One day Dad went out and got us a puppy. She was small and wide and very wiggly. Dad was told that she was a cattledog cross kelpie. But as she grew (or failed to grow) we deduced that the kelpie was something much more like a corgie.
I can’t quite remember why but we called her Snitch. She may have stolen the odd bit of food off the BBQ or off the table but I’m sure that came after her name. She was loyal, caring and just a little bit snappy if you touched her tummy. When I would come home from school (I was a latch key kid), I would go to the space under the cottoneaster bush where she was tied to her kennel. Her little tail would wag so hard that her whole body got shuffled from side to side. When I was upset, I remember her coming to sit beside me to see if I was okay.
In the evenings, by the potbelly stove, Dad used to put her on his lap, her back leaning into his chest with her short little legs poking out in front, and put his half-glasses on her nose. Her pointy ears would lay back and she would look quite aristocratic. Other times, Dad would blow gently on her nose and eventually, after several warning licks, she would snap. She never quite got his nose. I don’t know whether that was because Snitch was too nice or Dad was too quick.
As a puppy, she did the usual puppy things. She chewed the head of my favourite doll. She tore up soft toys we left on the floor. I’m sure she must’ve eaten a few pieces of LEGO. Later on (when Snitch was about three years old) we got another dog – a black Labrador cross. Snitch trained the new dog carefully. As the lab grew bigger and bigger, Snitch used all her wiles to stay in charge. In chasing games, Snitch would grab the lab by its back leg, a brilliant tackling maneuver. If the lab was lying down post-tackle, Snitch would back her wide little rump in, figuring she was safest that way. Luckily, I don’t think the lab was inclined to insurrection. But if there was even the slightest hint of rebellion, we would hear Snitch’s warning growl and see her standing over the lab’s head, teeth about its muzzle.
Snitch lived around ten years before dying of cancer. She was the first dog I remember us having and she will always be a favourite.
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