Today is Mickey (“The Mousse”) and Malory (“The Cake”) Mallett’s 12th birthday. We’ve come a long way (literally) since that kismet encounter at the veggie market in ‘Maritzburg. Mally was an instant hit when thrust at me and sealed the deal with a nuzzle into my neck… And first sight of Mick clarified unequivocally that they were a matched set that only the most heartless human would separate.
Their trip to their new home (several hundred kilometres away) was made in a box originally designed to house 5 reams of paper but, when lined with a fabric nappy, made for a premium puppy pad, complete with cotton wool bed, dining section, reinforced water and milk dishes and a sort of u-shaped seating amenity made from a rolled up facecloth.
They were SO tiny, each fitting into the palm of one of my hands. Way too small to be the outside dogs they were authorised to be. Night One they were allowed to sleep in the kitchen ‘to climatise’, but before long they were in the en suite… and then in the bed… where they’ve slept ever since (and, in fact, likely are right now as I type this).
Mick was quick to take Alpha male role, swinging off his big (Great Dane cross Labrador) step-brother Clyde’s jowels for fun and taking his responsibilities very seriously by doing a full perimeter curcuit in the morning to check that all was intact and then guarding the entrance of the Big Dog Igloo to make sure that they were up and manning the gates (Can’t call it ‘dogging the gate’. You know why)
Mal was all about adding to the décor. Looking beautiful and improving the aesthetics of any room she was in, simply by being in it. She never fettered herself with putting any effort into popularity, opting rather to follow a simple hierarchy of her mom… and then anyone with food and/or hands to tickle her with. Knowing that humans are less evolved, she’s quick to help us out with a nudge to the hand to remind us that we’ve stopped tickling.
Despite being as tightly wound as Scrat from Ice Age, Mally’s lived a charmed life, making the most of every lap, basket and bed opportunity (and there is always one of the 3 on the go) and enjoy the wide world of nature… through the sliding door from the comfort of the couch. She has had some troubles of late (too sensitive to be openly spoken about), but her rigid high fibre diet seems to be doing her the world of good.
Poor Mick hasn’t had it so easy. He had an unfortunate interlude with a BMW early on and was deemed a no-hope case by the vet several times over his recovery. But he’s a fighter. And he came back to life as good as he was before… but sans an eye and with some very butch war wounds. As if that wasn’t enough, he developed an allergy to dust (a real problem when your legs are 5cm), which went straight to his good eye. And if that wasn’t enough, the ophthalmologist found a lump on Mickey’s neck on his final visit, so he went straight from his clean bill of optical health to the vet to be checked in for removal of the growth. Although cancerous, it was benign and again, all was well. He’s had one last bout of cancer removal (lumps on his head), but besides that is a very happy and healthy little creature, with an air of sophistication from his premature greying, earning him the new mickname “Silver Fox”.
They’re a comical pair. As intro to birthday week, I took them to the Golden Harvest Park on Monday with the SA Gills. Mickey ran around like he was a Labrador in a perfume commercial, ears flapping all akimbo in the wind, leaping each step in the long grass. Every now and the he’d be in the distance and stop stock-still, look around, realise he had no idea where he was, he’d look left and right, then leftrightleftright, then whip around, looking everywhere for me. Of course I was shouting and arm-waving wildly… and as soon as he saw me he’d be off again.
Mal isn’t a huge one for the great outdoors – although she does like to win and is Rudolph-like in her dogged positioning as the lead dog when out walking in the neighbourhood – and isn’t subtle when she’s had enough. When she’d had enough at the park, she found an open car and hopped in. It wasn’t our car. It belonged to an ominous group of very suspicious looking fellows. Out in the park. During the day. On their phones. No sweat to Mal, she hopped in the car all happy and waggly. And then jumped into the back as I approached, as is customary (she doesn’t drive). I was horrified and mortified (especially seeing as we’d just come from the lake section so her feet were all muddy. But the men said nothing to my barrage of apologies and nervous giggles as we played the usual cat and mouse with her jumping in the front as I opened the back door and vice versa. And we’re still alive to tell the tale so no harm done really.
There are just so many anecdotes like the above. I wish I could jot them all down, but who has that kind of time?! It’s so busy at the moment that I’m postponing the Annual Hotdog Party even (who can forget the first one with wall-to-wall mattresses in the garage floor so everything was on the ground and the big dogs could party with us, the Barney tableware and conical hats, the hotdogs, the presents, the bunting…. Ah!) We’ve been through so much! I hope we have another 12 happy years together!