We call our back deck 'Merriworld' because it's where she loves to sleep, play, eat, destroy and disobey.
If she's down playing in the back yard and hears one of us open the back door she leaps up the stairs two by two to be sure we're not visiting Merriworld without her...
...but as many of our herbs and all of Mr E's bonsai also share lodging on the back deck, we visit it often.
Merri's part Labrador, part Staffy and part Kelpie (we just discovered the Kelpie thing) which makes her very loyal, very muscly, very strong, extremely stubborn, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound (true!).
High energy doesn't really describe her nature accurately.
In fact, I have begun working out with hand weights each morning to strengthen my upper body because she requires super human effort to keep her under control if she sees another animal or human, and also to help me hold my balance when she barrels me at the top of the front and back stairs.
For example, we arrived at the Vet's to have stitches removed from her ear after surgery to remove a cyst. Our wonderful veterinarian opened the door to her office and looked down on Merri being restrained with the greatest effort on my part and said, "Oh Merri, how many helpers am I going to need with you today?"
Many helpers and a half-bucket of doggies treats later the three stitches were removed and all of us declared we needed a three day cruise doing absolutely nothing to recuperate.
I asked the Vet "is this normal for a 6 month old pup?"
"No", says she. "Merri's special, way beyond the average puppy enthusiasm and energy. You might want to work on building your own muscles." (hence the hand weights each day)
She also rates high on the licking-scale.
Her nickname is Icy-pole.
One climb up the stairs from the laundry to the back door in shorts and I am covered from thigh to toe with slobber. You cannot pat her without being washed with that long pink tongue over every inch of your hand and lower arm.
This Merri-girl drinks all day long, probably to refill her licky slobber tank.
She's removed about twelve palm trees from the yard at last count; can jump five feet off the ground and at the same time stretch herself over Mr E's workbench to snatch his garden shoes; found a way to open the laundry door after deciding the back yard looks great covered in a rainbow of underwear, socks and towels - nothing else, just underwear, socks and towels; and can jump so high on all four paws that Mr E's carefully tended bonsai growing on the deck table now live in danger of extinction.
Merri set her sights on his beautiful fig tree two weeks ago and snapped it in half. I felt so bad that I've propped it up with a can of Aeroguard because the slim trunk was not completely severed. There was a tiny string of green trunk still holding both halves of the tree together so I'm tending it in hope it will knit and heal. Many of the leaves have since dropped off or shriveled, but a few new leaf buds have also begun to form.
Mr E's other bonsai (the ones he propagated last year) are now set to the rear of the deck table, which sits against the deck rails, and so far they remain safe...
All the fruit from the mango tree is gone and lamenting the depletion of her favourite snack (the ground was covered in fallen mangoes each morning which she quickly devoured) Merri decided pulling up my pineapple plants was fair diversion therapy.
Three pineapple plant destruction missions later and a fresh approach was needed, so we potted a new one on the back deck table beside the bonsai and the aloe vera (also in residence there to avoid desctruction)...
I sit back in my chair most mornings and thank God the garlic chives remain free from her hit-list...
...before heading back inside to bake.
Baking seems to make everything okay, even the certain clean-up of Merriworld and a search and rescue mission for shoes, socks, undies and towels within the hour.
Can't wait till she's a teenager.
But there's this other side of Merri, too.
Put her in Mr E's Jeep for an evening drive by the beach and you'd swear this was a different dog. She's calm, quiet, and all grown up. We can interact with her without being pelted and pushed with her muscly body and licked insanely.
Those evenings are when we all relax and simply enjoy what may be a foretaste of the future.
I live in hope.