Growing Up with An Alpha Dog

Dogs can be really clever. And also annoying.

When I was growing up, we had a black-and-white Collie called Bob who was “a law unto himself” as my mother would say.

Bob wasn’t allowed on my parents’ bed as it had a fancy covering. We would walk outside and look in the bedroom window and see Bob enjoying a relaxing sprawl on this bed – but by the time we’d got in the house, there was Bob pretending to be asleep in the hall.

Most of the time he did what he liked, but at least he respected us all enough to pretend to obey and be a “good boy”.

As he got older, however, this respect faded.

He would detect one of us was going out. He wanted to come along too; he fancied a trip, a day out. So he would bolt through the front door as it was opened for departure, and dash to the car. He knew which car the person owned. He would then lie under one of the wheels to prevent the car being driven off.  As soon as the car door was opened, he’d dive in, and off everyone would go. With Bob.

Bob

Of course, people tried to outwit Bob – there was the leaving by the back door ploy, the decoy ploy (where one bribes a sister to pretend to be going out, allowing one to sneak out the back door and make a getaway), and the sudden change of car ploy… Bob soon twigged to all our tricks.

As the youngest, I didn’t drive a car. One time I got myself spruced up to go out to a disco, left the house by my bedroom window (this was quite normal for me), and was heading to the busstop when I felt a “bobness”. I was aware of a sound and movement behind me – but when I looked back – nothing.

I got to the stop. Nothing seemed amiss. The bus came and I got on. To my horror, on the bus, next to me was Bob. The bus had pulled out and we were on our way. Damn. Bob was coming on my date.

What to do about this? I thought I might be able to get off the bus without him – or perhaps I could pretend to be getting off – allowing him to dash off ahead, then perhaps begging the driver to close the door and drive off – but I knew he’d beat me. He was a darned clever old sheepdog.

We got off at the next stop, and walked back home, Bob seemed happy, and grateful for the adventure. I made sure he was locked in the kitchen, and went to get the next bus.

It was all going according to plan. The Bus came, I got on, I checked – and I was Bobless. Freedom!

Three miles later I got off the bus and walked toward the disco, which was in a church hall. I met a couple of pals heading the same way, and we relaxed, fooled around, joking and laughing as we joined the crowd and queue to get in.

The Bouncer looked right at me and said, “You can’t come in with a dog.”

I was bewildered – then I saw Bob, sitting looking up at me.

“That’s not my dog, mister!” I blurted out.

My pals and I got in, the Bouncer somehow managed to stop the dog getting in.

“Wasn’t that Bob – your dog?” a pal asked me.

“Well, yes, but dog’s aren’t allowed in – what was I supposed to do? Go home?”

“Why did you bring him then?”

“I didn’t! He must have got loose and followed the bus here!” I wailed.

My plan was to ignore Bob, and pretend that he wasn’t sitting outside waiting to follow me home. He can bloomin’ well sit there all night until I am good and ready to leave – that’s what I thought.

And so I queued for cola and crisps, chatted to my date, danced a bit, fooled around with my pals… then, suddenly, in the middle of the dancefloor, was a barking dog.

How embarrassing. All hell broke loose, the dog ducked and dived, people tried to catch the dog, I made a run for it…

In the end, Bob and I were thrown out of the hall, and we went home together on the bus. Bob was delighted – pleased as punch he was, tail wagging, tongue licking, happy as could be at his first disco experience. I was crushed to think about school on Monday.

Having a dog like Bob was character building. I learned that it was possible to both love and hate someone at the same time. That dog was richter-scale annoying, a Nobel sized pest, an Olympic nuisance.

And decades after he passed away, I still miss him.

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