While rifling through some archival, dog-related papers (certificates of vaccination, vet bills, pet insurance, etc.), I happened upon a letter written twenty years by my father, Bill Hardy, speaking in the voice of his then dog, the Terrible Touli, to Buddy, our then newly acq1uired golden retriever puppy. I reproduce it here:
Welcome to the family! You may not realize it yet, but you have really walked into a great deal. These people (especially the female) will really do anything you want.
There are a few ground rules which may prove helpful to you in achieving the life of love and luxury you are about to begin. Be adorable! This is a MUST. I always found it easy myself, and I’m sure you will be able to handle it, even if you are not a cocker spaniel.
Barking? I know the temptation will be there, just to let your people know how much you love them, etc., but keep it down! Especially early in the morning. A little “woof” will suffice for most purposes.
Now the tough part.
We dogs have a unique way of staking out our territory. We find the spot and then we pee on it. People are not always understanding of this perfectly sensible practice – especially indoors. If your two people do their job properly, they will set a reasonable routine for you to walk outside. For some reason they don’t seem to mind our peeing outside as long as it is not on the neighbors’ flowers. The same thing goes for bowel movements. Of course, they will create some silly name for this natural process. My two, for example, refer to it as “poddle toodling.” Isn’t that the silliest thing? Anyway, let them train you in those processes.
As for food, you will work that out naturally. We have an inborn talent in that department. I hope they don’t give you things that are bad for you, even though you may think you want everything in sight.
Be sure to get a few toys. They will keep you company when your people are away at work. They have to work, you know, so that they will make money to buy you things.
Anyway, I’m glad you are in the family. I don’t know when we will get a chance to get together in person, but I’ll keep up with you by email. Maybe your people will finally make the big move from the frozen north to North Carolina where the sun shines brightly all the day. Be sure to get your picture taken and sent to me. And remember – BE ADORABLE.Everything else will take care of itself.
Love . . . Toulie
Dad wrote this back when they were living in Fearrington Village, just outside Pittsboro, N.C. — when Mom was alive, not to mention Touli and Buddy. When Dad could see to type a letter. From a dog to a dog.
That makes me both happy and sad, but in a good way.