An ode to Nancy-dog

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jack russell

If you pat her, she cowers. Unless she knows you well.

When she was two, an acquaintance said, “Maybe she was traumatised as a puppy.”

“We’ve had her since she was a puppy,” I said.

We found her at Animal Aid. She was 8 weeks old and the last of the litter.

She is nearly seven now.

She is confident. But only when she’s around people she likes and trusts.

She is loving. Especially with adults who show an interest and small children who don’t jump on her.

She is trustworthy — to a point. When I’m not home, she sleeps on my bed. Normally, she’s forbidden to do this. I know she’s been on my bed because when I return, I hear a thump as she jumps onto the floor. She also leaves an imprint on the doona. It’s warm and precisely her size.

She is smart. She learns tricks easily and understands fourteen words.

I’ve found a way to prove her linguistic dexterity. I’ve done this because when I tell people she understands fourteen words they are sceptical.

For example, I’ve concluded she knows the word “toy” and that she differentiates it symbolically and practically from the word “rat”.

Here’s how I know:

I hide her toy. I say, “Where’s your toy?”

She runs around the house, looking under and over the furniture. When she finds it, she bounds back, Jack Russell tail curved in high triumph.

When she drops the toy at my feet, eyes bright and tail splicing the air, I say, “Clever Nancy!”

However, when I say, “Where’s the rat?” she runs to the back door, bristling. I open the door and she glides under the house because that’s where the rats are.

This test may not satisfy a scientist but it makes people less sceptical.

She loves life, and me, unconditionally.

I love her with all my heart.

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Claire Bell

Claire Bell is the health and wellbeing editor of Midlifexpress. She is the author of Stone Age Secrets for Mind and Body and Comma Magic. Print and ebooks available on Amazon.

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