Frances Mackay

© Copyright 2003 by Frances Mackay


Photo of Yonnie.

We have always had a dog. When the children were small and we were more active we had a variety of large dogs through the years, Standard Poodle, Labradors, Alsatians and Great Danes.  All were special in their own way.  As our lifestyle changed and our children moved out we decided to downscale to a smaller dog who would suit our more sedentary ways.

Our daughter introduced the idea of a Pekinese.  She’d had some dealings with them and thought they would suit us.  How right she was!

After doing some research we discovered that there were a couple of breeders near where we lived so we began our search.  Each Saturday we would read the pet column to see what was available.  One advertisement caught our eye.  A kennel was closing and had both breeding dogs and pups for sale.

We took a ride. We were only going to look, just to see what kind of stock they had.  We were adults now, no more impulse buying, we were past all that!  Of course we came back with a dog.

Yonni had been their stud.  He was a little red scrap, quite ugly really, but all the other viewers were going crazy about the little balls of fluff he had helped produce and were showing no interest in him at all.  I don’t really know why we even entertained the idea of an older dog, but somehow he appealed to me.  Maybe because we were both past our prime, though the breeder assured us he was no more than 4 years old.

We were unprepared for an addition to the family, nevertheless we took him home with us.  He settled in quite amazingly, for all that he had been kept in an outside kennel.  He made his spot at the foot of my bed and that was that.

Pekinese are a mixture of cat and dog, I am sure.  It is a well-known fact that a Peke will do what it wants to do.  If he wants to please you he will do what you want but if he doesn’t care about you - or if it is not what he wants - you haven’t a hope of getting him to obey.  They don’t hear what you say, and they definitely don’t understand English.  I have never met a more independent animal.

Yonnie was my dog from the start.  He would have nothing to do with Frank, my husband, except if there was thunder in the air.  Then he would jump up on to Frank’s lap as if he had never doubted that Frank was a wonderful person.  We found out later that the male partner at the kennels had been quite cruel to the little dog, even filing his teeth down so he couldn’t catch their chickens.  Yonnie no longer trusted men!

We were living in a caravan park at the time, while we were waiting for our house to be relocated and there were a few “shady” characters that frequented the amenities area.  Yonnie would not let me go there alone.  He would escape from the caravan and wait outside the shower stall until I was ready, defying all comers.  We became a well-known pair during the months we spent there.  Despite all overtures from the rest of the residents Yonnie ignored their attempts to make friends.  It was very flattering, but a damn nuisance when it was time to leave for work.

Yonnie really seemed to try to antagonise my husband.  He would be sitting beside us at the breakfast table, relaxed and dozing but the moment Frank  gathered his working gear together Yonnie would vanish.  Many a time we would trail around the park calling “Yonnie” loudly.  As we were quite a distance from our workplaces this was, invariably, early in the morning.  We no doubt disturbed some of the less active members in the park.

No amount of cajoling from Frank would bring Yonnie home.  Now I could no longer go off to work and leave Frank to lock up.  Yonnie just would not come for him.  The couple of times I left early Frank and Yonnie raced around the whole yard, resulting in a very late, angry Frank and a totally unrepentant Yonnie.

During the evenings Yonnie would lead us on walks around the park.  He took us down towards the creek, generally, and it was on one of these walks, with Yonnie leading us a merry chase, that we saw our first live platypus.  What an evening that was!  We watched them playing in the water for ages, I had always believed that they were endangered but here was a family that apparently remained undisturbed by the caravan population.

Of course, Yonnie was sure we found them because of his clever behaviour and each evening during that autumn he’d take us down to watch the action.  Sometimes he would bark at them, when he thought I wasn’t giving him enough attention and then he would determinedly head back to the van, insisting that it was dinnertime.

Around this time the house was almost completed and we were kept pretty busy organising the final stages.  We didn’t have as much time for Yonnie in the evenings, which had now begun to draw in, and Yonnie became rather quiet.  He no longer seemed to have the energy to run the way he did when we first brought him home.   At times he could hardly bring a wag to his tail and although he still refused to let me go for a shower alone it obviously took more energy than he could spare.  Still, he cried loudly if I snuck off without him.

Hoping that it was only a diet problem, I took him to the vet.  The bad news was complete kidney failure.  Yonnie was dying.  It was there that I found out he was much older that the previous owner had said.  The vet recognised the poor boy and told me a bit of his history.  The only humane thing to do was to have him put down.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Even as I write I remember that parting.

The strangest thing was, though, the evening before I took Yonnie to the vet he scrambled up on Frank’s knee and licked his face and cuddled into him as if to make friends and to say he was sorry for being difficult.  As I said, prior to this Yonnie only bothered with Frank if there was thunder around.

We only had Yonnie for a little over 3 months but his character was so strong and his love so endearing that he left a great gap in our lives.  Even Frank, whom he tormented daily, agreed we needed another Peke, but a younger one this time.

Since then we have had three more, two of whom are with us now, running our lives and bring us continual joy.

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