommy his brother and that is exactly how they act. If he goes to James he knows he is not going to get any stupid orders or reprimands. He is there for fun and cuddles but if you were to play fight with James he becomes extremely protective and will visibly defend him. Either that or he joins in and that normally ends in tears. It amazes me how dogs know that children require extra care. Baxter was exactly the same. He would never lick either Emma or myself (I know it’s gross but I love it) but he would lick James for so long we would have to pull him off for fear of James drowning in his slobber. One of the last videos I took of Baxter saw him sitting on James and licking his face whilst he laughed hysterically. Still brings a lump to my throat. The relationship James and Tommy have will probably turn out to be the strongest, but not one worthy of a Valentines card exchange.

A brief mention of Hulk, our long suffering cat. He doesn’t know what is going on. he was our first pet which gained him an unbelievable amount of attention. When Baxter came along his nose was put out sure, but over the years they developed an uneasy truce and by the end they were quite close companions. Keep an eye out for Baxters page going live. There is an unbelievable story of the cat saving Baxter that I need to tell you.

Hulk in happier times with his pal Baxter

So with Baxter gone, Hulk had the run of the house again and for a few months was once again the sole object of our affection. Then Tommy came along. To say they hate each other is an understatement. You can often feel Hulks icy stares on you from whatever high perch he is on to avoid being harassed by Tommy, as you clean up whatever mess Tommy has made that day. He is clearly thinking we are stupid for bringing this disastrous dog into the house. Definitely no Valentines for Tommy off the cat. Maybe a letterbomb.

Reading back through this I’ve realised that I have always thought I had the strongest bond with Tommy, that i was the love of this life. The more I think about this it is clearly not true. Tommy, and I guess all family dogs, will recognise a hierarchy within a family and will use this to dictate their behavior around those different family members, this much is obvious. But what about when it comes to dishing out the love? Well, these amazing animals have a never ending supply of the stuff, more than enough to go around everyone in the family. Maybe even the cat one day. They are intelligent enough to recognise their ‘pack’ and the individuals within it and for every day your dog is on this earth it never stop loving all of you equally. It just may have faltered a bit the moments after Tommy realised we were the ones responsible for having his ‘bits’ chopped off.

I hope you all have a happy Valentines Day and if you happen to be that person waiting by the letterbox for a card that doesn’t arrives. Have hope, just get yourself a dog.

Right now I’d better go and buy Emma some flowers after that cliff jumping comment at the start or else Tommy won’t be the only one getting his bits chopped off.

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Rich and Tommy




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