I grew up with dogs. Or rather a dog. The worried mutt above was the son of the family dog when I was born. But Rusty didn’t survive for me to remember her. She was a pedigree boxer and so was Punch, hence the extraordinarily pretentious name you see in the heading. I have no idea why my parents went for anything so fanciful as that for his registered name but maybe they’d been at the cooking Madeira again.
He terrified people who called. Some because of his sheer bulk; others because of his reverse hydration. If you’ve seen the Tom Hanks film Hooch you’ll know what I mean.
Punch was a huge presence in the family, from his love of huge logs and massive stones which he’d carry for miles in his drooling mouth to his inability to get traction on the kitchen lino when someone knocked on the front door – when, finally some sort of grip was achieved the build up of kinetic energy often sent him hurtling into a pair of legs, the kitchen table or once the back door which forever after had a dent in the panelling.
In the custom of the day he’d be turfed out in the morning and go roaming the district with his doggy mates. My mother received the complaints about his behaviour with an resigned sigh and scolded him but she didn’t mean it.
One common complaint involved him and whichever neighbouring female hound that was on heat. My mother would patiently explain to the owner that they needn’t worry since Punch, while perfect in every other way only had one testicle and therefore the chances of his siring any offspring was remote. Of course, this is bollocks – or perhaps bollock – but mum would baffle the complainant with science: ‘he’s a mono-orchid, you see’ since in 1960s Surrey one knew when and with whom to use the word ‘testicle’ and Mum wasn’t about to break that verbal taboo.
This did lead to one near neighbour trying to explain to her husband why Punch’s unlooked for covering of their beloved Fifi Trixibelle wasn’t likely to be a problem: ‘You see he’s a, a… erm a mono… that is… oh he only has one tulip.’
No doubt, whatever mum said, he sired a fair few non-pedigree pups but mum wasn’t about to restrict him, mainly because he didn’t do well cooped up.
The above picture of him trapped with a face that launched a thousand mortgage repossessions bears witness to that fact. He needed a lot of love and attention when he was freed.
The same goes for all of us, I suspect when these social distancing measures are relaxed.
Though I don’t suggest we adopt Punch’s relaxation of choice with the nearest Fifi Trixibelle however many tulips we may have.