Aged five weeks, my second visit to him in his birth home.
It's The Dog's birthday tomorrow. He will be eleven and - as this is the average age for the breed according to most authorities out there - I guess this means officially that we are now entering The Bonus Years.
He was born on St Patrick's Day 2002 in Waltham Forest, which makes him an Essex Boy. Like the Essex Boys of the 1980s he wears white socks, but since he is a Westie (West Highland White Terrier) you'd have to be in the know to notice that as he is white all over. His hair is white, that is. His eyes, eyelids, nose, lips and paw pads, even his claws, are all black. This gives him very noticeable facial features, and he doesn't have a tremendously long nose so his features are quite open, wide-eyed and forward-facing. He also has ears that are always up, unless he is frightened, ill or been A Very Naughty Boy. This all combines to make him look like a very bright, alert and interested-in-everything little dog, which is good, because he is.
He is a senior dog now, without a doubt. He snoozes more, he grumbles and chunners more, and he is even more markedly territorial. However many times we tell him not to he will always woof, ggggrrrr and bark through the hedge or the side gate whenever he is in the back garden. In the summer our garden is a No Fly Zone. Anything with wings that flits over or through is objected to strenuously. If we are in the garden with him we can get him to shush. If he is out there on his own he forgets our imprecations and makes his feelings known, so, for the sake of the neighbours, he is brought back in and admonished.
He sleeps on the bed with us, between us usually or sometimes curled around the head of one or the other of us, or at our feet, like the best-loved hunting dog of a mediaeval knight. If we had a burglar he'd tell us, for sure. But so far we are fortunate in that respect, so we slumber on, "piles and heaps of pups and peeps" as we like to refer to our bedtimes. I have never been happier in my entire life than that makes me.
Addendum; Birthday Portrait with His Male Human
He's a Beta male. With occasional Alpha urges. With other dogs he is now usually the more dominant and respected figure, but with us he is third in the pack and we endeavour NOT to let him promote himself, as this makes dogs fretful and anxious, feeling they have to be responsible for things. His only job is to have a good life with his family.
We cannot know how long this happy state of affairs will continue. I have read that Westies can retain their puppyish zest for life, for at least some of the day, well into their teens. But then they suddenly fade and age rapidly in the last few months of their lives. This is an outcome devoutly to be wished. I wouldn't mind it for myself, either!
Happy birthday, Edgar Paddy Filthy McNasty. This weekend I have decided to break the usual blogging anonymity and give you the credit and identity of your full KC-registered name. We chose all those names, they have nothing to do with the lineage of his sire or dam. We chose them to be amusing and characterful, as befits a little dog who is both those things to his very core