A Dog’s Life

Lying in the sun, being served dinner in bed and mucking about with a posse of good friends… it sounds like a radio station’s tropical holiday prize package, but this is the life of our dog.

When we moved into our house, we could hear the pitter patter of puppy paws long before we were joined by a canine companion. It took some getting used to the idea that we did now have space for a pet, and the square of turf that passed for a lawn in Auckland paled in comparison to the quarter acre section now at our disposal. Suddenly we had room for a proper dog, not the handbag variety. Enter Mya.

With a pup in tow, a whole new world opened up. The anchor shaped structure protruding from the wall of the local supermarket identified itself as a hitching rail for four legged friends, and we became intimately acquainted with our local stretch of the RDR, which at times resembles a canine speed dating club. Then there was the social impact. In a place where just about everyone knows everyone else, they definitely know your dog. We thought we were being mistaken for Royals for a while because of the plethora of friendly waves whenever we went out for a walk. It turns out it wasn’t blue blood that attracted the attention, but brown and white fur.

Our first outing with pup was to the A&P Show. Most city dogs in Auckland do get to see the odd sheep or cow grazing on one of the many volcanoes, but the closest they get to them is when they chow down on a slice of dog roll. Having just been picked up from Christchurch, Mya got a crash course in the full range of prizewinning stock and a stern lesson on what not to chase. Stock proofing is one thing, but traffic training our pup has proved to be a bit of a challenge in Methven, largely because of the lack of cars. A visit to Auckland went some way towards rectifying this, although after waiting a good ten minutes to cross a four lane highway, we decided it was easier to go for a walk in the park instead.

On a recent trip to Europe I observed yet another different take on dogs, with the attitude being that it was fine to take them anywhere. Sure, there were disclaimers advising owners to lift them onto the escalator and carry them into the chemist, but whether you were heading to the local café or travelling interstate on the rail network, dogs were not far away. They were, however, on leads and lacking the free range element that makes Mya’s face light up every time we take her for a run. While living in Canterbury does mean that our pup is not likely to learn to operate an elevator anytime soon, in the bigger scheme of things I don’t think she’s missing out on much. Dogs around here have got it pretty sweet.

Originally Published in The Ashburton Guardian

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