Small and Mighty
Arthur got a new tartan bow tie over the festive period, and he is bordering on being a jerk.
If you’re wondering what breed of dog Arthur is, you’re going to be wondering for some time. He has the face of a teddy bear, the body of a lion, the legs of a Chihuahua, and the curly tail of a pig. You know when you mix too many paint colors and then you end up with a murky brown-grey? Arthur is what happens when you mix too many breeds of dog.
But that's not how Arthur sees it. Especially since he got his new tartan collar. He classes himself as 100% awesome, swaggering around like he’s 14lbs of solid gold. There’s confidence in his step. An attitude. There’s something about this new collar where he’s decided he is where the action is, rather than some kind of outlier waiting to be allowed to be included in the game.
And it really wasn’t always this way.
When we spotted Arthur in the pound, he was a bedraggled-looking pile of fur and bones hidden in the back of a cage. In fact, Lachlan said the reason he chose Arthur was because he thought that if we didn’t pick him nobody else would, and he would be left there to die.(Lachlan likes to say it how it is.)
Arthur didn't like people. He’d run away if anyone tried to touch him. And he made not one single sound for two weeks.
But it’s amazing what a warm bed, some food, and a bit of love can do.
Now he is quite a personality. He is a strutting, ankle-nudging, tail-wagging rocket, who very much likes his presence known. If the four of us are sitting having a family meeting, Arthur demands to be up front and center on my lap, so everyone can see he's part of the family too.
And Mark and I are convinced one day he’ll get us killed. Whenever we’re out on a walk and there’s people arguing on the street or there's general dodgy dealing going on around some parked car, Arthur insists on stopping - believing the power of his absolute adorability will bring peace to the land.
And he's not entirely wrong. A couple of times people have actually paused mid-drug deal, momentarily distracted by a wee gingery dog staring at them, only to continue again with more haste.
In his dog pound days, Arthur ignored all other creatures. But now there is not a dog alive he will not bark a ‘hello’ or a ‘fuck you’ to, on any street.
Round the corner from where we live, there's a house with a literal pack of dogs. They’re led by a rottweiler, a pit bull, and some intimidating kind of minotaur-type thing. They growl and snarl at passersby. Thankfully they're behind a secure metal gate because that's one of Arthur’s favorite places to stop. On one side of the gate, more than 200lbs of snarly bitiness and on the other, Arthur, 14lbs of pure opinion and about as threatening as a furry French loaf, barking back.
Of late, Arthur enjoys just standing on his side of the gate, modeling his new tartan accessory while the snarly dogs go crazy. Or he might decide just to slowly amble by, leaving the rottweiler to howl for his attention quite forlornly. Yesterday, while the dogs were going crazy, Arthur, with abject cockiness, calmly peed on the wall beside the gate and then swaggered off like he was auditioning for Saturday Night Fever.
I’m blaming it on his collar. Though when I stop to think about it, he really has been changing little by little over a long period of time. Moment by moment. Day by day. Allowing himself to feel safe, to feel loved, to matter. That was really where it all began. The collar has just been the tipping point.
As we enter into the new year, the theme of everything is about making changes.
It gets me argumentative. Surely by starting every single year with, ‘This is the year to change you' is, by its very nature, not at all changey. I mean switch it up. Ask me for my New Year’s resolution in August.
I’ve no real resistance to the resolution thing - being open to learn and grow always gets a big old gold star in my book, but I don’t love the ‘new year, new you’ mantra. Like you're meant to amputate off all your disagreeable stuff. Like there's some Universal picture of perfection that we are each consistently falling short of. Like I say, it gets me argumentative.
Because we are each of us a work in progress. Changing all the time. Little by little. Moment by moment. Day by day. The trick is to embrace the change that comes from allowing yourself to feel safe, to feel loved, to matter.
We live in a big mental world where there are as many lunatics in positions of power as there are dodgy drug deals interrupted by Arthur, so the feeling of safety can be elusive.
And feeling loved can be tricky too because as much as people can be wonderful, they can also be complete assholes.
But reminding yourself that you matter is in your hands alone. Really, if there's a resolution to be made, how about making it that.
Arthur has the face of a teddy bear, the body of a lion, the legs of a Chihuahua, and the curly tail of a pig.
But he is completely and totally irreplaceable.
And so are you.
Till next week
The Audiobook version is available now on Apple Books and Audible.