My dream –
On a farm somewhere in the north temperate zone, apples in the orchard, potatoes in the ground, chickens and newly born puppies in the yard, I am the proprietor, retired, of sorts, after a life abroad, and writing, now, full-time.
Eight weeks old, the puppies are fully weaned, and are ready for new homes. Of the six of this litter, four remain, three females, one male. I recently received a call requesting a visit. She is coming from town, a drive of about an hour and a half away. Her name is Qiankun. The name is Chinese; I might presume that she is, too.
Right on time, as scheduled, I hear her car coming up the long, bumpy driveway from the highway, across my nine acres, to my home and out-buildings. Now in view, I see it’s an S-Series Mercedes Benz. Pulling up to a stop, an apparently middle-aged Asian woman, alone, exits the vehicle, and approaches me. She is wearing city clothes – a mid-thigh length cotton dress of the most alluring pale pink, a dark grey leather belt at her waist, dark grey leather heels on her feet. Her bag is also of a shade of grey.
Delicately, she presents her hand in greeting. I take it, also delicately, and, bowing slightly, I say, ‘Welcome to Ael y bryn. I am Morgan Owain. You must be Qiankun.’
‘Yes, I am Qiankun 岍坤. I am from North China, Beijing most recently, but now, temporarily, I am here with my husband, who is here on business.’
‘I am pleased to meet you,’ I reply, reluctantly releasing her lovely hand.
Qiankun is you.
‘As I told you on the phone, we have four puppies remaining, three females, one male. Have you a preference?’
‘Aren’t males more trouble, especially in a home. They like to mark, or something like that. That’s what I’ve heard. This is my first dog. I’ve always had cats.’
‘Generally, males urine-mark their territory only in the presence of other dogs, or where other dogs have been, especially other males. If this is your only dog, and you take it for walks every day, varying the paths of your walks, there should be no problem in your home. It is an instinctual behavioural trait that can be limited as required with attention and gentle discipline.’
‘So there is no real disadvantage to getting a male?
‘I see none. Males develop differently from females. They are generally a bit larger.’
‘Can we see them?’
‘Sure. I told them you were coming.’
When we reached the puppies, I stepped back to give you some time alone to observe and to handle them.
The male was off by himself, as it self-absorbed. The three females frolicked together.
‘Is that the male, the one by itself?’
‘I thought Corgis had pointy ears. Their ears are all floppy.’
‘It can take up to 24 weeks for the ears of Corgis to stand up firmly. Their tails were docked, as tradition demands of Pembrokeshire Corgis, between two and five days after birth. These are coloured as their mother, red and white, and they’ll stay that way.’
‘How big will they get?’
‘Adult males get to be from 10-14 kg; females, from 10-13 kg.’
‘Do they shed a lot?’
‘In the spring, they do; and females shed, too, when going into heat, oestrus, about every six months. Their first heat will occur when they are between 9 and 11 months old.’
‘They start early.’
‘That’s later than smaller breeds, which start at six months.’
‘You know a lot about dogs.’
‘I’ve been around a bit, I guess. I love animals, too.’
‘Do they have papers?’
‘I never claimed that they were pure-bred Corgis. If they were, the price would be much higher than it is.’
‘But they look like they’re pure-bred.’
‘That’s that good Welsh gene, I guess. You’re not going to believe this, but their father is a short-haired fawn Chihuahua. Their mother is pure-bred Pem.’
‘How can that be true? How is that even possible?’
‘I happen to be a proponent of diversity, of interracial breeding. Are you not? Do not not believe in unicorns?’
‘No, it’s not that. It just seems that a Chihuahua would have difficulty breeding a Corgi.’
‘That would only be the case if the female Corgi were not in heat, and not attracted to the virility of the male Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are quite tenacious, and Corgis, as driving dogs, not herding dogs, are also defiantly resolute for their size. One must be careful not to be influenced by cultural prejudice here, unless that prejudice is favourable, as in the romantic Latino, and the self-determined merch o Gymru, Welsh girl.’
‘Aren’t unicorns just fairytale stuff?’
‘Are you too old for fairytales? I am a poet, and I believe that if it can be imagined, first, then believed, it can be made real, at least, and perhaps only, to the believer. But that’s enough for me. If anyone can have it, I don’t want it. If anyone can do it, I won’t do it. If everyone thinks it, I won’t think it. If everyone wants it, I won’t have it. That’s why I’m here, alone, with my apples, my potatoes, my chickens, my dogs, and my writing.’
‘Do you still want a puppy, or have I scared you off?’
‘No, you haven’t scared me off; and yes, I still want a puppy. I want the male. I’m going to call him Dujiao 独角, Unicorn; maybe Dudu 独独, for short.
‘Just let me say goodbye to him.’
‘I’ll get my dog crate out of the car.’
‘Dudu, this is your new person. You be good to her, and she’ll be good to you.’
And to you, upon your return with the crate, ‘And you, Qiankun, take good care of this little guy. Love him, and he’ll love you back ten times more. It may be rough for a few days. It would be best if you could sleep with him. If you can’t, make him a bed close enough to you that he can smell you. In his bed, place a hot water bottle filled with warm water, about 37 degrees, same as your body temperature, and wrap it in flannel. If you have an old ticking alarm clock, that would be good, too.’
‘I’m sorry to be taking him from you.’
‘That’s life. You were destined for one another, or he would be going home with someone else.’
‘When I came here, I thought the long drive was worth it, because the puppy cost so much less than it should. I feel a little bit ashamed. Because this puppy is unique, it is worth far more. And I have learned so much from you. You, yourself, you are unique. I got my Welsh unicorn Corgi from a Welshman, a poet.’
‘If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. You have my number.’
‘Can I give you a hug?’
We came together in a warm embrace.
With Dudu stowed away in the back seat of your car, I walked you to your door.
‘It’s been nice getting to know you just a tiny bit. If you ever get back up this way, feel free to stop by.’
‘I will. And if you come into town, come and see Dudu and me.’
‘May I ask you a couple of question before I leave?’
‘You know Chinese, don’t you? And you’ve been to China, haven’t you? And you knew it would be me coming today, didn’t you?
‘Yes, yes, and yes.’
I opened your door. As you got in, you smiled a knowing smile, a twinkle in your eye. I closed the door, and stepped away.
As you drove off, I could feel you feeling me.