Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Managing your owner

It's nine years ago, to the day, that I first came to live with my current owner Gail. Way back then, I think Gail imagined that she would remain boss at 3 Devanha Gardens South. How wrong she was...

I think of the struggle for control of this house as a long drawn out war. There have been skirmishes, major battles, quiet phases, ground lost at times, but overall a clear victor emerges. Let's review the main events.

Key to success in battle is control of territory. Herein lies my greatest triumph. Gail ceded the garden at the outset, but gaining access to the house was a long drawn out affair. At first, I was confined to the sun room at the back, with a dog flap to the garden but barred from the kitchen by a strategically placed child gate. One day I managed to get my head stuck in between the bars of this irritating piece of furniture. An unfortunate accident or smart tactics? You decide. In any event, the outcome was that the barrier disappeared and the kitchen area was now mine too.

Penetrating the front sitting room took longer. Gail had this new blue sofa in front of the radiator, and seemed anxious to keep me off it. I humoured her on that one, not letting on that my real target was the old sofa by the window. The back of this forms an excellent sentry post from where I can survey the street scene, make sure the neighbours are behaving, look out for the postman, bark at would be intruders, and so on. A goal well worth fighting for. And lo and behold, my "good" (read cunning) behaviour paid dividends. Once Gail figured that her precious new sofa was safe, that was me, free to roam the whole downstairs.

Gail used to make me sleep downstairs, swore she'd never have me in the bedroom. I decided to use psychology on this one too. I hatched the plan of running out into the garden and barking in the middle of the night, making use of my owner's paranoia about me making a noise and upsetting the neighbours. It worked! And now I sleep at night on my own cosy blanket at the base of Gail's bed. She still barricades me downstairs when she's out during the day, but that I'm prepared to accept. What's the saying? Don't sweat the small stuff.

Perhaps the biggest battle lost was over food. I really prefer tins, and refused for quite some time to eat that boring dry stuff that Gail insists is "good for me". We Westies are famed for our stubborn streak, but in the end the hunger pangs won out, and a can of Pedigree Chum (or better yet Butchers with tripe) is now a rare treat.

The rest were minor skirmishes. I've had to concede defeat on the use of the ironing board and vacuum cleaner, and we've come to an amicable compromise on operation of the hairdryer - OK on Gail, but absolutely on no account is it to be pointed in my direction. I'll put up with being bathed so long as I can dry myself by rolling around on the carpet.

As for walks, well, it's getting late, I'll save that story for another day.

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