22 February 2007

My Dear Marshall...

Marshall is my younger uncle's dog, but he really belongs to everyone, not just my uncle. He's a handsome Shetland Sheepdog with a shaggy white mane and a gentle (if not cowardly) disposition, a dog that responds to Hainanese scoldings and will look at you quizzically when you scold it in English.

Marshall is also very manja. Whenever I visit my granny's (where my uncle stays), he will come right up and stand in front of me until I give in and give it a great big HUG. He loves to be carried, to be stroked and to be the centre of everyone's attention. When new pets come, Marshall always goes through a season of insecurity as everyone oohs and aahs over the newcomer, and especially so if he catches me stroking the new pet. When my older uncle brought Benji, a mini-schnauzer, back, I couldn't go near it for Marshall will bark if I step near it to stroke its black stubby coat :D When I approached Benji, Marshall wedged himself between Benji and ! and barked until I turned away. Sometimes, it's nice to know that someone is crazy-jealous for your attention ; )

Marshall is our second dog (in my lifetime, anyway) and has been with us for 13 years now. His legs are no longer what they used to be. When my uncle first brought him home, he showed off his sturdy paws, saying "This is a sign of a healthy dog. Look at his legs! So thick and strong!" and indeed they were. My cousin and I used to bring him for long walks around the park--the longer the better, and these walks were great opportunities for us to catch up with one another through the years in secondary school and junior college. As such, whenever Marshall sees both of us under the same roof, he whines and whines until we get the hint and bring him out for a nice long walk. Until recently. Now, my cousin has to carry him from the flat to the lift landing, then gently put him down for a short walk at the void deck before bringing him home.

Marshall used to bound to the door whenever we go over and will jump on our clothes and paw us for affection, but now, the most he can manage is a painful limp. Even if I were to walk straight up to him and open my arms and say "Bao4 bao4! (translated: hug, hug!)", he takes a while before he can stand up on his once strong limbs and allow himself to be cradled. He used to be a playful puppy that chases the tennis ball across the room; now he's a grouchy old man that is no less loved and no less adorable in his grouchy-grandad-ways. Every night, he sits by my cousin's computer table and gnaws at his paws while growling and grousing unintelligably.

Marshall is also my grandmother's faithful daytime companion. When she goes into her bedroom for her afternoon nap, he follows her into her room and will nap by her bed as she naps. He hangs around the kitchen as she goes about cooking for her children and her children's children, gnawing and grousing as he always does.

My dear Marshall is aging, as it inevitably happens. His once slim and strong body is full of unnaturally shaped lumps that are as big as his torso and weighs him down considerably. He can no longer stand and eat at his little food dish. This once greedy dog's appetite is waning. His beautiful fur coat is still gloriously thick and luscious, and he looks deceptively healthy, but when he moves, you can almost see him wince. We will need to put him to sleep soon. I don't look forward to the day, but that day will be here soon. I will miss him so.


mer said...

不在乎天长地久 只在乎曾经拥有

- yellow - said...

hey!i see the resemblance even in family pets..SAME HAIR. =D