A most unwanted dog

Today I had to have my little Yorkie-X Dylan (known as Dills or Dillsie to his friends) put to sleep. He was elderly (at least 14, perhaps a few years older) and had been ill for some time, gradually it all got too much for him, and although he'd seemed to be improving, over the last few days he'd become more and more confused, had stopped eating (formerly his favourite occupation), and was becoming increasingly wobbly on his legs.

So this morning I made the decision, and phoned the vets, then I took him for a walk with his best friend Alfie Spaniel. Dills only pottered about a bit, he was carried most of the time, but he had time to walk, and stick his nose in the grass, and breathe in the scents and the beauty of the fields and the riverbank. Every step was imbued with memories - d'you remember running back to the car here? D'you remember the day you beat up a dog three times your size who'd attacked Alfie? D'you remember the first time you came to me when I called you here?

You see, I really didn't want Dills. He was the first dog in my life that I didn't want. I had Alfie Spaniel and we were very happy together. We'd been together for five years, I'd intended to get another dog but it never happened. And then the new neighbours moved in. They were a weird couple, he drank like the proverbial fish, she seemed to be perpetually in hysterics. Then they separated and she got a dog, a Yorkie-X from the local dog-pound. He was a grumpy little dog, he barked at me, and growled at Alfie Spaniel (who's a sweetie), and one day, when I discovered that Her Next Door had stolen my lawnmower and went to retrieve it, the little beast went for my ankles. A sharp "Don't you dare, Sonny Jim" stopped him in his tracks, but he still looked like a cartoon dog, or perhaps Wiley Coyote sharpening his teeth in preparation for the Road Runner. 

It was a few weeks after that towards the end of summer that I began to feel that there was something rather wrong. I was playing frisbee with Alfie in the back garden, and there was a barbecue going on next door. I was suddenly aware that I was being watched. And there was the little dog watching me through the fence, he looked so longing, and then I realised that no-one was taking any notice of him, no-one talked to him, or made a fuss of him, or even told him to get out of the way. I was a little concerned but it seemed such a silly thing, and there seemed to be nothing to be done about it.

Summer turned to autumn and then to winter, Her Next Door seemed to be around less and less, I would sometimes see Small Dog in the garden but he always ignored me and continued to growl at Alfie. He started to bark more, and then one horrible day in December I was home from work ill and feeling sorry for myself. Kind neighbour knocked on the door and told me that Her Next Door had moved out but had left Small Dog behind. Initially I wasn't that concerned, I just said that she must be coming back to collect him later, but neighbour was adamant that he had been abandoned. I said I'd keep a lookout for him.

A little later I heard barking, and I went out the back, he was standing in the garden in the pouring rain howling his heart out. His coat was down to the ground, wet and matted, so thin, and then he turned round, looked so despondent and disappeared back through the cat flap. The look broke my heart.

I watched the back door like a hawk, and the next time he appeared I managed to get the gate open, shoved a tin of Pedigree Chum under his nose, and lured him inside. He wolfed down the tin, growled at Alfie and then devoured a second tin. I told him off for being nasty to Alfie, and then shut him in the conservatory where he could see Alfie and I on the sofa in the lounge. He looked at us so longingly, so after more warnings he was allowed into the lounge, and it was so clear that he wanted nothing more than a cuddle, so there he was on the sofa next to me, and he stank, God he stank(!), and he was so thin, and I felt so guilty that I hadn't realised how badly he was being treated. I promised him then that if his owner came back, I'd fight her for him. My nice neighbour came round later, and said that neighbour had returned and that she'd told her that I would take him in, and so Dennis, re-named Dylan, joined the household.

I contacted the dog-pound that he was originally homed from, and had Dylan re-registered in my name, and he was officially part of the family. The first few months with him were difficult. The first time he was let off the lead he bolted back to the car and was nearly run over. It made me suspicious that a previous time when he'd been abandoned he'd been dumped from a car. All I know is that he was found wandering the streets of Huntingdon alone and unwanted, and then was abandoned again next door to me. He never came when he was called, until one day I called him, and hid in the long grass at the side of the riverbank dragging a bemused Alfie Spaniel into hiding too. Sure enough it worked and a curious Dills found us much to Alfie's delight who licked the poor little chap from head to tail. He was dripping wet! Dills had evidently been adopted by his big little brother.

The breakthrough happened when I called him a few days later on the riverbank. You could suddenly see the connection happening in his head: "Dylan? I'm Dylan? I'm Dylan! She wants me!" and he threw himself down the bank at top speed towards me, with such a look of joy on his face. I think it was at that moment that we truly bonded and he became a most wanted dog.


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