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your next trick | to the third-place dog

At 5.00pm on Saturday, you were awarded a very spiffy yellow rosette, and proclaimed to be the third most handsome dog in our village. You lay in the ring, your great tail thumping as the judges tried to add it to your collar. You made your big sister’s day, she was holding your lead, and for once, you’d relented and given a paw in exchange for a treat so that she could show you off ‘her own self’.

The rosette says you are the third-place dog.

It was a busy day for you, being the third-place dog. We had visitors, and to you that means extra folk to greet with a wet nose and a muzzle on the knee in the morning. Extra breakfast bowls to steal from the kitchen table. Two more tiny hands to lick clean when nobody’s looking.

Most of your day is spent waiting. You wait for me to greet you in the morning, squirming on the sofa whilst I put the baby down, the kettle on, and the food in your bowl. You wait, sometimes all day, for me to have time to walk you. I hope you know that I’m usually waiting for that time too, because when we set off together, and I can watch your waggly backside careering away into the distance, I’m as relaxed as you are. And each night, you wait outside the bathroom for the kids to finish their baths, and then jump joyously onto our bed for story time. We wait for you to come downstairs afterwards, which you never do until the kids are asleep.

But that day, last Saturday, you didn’t have to wait. We took you to the village show because you are in our family. We don’t feel right unless we’re being pulled round, buggy going one way, you and your insatiable greedy guts going the other. What do you think of duck racing? Do you like watching show jumping? Did you find watching me join the Morris Dancing as embarrassing as everybody else? Could you taste the glorious cream cakes in the blades of grass you licked outside the tea tent? What did you think of the special dog cake you were bought?

Were you as proud as us when your big sister won three first prizes in the children’s art competitions? I know you watched her make it all. I know your paws and head were sprinkled with glitter when I got home from work, so you had been watching.

It’s an odd sentiment to convey, but you should know that she hasn’t told anyone about her red certificates on our fridge. However, everyone knows that her dog is the third best looking dog in our village. Even the cashier at Tescos.

You. You with the softest ears and the ability to stand on your back paws and eat every available apple from our trees. You who insists in coming in the car to pick up the kids from nursery. You who goes and has a second dinner with our neighbour every night, and sits on his sofa watching the Simpsons.

Basically, dog of ours, third place dog, third place in the pecking order for food, third place for strokes, third place for exercise, you are everything to us. I’m pretty sure you can read.

We are so proud of you, and I’m sorry that, for far too long, we didn’t do right by you and have a proper collar and pet tags for you. When you got run over, sneaking off on bin day to get some takeout, we heard via the wrong number on your collar. I’m sorry. We’ve made sure you have the right one now.

Third place dog, you’re right up there.

This is a collaborative post but all sentiments and words are my own.

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