This has been, frankly, a roasting pain in the arse. There is no other way to put it.
Dave is repeatedly disappointed by my insistence on filling up the house with unnecessary extra bodies that only serve to make our lives more difficult. First a pair of French 10 year olds, now 2 black Labradors. And I am afraid the Labradors are proving harder work.
They sleep in a cage at night. When I open it, everyone is bowled over by the frenzy of energy unleashed. I left them the first day to amuse themselves in the garden while the children ate breakfast. They were returned to me, by bemused neighbours, some minutes later, having presumably jumped the wall and been apprehended exploring the local area. Oops. Luckily order was restored without any harm done.
I am not helped by the fact that one child is terrified out of her wits by them. She cannot be in the same room with them, (or indeed house, or car, or street). So that is difficult, particularly when most of our internal doors do not actually shut. The other two girls are obsessively interested, and want to feed them, stroke them, walk them, pet them at all times. It is rather beyond me to manage everyone’s expectations.
The dogs are rarely satisfied, whatever we do. They are of necessity confined for much of the time, but this simply means that when released they are beside themselves with uncontainable excitement. They run off. They urinate on everything, including one another. They chase ducks, they swim in lakes, they pick fights with swans… they sniff the genitals of every other dog in the vicinity and wilfully ignore my calls to leave them alone. They eat turds with gusto. Then they run back to us, exuberantly, at great speed, and Caitlin screams in fear for her life.
Caitlin is crying whenever they are near us. Rosie is crying whenever they are not. She absolutely loves them. She hasn’t missed a minute of their stay. She was devastated that she couldn’t take them into her classroom. She has been walking them daily, morning and night. She does not complain of the distance. She was thrilled to be allowed to hold the lead.
It is at home though, that the dogs are at their most annoying. I cannot eat without a slobbering hound in my lap, sniffing at the plate. I cannot get up from my chair without both leaping optimistically to their feet, convinced that a treat is in store for them. Dave and I are prisoners on our own sofa, dogs asleep on the floor, neither of us daring to move for fear of shattering the peace and both of them charging around the house after us. It is really rather limiting.
Tonight they were excitable in a whole new way. One has been rolling around on the floor, while the other attempts to hump him. I have filmed them. The cinematography is poor but you get the idea. Large hounds, small room, plentiful sexual frustration.
The great plus though has been seeing how much (some of) the children have enjoyed looking after them. This weekend we took them with us with some trepidation to a 3-family sleepover, and the dogs were the most popular of all the guests, by a considerable margin! The kids were fighting over who got to walk them the furthest. (Apart from one who was quaking on Daddy’s shoulders). But apart from that it was nice!
Anyway, job done. Much relief all round.