If you’re any sort of a film fan, you’ll be familiar with the work of the Coen Brothers. And if you like the Coen brothers, then hopefully you’ll agree with me that ‘Raising Arizona’ is a two-hour treat that you’ll never, ever, regret. Who knows, you might even have your favourite quote from the film. For me, it’s this bit:

Edwina: “H.I., I’m barren.”

H.I. “At first, I didn’t believe it. That this woman who looked as fertile as the Tennessee Valley could not bear children. But the doctor explained that her insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.”

Of course, if none of the above film buff conditions apply to you then this may all appear to be gibberish. But if you’ve seen the film, and you read or hear the word barren, you may find that you can’t do so without saying, in your head, “H.I., Aaaaaam baaaaren”.

In fact, while we’re here, if you’ve not seen Raising Arizona, here’s a taster…and if you have, here’s a reminder. Watch it when you can.

Anyway, here at Emu Towers, we’ve experienced our own little challenges with Luna the dog, or, to give her her full title, The Hungarian Crown Princess Who Can Do No Wrong In The Eyes Of All The Family (Except Django The Hamster). Truly, the insides of THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH) are a rocky place where seed would find no purchase, but that’s largely because we had her neutered last year. We explained to her at the time that she would never hear the pitter patter of tiny Imperial Hungarian paws, but she took little heed, so Mrs E whisked her down to the vet and had that rocky place created. And that, to a large extent, was that. Game over, on the fertility front. Or possibly game ovary.

But before too long, we noticed a wistful, occasionally doleful look in the eyes of THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH). Which was matched, rather predictably, by the look in the eyes of Mrs E. Sometimes, not even a dead chicken could cheer her up (THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH), not Mrs E) :

“Luna’s never been a mother, and she needs a puppy to play with”, said Mrs E, using the informal form of address.

Apparently Luna was in full agreement, and being unable to produce a puppy herself, had agreed to adopt. Actually, these things being what they are (Q What sort of baby puppy would Luna like?; A One exactly the same size, colour and shape as her), it was more of an expensive surrogate birth at an approved provider than an adoption. It transpired that surrogate births in the canine world are just as challenging as in the human one, but with a bit more scrutiny from the donor.

But such a donor was found, a deal was struck, and an excited Mrs E put several hundred miles on the car by her weekly visits to the breeder. She even got involved in the naming process, which, for all the right reasons, was Bowie-themed. These names had to be submitted to the Kennel Club, and, as a result, our little brown ball of fun was officially called ‘Diamond’, as the Kennel Club rejected the name ‘Diamond Dog’, which apparently had the illegal word ‘Dog’ in it. Peculiar.

Anyway, the prospect of calling a dog ‘Diamond’, without sounding like a Ray Winstone/Leslie Grantham/Grant Mitchell hybrid was pretty unlikely, so we went into a family huddle over Christmas and collectively all agreed on a name. Which me and Mrs E completely overruled in the first week in January, naming the small ball Solomon. Because he looks like he’s full of wisdom, is pretty regal, and can share his name with one of the greatest soul singers of all time. (And there are already two dogs called Otis in the park). Here he is looking full of wisdom:

So, come the great day of bringing Solomon home, and we’d given THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH) a bit of a heads up, what with there being an extra bed in the kitchen (and, for some reason, an extra bed in the living room, and a number of new items that Mrs E had been storing in what used to be called a ‘bottom drawer’).

You know those scenes when a childless mother is presented with her baby after years of upset? Here’s ours:

Apologies for the camera shaking, but the operator was laughing too much to concentrate.

Anyway, the first few hours were as entertaining as you would expect. Solomon snuggled up to Luna and tried unsuccessfully to latch on to her, which she found a little bit annoying. He played with her but after a while she‘d either walk away or bark at him to stop. He wee’d and poo’d on the kitchen floor and she sniffed it, shook her head and walked away. In fact, he behaved just like any other new baby would, and Luna’s behaviour was an uncanny reminder of Mrs E’s parenting skills.

But then they’d settle, and produced the sort of images that Solomon will be showing his own surrogate children in a few years’ time:

“Yes, this is me with THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH) when I was a few weeks old. Gosh, can’t believe I was that little – where does the time go? Luckily I finally grew into my ears…”

Then, a couple of days after the big arrival, Luna got pretty ill. And being the giving sort of mother that she had already become, kindly passed an industrial dose of gastro-enteritis onto her new child. Solomon got ill, and for a few days he was in a really horrible state, and had to go on IV drugs and was kept overnight at the vets, and, again in a history of being parents sort of style, we felt awful and guilty but we didn’t know what we were feeling awful and guilty for, and so we felt even more awful and guilty.

And then he came out, with more enthusiasm then ever, slightly startling THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH), but the main thing was that he was better.

As Mrs E pointed out on the way back from the vets, there’s nothing like your nearest & dearest being ill as a stark reminder of how much you love them, and I guess there’s a message in there for us all.

THCPWCDNWITEOATF(EDTH), remained relatively stoical. It’s probably all that royal breeding that maintains a brave face at all times.  A bit like the stolen quote for Queenie in Blackadder: “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant”.

And now, all is well. Mother and surrogate are fine. The Crown Princess Eyes have gone from doleful to doting. The new world order is restored. Everybody loves a happy ending, right?



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