My Hedgie

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Dashiell Dogget with Hedgie

‘My Hedgie’ is a work by Dashiell Doggett, as typed by Robert F. Bradford.

When I first arrived in these parts, with a new tiny lump over my right shoulder where something had been inserted under my skin and a very slight scar on my left hip next to the stumpy remains of my tail, all I had else was a furry grey/brown cloth hedgehog, who was to me like what I have observed of Two-Footers with their Teddy Bears and bottles.

The new Two-Footers called my only thing Hedgie. Until then, Hedgie neither had nor needed a name, no more than I had, although everyone through whose hands I passed had slapped some temporary label on me. It’s a habit they have.Because I retained considerable speed despite my not-quite-right left hip, I became Dash, as Hedgie and I were named and claimed.

“Most of the time, I keep Hedgie close, sometimes under my chin, sometimes at my shoulder”

Hedgie is mostly silent, but he does honk a very satisfying squonk if I bite or stomp him hard enough, and he doesn’t mind a bit of rough play, as long as I don’t tear at him, which I almost never do anymore. I used to, when we were both younger – mostly friendly roughhousing, but sometimes a bit vicious if I was angry or scared or nervous. And sometimes, when his nose was gone and his furry cloth hide was hanging in shreds, he would vanish and mysteriously reappear a few days later, whole but stripped of his smells, like a new body that had to be stunk up all over again.

This current incarnation, though, has been with me for several seasons now, and we’re both holding up pretty well. Okay, nose gone, but hide intact – much like my own. Just joking. This story would sound a different tone if my nose were not intact – but it’s not what it used to be. Most of the time, I keep Hedgie close, sometimes under my chin, sometimes at my shoulder. But when I’m off with the Walker Two-Footer, I station Hedgie at the feet of the Feeder Two-Footer, and when I am off with the Feeder, Hedgie guards the Walker in his lazy chair.

When they are in separate rooms, I take my post in the doorway between them. But when they are two or even (Great Dog help me!) three rooms apart, I guard the doorway of one, with Hedgie in my line of sight as close as possible to the other’s door. This helps my Two-Footers feel secure, and sometimes I can even nap, because Hedgie never does. Actually, I’m still nervous enough that I don’t know if I could sleep at all without Hedgie on sentry duty. You see, I started life in the streets and alleys of a strange distant city saturated with sweaty exotic smells and bustling Two-Footers.

One day, when I was just about full-grown and buoyed by the cockiness of youth, and the garbage pickings were scanty, I was chased by a cleaver-wielding shopwoman from whom I had snatched a sausage. I raced into the street, trying to put traffic between us, but I was clipped by a motorized three-wheeler. I awoke in a doggie hospital, minus my tail and a couple of other key parts. Soon thereafter, I was put in a cage just big enough to stand but not turn around in, and it was therein that Hedgie first joined me.

“Hedgie never scolds or yells at me. Hedgie never shakes Hedgie’s head and makes disappointed little tooth-tongue clicking noises”

Then they poked me with a needle, and I awoke in a very different land, where the palm trees meet the redwoods. It is a peaceful land, but it was still a very long time before I could even begin to relax. They say I’m a herder, and my first herd hereabouts said I was too high-strung and anxious, because I could never securely corral the kids scattered all around the too-big house, so I barked a lot, and they passed me on.

Now, when they come to visit – they and my Feeder are of the blood, mother/daughter plus pups and alpha – and then they leave me again, I must maintain my current herd, but I leave Hedgie outside by the driveway for a day or two, in case they try to find their way back.  When someone comes to the door, and I bark furiously to strike fear into the intruder, I am (usually) told to “Get Hedgie,” and I snatch Hedgie up in my jaws and trot over to assuage apprehensions and demonstrate that the guest is now part of the pack (or of the herd, depending on age, size, sharing of food or not, degree of imbecility, and so forth).

Hedgie never scolds or yells at me. Hedgie never shakes Hedgie’s head and makes disappointed little tooth-tongue clicking noises. Hedgie never abandons me for entire mornings, afternoon, or evenings, superfluously admonishing me to “Be a good watchdog, now.” Hedgie never underestimates my capacity for food, affection, fresh sniffs, and adventure. Hedgie never lets me out into the back yard and then forgets to let me back in. Hedgie never says “Not now, pal.”

On the other paw, Hedgie never barks nor raises a ruckus, which limits his value somewhat. Nonetheless, Hedgie is my mother connection, my baby brother, my kid sister, my ally, my stooge, my pet, my symbol, my sign, my alter ego, my sentinel, my mystical being, my pack, my herd, and my flunky.

Everybody needs a Hedgie.

This is a guest post by Dashiell Doggett, as typed by Robert F. Bradford. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

Dashiell Doggett is a mixed-breed herder who started life as a street dog in Taipei, and now lives in Sonoma County, California. Robert F. Bradford, his telepathic dictation translator and typist, has had many plays produced, stories and poems published, and songs recorded, and is an adjunct professor of English and Humanities at Dominican University of California.

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