Wee Murphy's a law unto himself; RECORD PETS.
WHEN my brother and his wife got their first puppy recently, they vowed he would not change their lives.
Yeah, right. To be honest, the fact that Murphy, their black Labrador, has stayed at our house for the past four weekends, certainly means that our lives have changed considerably too.
Our own wee rescue dog, Scud, has settled happily into family life over the past 10 years.
She knows when I am just nipping out to the car to get something or when I am heading for a walk with her.
Mealtimes are not a fuss. She remembers when they are due and sits patiently under the table at the children's feet, waiting for son Bill to drop something, then complain bitterly that the dog has stolen his food.
Her place by the fire is assured. Scud knows the stove is too hot to touch with her nose, so there is never the smell of burning flesh.
She has learned, over the years, that wooden floors are slippy, howling is pointless, rain gets you very wet and that paper hankies are pretty tasteless and stick in your teeth.
Murphy, delightful though he is, not yet quite so accomplished in the ways of our family. Whatever's wrong with the dog? He never seems to know where you are going. When I walk to the fridge, he anticipates me heading to the door, so a collision occurs.
When I get up to go to the loo, he thinks I am aiming for the fridge, so a collision occurs.
It would be annoying if he weren't so damn anxious to please. He will sit directly behind a chair. Doesn't he know it is going to be pushed back from the table and clunk him? And hey - that's Scud's bone/basket/bowl.
Walking has changed too.
Scud pretty much fends for herself. Unless someone encroaches on the kids' space, she potters about, requiring little, if any, ownerly input.
Occasionally, she will have to be called back from her one millionth or so failed attempt to catch a blackbird and sometimes she will chase a fast-moving bike. (Why must we stop for them, yet woe betide you if the cyclist even has to slow for a second).
But Murphy wants to speak to everybody. A 10-minute walk takes an hour-and-a-half. After a decade of keeping my head down, I am on nodding terms with everyone who frequents the cycle path. I'll be getting their life stories next.
But wait a minute. I am out walking more. Scud, the children and I are fitter. She is enjoying the company. So are we. New tricks are being learned.
Everyone's life has changed - for the better. Welcome to the family, Murphy.
SHOW NEWS Feb 26: Border Terrier Clubs Open Show in Jedburgh Town Hall at 10.30am. Scottish Boxer Clubs Championship Show in Lanark Agricultural Centre. Irvine & District Canine Clubs Open Show in the Magnum Leisure Centre, Irvine at 9.15am. Tay Valley Gundog Association Limited Show in the Beach Hall Leisure Centre, Carnoustie, at 10.30am. Feb 27: Catrine Canine Clubs Open Show in Lanark Agricultural Centre at 9.30am. April 2: Scottish Dachshund Clubs Championship Show in Dumfries. Schedule from Mrs E Cooper, The Bungalow, Clarkes Terrace, Dudley, Cramlington, Northumberland NE23 7LS. Tel: 0191 250 0017. Entries close March 4. Apr 9: Scottish Utility Breeds Clubs Open Show in Bo'ness. Secretary Mrs JC Gregory, 187 Broad Street, Cowdenbeath, Fife, KY4 8LQ. Tel: 01383 514633. Entries close March 1. Apr 9: Irish Setter Club of Scotland Championship Show in Lanark. Schedules from Bertie Marshall, 27 Raith Drive, Kirkcaldy, Fife, KY2 5NW. Entries close Mar 1.