Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Ferrari, my silent partner

When I write, I have a constant companion. He’s a silent partner in my work. My partner is always nearby and encourages me with adoring looks. My silent partner loves my voice when I read my work out loud. My silent partner loves me and my work unconditionally. My silent partner thinks everything I do is wonderful. My silent partner is my dog, Ferrari. He’s followed me from room to room, his whole life, which stretches to 12 years (roughly 84 human years).
A few days ago, I discovered that Ferrari has an enlarged heart, due to a leaking valve. What a bizarre coincidence that my dog developed that same problem as I had. In the doggy world, valves don't get replaced, so Ferrari doesn’t have the benefit of high-tech prosthetics like the one I have. Prior to surgery, when I couldn’t breath and I spent my days in bed, writing letter to those I loved, and wondering if I’d make it through the day, Ferrari stayed at the foot of the bed. His determination to protect me extended to attacking my husband if he dared set foot in the bedroom. We sorted that out pretty quickly. No longer the alpha-dog, Ferrari relaxed a little, but still his attention was on me constantly.
Ferrari is a companion dog, a Maltese Shih Tzu. In past parlance, he would have been known as a lap dog. In reality, he’s not that precious or fancy. Okay, so he’s groomed regularly, his coat’s dazzling white and his eyes melted chocolate. He’s feisty; his bark is surprisingly deep, not at all the high pitch yap associated with small breeds. These days, barking makes him cough. That doesn’t stop him defending his territory. He barks at anyone who dares walk in his street, or pass our back gate or ring our doorbell. Once you’re in the house, it’s a different story. Visitors are presented with his stuffed toys. Their shoes are sniffed and the tail wagging accelerates.
He’s not a great watchdog. On one occasion, burglars got into our garage and stole two sets of golf clubs, while we were inside having dinner. Unfortunately, that particular evening the spread included a large cheese platter. That’s Ferrari’s idea of heaven. Clearly golf isn’t. We forgave him that.
Everyone loves Ferrari. He’s sweet natured and kind to old people and little kids. Everyone wants to take him home. We can't go for long walks anymore. He’s not interested in sniffing around the streets. Sometimes he just looks at his food bowl, as if he can't be bothered.
There is no way of knowing how long Ferrari will stay around. He’s on fancy dog meds, which may help his heart muscle. Maybe in the mysterious ways of animals, he’ll know when it’s time and he might let me know too.
Until then, Ferrari remains my silent writing partner. The spot by my desk is reserved for him. Unconditionally.