Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The dog, the children and agoraphobia


Blaze is growing into a handsome dog. He's 7 months old (you can see what he looked like when he first arrived here), so he has some way to grow yet. He's found his self-confidence and loves to gambol about outside, play with children or other dogs and has started to fetch a ball on demand. He is terrific with the children and doesn't bark much. He is quite easy to train, is good at recall and doesn't strain at the lead. So he's no problem then...
...but Orla is. She has decided that he's a breathing toy. She wants him to go to sleep in her bed, hide in the wardrobe with her and steal biscuits together. Blaze is so good-natured that he goes along with most of this childish behaviour.
Joseph, on the other hand, is acting the responsible owner. It's Marie's dog, of course, but since she cannot do anything more than a basic toilet trip, Joseph has volunteered to help. As soon as he gets home from school, he gets the dog's lead and off they go on a short walk – even if it's raining. He helps with the feeding and grooming. He's really super with the dog.
Blaze hasn't helped Marie in her fight against agoraphobia. Her earlier gains after Blaze arrived have all disappeared. On the plus side, he's another source of enjoyment to her self-determined prison – on the minus side, there's more cleaning to be done. She tells me that in retrospect, she should have waited for a while to add a dog to our family. But he's here now and part of the family and there's no question of him leaving. Hopefully Marie will be able to make some progress walking with him in the spring, when the weather improves and lifts everyone's spirits.

Often Joseph, Orla & I go on a longer walk with Blaze. After a while, Orla wants carried on my shoulders and I acquiesce. I enjoy these walks. One or other of the children is chatting to me from the moment we leave the house until our return, how ever long that may be. It is a special time.


Today, Orla was unremitting in her torture for poor, patient Blaze. No amount of cajoling would stop her. I had to employ The Stern Voice and perform a Telling Off. Orla's almost permanent smile was erased, little rivers of tears issued from her eyes, and the pathos in her sobs would have melted even the hardest of hearts. A few moments later, I was sitting on the floor with the dog and Orla came up to me. Her head and mine were on about the same level. She looked me in the eyes with her big, saucer-shaped, bright blue eyes (still a little watery from crying) and said gently “I love you, Daddy.” A full embrace followed, accompanied with another “I love you.” There was no guile. It was genuine, trusting, childish love. The type that only a 3 year old girl can exhibit. It will disappear soon.

The magic of the moment was broken when Joseph called to me from the next room“Dad, can you help me with Mario Kart?” (The Nintendo Wii game.)


Orla doesn't know it, but when she gives me that special look - that trusting, loving look - there is nothing I wouldn't do for her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Blaze has been begging me to let him write his own post. In the end I relented and let him. I had to help him, of course - like all dogs, his eyesight isn't that good and he found operating the keyboard a bit awkward. The result of our combined efforts can be found in the post before this one.

20 comments:

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Hi Robert,
Wonderful post! Beautiful children! and Blaze is a beautiful dog! I had a Golden Retriever for many years when I lived in England and they make such wonderful companions and so easy to train, so obedient. Perfect dog for children!

I hope he helps your wife with her agoraphobia... I have an Aunt in the UK with agoraphobia and I know how hard this can be on the sufferer and their family. My Aunt also got a dog after thinking about it for many years and he has made her start going on short walks during the day - only one walk a day in the beginning but now she is up to 2. I keep telling her that she needs to get a computer as this would be a huge help in meeting people without going outside the house. Hopefully she will get one as I can also have more contact with her too.

I would have loved to have had children, I did spend a couple of years trying to convince my partner that we should adopt but he's hard to break as he is 10 years older than me and he says he's too old as he doesn't want to be 60 years old with a 20 year old son or daughter.
But I haven't given up hope yet....

I look forward to your next posts!
All the best,
Donnie

Robert said...

Hi Donnie - Thanks for the compliments (send more!). I told Marie about your aunt in the hope that it might spur her on to try walking with the dog again. It might work... Tell your partner that I am WAY older than him and as you know, have young children. Also, my sister-in-law of 40 has recently become a mother for the 1st time. Good luck on that front!

Kit Courteney said...

Oh my giddy aunt (she really is), Robert, you have written SO much since I was up to sitting here for more than 2 secs.

I need to fortify myself... either with some tablets and cough medicine... or a large glass of vodka... not sure which I need to take. Well, I know really but it's been so long since I had some of the hard stuff I'm making excuses.

I need to come back when I'm better because I want to take all this in. Don't write TOO much in the mean time, PLEASE?!

Laura said...

Our dog (choc brown lab) is 6 and is the 2 year olds best friend. Whether she agrees is unknown!

He reads to her, lies on her fights with her. Sometimes she just looks at me as if to say 'I've had enough now!'

Laura

PS - Joseph looks like a miniyou!

Robert said...

KC - I hope you enjoyed your vodka! I look forward to welcoming you back in due course. I don't expect to post any more this week, but I might add another next week....I hope this won't upset you too much...?

Laura - I think older dogs are more tolerant than younger ones. And I think that 3 year old torturers are better (or worse, depends on your point of view) than 2 year olds. Now that's something to look forward to!

Andi said...

What a beautiful family!!

Robert said...

Andi - Welcome! And - what a beautiful comment!!

Maximum said...

Hi Robert,
Once again I've popped by to read, only to be moved to tears within seconds! Orla and Joseph are lovely. My daughter Eve is a little older than Orla but very similar ( from what you write ). Nothing can compare to the guileless "I love you" one gets from one's children.
Such a shame Blaze hasn't brought Marie out much yet - but like you say maybe when the whether and the January blues lift, things might change.
Love
Jeanne

PS. Agree with comment about Joseph being a mini-Robert - what a wee star!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

My god, don't let my wife see this post. We do miss a dog, having had dogs for as long as I can remember. Far less complicated than humans.

Nechtan said...

You have a lovely family Robert and they are a credit to both of you. I can associate with that look from your daughter. As you said if only they knew the power they could wield with it.

All the best

Nechtan

Henry the Dog said...

You do have a couple of lovely pups. They are cute. I'm normally a bit wary of young pups but it looks as if Blaze is fairly laid back. Mum's read your recent posts and says you've got a lot on your shoulders and wishes you well. I guess your lovely pups and Blaze help to lighten the load from time to time.

rosiero said...

What an incredibly clever dog!! I shall have to get Snoopy to write to him.

I know just how you must have felt when Orla cried and when she told you she loved you. It would melt the hardest hearts.

Robert said...

Maximum - Absolutely delighted that you popped round! Hope all is ok with you & yours. Having a daughter a similar age to Orla, you know EXACTLY what "that look" is like. Aren't they lovely at this age?

GOK - So why don't you get another dog?

Nechtan - From what you say about your kids, they must be a really nice lot. Perhaps you could tell us a little more about them? Only a thought...

Henry - Thanks for the compliment about my pups. You hit the nail right on the head, Henry, Blaze & the pups can brighten the darkest moments. You are SUCH an insightful dog! I interrupted Blaze nibbling around his private area to tell him what you said about him, and he told me to tell you that, yes, he IS laid back - it's the only way to be? Then he went back to his nibbling.

rosiero - I told Blaze about the possibility of Snoopy writing to him and he got all excited! I bet your daughter melted your heart, about 15 years ago - didn't she?

rosiero said...

Robert - she still does!!!

jan said...

Intriguing blog. I wish your dog would share how to type with my dogs none of whom have the slightest inclination to help me out here.

Seeing the title I was going to suggest getting a dog because i have a friend who credits her cure of agoraphobia to her dog. Short walks, then longer ones, then obedience training. But I see that Blaze is an important part of your family already.

Robert said...

Welcome Jan! Blaze is awful at typing - poor eyesight, common to all dogs, and large inflexible paws. I have to help him lots! He is hoping to help his mistress to get out and walk more, but having no success at the moment. He hasn't given up hope, though. And neither have I.

Rachael Hale said...

Robert, your children are absolutley beautiful! Orla has such lovley hair and Joesph looks so much like you!

Blaze is a good looking boy aswell :)

Robert said...

Oh Rachael - you're making me glow with pride!

The Dotterel said...

You could always have another baby - then she'd have a living breathing doll to play with! (Worked with Sally - she hasn't mentioned dogs since Charlie was born.)

Robert said...

TD - Thanks for the suggestion. I know that Orla would agree with it. Having produced 7 children already (with a little help from some ladies), I think I've done enough for the survival of the species - don't you? Luckily Marie feels that 2 is enough for her.