This is an incident that happened ten days ago and I am still scouring the streets for a dog which has caused no end of misery in my household. My daughter, Maelo, was followed by a dog from the end of our street to our home. We live in a neighbourhood over run by cats. Dogs? A rare sight for some unknown reason.
Maelo called me from the street in bewilderment over this dog. She was convinced that it was a stray needing rescuing. I stepped out and examined the dog. It seemed incredibly excitable and was literally bounding around us. Maelo wanted to bring it into our place and look after it till it was ‘rescued’. It’s been decades since I have had any personal contact with a dog.
Instead of immediately agreeing to her request, I drew upon my childhood growing up in Asia where dogs were allowed to roam the neighbourhood till their owners returned from work and reclaimed them off the streets. My own father would walk around the streets, lead in hand, calling out to our dog. Most dog owners did this. The hour between 6 to 7pm was the ‘dog hour’. Quite often it took longer because the dogs weren’t keen on coming back and preferred roaming the streets with their pals. It all seemed sensible especially when I compare this practice to the high dog walking rates being charged currently. Anyway, I digress.
Drawing upon my personal experience I declared that the dog was probably enroute back home and did not need any saviours. Maelo counter declared that she was going to call an “English friend” for an opinion because this was “not Asia”. Her friend did not answer her call and the dog sped off at that moment.
Maelo was distressed and adamant that the dog was lost. In the meantime, our ‘rescue cat’ which officially moved in with us on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral (I kid you not) was cowering at the window watching all of this. This cat lives in a semi-permanent state of anxiety after having been abused for two years prior to becoming Maelo’s pet. Bringing a big dog in would have caused it major trauma.
Minutes later the ‘English friend’ returned the call and surmised that the dog was a stray because “dogs aren’t allowed out on their own in this country”. In that instant I felt the weight of a culture clash which was further compounded by Maelo’s accusing look and distress. We went out looking for the dog straight away but couldn’t find it. No ‘lost’ posters have been put up either in the area since. The photo accompanying this blog is something that I took off the internet after Googling ‘Golden Dog’. Sigh, it will be another stick for my daughter to beat me with.
I have spent decades putting time and effort integrating into British culture and all it took was for a dog to propel me back to those days when I thought ‘Marylebone’ was pronounced as ‘Mary-Lee-Bone’. The perils of being an immigrant.