I don’t know why, but Shadow appears to be hoarding money. I don’t know if she is saving up to run away, put out a contract on Billy or buy her own marrow bones, but the fact is that every time I refold her bedding lately I find money stowed in there. To tell the truth it’s only five cent and ten cent pieces at the moment, but then you don’t expect an elderly Silky Terrier to understand the true value of money do you? Shadow most probably thinks she can lead a comfortable, independent and Billy-free life on one dollar!
Each time I lift her bedding and a small tinkling sound indicates that yet another silver coin has hit the tiles, Shadow ambles over to sniff it and attempts to discretely nose it back from where it came. I have tried questioning her about this suspicious increase in her wealth, but all I get is a blank look and a “What money?” gaze around the laundry from the fluffy one. The thing I want to know is – where is she getting it? To my knowledge she doesn’t have an off farm job and we certainly don’t pay her for spending her days lying around the yard or defending her bedding against Billy’s attempts to move into the laundry. I suppose it’s possible that she charges Guinevere, our human-hating cat, to share her bedding (Guinevere would die of embarrassment if she knew I was telling you she snuggles up to Shadow every night), but if that’s the case, then where does Guinevere get the money?
No, it’s just too difficult to fathom. Maybe Shadow has been befriended by the tooth fairy? … I think I’d better just accept that she has an independent income and stop trying to figure it out before I start coming up with really silly possibilities.
Looking at the facts, it is most likely that she is saving up to pay someone to deal with Billy. True, she does have him firmly under her paw and is able to reduce him to supplicating puppy status just by a mere look and a growl, but when you are around fifteen years old, have cataracts and getting hard of hearing, it’s worth a dollar or two to hire someone else to growl at Billy when he treads on you. Speaking of which - Billy has been treading on Shadow more and more lately. It’s a result of Shadow getting slower as she gets older and Billy getting more boisterous each time he inhales. He expends a lot of energy trying to convince Shadow to play doggy games with him. She has no intentions of playing doggy games. She is an old lady working hard at being dignified (an extremely difficult thing to achieve when your tummy almost scrapes the floor and you are constantly covered in St. Bernard drool) and has no intentions of assuming the role of Billy’s fluffy toy, as had proved the case in all her previous, if reluctant, games with Billy.
Over the months Billy and Shadow have developed an unusual relationship. At first Shadow tried to pretend he wasn’t there. No matter what happened, with the exception of the short period when Billy spent a lot of time gently chewing on Shadow’s head, Shadow remained calm and aloof, refusing to acknowledge Billy’s antics. If the antics got too close, Shadow turned her nose skyward and walked off with the air a someone who has remembered a previous engagement elsewhere. At this time Billy was rather pre-occupied with keeping out of Apollo’s way, but once Apollo was no longer, Billy was able to turn his attention to his own social needs. He looked around for someone to provide him with fun and frolic and, finding me determined to spend at least part of each day inside rather than being knocked over and drooled on, he turned to Shadow for doggy companionship.
Try as she might, it became increasingly difficult to ignore him. Wherever she went around the house yard, there he was dogging her every step (dreadful pun I know). From time to time Billy followed so closely that he overtook her, resulting in Shadow trying to make her way out between his front legs from under his belly. On most of these occasions Billy ended up treading on her. This wouldn’t have been too bad except that when Shadow yelped with indignation, Billy immediately stopped in his tracks and looked around for whatever was harming his friend Shadow, thus effectively pinning her to the ground by one over-sized paw. In the end Shadow could see that there was nothing for it but to reluctantly accept Billy’s presence in her life, but she refused to enjoy it. These days she no longer simply yelps when stood on - she adds a sharp nip or two to the offending foot, effectively causing Billy to jump with surprise and giving her the vital few seconds to scurry out from underneath.
She found that despite its drawbacks, recognising Billy does have its rewards. Every night at dinnertime Shadow forgets her dignified old lady facade and gulps her own dinner down with undignified speed. She then bustles out of the laundry as fast as her short little legs can carry her, and heads straight for Billy’s dish. Here she plants herself between Billy’s front legs and digs in. Billy, who likes to savour every bite with a far away look on his face, finds that when he returns his attention to the bowl it now contains a little shaggy head shovelling up his food as fast as it can. Now I maintain that Billy contributes to this state of affairs by letting Shadow win. He just stands there with a bemused look on his face, as if to say, “Last time I looked there wasn’t a little shaggy head in there,” and waits for me to come and de-Shadow his bowl. I have had to resort to locking Shadow up with her own dinner and releasing her only after Billy has finally finished his share of the food.
The other gripe that Shadow may be trying to address with her saving plan is to buy her own marrow bones. Every week I buy three or four of the largest marrow bones our butcher can provide, along with a bag of small bones. Every second day I give Billy half a marrow bone and Shadow a few of the smaller bones. Billy again savours every bite of his bone and makes it last most of the day. He tucks in with gusto, gnawing on the bone, licking the marrow up with loud slurppy sounds and generally leaving Shadow to feel that she is missing out on something wonderful. When he’s finished with it there’s not much left and what is there is not a pretty sight. Shadow, on the other hand, sits and stares mournfully at my meagre offering of bones for her, and bides her time. No matter how hard she tries her small bones don’t seem to yield the same amount of satisfaction that Billy obviously gets from his huge bone. At the first opportunity she races over to Billy’s spot and tries to drag his bone into her laundry. Problem one is that the bone is bigger than Shadow. Problem two is that she tries to defend her own paltry supply of bones from Billy’s plundering while stealing his. It’s almost impossible for an aging Silky Terrier type to be in two places at once, but Shadow usually manages to gain possession of all the bones. But as I said earlier, by the time Billy is finished with his bone it’s not fit for doggy consumption.
Shadow holds out hope that one day, when I walk out the back door carrying those huge, delicious bones that one of them will be for her - before Billy has mauled it past recognition. In the meantime she will continue to save her pennies on the off chance that she meets a butcher somewhere around the back yard with huge, juicy marrowbones for sale. And if Billy thinks she is going to share - isn’t he in for a surprise,