Sleeping Spaniel Anthony Gardner

Pop’s Tail

This is Matty’s kennelmate, Pop. As you can see, she is not a dog like other dogs. In fact, she bears a remarkable resemblance to a character out of Dr Seuss.

Pop is above all an enthusiast. As a fellow traveller at Penrith Station remarked, ‘If I had a pound for every time that dog wags its tail, I’d be a rich man.’ She is also very friendly, particularly if she thinks you have food about your person, and is likely to jump into your lap in Scooby-Doo-like fashion. Her pedigree claims that she is a pure-bred Cocker spaniel, but her eccentric behaviour suggests that a springer gene may have infiltrated the blood line. Actually, judging from the shagginess of her coat, there could be some sheep or bear in there as well.

No great claims can be made for her intellect. She is a gung-ho chaser of tennis balls, but has not worked out that she needs to watch their flight in order to intercept them. Instead, she will gallop off in the general direction of where she thinks the ball might go, and is then very surprised when it doesn’t arrive.

We bought Pop as a puppy four years ago, partly in the hope of perking up Matty, then aged ten. To begin with, Matty was distinctly cheesed off, but she eventually softened, and is now only bad-tempered towards Pop at meals (see the Dinner Time post below). Pop, for her part, puts up with Matty’s crabbiness and becomes deeply jealous if any other dogs show an interest in her elderly companion. Her solution is to bounce up and down, barking as loudly as she can to monopolise Matty’s attention; but as Matty is deaf, this generally serves only to attract other dogs, making the whole process counter-productive. Occasionally, though, the bouncing has an effect, and the two will go careering off together – and for a precious moment Matty looks once more like the fun-loving animal she used to be.

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Anthony Gardner

Anthony Gardner is an Irish author and journalist based in London. He edits the Royal Society of Literature’s magazine RSL and has written for a wide variety of British, Irish and American magazines and newspapers, including the Sunday Times Magazine, Intelligent Life and Slightly Foxed. He was previously deputy editor of Harpers & Queen

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