I wrote this a year ago on my old blog. I think it’s worth sharing again in the lead up to a new blog feature I’ll be introducing...
When my best friend and I were 13, we dreamed of sharing a big house with a menagerie of mutts. Toy poms and huskies for her, golden retrievers and ridgebacks for me.
Last night we watched Marley & Me … Two of the most unsentimental 27 year-old women on the planet sniffling away in the cinema, our hearts aching for the dogs we’ve loved.
I desperately scratched in my bag for the one tissue I had. I held it up and carefully tore it in half, handing the other piece to Leanne. We looked at each other and laughed at ourselves through snotty tears. Leanne said to me afterwards, “The movie must’ve been sadder for you. Marley looks like Prince.”
Prince (aka The Dog Formerly Known As Slobber Chops) was my childhood dog, a gorgeous golden retriever with soft fur and the patience of a mother.
I was eight and my brother five when we brought Prince home. Dad grumbled about paying R300 for a dog, but Mom insisted retrievers were good with children. As always, my mother was right.
Why all kids (& moms) should have a dog like Prince:
- We would sit on a dinner tray, hold Prince’s tail and throw a piece of food down the corridor for him to chase. Hours of fun during school holidays.
- Being a retriever, Prince needed to carry something whenever you arrived home. My mother gave him her keys and he would drop these somewhere in the house. Hours of playing ‘find Mommy’s keys’ while mommy relaxed.
- When we got a pool, we would watch Prince dive spread-eagled into the water to retrieve various items – including us. Hours of lifeguard duty.
- Prince would eat anything (except veggies); we called him the vacuum cleaner. Vaseline Intensive Care Cream was one of his favourite foods, squeezed straight from the bottle into his mouth. Hours of hysterical childhood laughter.
- When we got a dishwashing machine, it was just the right height for Prince to lick all the juicy tidbits off the plates. My mother called this “the pre-wash cycle”. Hours of dish-rinsing time saved.
- Whenever we got home, Prince ran around wagging his tail with delirious delight. One day the garage door slammed and nicked the tip of his tail off. Prince carried on wagging obliviously… Hours of telling school friends how our house looked like a horror movie.
- When I was a depressed teenager, I kept my sanity by going for long walks at night with Prince by my side. Hours of free therapy.
- Before leaving for work, my mother often left a frozen chicken or margarine tub to defrost in the sink. Often, it disappeared. Eventually the garden service called to ask why there were frozen chickens and margarine tubs decomposing in our hydrangea bush. Hours of amusement when retelling this story.
Prince died just before my 21st birthday. That’s 13 years of unconditional love and memories that inform my childhood. How many people can you say that about?