26 Sep 2010

Tickle, No Work and All Play

Here comes the boy! Please welcome our Tickle the Jack-Russell-Terrier mascot interlude! You have probably come across him already, either in a toffee-nosed situation, in a revealing pose à la Dita von Tick, or tenderly wrapped in the sofa throw... This little lad is pretty much a part of the family and in pure Jack Russell style makes sure his presence is noticed.

Tickle is affectionately referred to as Tick-Tick, Mucky Mutt, Big Nose, and by my folks as Tiot Péteux, a very odd moniker indeed that seems to fit the personality of the diminutive dog with an XL temperament.

My story with Tickle dates back to that decisive August bank holiday week-end of 2006, when my partner and I drove up to Manchester Dogs Home with a view to purchase a little dog. We had toyed with the idea of owning a dog for a little while and visited the centre previously, but always come out empty-handed. After all, the decision of getting a dog is not carefree and fancy-free. Instead it should result from careful down-to-earth practical consideration, not some hasty spur-of-the-moment brooding fancy... A dog is for life, and to be able to offer him what he needs for his happiness and well-being is a responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly.

With a small house, a lovingly-tended garden I was proud of, two pet hamsters, and two full-time jobs, we felt that maybe this wasn't quite the right time to bring another furry addition to the family. But then again in our situation, would there ever be a right time? What we had right though was a love of animals, a ready commitment for them, a love of the outdoors and the countryside. We lived within walking distance from the local park, and could reach the Cheshire countryside within a straightforward 10-minute drive, so we felt pluses were in our favour to compensate for any potential minuses.

So on our last visit to the dogs home, when walking down the 'difficult' dog section past the mastiffs and pitbulls ('difficult' dog section, what was I thinking!), my eyes clasped onto that last doggy, a small, vocal, vivacious and yet so cute JRT with big doe eyes and a plastic cone around his neck. I paused. He was the dog I wanted: good clean fun personality and cuteness rolled into one small bundle of joy!

I'll let you onto a secret... Back then I knew nothing about JRTs (erm talk about being prepared, I hear you say...), not least the fact that they tend to take themselves seriously, have the so-called Napoléon complex (small dogs who believe they're big dogs!), and are true to their small-dog reputation as barky dogs with a propensity towards ankle-chasing! What can you do though? I simply fell in love with the mutt, then I took a leap of faith with the promise to myself that this abandonned pet would be given the second chance he truly deserves in life. Tick & I have been an item ever since and I haven't looked back once. I'm sure he's very happy with us, and he has filled our lives with a lot of happiness! So glad we've got him!

I must admit that Tick-Tick has driven us crazy at times, especially in the early weeks of our cohabitation, with levels of mischievousness we weren't prepared for and which he gave full rein to as soon as we left home while he had to stay in, from his ripping down the patio door curtain to jumping on the dining room table and using the sofa as a trampoline, chewing lipsticks, MP3, telephone cables, oh and don't get me started on the soiling... Then we heard about separation anxiety syndrome from the vet nurse who gave us further socialisation tips. We set the boy clear boundaries and learnt how to act as leaders of the pack, not as the ones being taken for a ride! Later Tickle even attended 'good manner' classes and eventually passed with flying colours, despite the boisterous rebel's shaky start and disruptive manner towards his doggy classmates!

More than anything, we have given our boy time: time to settle, time to understand his surroundings and time to accept us as his new owners. We have no information about his past apart from the fact that he was found wandering in the Peak District over the Summer of 2006 (chucked off a car away on holiday?). His behaviour indicates that he probably wasn't given much time or affection, so we make sure that the enjoyments he gets from his new life makes him forget the bad times from his early life chapter.

Source: True Coffee Hot Dog featured on Lovely Package

We have learnt so much from our personal journey with our dog. One thing we are still trying to learn though is that we shouldn't fall prey of his seduction tactics with us. JRTs are incredibly charming and cunning: they will play cute and manipulate you to their own benefit. But how can you resist this level of cute when it truly is that cute?

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