Our family has grown.
We’ve been talking about getting another dog for some time, and this year we bit the bullet. At the end of September Audrey joined our ranks. Another Jack Russell (God help us).
She’s sweet, feisty, jumpy (fair dinkum springs in her legs), cuddly (so nice), likes to hang around us and not get too far away (fantastic!). She’s full of energy, and full-on but then again, she’s a puppy. I keep reminding myself of this fact. She will mature. And as she matures, she’ll calm down. Right?
She’s incredibly fast and agile. Just quietly, I think she might do OK in the annual Dog Jumping Competition at our local Show in March. Which reminds me, must start training now. She’s a digger (not so good) and she’s a swimmer, which is great, but she’s one of those no-fear / no idea swimmers, so it makes me nervous.
Take this week for example.
On Tuesday evening, at 6.30pm, still 34C, Audrey was quietly sitting on the verandah but I could hear Jones barking hysterically some distance away. Unlike him to travel, so I figured I’d better go and retrieve him before it gets too late. He was obviously fixated on something, and of course there’s the ever-present concern that it could be a snake causing the hysteria.
Off I trudge in my crocs, Audrey in tow and my girlfriend Pearcey in my ear ‘friends don’t let friends wear crocs Bec’, out our gate, across to our neighbours, under two fences and through 2 paddocks down to their dam. Hot, damn hot.
I’m momentarily distracted by a green ant bite on my foot (searing pain up my leg – why do they hurt SO much?), before I catch sight of Jones fleetingly, through the undergrowth, skirting the edge of the dam, barking, agitated, frantic.
From the dam’s edge I scan the water lily covered surface searching for his target. Suddenly a ruffle of green and a head pops up, some 8-10 meters away. The head of a water dragon perhaps, it’s hard to tell. Whatever it is, he has Jones going crazy. But see Jones, Captain Sensible (for the most part) knows not to swim after the head. Much better to bark madly from the safety of the shore, venturing in up to his now muddy belly and then back again. Hoping, hoping that the poor creature will come to him?
Audrey, on the other hand, hurtles straight in. I don’t know if she’s spotted the head, but she’s off, in that vague direction. ‘AUDREY’, I yell desperately, knowing that swimming in amongst those lily pads will not be easy. I’ve seen her do it in our dam and she gets stuck. ‘AUDREY’ I scream at the back of her head as she swims away from me, unperturbed.
She’s swimming toward the now submerged head, then turns ‘COME HERE’, and then shifts back again, away from me, ‘NOOO!!’. Round and around she goes, presumably searching for the culprit, trying to help Jones perhaps. Jones is still barking excitedly. ‘DON’T ENCOURAGE HER’ I spit at him. She’s getting tangled in the reedy waters. She’s slowing down.
After what feels like minutes, Audrey finally turns to swim back in my direction. She’s sluggish and labouring.
By now, I’m hanging out over the edge of the dam, holding on to a branch, reaching out to her, desperately beseeching (is that tautology? Anyway, you get the picture) her to come to me. She’s still too far out.
Audrey is no longer gaining ground, or water as the case may be. She’s paddling as hard as she can, but she’s stuck, tangled, caught in the underwater lily stems. She’s sinking. ‘OH MY GOD AUDREY!’
The whole time I’m shaking, and thinking: Do I have to jump in this murky, muddy dam? I can’t see the bottom? What’s in there? Am I watching Audrey drown? Is she drowning? Help me somebody! But nobody’s here Bec. DO SOMETHING!!!
Audrey’s ears go under. All I can see is her nose and eyes. She’s looking at me, eyes wide and frenzied and panicked. I don’t know what I’m saying / screaming / yelling at this point, but given how sore my throat was afterward, I’m certainly surprised my neighbours didn’t hear me.
With my crocs flicked clear some time ago, I let go of the tree branch and plunge into the murky, muddy depths. My legs disappear up to my thighs in the soft squelchy sucky mud, the water is up to my chest. A sea of bubbles erupt around me. I have time to think, what the hell caused that? WHAT IS IN HERE?! I lunge forward with my upper body, my legs impossible to shift, but I still can’t reach her.
One final determined stretch and I snatch her out of the water by the scruff of her sodden neck.
Holding her fiercely into my chest, I somehow manage to extract my legs from the gunk and scramble back up on the bank. Audrey, exhausted, hangs limply in my arms.
Unable to carry both dogs home, I use my voice to direct Jones. I growl and bark at him so savagely he spins on his heels and darts off for home.
He knows he’s in trouble. He won’t even look at me for his post-trauma, muddy photo shots.
Oh, and if only that were where the story ended.
Gates latched, dogs in the garden, I shed my saturated, muddy clothes on the verandah and tippy-toe through our french doors into our bedroom and our ensuite for a shower. My foot on fire, I realise the dam episode (or rather, damn episode) has provided a distraction from my green ant bite, at least?
Scrubbing the sticky mud from my skin and from under my toe nails, and from… how did it get in so many places?, all while quietly sobbing to myself, a commotion unfolds in the bedroom. I turn to look through the shower screen and doorway to see Audrey leaping with lightening, feverish speed, right onto our bed. Mud everywhere. Her wet path was clear to see. She’d scrapped through the front door, left ajar, shaken herself to leave most of the mud on the floor and up the walls, skidded and slid through the house, into our bedroom and up, up, up and down, down, down onto the very middle. Of. Our. Bed.
I run, wet and naked from the bathroom, scoop her up rush out onto the verandah. ‘AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
‘I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO DIE, I SAVED YOU!! I LOVE YOU!! AND NOW I WANT TO KILL YOU!’
I guess that’s life with a puppy. Right there.