Ten Things You Didn't Know About SmidgenThursday, November 07, 2013
1. She only has one name.Most racing greyhounds have two names, a racing name and a pet name (I met one recently whose pet name is Steve, which is probably the best name for a dog I've ever heard in my life), but Smidgen has just been Smidgen her whole life. I think they knew from the start that competitive racing would never be her strong point. Of course, as an international greyhound of mystery, she has many aliases, including Smidgers, Little Smidge, Smidger McGidger, Smidgeroo, Smidgester, McGidge and Midgen (this last one coined by my adorable Chinese sister-in-law and only ever said in a Mandarin accent).
2. She has the sleep pattern of a pubescent boy.She sleeps all the time. ALL THE TIME. On the couch, on the rug, in her bed, in Isla's bed, on our bed, in the car, on a person, on a pile of dirty washing, on a pile of books, lying down, sitting up, on her side, on her back, legs curled up, legs sticking up like prongs, eyes open, mouth open, perfectly still, twitching madly after dream rabbits, barking, puffing, whining, always completely, 100% asleep.
3. She has a bald bum.
And a bald neck. And a bald tummy. Also she is prematurely grey, has turned her black nose pink by trying to bury snacks under the couch with it, and is so skinny that children point at her and ask what's wrong with the doggy. But I still think she's the cutest dog in the whole world. I'm clearly biased.
4. She's not well-trained.
At least, not by us. You would think, watching her trot calmly along on her lead or lie quietly at our feet in the pub, that we're some kind of dog whisperers. Sadly not. She just has a very gentle, placid nature. OR SO WE THOUGHT. Which leads me to...
5. She's a cold-blooded killer.
A few weeks ago, she caught a rabbit, crushed it in her jaw, then dropped it at Fin's feet to die a slow, agonising death while he watched on helplessly. There were tears (and they were not from Smidgen).
6. But she's also a big softy.
Her best friend is Eeyore, an old cuddly toy of mine. She carries him around the flat in her mouth, carefully, almost maternally (unlike poor Mr. Bunny). When we come home, her first reaction is always to run and find Eeyore, pick him up and dart from room to room in celebration. He also makes a good pillow.
7. She's picky.
About everything, but particularly about food and people. "What, you expect me to eat this lovingly prepared bowl of raw tripe, rice and vegetables? Nah, I'd rather wait until you're out of the room then eat an entire box of seashell truffles that I will later vomit up all over your pillow, if it's all the same to you." "What, you expect me to stand still and let your close family member feed me a treat? But I've only known him for two years, how do I know he's not trying to POISON ME?"
8. She is, however, surprisingly comforting.
So we've established that Smidgen sleeps all the time, is a skinny bag of bones, isn't particularly well-trained and doesn't like people. Not exactly the cuddly companion most people have in mind when they picture having a dog. And yet, there's something about her quiet, solid presence that is immensely comforting. She won't lick the tears from your face, or jump onto your lap if you're sad, but she will lay her head against you and let her heart beat next to yours, and that is more - much more - than enough.
9. She isn't really a rescue dog.
Yes, we adopted her from a charity as an adult dog. She was bred for racing, and raised in sparse concrete kennels that my mum described as "post-apocalyptic." But the family who run the Edinburgh branch of the Retired Greyhound Trust are some of the most caring, knowledgeable, hard-working people you will ever meet, and Smidgen adores them. She was never mistreated, was surrounded by loving people and other dogs, and had a constant supply of pig's heads to gnaw on (nom nom nom). Honestly, sometimes when we visit the kennels, I think she still prefers it there. We have couches and central heating, though, so it's probably a close-run thing.
10. Today is a very special day.Exactly four years ago today, Smidgen was born. Exactly two years ago - on her second birthday - she came to live with us.
Happy birthday, Smidgers. I'm honoured that you've decided I'm worthy of your affection, even if you mostly like me because I let you sneak into our bed in the morning and leave expensive chocolates lying around for you to eat. I promise not to make you wear a hat this year.
All images by me for Daily Smidgen