He was born on November 29, 2000. In human years he would now be 105 years old. Although he has aged well, yet still, his bones show clearly through his coat, and he looks quite frail. Even his voice has turned rather hoarse and the volume much lower.
The Security Director at my previous company came to visit with his wife, bringing with them a largish plastic bag. When they opened the bag out came the most adorable two little, pitch black puppies. That was the first time I laid eyes on Caesar and Cleopatra. I fell in love with Caesar. He had this one ear that was floppy and he always bent his head to one side whenever I addressed him as though trying to understand a foreign language.
As puppies Cleo was the terror of the two. I can never forget when she used to drag poor Caesar by the ear all over the parquet floor in the apartment. But he never retaliated. They grew up in that apartment and mated there, and had their litter there. We were blessed by four beautiful little black girls whom I promptly named after flowers as they were all destined to live in the garden. So I had Daisy, Rosy, Petunia (Palpouta) and Tulip (Lippa).
Caesar had grown into a beautiful, large , black dog with huge white teeth and a bark that resonated on the concrete of the walls. He was such a gentle dog, despite his looks, so I thought to bring in a trainer to teach him and Cleo guard duty. I did not really like their trainer. When he beat Cleo with the leash, that was the end of him. But I found out that they did not need to be trained in guard duty, it was instinctive.
The move from the apartment to the house is a story on its own ( described in full in my previous article “Doggone). The clan took to the garden right away and it became their home, their playground, their territory. They turned into a fearsome pack of six large, pitch black dogs with huge, vicious looking white teeth. After an initial confrontation with one of the gardeners where Caesar established his dominance, things went smoothly except for the fights among the children.
Caesar had turned into an amazing guard dog. He was huge, extremely strong, very bright and alert and foolishly courageous. My love for him was tinged with pride and admiration. Though I had him neutered after the first litter came, yet it did not adversely affect either his health or his energy. He remained the strong Alfa of his clan, the protector of the property, and my darling, gentle Caesar.
When eight years later we lost two of the females within three weeks of each other, that was a terrible blow for all of us. But it was particularly difficult for Caesar as one of them was Cleo, his sister, his mate, his life’s companion. Though it is said that dogs have a short memory span, yet for weeks after we lost Cleo Caesar would howl into the night, thus breaking my heart in my inability to console him. But life went on.
It was a few years later that the other females started getting sick, and we lost them one after the other. The last to go was Lippa. Her loss was very difficult for Caesar for she was the last remaining, and with her gone he was all alone.
Luckily I had already adopted my Terrible Trio, so I started leaving them for longer periods in the garden with Caesar to keep him company. The pecking order was quickly established with Caesar again as the Alfa male, even though by then Troy was much bigger and stronger. Also Helen was very aggressive, yet they all fell in love with him and obeyed him as their boss.
With the adoption of the Daring Duo, the group dynamics changed once again. The maternal instinct of Petra materialised and she took the babies under her wing. She played with them, sometimes roughly without meaning to, but she was fascinated and totally obsessed by them. Troy ignored them and Helen looked suspiciously on before deciding that they were a couple of little nuisances that needed to be chastised every so often.
And here was the surprise. The moment Hellen became aggressive with one of the puppies which starts screaming, in dashes my gallant, chivalrous Caesar and chases Helen off them. That protective instinct, that chivalry is something inherent, he was born with that gene. First time he did it I thought it was a fluke, but when he repeated it, and also extended the mantle of his protection to Petra, I was amazed.
His self appointed new responsibilities have breathed new life into Caesar. Although still very slim, his gait is more assured, he is more alert and I think he acts younger than he did last year. He has turned into a truly grand old gentleman
7 July 2015