My partner tells me that I am getting "elderly". The reason for this impudence is not the sprinkling of 'frost' that peppers the black fur on my face. Oh no. This came about yesterday morning - she left me to have a lie-in while she fulfilled her morning routine. On returning to our room, she found me looking out of the window and muttering to myself. And that was it. How, I ask you, does this make me 'elderly'? My partner regarded me silently for a moment before she laughed and, gesturing out of the window, said "Jasper, do you remember when all that was just fields?" I scowled at her. It IS all just fields (apart from the bits that are houses and roads). I suppose that, in human terms, I would now be approaching 63 years old. But I am a man in his prime. Aside from the afore-mentioned frosting (paw on wood) I can keep up with the best of them - and still outstrip some. I have as much energy and vitality now as I had when I was a pup. My partner is very cheeky - and she would do well to remember that my teeth are still in perfect working order.
But this has been a somewhat unhappy week. Last weekend, sadly, came the news that one of my friends from the USA, Stoker, passed away on Friday. Rest in peace, mate. Actually, no – I hope your body rests in peace – the soul that is the true Stoker is, I am sure, up in heaven as I type, harassing angelic deer. Have fun Stoker – and save some venison for me!
Prior to that sad event, my friend Angie told me that she has taken a nasty fall and is not well. I do hope that she will be lots better soon, and flying around like Queen Boadicea in her mighty wheeled chariot. GET WELL SOON, ANGIE.
Compared with the above, my little problems seem rather trivial. But problems there have been. If you are a dog, and therefore lower to the ground than some, you will know that, cometh the summer; cometh the grass-flea. Oh yes. The irritating little b*st*rds have been feasting on Jasper this year. It is an annual problem for me, but this year seems worse than usual. The itching is driving me insane. Accordingly, my partner found the bottle of medicated shampoo, obtained from the vet at greatcost last year. I uttered no protest as my belly and Little Jasper-region were lathered and rinsed with the power-shower. The relief was exquisite.
Not long after I had dried off, Maisie escorted me to the park. Candy and Harvey were already there, playing with Candy's football, the recent troubles all forgotten. They hailed me as I approached and encouraged me to join in with their game. As we gave each other the usual sniff-over, I saw a wicked twinkle appear in Harvey's eye.
"Somebody smells nice!" he grinned, mockingly. I knew what he was getting at, and I wasn't having it.
"Shut up Harvey." I growled, but he just winked at Candy.
"Has someone's little lapdog had a bubble bath? Aren't you all soft and fluffy, like a little puppy?!" Candy laughed.
"Harvey," I cut in, dryly, "Just remind me exactly what it was you said the other day about Candy's fat bottom?" My so-called friends just hooted with laughter, and Harvey snuffled over my newly-bathed belly.
"Mmmm..." he continued, "Fresh as a summer meadow, and silky smooth too..." I bared my fangs and saw the sunlight glinting off them reflected in the silver buckle on Harvey's collar.
"Harvey, I'm sure your mother told you never to play with sharp objects?"
Their giggles continued, and I sighed and decided it was easier to just let them get on with it.
I was diverted from the mocking taunts by the approach of a newcomer, who bounded up - an affable looking border collie. I looked beyond him and saw his two partners stopping to talk to Maisie and Harvey and Candy's partners. The new chap said that he was staying in the town on holiday and his name was Charlie. I introduced myself and he asked who the other two were.
"Oh, they're just some animals I used to know..." I muttered, watching Harvey, rolling on his back, entertaining Candy by pretending to lather soap into his belly. I sighed and shook my head.
"What are they doing?" asked Charlie. At that, Harvey got up and he and Candy came over to sniff the newcomer and introduce themselves.
"Where are you staying?" asked Candy, politely. Charlie explained that his partners had a caravan and they pulled it along with their car and then they parked it and slept in it. I HATE caravans - my partner and I always get stuck behind a slow one when travelling to Dartmoor. I suspect it might be the SAME one, with a secret vendetta to annoy me.
"It's fun." explained Charlie.
"Yes, it probably is." I replied, "Compared to a rectal examination." Candy laughed. "After all, what could be better than living in a tin box for two weeks, listening to your partners pee-ing in a little bucket?" Charlie wagged his bushy tail and smiled.
"I pretend I can't hear that." he grinned. "Can I play football with you?" We all agreed that he could, and his tail wagged even harder. "Yes!" he yipped, bounding over to the ball, "Come on then, England v. Germany 1966! I'm Geoff Hurst's dog!" This was more like it!
"Bobby Moore." I barked
"Bobby Charlton!" yipped Candy, "Harvey, you can be Alan Ball - your fur is the right colour."
We began our game, and had been happily playing with the football for a good few minutes, before Harvey stopped and stood still, a puzzled look on his face.
"Hang on a bit," he said, "Shouldn't one of us be Winston Churchill?" The remaining three of us skidded to a halt, crashing into each other as we did so. We all turned to look at Harvey.
"Is he joking?" asked the new dog, Charlie.
"Unfortunately not." I replied.
"Harvey, you nematode." said Candy. Poor Harvey. He's nowhere near as bad as Ewan, but he does have his occasional flashes of idiocy. We stood and regarded him uncertainly, until I happened to catch Candy's eye. We leapt on Harvey in a moment, our footy game entirely forgotten. Charlie joined in, wuffing and scuffling as we all piled onto the unfortunate Harvey.
"Buuuuuundle!" he cried, in rather a muffled bark, from beneath the pile of assorted dog. He wriggled out and took off down to the bottom of the park, with the three of us in hot pursuit, baying like hell-hounds. We caught up with him by the edge of the river and tipped him into the water - a fair price to pay for being witless. Harvey surfaced and paddled back around to the bank, spluttering and laughing. He clambered out of the river and then chased the three of us back up to the park, where we finished our game.
I enjoyed myself so much that I decided I would endeavour to forget Harvey and Candy's mockery. There's nothing quite like your friends, after all.