Let’s talk about Rhubarb. She’s my 6 year old Cocker Spaniel and she is as crazy, temperamental and sassy as they come. She was born on the 6 December 2013 and arrived in our lives on the 1 February 2014. I’ll never forget that first day my husband and I brought her home, she was so timid and gentle, sniffing out her new surroundings and deciding whether her new parents were up to the job.
On the 2 February 2014 we discovered that we weren’t.
Her transformation overnight from angel to devil was unbelievable and for the 3 years that followed, whilst she brought me joy, she also pushed me to the very limit of what I thought I could cope with. I questioned daily, if not hourly, why I had been cursed with this devil-dog hybrid.
Paul and I had discussed getting a dog for a long time and we felt we were ready to take that next step. We loved the outdoors and walking in the countryside, but it felt wasted without a four-legged friend to share it with. I obviously researched the whole process thoroughly and read everything I needed to know about the breed. Rhubarb is a proper pedigree pooch that we paid a pretty penny for (which I remind her of when she answers me back – not that she cares!), she is from a healthy and hip-scored litter and is kennel club registered. Surely all of this careful research and planning would result in becoming the proud owner of the most adorable and well-behaved puppy in town… or so you would think?
In those early weeks, Rhubarb was quickly nicknamed ‘hooligan’ by a family friend and I think it’s a name that described her perfectly. She was a thug – plain and simple. She would bite, scratch, rip, growl, bark and curse at us every day. She could chew through a lead in 8 seconds flat and did so at regular intervals and then she’d have your hand for dessert. The first day we left her alone in the house and out of her cage, she chewed through the plasterboard of our rented kitchen which led to her incarceration in an outdoor pen for the many months that followed.
During a walk one pleasant evening she ate a flattened, crispy, dead frog/toad in one quick inhalation. It turns out, the distinction between a frog and a toad is quite important as toads are incredibly poisonous to our fury friends. We found this delightful titbit of information out whilst on the phone to the vets in a mad panic…and spent the next 8-12 hours worrying about whether or not she was going to kick the bucket. Fast forward five years and Rhubarb is still with us so I can only assume it was a frog she snaffled. Who knows?
She would throw tantrums when she couldn’t jump on the sofa, climb the stairs or rip your face off. And when I say tantrums I mean TANTRUMS. We’re talking full-blown scream the house down, bite and thrash about like a great-white out of water type tantrums. My husband would go to battle with her whilst I would sit on my bed and cry.
Then one day I took her to a new training class (she was thrown out of the first one – go figure) and something in her, and me, changed. We worked together solidly for two months and I learnt tips and tricks to remind her she was a dog and I began to understand her a little better too.
And as they say, the rest is history. I mean not completely because she is still fiercely independent, annoyingly stubborn and a violent young troublemaker. But she is also the love of my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t tell her I love her. She greets me when I return home like it’s the first time she has ever seen me. She doesn’t tell anyone my secrets and always listens to me when I tell her how I’m feeling – even though she does judge me a bit, the little sod. She sees the joy in everything and approaches life like it is something to be loved, adored and lived.
I wouldn’t change her for the world and despite those troublesome early years, she taught me how to persevere with something – no matter how hard it is and look after someone other than myself. She continues to teach me how to be happy and puts a smile on my face every single day
She’s definitely this girl’s best friend, even though she would always rather be with my husband given the choice. The bastard.
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