Joe is the clown of the family. He has the sunniest disposition and his irrepressible sense of humour forces me to smile when I’m having a bad day. He is infamous for the Charge Of The Dead Fish. When we lived on the Klip River, the dogs were free-rangers and they thought it was heaven on earth.
The first of the summer rains always washed a timber shed of dead wood downstream (Velvette would retrieve logs four times her size!). However on this occasion, a factory’s pollutants had resulted in a lot of dead fish amongst the debris, floating on the water for days before they were washed away. I stood chatting with my landlord and several friends, some distance from the river bank, when a black dot burst from the Willow trees on the bank.
The smell hit us first. Joe was heading straight for us, doing his best racing-greyhound-impersonation, smiling, with a rotten fish clamped firmly between his jaws. Suddenly the air around me was filled with retching noises as people fled in all directions. Chunks of his rotten prize were breaking off as he ran. By the time he got to me the stench was overwhelming. As a kid we’d had a dog who had eaten an entire catfish - he stank for WEEKS afterwards. I knew that the consequences of this dead fish in Joe’s digestive system did not bode well for our household. I was the one who had to pry his jaws open, get him to drop the rotting thing, and then dispose of it!
His catch-me-if-you-can act included running circles around me, his ears flattened to the side of his head – a dead giveaway that he had illegal contraband in his mouth. Fortunately it wasn’t Velvette who had the fish – as a puppy, we’d inadvertently chased and tried catching her when she stole something. She’ll wait until your hand is within grasping distance before she bolts and you can never catch her. Ever! She'd have swallowed that thing whole!
The joys of being a dog lover... I suppose when it's a baby, at least you know what to expect in that nappy!