When I was four years old my mother had an ectopic pregnancy. Although it’s unusual she couldn’t conceive after that. It seems her remaining fallopian tube had been badly damaged in the process and was permanently blocked.
My parents had always wanted more children and, after giving it a lot of thought, considered adopting. They asked me if I’d like a brother or sister.
Instead, I asked for a dog.
Alas it took many years and a lot of emotional blackmail before my mother gave in to my request. If you must know I played the “poor-me-the-only-child” card. My father pled my case and Tosca came into our lives.
Tosca came from championship stock but could never be shown because he was bred as a toy poodle, but grew to miniature size. So the breeder, who was only interested in show dogs, put him up for adoption.
He became my mother’s second child.
I kid you not.
She lavished as much love and attention on him as she did on me and my father. And, in return, he (Tosca) stuck to her side like glue from the instant he moved into our house to the day he died. God help anyone who made a move in her direction. Ordinarily a gentle, placid, friendly dog he’d go absolutely berserk if even my father tried to put his arm around her.
No one loved my mother’s cooking as much as Tosca did — especially when she made roast beef or cooked a chicken. He’d park himself in front of the stove and refuse to move, knowing full well he’d get the first taste. When he was a wee puppy she made him pablum, which she topped with a scoop of cottage cheese — which he loved.
And when, in his later years, he developed a kidney problem and was put on a special diet, she cooked the food like burgers for him because she said it looked and tasted better. He had his own frying pan, mixing bowl, spatula and other utensils.
Once he had to be hospitalized for something, I can’t remember what. It wasn’t serious but he did have to stay a couple of days. When my mother dropped him off at the Vet, in addition to Tosca she arrived with luggage. In it was his favourite blanket, his pillow, a few toys, all his cooking paraphernalia and the recipe for his “burgers.”
The best thing that ever happened to Tosca was over-growing toy size and not being able to follow in his famous great grandfather’s footsteps and win at the Westminster Dog Show.
He ended up with a much better prize: My mother — or should I say, “our” mother.