The Contessa was the subject of my first blog post way back in August 2006. Danny reminded me of the fact this evening.
I often think about the time when Danny and I drove down to London to collect The Contessa. She didn’t have a name then. She was just a new stag red Min Pin pup and a wife for Dr Quito. Dr Q had been attacked and semi-paralysed during a Sunday afternoon walk on The Gallops in Newmarket and our vet suggested that a companion might salve his damaged mojo.
We drew up at a tall house that seemed to have Min Pins barking from every window. We were led through a gloomy kitchen where full sized Dobermans were lurking just out of reach of our path.
Our pup was released with a black and tan brother and they rushed frenetically about the room. Over the sofa, in and out of the chairs in a whirl of puppyish delight. When our pup eventually stood still we could see that she had excellent conformation. We were delighted.
But secretly I reckoned that she might be a bit disappointed when we took her home and she was introduced to Dr Q – in no way could he chase her over the sofa. My suspicions were true. She made it clear that Dr Q was the one with the bad breath and goofy teeth. She lay in the entrance of their basket, playing with his toys, snarling and not letting him in.
Dr Quito, on the other hand had fallen in love. He was happy to sit outside the basket and just gaze at her. That night he refused to sleep – he sat up protecting his new paramour.
Min Pins tend to be one person dogs. The one she set her sights on was Danny. She adored him, flirting in the most ladylike way. Meanwhile we tried to decide on a name. Danny wanted Tess or Connie. I’m not keen on human names for dogs. She was strong willed and haughty.
“She is so elegant that she ought to be named after European minor dignitaries. How about The Contessa?”
Danny agreed in an instant.
Within a week I realised that I’d been fooled. It was The Contessa but Connie when he was feeling soft. We like Min Pins as a breed as they all have strong personalities and a large independent streak. Danny was The Contessa’s human pet. During the last few years of her life she was my darling too, Our Tess, the little Elf Princess.
So what changed? How did I grow to love The Contessa? During the first months it was hard to countenance this. As Danny played with her on the lawn, Quito and I sat hunched in the kitchen. Had it been a ghastly mistake? The match had been made for Dr Q not us. Contessa regaled Dr Q with nasty quick snaps (we called these Snakeheads). When she came on heat she rushed for her cage for protection. It was very sad.
After six years we bought another pup. Inca. The Contessa growled and roared at her through the bars of Inca’s puppy cage. Dr Q was far more encouraging – he licked Inca through the bars and when she was big enough to be released and not be eaten by The Contessa, he played with Inca endlessly.
He might have goofy teeth but he was top dog.
Inca’s arrival heralded a change in Contessa. Suddenly she was keen to display that Dr Q was her beloved husband (Q adored this switch and as she grew, Inca ignored her decrees). Gradually The Contessa bewitched me too. When I became ill we spent many hours together up in the giant bed – the Min Pins love warmth and comfort. She became affectionate and would sleep up on the pillows close to my head.
The Contessa died suddenly on Friday night. The cottage has been strangely quiet since then. She was never a noisy dog and had the elegance and grace of a gazelle. I think that the entire household is sad – it was a shock for all of us.
Last night I dreamt briefly about The Contessa. She suddenly appeared and walked away across the sitting room – she didn’t look back.
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