I first drank Tamdhu in September 2006. It wasn't the first scotch I drank but it was the first in Scotland. It's become tied to strong memories, times of occasion and celebration. Here's how I spent my first bottle.
A tasty brew for manly men
Back in November 2007, we got a tiny black cockapoo puppy, which we named Magee (pronounced Muh-gee). My life, along with my wife's, changed. An example: we were forcibly adjusted to higher tolerances of urine in our carpet. Whereas we had been accustomed to levels of 'none,' Magee demonstrated exactly how much more piss and shit there could be. The hallmark moment being when he snuck downstairs to perform what can only be described as The Shit Dance on our carpet. I did not witness it, but I can imagine no other way he distributed so many turds over such a large area than to have been practicing a waltz, while gettin' 'er done.
Over 15 separate turds littered our white carpet when I discovered Magee's latest performance art
Those first weeks were hell. We slept in shifts the first few days, that’s how bad his night-time whimpering was. I understand newborn humans causing groggy nights, but dogs should not mess with you in this manner. Magee took great pains to correct my misunderstanding. Despite having been rewarded multiple times for peeing on a training pad, our eight week old puppy once held his bladder for seven hours rather than pee on his papers. Finally soiled his crate instead. Our dog has a tiny tiny brain. (and we gave up on paper training for outdoor training) I have devoted more attention to my dog's bladder and bowels than I ever thought possible. Oh, the detailed scatological accounts I could give...
Serious doubts were cast during this period. So frustrating and disruptive - why had we ruined our lives this way? Every waking hour of downtime was spent waiting for him to pee on our carpet -- so we could rush him outside and hope he'd make the connection. "Walks" were exercises in spastic leash tugging and his miraculous ability to be where you planned to step next. Neighborhood children, having discovered we owned a cute ball of concentrated evil, would ring our doorbell daily asking if the dog could come out and play. One kid was so regular he could have been a spokesman for high-fibre diets. The cleaning solution discolored our white rug, leaving circular testaments to the us-vs-dog battle that raged. The occasional slightly yellowish stain was hidden away where Magee managed to sneak a minor victory. And rug doctoring sucks.
Serious. Doubts. Were. Cast. Our prior lives beckoned, all we had to do was get rid of the dog. Janine and I swapped roles regularly: one ready to give up, the other willing to try for a few more days. Then we’d swap roles.
Hi. I'm Magee.
"Why don't you drink some of your scotch?" Janine asked, trying to lift my spirits after a particularly frazzling bout of human will vs. tiny dog brain. Indeed, our small nuclear family/pack of two persons increasing by one dog was unquestionably a Tamdhu moment. But only if permanent.
I shook my head, "if he makes it three months," I countered. Not entirely certain that it would occur.
Obviously he made it. Even months later, though house-trained, there are accidents, shoe issues, obedience issues and a reverential attitude towards Cesar Millan. But our family now irrevocably includes one very cute, lovable and highly excitable Magee. He doesn't always know what he's excited about, or what's going on, but he's very happy to be on the team. I have been so mean to him at times, yet his tail still wags when he sees me. An eternal optimist or just very very stupid?
He has taught me so much. I have learned how much quicker to anger I am than I thought and he provides a constant target upon which to practice my patience. His tiny mind is like a bizarre CPU I attempt to program via discipline, exercise, and affection. Most of my frustrations with him are merely my own flaws and mistakes reflected back on me. It turns out I have many.
Chewing the Tamdhu bottle's cork
But so rewarding is his companionship; I love my dog. Frightened of heights, I taught him to walk down stairs. He now walks alongside me, sans leash, happy for his place within our tiny pack. Knowing there is a certain order to this world he inhabits. But unable to comprehend it he looks to me for guidance. I am his pack leader. Being a good owner to my dog is among the most valuable things I may accomplish in this life. To mold and guide and live vicariously through him, for all the ways he has and will experience the world which I can't or wont. Alternatively teacher and pupil, Magee and I are now part of each others life; I can no longer imagine any other way.
So late one night after Janine had retired to bed, I pulled out the Tamdhu. I watched a little television and got a little drunk. I finished the bottle with Magee curled up next to me on the couch, the fireplace keeping us both warm.