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Donkin's World: A Dog's Life

"Donkin Life is very quickly becoming a dog's life. Pippa, our 10-week-old Jack Russell is chewing her way through our woodwork like a beaver on dam duty. I think she must understand her name now as Pippa-no,'' writes Richard Donkin.

I'm writing during a lull in hostilities as she naps on the bean bag. But sometime soon the barrage will start again and she'll be advancing once more with teeth like fixed bayonets. I wonder if our old Westie, Dougie, has been passing on a few tips about her owners as the old dog and new bitch share his bean bag: "The only thing these Donkins understand is cold steel - they do not like it up 'em. Take their treats and their kibbles and when you see the whites of their eyes let 'em have it. Show no mercy."

If he was to pass on such advice I'm sure it would only be to divert attention from himself. I think we've all been guilty of that these past few days - cowardice in the face of the enemy. Even the plants quake in their pots as she enters a room.

We should never anthropomorphise, but if I was to do so with this Jack Russell I'd compare her to a member of the Gurkha Brigade, small in stature but wiry, always with a friendly smile for anyone until sent in to battle. They say that nothing phases the Gurkha. Oh no? Try our new dog.

Pippa has started to dig around the holding slot for the clothes drier. The slot, embedded in the lawn, often gets overgrown with grass, so much so we can't always find it in the growing season. Well that problem is solved. It looks like a small bomb crater now.

All terriers dig. I remember when Dougie was a pup I would take him along to Chobham Rugby Club when the boys were playing their way through the minis sections. I'd stand on the touchline, watching the rough and tumble, dog on leash, only to look down and find a hole in the grass with a tail sticking out.

We've noticed the old dog has begun to dribble a bit this last day or so. Is it related to the new arrival or is it an old man's problem? The vet has asked for a urine sample. Oh yeah, give him the bottle and show him the loo door. I don't think so.The job of collecting the sample has been designated to Gill. Her first attempt, using a disposable pudding tray, was a flop. The dog is pee shy. Well, as a bloke who values his privacy in a public urinal, I can relate to that. One can easily get put off. So we'll leave it a while.

We're back on the training as I write and our pup's new name is Pippa-come. She's responding too. The sun is shining, the dogs are behaving, almost. We're in that good place - the place you see when you watch puppies in films and on TV - a place called Andrex. It's the place that prompts the kids to say: "We want a dog." It's the place that catches unwary parents off their guard. Don't go there. It's like that vision of a summer picnic in a pastel-shaded field. It doesn't show the wasps, the curled sandwiches, the upturned relish jars, the wine spills and the drenching rain. But that's life just now. We're living a dog's life and it's no picnic.


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