December 24, 2016

We’ve had our dog, Della, for three years. She’s a rescue dog, and was an unexpected Christmas present. We’d been told initially it would be early January before the vet could perform the mandatory de-sexing op prior to adoption, but thanks to a cancellation, her surgery was brought forward, and we were able to collect her on Christmas Eve.

Called ‘Princess’ by the RSPCA staff who’d found her wandering the streets, starving and bedraggled, Della’s background was largely unknown. She’s mixed breed, (but almost certainly with a good dollop of basenji in her ancestry) and was thought to be about seven months old. She’d clearly been abused and mistreated, but according to her short bio was ‘eager to please’. She still is, and three years on is a dog that will always need regular reassurance we aren’t going to run off and abandon her. She loves to hug and be hugged – unusual for a dog – but remains wary of strangers, especially men, which suggests the trauma she suffered as a pup continues to linger, and may always do so, and that’s sad.

Although none of our previous animals were named immediately, we had to come up with an alternative to Princess pretty quickly to satisfy the RSPCA’s paperwork. We’ve always relied on the quirks of their personalities to provide clues about what to call our animals, even if it meant they remained nameless for a week or so.

Our previous dog Mona was so-called due to her tendency to howl if she thought she was being excluded from the fun, or she saw us driving off, leaving her alone at home for the day. It was decidedly odd behaviour for an otherwise very independent animal, who had a take it or leave it attitude to being petted, unless she was in the mood. The contrast between her and Della in this regard could not be greater, and serves to illustrate just how varied dogs’ personalities can be. Just like us humans really.

Several names were considered and discarded before we settled on Della – a name suggested by a friend, and that was inspired by Nelson Mandela, who had died a few weeks previously. And Della is a gentle, loving soul (most of the time) so the name is well-chosen, and suits her well.