For something new and different I bought myself a Norfolk Terrier. Her name is Dolly; she is four and a half months old. It wasn’t impulsive because it took me about a year to get a pup, but it all started because I knew a breeder in Florida who knew a breeder in Virginia so here she is, finally, asleep on the blue and green pillows on the sofa that used to belong to my brother. As my husband always says, “Our ends don’t know our beginnings.” When he returns home from work tonight, I need to ask him what this means. After twenty years of marriage I am not sure I understand.
What’s it like living with a Norfolk terrier puppy? Probably not too different from other pups though it’s a whole new world to me. My two beloved cats died over the past few years; my Jack Russell, Weesie, long gone but not forgotten. For starters, I now go outside to my front yard in a thick robe and gardening shoes about 4 to 4:30 every day and believe me, what a stage set. The sky is horror movie black and strange things rustle and whir in the holly trees. In the house I have three pens in three rooms; old rough and unloved towels cover sofas and dog beds. A pair of wooden steps trot up to a couch; the steps used to be a plant holder. When you have an eight-pound puppy, stairs are de rigueur.
Chew toys decorate the floors and luckily, stepping on them is not as bad as wiping out on my daughter’s Legos used to be. Every day I plan an outing as much as for my sanity as Dolly’s – a nursery, Fido Park Avenue Dog Boutique, visiting a friend who has a quiet dog or can sequester all pets in her backyard. Today we tried to go to the post office however, she was tearing up the inside of her soft crate so I gave up and drove home. Other days we run errands and she’s draped over my shoulder in a Sherpa carrier; she seems happy taking in the scenery and yet yesterday, she growled at a cooing lady in the stationery store. I’m afraid to go to the big city parks here in Richmond insofar as too many people let their dogs off leashes. (I heard a Huskie damn near killed a dog at the county dog park the other day where owners are asked to take their dogs off leads.) A friend told me now that I am a dog owner I will meet a lot of smart dogs with stupid owners so Pip Pip to them.
Dolly is a creature of discerning tastes. She prefers to chew on the bottom of my antiques, especially a pretty French pearwood table that I paid a fortune for. And of course, nothing beats my husband’s shoelaces.
She was the wee one in the litter and I am not sure how much more she will grow. (The breeder said with purebreds you don’t use the word runt. Given what I paid for Dolly, I tend to agree with this. The price was more than a dress I recently bought for a wedding, less than a crown.)
A long time ago, when my daughter was a baby, a friend advised, “You will have a great day as long as you do what the baby wants to.”’ These words ring true for Dolly.
She likes Turner Classic movies, thinks the Tennis Channel is dull, unfortunately for me enjoys a cartoon named “Peg and Cat.” She often barks at her reflection in our seventies-style fireplace screen, and sirens and the neighbor’s large black something of a dog scare her. She loves snacking on the worms in the street, particularly the dried ones. Dolly does not know a stranger: the other day I walked a half block south because she figured out someone was having a party. This week whenever she meets someone new, she immediately rolls on her back for a tummy rub. Great watchdog.
This morning my husband left sausage on the stovetop so I decided to make myself a nice breakfast: scrambled eggs, a bagel, that precious second cup of coffee. Once I’d beat the eggs, Dolly wanted to go outside so we did; I came back in, cooked the eggs, and sat down for a lovely meal in my sunroom – birds twittering, spring finally on the way. Just then, Dolly started tugging on my bathrobe belt and she pulled so hard she was half pulling me off my chair; I ended up finishing breakfast over the sink. Living with a Norfolk puppy I decided is like living with the most fun person you ever met and one of the kids from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Not sure which one because Dolly is a heck of a lot sweeter than Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee, or Augustus Gloop were.
The only thing that makes me nervous, forget the chewed-on antiques, the lack of sleep, watching “Pet and Cat”, is something I read in what is considered the bible on Norfolk Terriers, the late Joan Read’s The Norfolk Terrier, published in 1994. “Norfolks are like peanuts,” she wrote. “It’s hard to have just one.”