The ways of the dog are many and strange, and their lives are full of little rituals. Chopper’s day is a complex pattern of naps, snacks, farewells and greetings. His day has two major highlights: the Walk and the Return of the Other Parent, which is an incredibly important thing, since this triggers that blissful word “Teatime”.
Sometimes I think he is more OCD than ACD*, and this is why:
1. 6.30am. Get up, eat breakfast, ignore the parent who has fed him, rush upstairs and lick the other parent on the nose, then settle down for a nap.
2. At 7.45am precisely, leave the bedroom and resume napping on the sofa downstairs.
3. At 8am, tour the garden for signs of intruders, scratch at the doormat until it has turned precisely 90 degrees from its original position, stretch luxuriously, with every appearance of having completed an exhausting and complex task, and retire to the sofa for another nap.
4. 12 noon. Bark at the postman, whether or not he is delivering to us.
5. 12.30. Demand a walk. During this process, the stairs must be run up and down twice before the lead is attached.
6. 1.00pm. Demand a treat. This must be eaten outside, and the back door must be used as an exit, regardless of whether the patio door is open. In cases of extreme bad weather, this may be eaten on one of the living room rugs, but only on the left hand one, never on the right hand one.
7. 1.05pm to 3pm. Nap time.
8. 3pm. Demand cuddle.
9. 3.05pm. Demand another treat. When this is refused, throw dog bedding around the room, then suddenly lose interest, and fall asleep in the middle of the mess.
10. 5.50pm. Stand with ears pricked in the living room, and remain so until the car can be heard returning to the driveway. Hurl himself at the returning parent and attempt to disembowel him, then demand a treat.
11. 6.00pm. Lie outside the kitchen in an attitude of terminal starvation
12. 6.01pm. Eat dinner.
13. 6.30pm. Whine disconsolately and drool until one parent cracks and offers another treat. Sometimes this is given to him in a puzzle ball, which he attacks with grim determination, and the definite impression that he would be swearing under his breath if he had the right kind of vocal chords.
14. 11.30pm. Bedtime. Run downstairs, exit the house, turn straight round and run upstairs again and wait for the final biscuit of the day.
15. 2.00am. Wake up. Remember that he hasn’t had a pee. Bark at the back door until someone lets him out.
– – – – at least we know where we are with him!
*ACD = Australian Cattle Dog