We had a little visitor to our house last weekend (and no, unlike most of our visitors, he did not have four legs. This little man had only two legs—although he often moved fast enough to make you believe he might have had four). His name is Ryan.
Ryan’s nanna, Pam, is good friend of mine and her daughter Emily and grandson Ryan were in town visiting for the Easter week, so we had some fun ‘catching up’. I was struck at how much Ryan had changed since I last saw him. He is looking more like a proper ‘little boy’ to me now—although at 2-and-a-half years I imagine he is technically a ‘toddler’?? (Not having had children of my own, I am happy to stand corrected.)
(For those of you who don’t know me, I thought I would just point out that not having children was a deliberate choice for me, and one I have never regretted. I don’t want to offend anyone but, as a general rule (and with notable exceptions of course) I just really prefer dogs to children. A copy of the ‘Pets Welcome . . . ‘ sign, left, really is on my front door.)
Anyway, during the week of the visit we were all chatting and decided it might be fun if Pam, Em and Ryan all came over to my house so that Ryan could meet ‘my girls’. Pam is a regular visitor but Em hadn’t been over in a long while, and Ryan never. I was curious to see how my girls would react.
As you might already have guessed, my girls are not used to children. We see them when we are out and about on our walks of course, and because the girls are all so small and cute, children often come running up to us to ‘see the puppies’. The sudden onslaught of a group of children (i.e. more than one child at a time) will often send them into ‘silly as a box of frogs’ mode and scatter them in all directions, but they will, on occasion (and if I hold on to their collars and cajole them a bit) deign to be patted . . . if the children aren’t too big or too loud . . . or on bikes . . . or scooters . . . or skateboards . . . or carrying fishing rods . . . or wearing red . . .
But even though they are often jumpy and nervous around children, I have never worried that they might bite a child. Experience has shown me that when they get scared Maude will stand her ground bravely (directly behind me) and bark like a maniac, Mabel will try desperately to climb up my leg until she is picked up, and Molly will turn tail and run for her life. Biting (happily) does not seem to be in their repertoire.
And, true to form, when Ryan appeared in their living room, Mabel begged to be picked up, Maude set off a volley of barks worthy of a dog three times her size (all the time making sure that either I or the coffee table was between her and the small scary person) . . . and Molly ran and hid under the sofa (and also barked, just in case Maudie wasn’t getting the point across).
They needn’t have worried. As it turned out Ryan was much more interested in the house itself than he was in them, at least to start with (perhaps they have a budding designer or architect on their hands?) While we adults chatted (and attempted to calm the dogs down) Ryan took himself off on a little inspection tour of the house and garden, pottering in and out of the rooms and making mental notes, with Maudie shadowing him (from a safe distance) the whole time.
Having completed his visual inspection he then set about ‘collecting’ items from around the house—a couple of pens, a notebook, my glasses—and disappeared down the hallway happily humming to himself. We laughed, wondering was was going on in his head, until his mum got a little nervous when it all went very quiet (even I know that can be a bad sign) and went in search of him. We found him sitting quietly on the couch in my office, still humming to himself, wearing my glasses and writing in my ‘blog’ book. (I had a look in that book later. He has made copious notes but I am not quite sure yet if they are notes on the state of repair of my house and garden, or new ideas for my blog. When I decode them I will let you know.)
So, although I am not sure my girls will agree with Mr. Peabody’s statement just yet—the visit turned out to be a great success. And I could tell that my girls, albeit reluctantly at first, were actually starting to enjoy themselves. When Ryan had finished compiling his notes he came back out in the living room and started to interact with the dogs. Very funny—and very loud. My girls don’t seem to be able to ‘play’ quietly. Maudie even managed to learn to bark with her ball still in her mouth. Quite a feat I thought.
(And here is a good spot to put in an apology to Scott, Ryan’s dad, who rang his wife hoping to get a lovely ‘facetime’ chat with his family while he was away on his trip overseas, only to be met by a scene of absolute bedlam with Ryan running, dog’s barking, spray-bottle squirting (and that’s a whole other story) and no chance of making himself heard above the din at all. Sorry Scottie.)
As the visit wound down, and in calmer moments, Ryan did manage to get sloppy kisses from both Mabel and Maude (in his eye and up his nose) which he seemed quite happy about. Molly got pats from her favourite Auntie Pammy and I myself got to have several long chatty conversations with Ryan which I enjoyed very much.
(Thankfully Ryan’s mum and nanna were on hand to help with the trickier translations. I am fluent in several dialects of ‘dog’, and have a smattering of ‘cat’—but ‘toddlerspeak’—not so much. If I were more fluent I would have asked him the next day why all my drink coasters (which I hadn’t even realised were missing) were later found arranged in a very intricate pattern around the bathroom floor. Perhaps there is something about that in his notes . . . . )
Anyway, I am not sure how Ryan slept that night but the afternoon’s excitement was all too much for the girls. The three of them were fast asleep and snoring almost before Ryan was even packed up in the car and out of the driveway. And, as lovely as the afternoon was, I know exactly how they felt . . . .
P.S. Sad news yesterday that Ryan’s great-grandfather, Bobby, passed away this week, aged 85.
I met Bobby several times over the years and he was a lovely, sweet and gentle man and will be missed by all his family and friends.