Monday, August 29, 2016

The Piper voices many tunes

Time races by; as one gets older the weeks pass like days, months pass as quickly as weeks and, years breast the finishing tape just as one’s getting used to the present year’s number. Thinking back to childhood days, each passing term-time seemed trudgingly ponderous, as I yearned for the next holiday break from school; one annual visit from Santa Claus meant an eternities wait until the next festive excitement.

Anyway, the haste with which the weeks pass by is presented as my excuse for the paucity of blog postings from yours truly. Each day I promise myself that tomorrow may be the day I settle down to composing a post but, these promises are usually of the same order as those made by Owen Smith during the present unnecessary contest for the Labour Party leadership!

Now, “follow that”, I say to myself, concerned that by the time I settle down any reportage will already be out of date. Sleepless, discomforted, nights abed have once again become a norm, or at least, the briefest of snoozes is swiftly curtailed by nauseating discomfort on far too many occasions of late. Somehow, eleven hours of bed rest leaves me totally unrefreshed, my deepest sleep usually being attained from around the time I should be breaking my (nocturnal) fast!

Piper, our ‘schnuffelhund’* (actually mixed breed with a predominance of beagle) is therapeutically filling a lot of my waking hours, working miracles when I’m feeling at my lowest ebb of physical and emotional stamina. I can no longer imagine a family home without him. At times he becomes a Jesus dog, (literally) washing his disciples (Helen & myself) feet, as he rests alongside our respective reclining forms on the sofa. He has already familiarized himself with many local pathways and bridleways and, he’s determined to direct his walking attendant towards his preferred course of progress.

Although he runs and ambles freely in the garden, we’re reluctant to release him from lead and harness on our outings; his desire to follow any interesting scent, regardless of where it may lead, could lead to frustrations and alone-ness for considerable periods of time for his attendant / handler. It’s always difficult to know how he will greet any other canine in the vicinity, lots of friendly mutual sniffing can so easily switch to a bold growling, or even snarling, disposition if memories of earlier beastly attackers occur. (We not infrequently are witness to his bad dreams and, he still bears scars, on head and body, from the severe maulings he received in his Spanish pound years).

What amazes me most about our therapeutic miracle is the range of voicings he uses to express his emotional needs and fulfilments; a soft, low, purring growl denotes contentment as he snuggles up to his human companion/s, a more sustained rolling growl denotes the approach of visitors o the house whilst a more positive bark is reserved for feline or human intrusions on what he considers his territory.

A whistling nasal whine is Piper’s lament when his mistress leaves the house without him but, this swiftly settles when a.n.other proffers him due attention. An anticipated walk brings forth a yelping bark, accompanied by a hip wiggling tail wagging dance. A gentle whine as he wanders through the dining area may symbolise his desire to run out into the garden but, when he suspect his meal is being prepared an excited bark (less baritone than that of territorial declamation) accompanied by full-body wiggle expresses his preparedness.

His sheer range of expressiveness is sufficient to boggle one’s human mind!


* ‘schnuffelhund’ my own personal nomenclature for Piper’s breed

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