Subconsciously, I hear a clip clip of claws on tiles. Then, suddenly I awake fully as a paw hits me in the face… I check the clock 4.45am sigh … At the same time, Degas stretches out and lies across my middle; all 22kgs pinning me down. Having sleepily fussed Degas, I struggle up, pushing her off my stomach and pull on some clothes. The last thing on is my trousers and it’s the usually fight as she paws at them and chews my arms in her excitement to go out. I remember a time when my clothes didn’t have holes in them as both my T-shirt and trousers are holey now… only 6 months ago, but it seems a distant past.
At the door, Degas sits and I let her out of the flat with a hissed “steady”, but she runs full tilt downstairs, sliding into the wall where the stairs change direction. I meet her at the bottom of the stairs as she’s rushed back from the door to see what’s keeping me. She reluctantly sits, without being told, at the door but her whole body is wiggling as I clip on the lead, then she’s off like a rocket towing me like a ragdoll behind her.
Of course, having looked after my parents dogs over the years, and despite having Degas for almost 6 months, I still expect her to squat as soon as she’s outside… but no. She dilly dallies and wanders around for what seems like hours with me whispering for her to pee. Finally, we can go back inside. Back upstairs, I stupidly check the time – 4.55am – and debate with myself if I should go back to bed or not. I choose to go back and Degas comes too, snuggling up back to back. Sometimes she sleeps but often she starts chewing the sheets, pillow, or anything else in range including me.
5.40am I get kicked in the back and then I feel 4 paws trying to push me out of bed. Sigh. More cuddles are required before she lets me out of bed and then alternates between chewing my arms and hands or circling my legs in her impatience for a walk. I pull my clothes back on, fight for my trousers, struggle to get a harness on my squirming puppy, wait for her to sit, tell her to steady, and follow her rushing body back downstairs.
After a dawdle around the waste ground, we set off around the neighbourhood. Spotting a cat, she pulls my arm out of its socket as she tries to go and play with it. Hauling her back, she sits down facing the cat and as I attempt to get her back on route she lies down, on her side, in the dust. Of course, construction workers are on the street and I can almost hear the chuckles as I try to get her back to her feet and continue walking. By 6.10 we are home again, but now she refuses to sit at the front door. I stand there. She walks to the end of her lead away from the door… and sits facing the street. SIGH! I tug her back to the door, get her sat and in we go.
At 6.25 I abandon my tea and computer, hunt for her ball, and go outside to the yard around the building. Having closed the gate we play fetch. She charges after the ball and back often bowling into me. Then she drops it, picks it up, drops it, picks it up, slobbers all over my hands and holey trousers as I take the ball from her. After several throws, she gets distracted and, ball in mouth, sticks her head out of the far gate and… drops it. We watch it roll across the pavement and into the street. I put her back on the lead, no easy nor quick task once she’s outside, and go into the street to recover it. After a few more throws, she drops the ball in the yard and goes and waits by the door, as I retrieve her ball.
Upstairs, I taste my tea – cold, so have my muesli with a glass of water. Every third day, like today, I give the empty pouring yoghurt bottle to her, holding it so she can lick the mouth, then she takes it to chew and dribble yoghurt across the rug and sofa. On other days I have to play ball again, so it’s a welcome relief this morning. I check the time… eek 6.50am I eat the last spoonfuls of my muesli and head for the shower. As I’m washing I realise my legs are hairy but I have only time to wash. Sigh. At this point a head appears under the shower curtain, laps up some water, licks my leg (eew), then disappears. As I’m rinsing my hair I can hear her playing on the bed and I pray it’s with her toys.
Wrapped in my towel, I see Degas is wrapped in the sheets in her attempt to strip the bed, which I’d made 3 minutes earlier. I spot footprints on the sheets and wonder if I should wash the sheets, but I don’t have time to put on the machine and the spare set are already in the wash. Sigh. Attempting to straighten the sheets around a playful Degas, she slobbers my arms and hands... I’ve been clean less than a minute. A thought flits across my mind as to when I will lose the smell of puppy slobber which I’ve had permanently as a perfume since she arrived. Pulling on my clothes, I check the time. 7.10 – time to leave for the day job.