Before Bosley, my first Westie, came along, if you had asked me if I was a dog lover I would certainly have said an emphatic yes - but once we had him and he had lived with us as a puppy for a little while, that love turned into something deep and overwhelming. To such an extent that you would never chose to live without him. But are you prepared for the changes to your life?
When we first had Bosley as a new puppy our home was fairly nicely kept and we had little understanding that piece by piece it would be taken down, eaten, destroyed and well, it would be turned into a mini war zone! I suppose we were naïve but when your children plead constantly for a dog you don’t necessarily go out and research all the problems which might arise, your sights are set on the small fluffy puppy and the joy he will bring to your household. In consequence, the damage hits you like a tonne of bricks from on high without any warning.
For example, I had a rather lovely collection of hardback cookery books by all the well-known television cooks. Bosley took a liking to the spines of these as if the very books tasted of roast beef and chocolate brownie. I am afraid Mary Berry did not survive very long, as the books disintegrated and the pages fell out chunks at a time.
As I sit down to write this article I am being hounded by my current Westie, Katie. It is 30 minutes past her tea time and she simply does not want to wait any longer. She stands at my feet and gives two hard barks to get my attention. I leave her a few more minutes and she gives me two more hard barks. As I look at her and ask her what she wants, the look she gives me says, "You already know - where is my tea?"
Katie is now happily eating her tea so I will continue.
The garden was originally well ordered, my husband’s pride and joy. This very quickly took a turn for the worse. We found to our cost that Bosley had a passion for plastic plant pots. After a visit to the garden centre for the purchase of fresh bedding plants, my mischievous Westie sneaked off with them and one by one shook the just flowering flora out of their pots, threw them around the garden and chewed at the plastic containers with razor sharp baby teeth. The plastic lay strewn in miniscule pieces all over the lawn- so as to cause serious difficulties with the lawn mower sucking them up and spitting them out as projectiles - not only stinging legs but causing the lawn mower to go in for a service!
One day we wandered through to the hallway to be confronted by my friend’s bra lying cups upward, abandoned on the floor but mercifully undamaged
I am happy to say that some of the bedding was able to be rescued, but only by immediately planting the torn residue in compost which was placed high above Bosley’s reach.
Let’s not even mention that our amazingly lovable dogs have no hesitation, even when we are sitting in our carefully tended gardens eating a light lunch, from happily commencing their toilet directly in front of us and then coming to us for a well done, leaving a pile of something stinky behind!
But let’s go back into the house for a moment. On one happy occasion we had good friends to stay with us for a weekend visit. They liked our dog but were not quite the fanatics that we had become. We forgot to warn them of Bosley’s propensity to steal, chew, destroy and hide. One day we wandered through to the hallway to be confronted by my friend’s bra lying cups upward, abandoned on the floor but mercifully undamaged. My friend quickly retrieved her undergarment but couldn’t stop giggling helplessly later on that evening. That is the trouble with our dogs, we can tell them off but cannot stay angry with them for long. Do they sense this and take advantage of us? I wonder.
This tendency to naughtiness and getting into all imaginable trouble inspired me to write some stories based on some of Bosley’s real life behaviour
Beware of the wood-chewing puppy. Well, that’s got to be pretty much all of them. When first releasing your puppy from his crate into the rest of your house, you would be well advised to wrap up your table legs and chair legs in bubble wrap and duct tape. I also think you should give consideration to protecting any conservatory furniture in the same way. One evening as we sat happily down together as a family to eat tea, one of the children was rocking up and down on the back legs of his chair. They have been told a hundred times not to do it but of course they still do. The pressure became too much of a strain for the thoroughly chewed and weakened chair legs. The child crashed onto the floor and took his dinner plate and meal with him.
Bosley very much enjoyed the remnants of my son’s meal.
Still on the subject of food, human of course, puppies will eat anything your toddlers decide to feed to them, or food which is left around the house, on the floor, under the table, under the beds even. It really does not matter; it is all destined to go into the puppy’s mouth and probably make him sick. The trouble is that when the dog decides to be sick he doesn’t care where his is, now an older dog may well have the sense to head for the door, but not your Westie puppy. The forbidden treat will no doubt be regurgitated as a puddle of sick on your rug, and if you don’t get to it quick enough it is waiting for your children to put their toes in!
This tendency to naughtiness and getting into all imaginable trouble inspired me to write some stories based on some of Bosley’s real life behaviour. It was only a short hop to stretch real life a little to ultimately produce my story book Bosley Beats the Burglars.
Whilst we live in Norfolk, I took the story back to the real home of West Highland White Terriers- the Highlands of Scotland, then gave him a family, a Scottish lady, Mrs. Flora McTavish who loves and adores her new puppy as much as you and I could ever do your own real-life dog.
However, Mr. McTavish is unconvinced that he has done the right thing in agreeing to take this ‘naughty wee puppy’ into his home. Do you have sceptics in your home who vehemently objected to the acquisition of the dog but then fall completely under the puppy’s spell, pretend not to like him much but then start to pet and praise the puppy when they think nobody is watching? Well that’s the position with Mr. McTavish! He starts off by seeing the little dog as more of an inconvenience than the delightful companion that his wife loves.
Despite every effort to keep Bosley away from the wet paint, his curiosity, which always got the better of him, led him into the kitchen to sniff at the walls
Add into the mix that they run a bed and breakfast business in the Highlands and lots of different families are welcomed into their home - there is scope for lots to go wrong.
One real life incident which was translated into a story concerned the painting of our kitchen. We had chosen a ‘sunset orange’ colour really bright and daring to remind us of our holidays in Spain. Despite every effort to keep Bosley away from the wet paint, his curiosity, which always got the better of him, led him into the kitchen to sniff at the walls. In doing this he walked up against the walls - leaned into them even - so our white dog had beautiful orange highlights down the length of his body for a long while thereafter.
It was a little embarrassing taking him for a walk, until we bumped into other Westie owners. They however were entirely sympathetic and in conversation declared their own experiences that Westies are very strong minded little dogs, wilful and determined to do their own thing, they can be obedient if they choose to be but in any event, are fiercely loyal to their families. I managed to illustrate this in the last chapter of Bosley Beats the Burglars, when Bosley had to protect the whole family.
This is a guest essay by Wendy Brighton. You can read more about her work at www.petsareprecious.co.uk. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email email@example.com