Our first dog was a loveable golden Beagle named Hector. As a puppy he had a heart the size of a watermelon – he was cute and kind and a good little boy.
A few years went peacefully by, and apart from the odd toilet-related incident and occasional excitable yapping, Hector was the perfect dog, the golden jewel of our family.
Now, I’m no expert, and I’m not entirely sure if dog-puberty is a thing, but basically, puberty hit poor Hector, and boy, did it hit like an absolute truck.
Our sweet, charming, innocent little ball of love had been replaced by an infernal boulder of cascading devastation, and it was rolling deeper and deeper into the fiery depths of doggy hell. Biting, growling, gnashing, thieving (stole a sandwich from a toddler!), he became a mischievous little blighter, and it seemed as though his sole purpose in life was drive us, quite literally, barking mad.
He succeeded, of course. Hector had become a mastermind of doggy subterfuge, knowing precisely the worst moments to propel into a monstrous barking fit, the volume of which would reach unprecedented heights of decibel intensity. Remember when the last ever episode of Friends aired for the first time? Well, right about the time when Rachel said ‘I got off the plane”, I was crying, and it wasn’t because Rachel had managed to get off the plane – it was because Hector had been barking since the moment something had gone wrong with the left phalange. To this day, I can’t watch that episode without ripping my own hair out.
He would no longer accept any form of love. Despite our desperate attempts at affection, he would not be pampered. He would eat and growl and bark and bite and sleep and eat and growl and bark and bite and sleep. No doubt about it, our sweet little muffin had gone.
But of course, we still loved him dearly. We know that his good heart still existed somewhere within his cloud of hatred. We weren’t going to give up on him, not our precious little Hector.