HE had been brought to our home by a well-meaning friend who knew our previous dog had been tragically killed, and that I hankered after a mutt because I was still wary of being on my own with the kids after our home and my husband were determined to be targets of loyalists.
The tiny white ball had an infected docked tail and a belly full of worms, but he immediately stole the hearts of the young children of the house. The husband of the house was less impressed. But the deed was done. Páid, the Jack Russell, was now a part of the family.
Ours is the tale of many households.
“You won’t have to look after him, I will clean up after him every day.”
“I will walk him before school and after school.”
“I will brush him and hoover after his hairs.”
Fast forward three days.
“Oh my God, I cleaned up last week!”
“Oh my God, I’m tired!”
“Oh my God, you can’t see the hairs.”
Páid has their hearts, but not their motivation, and we dear parents are the ones with the heartbreak and picking white hairs from our suits, books and pens at work meetings, or having to clean the garden before a wash can be put on the line.
Jack Russell ownership is a unique life experience other dog-owning families don’t understand.
Our neighbours have shitzus and cockapoos. When their dogs inevitably get out everyone runs towards said pooches, because they are so friendly, want to cuddle, lick and have sweet fun. When Páid gets out everyone runs for cover. Parents run to pull their children indoors. Other dog owners lock their dogs up. Nine times out of ten Páid just runs, barking like a maniac, laughing at us chasing him to get him back, bothers no-one and runs away from other dogs. But you never know the unfortunate runner whose ankles he takes a fancy to. Or which bike rider he thinks would be great gas to scare the bejaysus out of. Or which dog looks like it might fancy a sparring partner.
On one occasion, after Páid escaped the lead in Lady Dickson Park, my husband felt forced to tell the horrified dachshund walkers’ group that he believes Páid may have Tourettes due to puppyhood trauma. They were very sympathetic, and offered the name of a man in Bangor who specialises in such conditions.
Páid is not even 18 inches in height. He has short little teeth. In the house all he wants is to give love and be loved. But past our front door on his “special” days he has the attitude of a late 1980s Hezbollah unit discovering RPGs – and with about as much mercy.
I saw an advert on Done Deal the other week advertising Jack Russell puppies for an eye-watering £500. My advice? Your kids will not do what they say they will do. Your puppy will not sleep, only recharge. They never, ever, ever run out of energy.
They will love you to death, while treating you as their own eejit. They might be the death of you. You will talk about “giving them to the farm” a million times. You will look pityingly at dogs with less “personality”. You won’t want to be without them. And £500 is stupid money.