I’d rather have a Bow-wow-wow
Do you have a BFF ?
By BFF I mean, of course, Best Furry Friend. My constant companion these days is a dog named Heidi who began life somewhere in far North Queensland and after many adventures ended up with me in Geelong. I have cats at home as well. Back as far as I can remember, I have had opportunities to love and care for pets. As a pre-schooler I spent many a happy afternoon dressing up our family Siamese cat Yo-Yo and attempting to take him for a walk in my toy pram. (As an adult I often wonder incredulously at that cat’s tolerance). My brother kept quails, pheasants, finches and ducks. By the age of eight I had obviously nagged my parents enough and I was given my very own puppy. Imagine my joy! A little furry squirming bundle, to be named by me, and loved by me, and to adore only me. Of course, it didn’t unfold exactly like that, since my mother was the one who fed the puppy, walked the puppy, and gave the puppy an insulin injection every day when it turned out she had diabetes. But in my mind, that puppy was my BFF. I played with her for hours and confided in her my deepest darkest secrets. And I was devastated the day we arrived home from a short holiday and she wasn’t there anymore.
I managed to get through the next few years without a BFF by patting my teenage brother’s kelpie every now and then, when I thought my brother wasn’t looking. I had a chance to see from the outside how an amazing bond can be forged between a human and a dog. My brother did everything for that dog. He did everything WITH that dog. Claude the kelpie went surfing at 6am, he went to parties and stayed out late, he stayed in bed on Sunday mornings and listened to Bob Dylan singing loudly from the record player, and he enjoyed weekend camping trips back in the days when you could take your dog anywhere in the Australian bush. My brother taught him all sorts of clever and useful things, like how to balance a dog biscuit on his nose and only on certain command throw it in the air and catch it in his mouth. Claude was taught to take food only from my brother, no-one else, in case of poisoning. You could hold a roast lamb under that dog’s nose and he wouldn’t even look at it. He would sit, drop, stay, come at one quiet word from my brother’s lips, without a nanosecond’s hesitation, and no matter how enthusiastically I called to him, he would never, ever come to me, unless my brother commanded him to do it.
As a teenager I was allowed a new puppy, a Staffordshire terrier I christened with the unlikely name of Chloe. What was I thinking? A stoic little nugget of a dog forced to endure being summoned with a wispy, ethereal name rather more suited to a sylph. But she dutifully came to me and promised to be my new BFF. I eventually left home and my parents were left to look after “my” dog. But the early bonding was tight, and every time I went home for the university vacation, Chloe would become my shadow. It was hard to leave her.
Time passed and I moved interstate, married and settled into a different life. I developed a new routine: every Friday on my way home from work I took a detour and stopped at the Lost Dogs Home. I talked to the rescue dogs, reassuring each one that they would find a loving home. One day I saw Ned, and I knew immediately that here was my new BFF and for the next 15 years, Ned was an inextricable part of my life. Next came Honey, then Spirit, and now there’s Heidi. My life for over three decades has revolved around beach walks, beef bones and belly rubs.
What is this bond that humans have with dogs in particular? Research has shown that it goes back a long way, and that it may even be programmed into our biological chemistry. A recent Japanese study showed that when humans and dogs gaze at each other, both species release the hormone oxytocin, similar to when a mother looks at her baby. Archaeological evidence suggests that dogs have been buried alongside humans for thousands of years, having been working dogs and pets that were loved and cared for in the same way as happens now. What is clear in our contemporary society is that looking after a dog entails an enormous amount of dedication. Hours of walking, providing regular meals, exercising gentle authority, and paying expensive vet bills. And in return the dog gives unconditional love, demonstrates endless patience and is a model of forgiveness and loyalty.
Right now, I can’t imagine life without Heidi. She is woven into my everyday…. everything I am, and everything I do. She is my Best Furry Friend and I love her for it.
Maybe you have a BFF…? and perhaps yours is feline, or even bovine or perhaps not furry at all - a BSF (Best SCALY Friend) Share your photos and stories in the comments section.
Meanwhile, enjoy the following video... not sure if any of you will know this old chestnut that my grandmother used to sing to me!