At the tail end of the year 2000 I rescued a mongrel puppy. Merlin entered my life with boundless enthusiasm and oceans of love! He loved walking on the Somerset Levels greeting other dogs and their owners with happy leaps of joy. He loved my cats, all six of them; he took care of the chickens and ducks, gently rounding them up for me each evening; he hero worshiped Troy-boy my nine year old Sheltie collie. He senses when people are feeling down, befriending them with mournful eyes, an offered paw. He is my best friend.
He does what I asks without me having to raise my voice; he understands wide variety of language; as well as sit, wait, stay, no, here, he also knows ‘get on the verge’, ‘leave it’, ‘be nice’ and many other vocal expressions. Occasionally he makes his own decisions. Lying quietly on the back seat of the car is not for him. He used to like standing on the passenger seat with his nose on the wind-screen until a bought an estate car with a dog guard and banished him to the boot. Perhaps being fully alert when travelling by car is understandable; he and 5 siblings were thrown out of a speeding car door on a Welsh motorway as 5 week old puppies, he being the sole survivor. He didn’t approve of my rule that dogs sleep in the kitchen. He likes to sleep near me, on my bed.
I’m not the only person who loves him; others are drawn to him. Many were delighted by his elegant dressage style trot, sadly now more of a stagger. Others charmed by his happy demeanour. When I moved to Dorset eight years ago strangers would smile at him or stop to stroke him. Many greeted him by name, his owner ignored!
He has given me numerous wonderful experiences and taught me lessons over the sixteen years plus we have been together. Now he is teaching me patience. This is not one of my virtues, as I mentioned in my blog about the egret. He is now very old; deaf, almost blind with stiff arthritic limbs, his dressage trot long gone. He used to be most particular about where he did his business wading into the undergrowth to do it; now he leaves a trail of pooh down my front path, or the hall carpet or kitchen whenever he feels the need. He still wants to go out for walks but now they are terminally slow and short, he can spend five minutes investigating one smell. We have to be so very patient, my Jack Russell and me and sometimes it is hard.
At Christmas he nearly died, after 30 hours on a drip at the Vet’s it seemed the final needle was the only option; he refused to eat, drink or even stand up. I brought him home to die. But within hours he perked up, got himself down the garden for a wee, ate a hearty meal and asked to go out for a walk. He is still with me five months later. He wakes me up at night. I often need to carry him up hills or steps. He restricts me going away on holiday; I can’t leave him for more than a few hours but I don’t mind one bit! Every day I have him is a bonus and a privilege.
I learn a great deal from nature and the wild life around me, but my beloved Merlin has taught me so much more.