Dickens for Dogs, or Worrying about Winston

Winston's turkey skewer x-ray

Whenever anyone visits my house, they look around and ask, “Do you happen to have a dog?” If I could see a thought bubble over their head, it would read, “There’s no way anyone could keep their carpet clean if they had a dog.” It is true, there is no dog, and this means no paw prints on the carpet and comforter cover. But we did have a dog for almost 15 years, Winston. Winston was a wire-haired fox terrier with a bad attitude. Like me, he was nice to people he knew, but rather hostile to everyone else. We spent most of Winston’s life making up for his tragic childhood. We made sure he had a dog door, long walks, a nice bed, and lots of petting.

He originally belonged to my parents. Unfortunately, they bought him just before deciding to move to England. Since England was a country with an animal quarantine, he would need to be housed in a kennel for six months to verify that he wasn’t rabid. I had just moved to New York after graduating, and my mother called and asked if I could take him. The alternative wasn’t acceptable, so he flew to New York and moved into my small apartment. A year later, my parents decided they wanted Winston in England, so we put him on a British Air flight, and he went into quarantine.

That Christmas, we visited Winston at his prison. It was on the freezing plains of the English midlands. He had barked so much he lost his voice. They only fed him warm porridge. It was like Dickens’ Oliver Twist for dogs. He spent six hard months in jail.

A couple of weeks before his release, my parents decided they were bored of England and wanted to move back. So on the day he regained his freedom, they picked him up at the kennel, drove him to the airport, and sent him back to me—hence the need to make up for his bad childhood.

Winston had a good life even through the eating of a turkey skewer. He found his way into the garbage one Thanksgiving and managed to eat the skewer. The vet was sure somebody was playing a trick on him when he saw the X-ray. So at 14, Winston went in for surgery to remove his skewer. He survived this, then managed to injure an eye fighting with the dog next door. Then he needed to have his eye removed. In the end he was a tough little pirate dog, with a patch, and big scar.

I never got another dog, because I don’t want a different one.

Winston begging for watermelon

wire and smooth haired fox terriers

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7 Responses to “Dickens for Dogs, or Worrying about Winston”

  1. Michelle French Says:

    I didn’t commit to moving to London until I was sure the requirements were different. Sparkie’s “quarantine” consisted of her usual shots, a blood test, tons of paper work—all fairly easy from our jet-set vet in Buckhead and basic planning ahead. It helped that she was crate trained so she was perfectly happy on British Air in her own crate home.

  2. Nancy Bernard Says:

    After Kuvasok (my breed) Terriers are the BEST!

  3. Joe Says:

    Small world… my parents have a dog named Winston (as in Churchill) as well, although he is a Schnauzer, he looks almost exactly like this: http://bit.ly/cIE3vk .

  4. Michelle French Says:

    PS, you need some bundle of love to walk over the vacuum streaks in your carpet before they become permanent. I love you, so I worry.

    Sparkie is part shar-pei, part wire-hair terrier, and possibly, part wart-hog. Oh, and all of the requirements for her moving to England were dependent on the magic of a micro chip which is inserted by a simple injection.

  5. Sean Says:

    You posted here. Yay! Does the micro chip make her do things on command?

  6. Sean Says:

    Are you sure it’s not mine, stuffed. That would be wrong.

  7. Sean Says:

    Yes, I absolutely agree.