Monday, August 4, 2008

Crossing the Rubicon

Pif is basic dog... in the same sense that the celebrated 2-horsepower Citroën used to be described as basic car. You get your money's worth, but there are no extras. Canine critics might say that his ears are too floppy, his tail too massive, and that he's too high on his rear legs. His rectangular snout and wide mouth remind me of a dredge used to remove mud from a river. As for his education, let's just forget about it. In spite of all these faults, or maybe because of them, I find Pif adorable. It's a pleasure, every morning around nine, when I hear the tinkle of his paws on the wooden stairs leading up to my computer. He darts into my lap, and licks my face rapidly, then he scrambles down to the ground floor to initiate a new day of intense and profound bodily and mental contact with Pif's guru goddess: my dear Sancta Sophia.

All this would be nice and orderly except for the fact that Pif started acting yesterday, in the late afternoon, as if he might be contemplating a kind of crossing of the Rubicon. To put it bluntly, Pif indicated explicitly to his mistress, Alison, that he was quite happy down at my place, with Sophia, and that he didn't particularly wish to go home.

This evening, the same thing happened. Alison bowled in on her scooter, as usual, and ordered her dog to follow her back up the hill, to their home. But Pif didn't agree. He stayed put at Gamone. I suggested to Alison that, if she were to accept the idea of Pif wearing the red collar I gave him a fortnight ago, she might be able to lead him calmly back home. But it was Alison who started to get hot around the collar, declaring sillily that it was intolerable that her dog didn't obey her. The truth of the matter, of course, is that Pif is perfectly happy here, on our soft clover lawn, in the company of a wise and adept female [Sophia], not to mention a kind meat-eating friend [me, the alpha dog], and that he's smart enough to figure out that little can be gained by trotting back up to the stark house from which his mistress Alison is usually absent.

Finally, I told Alison that I would try to "launch" Pif on the homeward journey. She would start off back home on her scooter while I would race alongside with Pif in my arms. Then her dog would run alongside us, attached to a lead. Finally, in mid-action, I gave the lead to Alison and the two of them went trotting off home together, successfully.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm aware that the scenario is likely to be similar. Be you Caesar, or be you Pif, once you've decided to go beyond a point of no return, you don't look backwards. What I'm hoping is that Alison might be smart enough to park her bloody scooter, walk down here, take up Pif in her arms, kiss him fondly, carry him back up to her place and treat him to a nice welcome-home dish of raw meat.

Now, there might be Freudians in the audience who imagine that I see myself in the role of Pif. No way. Through her skills with horses and her behavior, Alison is indeed a splendid specimen of what we used to call a tomboy back in rural Australia. Amused readers who knew me as an adolescent might well imagine superficial associations with my marvelous Graftonian friends Anne F [a celebrated horsewoman, deceased in 2006] and Alison G [my first female object of adoration and desire]. No, sadly, Pif and I, not to mention my neighbor Alison, are truly not in the same ballpark as these mythical female creatures of my youth, of another age.


  1. Are you sure that you won't like to keep Pif with you?

  2. Pif, who's jet black, reminds me at times of my first dog at Gamone: a male named Bruno. I now know that it's hard to keep a male dog at home when you live, like my neighbors and me, on unfenced properties. Even when he's here at my place, Pif spends time exploring all around, visiting the donkeys and billy-goat. My neighbor Madeleine is already worried (rightly so) that, sooner or later, Pif will discover her female Briska when she's in a sexually receptive state, and tear a hole in their wire fence to get at her. So, I would not be happy to take responsibility for a male dog at Gamone. In the worst possible scenario (such as that of my Bruno), a roaming male dog in a wild environment such as Choranche simply disappears, and you never know what happened to him.

    I can understand that, for Alison, it's reassuring to have a dog in her house. But she should have built him an external yard. In any case, her problems are temporary. It's planned that, next month, she and Pif will be moving to Spain. Between now and then, all I'm hoping is that she'll solve the problem of her two horses, which are still stationed at my place.

    I have to be careful about criticizing the case of stray animals, because I'm constantly aware of the fact that descendants of my original sheep flock have been roaming the neighboring mountain for the last two years.

  3. I found if very interesting that you mentioned Alison G from your days in Grafton. Alison and I would go to her father's stables after school and saddle up Pie and Dolly the thoroughbred's companions.
    We would take the horses up to the open space behind the old Grafton Railway Station to canter, gallop and jump over small logs. She gave me an appreciation of horses and today my husband and I own a lovely white (grey) stock pony called Clyde, a companion for our Border Collie called Bonnie.
    Sandie.K ex GHS