This time five years ago a little puppy was born into a litter of pups in East Gippsland. I’d waited for an all black King Charles Cavalier cross to become available from the breeder, Matt was quite adamant that if we were to get a little house dog it would not be white or fluffy. It had to be a practical dog – this meant dark haired, non-hair shedding and able to be roughed up with his working dogs on the farm. I had grown up with the most beautiful golden Cocker Spaniel, Penny, from the same breeders and I was keen to get another spaniel. What we got was our rough-and-tumble prettiest-farm-dog-you’ll-ever-see little Tess-Tess. She holds her own with the kelpies, tries desperately to keep up to the motorbike, chases swooping magpies away from the washing line for me and snores like a freight train.
Despite popular belief, she is actually not ‘my’ dog at all. She was a surprise birthday gift to Matt, a point he makes very clear when she’s at her cutest and most well-behaved but quickly deflects when she barks at night or pushes her way through the fly screen door to get inside. Naughty puppy.
And if I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me how old my ‘puppy’ was I would be a millionaire. I usually smile politely and say “She’s almost five”, which is then met with “Five months?” Uh, no…five years. Another common question is what breed she is, techinically she is a ‘Cavocker’ – a King Charles Cavalier cross a Cocker Spaniel. Her mother was a tri-colour cavvie and her father was a black cocker spaniel, but her father had a bit of poodle thrown in the mix which means Tessa doesn’t shed that much hair. So most of the time I just say she is a cavvie-cocker-cross with about a quarter poodle. Matt likes to say it gives her ‘hybrid vigour’ (read: cattle genetic dork speak for the mongrel bloodlines make her an awesome dog).
Even though last year we traveled around Australia and worked in outback Queensland without Tess (she stayed at my best friends and was very well looked after, spoilt rotten), I can’t imagine not having my little sidekick. Right now as I type she is asleep next to my chair, she is my little constant shadow and is never far away. She spends her days sleeping in the sunshine or looking forward to visiting her friends the chooks, her nights are spent running up and down the hall waiting for Matt to come home and then snoring her head off in front of the fire. She’s a funny little thing, all of a sudden she will remember she has a tail and chase it round and round and round. She makes strange little groaning noises when she’s excited, sighs dramatically at the funniest moments and ruff-ruff’s at inanimate objects constantly (yesterday she spent a good ten minutes growling at an upturned red bucket in the garden – scary!)
Happy fifth birthday little Tess-Tess, you are a pretty awesome sidekick, snoring, neurosis and all.