I like to write stories… here’s one inspired by my Dog, the human condition and life lessons.
Mr Patchworth now considered himself a very lucky dog. He didn’t used to be however and one day when The Little Girl was thinking out loud and talking to her mummy – she mentioned about how she had noticed that Mr Patchworth always had a very worried look upon his face. The Little Girls mummy acknowledged this but said it was better not to mention it to Mr Patchworth himself. “People, and animals I guess my darling don’t really like it when other people point out their failings, even more so when they are failings that they can do nothing about – such as their appearance.” So, unless you know you are only saying it on order to help them benefit themselves or others – its probably better not to mention it. Mr Patchworth would therefore always have a worried look upon his face her mummy had said ‘Because of the life he had lived before he came to us my dear’.
The Little girl knew what Mr Patchworth’s life had been like before – because her mummy and the kind eyed man at the rescue centre had told her. When her and Mr Patchworth talked on their long walks in the park however, he never mentioned it himself. He often told her stories – for he was a great storyteller – but he never mentioned the hardships that he had lived through before.
If you watched him however, like The Little Girl had done – you probably would have been able to piece his story together all by yourself – or at least – a very close version of it anyway.
When Mr Patchworth first came to live with The Little Girl it had taken him a very long time to get used to living indoors. The little girl watched him closely and had noticed that it had taken months and months for the roaring hot fire in the living room to melt the ice that had formed inside his bones. He would lay by the fire panting and panting because he was so hot – yet he loved that warmth so much he wouldn’t dare move – for fear that it would be taken away from him. Only recently, she had noticed – had he started to go for a little walk into the cool hallway when he had started to get a little too warm.
Their walks in the park had grown longer since the days had started turning to spring. Oftentimes he would tell The Little Girl the same story over and over again, about how dandelions were a great remedy for a stomach that had suffered from malnutrition and a poor diet. He would skip about feverishly, darting from one dandelion to the next, sniffing and sniffing until he found a particularly sweet smelling one and would quickly snap his jaws together to sever it from its root so he could gobble it down quickly. One day The Little Girl had counted 42 dandelion heads that he had devoured and then subsequently puked them up on her mummies hand woven wicker carpet. OOPS. She was going to make fun of him for eating too much and making himself sick when she remembered what her mummy had told her and kept her mouth closed. Smiling only to herself, offering him some water and rubbing his belly.
Mummy had told her you see that both people – and animals – didn’t like it when you analysed their behaviours, ‘people don’t like to be scrutinised my darling,’ it’s perfectly fine if you do it inside of your head – but remember to be sensitive to others feelings because many times beings are behaving through instinct or past programming from their childhood and they don’t like to be reminded of bad times or silly things that they have done.”
So, remembering to hold her tongue she felt warm inside when she noticed recently how Mr Patchworth was so much calmer these days, he gently took food from her hand instead of jumping and biting at it when it contained something particularly tasty, and she had noticed how she didn’t have to hide the bread and doggy treats so high up any more as he was no longer interested in making sure his belly was finally full. He’s living a ‘satiated life now my darling’ mummy had told her. ‘You see my dear, animals are a lot cleverer than humans in general because when their brains are working properly and they live in an environment where food is always available – like we do – they will stop eating when they are full and only eat when their stomachs tell them they are truly hungry. That’s why he drinks his water quite a lot – he can tell the difference between being thirsty and needing food – many humans, because we eat junk food and processed things without a lot of nutrients in it – our bodies simply can’t really tell when we are hungry so we eat and eat and eat and that’s why we get so fat sometimes.
Yesterday evening and earlier this morning The Little Girl had gotten herself quite upset as Mr Patch had not touched the food in his bowl. He’d merely sniffed it and then turned his head away. All sorts of thoughts ran through The Little Girls head ‘didn’t he like the food anymore? Was he poorly sick? Were his teeth hurting? Was Mr Patchworth going to die soon?’. Her Mummy had quelled her fears however. ‘The reason Mr Patch used to jump up at the table, steal food and rip open all of the packets he found and gobble everything he could find up my darling was because he had spent the first 10 years of his life starving hadn’t he’ she had said. The little girl then remembered what the kind eyed man had said at the rescue centre when she asked him why Mr Patchworth’s tail was all chewed and why his coat was bright yellow. He had told her that Mr Patchworth had been sick a lot because he was so hungry and the yellow on his fur was stains from his stomach acid but they would grow out eventually.
Mr Patchworth had spent 10 years living alongside Molly Dog and this was why he didn’t much care for other dogs. The Little Girl had noticed that he ran away from other dogs in the park and the kind eyed man at the rescue centre and told him that him and Molly Dog had had to fight with each other every single day out of necessity. It really was a ‘dog eat dog world’ he had said.
When the Frail Farmer who they used to live with threw the peelings and left overs out into the yard – they had to claw and bite each other just so that they got something to eat. The frail farmer was not a bad man she had been told, but years and years and YEARS ago when his wife had died – he couldn’t look after all of the animals by himself and because he was proud and didn’t want to lose them he didn’t ask anyone for help and he sadly turned a blind eye to how badly he was treating them all. Humans, her mummy had told her – had a very bad habit of doing this. Many people my darling see life through a different lens, and they only notice the bad things that they do when other people point them out to them – though although people don’t like this – sometimes, when their behaviours are really bad and hurting others – they need to be told so that they can change. Sadly, for Mr Patchworth and all of the other animals on the farm – all of the other people had turned a blind eye – knowing that the frail farmer was a good man who didn’t want to be helped – they left him alone for too long and many of his animals suffered and died because of it.
‘It’s very hard to know when to do the right thing my darling, or even what the right thing is – that is why it’s very important to think about things long and hard and always talk to someone who you really trust and know has got their head screwed on right before you make any decisions about other beings’ lives’.
This is the reason why The Little Girl and her mummy had wrote a big long list before they brought Mr Patchworth home. ‘It’s fine wanting to rescue a dog my darling but are you sure you are ready to walk him every day, feed him good food and play with him with his toys every single day? ‘Yes Mummy, I promise’ she had shouted gleefully, but she really wasn’t happy when mummy pulled out the agreement when she was sick with her cold and wanted to stay in bed all day. ‘I’m sorry my darling, but Mr Patchworth needs his walk and his breakfast and you signed the agreement that you would do it every single day – I know its horrible when you are sick – but you chose this responsibility and unless you really really can’t do it – you must. So The Little Girl had clambered out of bed, put his food down and slowly walked him around the park. They hadn’t played with his toys that day, or even for the rest of the week and when she was better the little girl noticed how sad he had gotten and she felt sad about it. ‘Dogs need to play every single day my darling, just like humans do’. The Little Girl quite agreed and said she would do her best to eat all of her vitamins and minerals, go to bed early and try her very VERY best not to catch a cold again so she could always look after Mr Patchworth properly.
It was hard to imagine Mr Patchworth being a fighter nowadays. He was so loving and kind and cuddly and the bite marks on his tail and ears had completely healed. Yet The Little Girl remembered the time she had told her friends at school how Mr Patchworth had survived and Molly Dog didn’t. She was proud telling the story, about how he had managed to get enough food to live. But her friends at school had heard a completely different story to the one she thought she had told them and she was once again reminded not to talk about people and animals that she knew and loved to other people – as the girls in her school had called him evil, and a bully and said he was selfish and the whole reason that Molly Dog had died.
The Little Girl tried really hard to hold back the tears while she tried to explain that she knew him inside and out and he wasn’t any of those things, they had misunderstood and she tried to explain that he was just trying to survive. They wouldn’t listen however – just like mummy had told her they wouldn’t. ‘Unless they know someone, or an animal very very well – people make up their own stories based upon your words about them – so it’s very important not to talk about other beings’ pasts and let people form their own visions of their character. No one outside the family understood Mr Patchworth quite like they did and The Little Girl vowed she had learned her lesson and was now fiercely protective of her little white friend. ‘People can’t help being judgemental’, her mummy had said, ‘and there’s nothing wrong with having those thoughts – you just need to try your best to remember that any story you tell yourself is always only your version of the truth and no one will ever know anyone else’s full story, even if they tell you it themselves’. Just remember to always be kind and treat people how you want to be treated. We all make mistakes, but it’s important to learn from them as best we can.