When I was 6, on a rainy day in my new house, I had just woken up from a nap.
(Yes, I napped. I still nap. Except now I don't complain. And we refer to them as siestas so as to seem special.)
My mother, who did not have to nap, was on the phone and was clutching a piece of paper torn from the newspaper. She was smiling, which was unusual for my mother on the phone. Usually she has this expression, known as the Ironing Face (which is similar to this picture), whenever she is doing a task she finds boring. Phone conversations never made my mother smile. Bleary-eyed and slightly confused, I knew this was therefore a conversation to eavesdrop on. I leaned around the corner of the kitchen and stared at my mother.
She hung up the phone, and just smiled at me. "Did you have a nice nap?"
Oh, how to respond? I was still tired. So I didn't accuse her of plotting. I just nodded at her and asked for some juice, which I didn't get, and promptly showed my own variation of the ironing face.
Anywho, the next day, my brother and I were bundled into the car. Chris was not amused, because he hated trips anywhere. I was not amused, because I had been told we were not going to the beach. We were going in the direction of the Hole of All Holes, Lismore.
But before we crossed the frontier into Lismore's Disturbia, we turned. And drove to this place, perched on a hill, with puppies. Puppies.
Mum seemed to know what I was thinking. "You can pat these ones," she said. "But wait a minute."
And 10 minutes later, I had a puppy in my arms.
Inca was nameless for a while. We vaguely referred to her as Puppy, You There, Oi, Dogface, and a variety of Spanish swears if it was my father seeing her eat the rosebush. So when my parents decided naming her after a civilisation which may or may not be part of my ancestry, and was butchered by the Spaniards, the poor thing was understandably confused.
Dad went outside upon this decision to test out the new name. Inca was eating a stick.
"Inca!" he yelled triumphantly. Inca lifted her head to see who he was calling, looked around, and continued chewing.
Dad looked a little confused, and tried again. "Inca!"
Inca peered at Dad in apparent sympathy. In her eyes, all you could see was Look, I'm sorry, but there doesn't seem to be an Inca here. Can I help? She couldn't, though. So she returned to her stick with gusto.
Dad strode over to her, and put his hand on her. "Inca."
Now Inca looked confused. I'm not Inca. I'm Puppy. Or Mierda. What is this?
"Good Inca," Dad said, triumphantly. He came inside. "The dog knows its name."
When Tuscany came along, we had given up on training Inca. I had written a letter to a TV vet begging him to make Inca go in her kennel (I got a letter and a leash as a reply), we had realised how to make her obey us, and she was not fat. We had succeeded.
Tuscany, however, was like her chubby 7-year-old owner. She was round. Unlike her 7-year-old owner, Tuscany waddled most places. I instantly adored her, because unlike Inca, this dog seemed to not have much in the way of smarts. She seemed to think it a clever idea to try stealing Inca's food - a year younger, certainly not the most likely to survive if it came to a battle to the death, and fat - and came out of it with a scar on her eye, where Inca calmly told her that it was not in her best interests and bit her eye.
While Inca was scolded for her efforts (possibly making her the dog she is now) it was still very, very amusing.
Anyway, so now these dogs are getting old. Tuscany still acts like a puppy and now thinks it's okay to constantly steal Inca's food (and Inca now lets her). She has this blanket which she carries everywhere. Her best display of athleticism was when I left the side gate open. She nervously walked out (I watched her do this, for giggles, because I knew I could actually catch her), looked around and sat decisively in the middle of the driveway. She has eaten a lorikeet, feathers and all, after it swooped Dad as he hung the washing. She ate a bee (very, very amusing). I dropped a chilli, and she put her nose to it, and spent at least an hour swatting at her nose in confusion.
Inca is a little more clever. She has realised that if you're not patting her, she can either hit you and get your attention, stare at you creepily, or shove her head under your arm. (She stares creepily a lot.) She used to be able to play soccer, but now she enjoys getting Tuscany stuck in places where she shouldn't be. She runs away with great skill, and more often than not I have yelled threats to her because someone like me shouldn't be running, ever, no, not even when the zombies come and take over Brisbane. I love her dearly, though.
A weird post but I miss them a lot, now I'm up here. I need puppy cuddles.
(By the way, train your puppy to snorkel. Inca used to do it. Get a bucket, fill it with water, and drop a rock in it. Yes, Inca ate rocks. Anyway, if you do it right, your dog will drag the rock to the side of the bucket with its paw, take a deep breath and dunk its head in to grab the rock. First time she did it, I almost cried laughing.
Also, try convincing your parents to not fill in the hole your dog has dug in the throes of pregnancy. Tuscany dug one that Chris and I were really impressed with. It reached the stage where we couldn't see its end, so we tossed Tuscany's ball down there. She had enough room to reach the ball, turn around comfortably, and return to us, ball in mouth. We told Mum gleefully and she filled in the hole. All the poor dog's efforts, wasted.
And Golden Retriever doesn't guarantee that they are gold or that they retrieve. They were bought white, often were red from the volcanic dirt, and never gave us anything they collected.)