I have returned this evening from a delightful walk, on a delightful day, and now I feel it is time to introduce you to my delightful new friend.
As mentioned previously, I had been somewhat concerned about a silent watcher in the bushes of my garden fence. More than once, I saw a pair of eyes blinking at me, but any closer investigations turned up nothing. All most mysterious. And then, a few evenings ago, I was sniffing around the garden late at night, looking for the most suitable spot to download my last weemail of the day when:
"Alright?" A little raspy voice sounded from the usual spot of the eyes. I wasn't too startled as, being a perceptive chap, I had already suspected I was being watched.
"Ummm, yes, thank you." I replied. "You alright?"
"Where are you?" There was a brief silence.
"Right here." And out of the bushes came a rather rugged but not unattractive fellow. He had the appearance of a large, fat mouse, with a longish snout and whiskers which were constantly on the move. "Just moved in, eh?" he continued, "Welcome. I'm, er, head of the welcoming committee." I nodded my thanks. The stranger and I regarded each other. Try as I might, I couldn't place his species. I could only think of one chap from my past encounters who even vaguely resembled him - the water rat who was dropped into my old garden by a buzzard and took up residence with my blessing.
"Are you a water rat?" I asked, hesitantly. The chap laughed a husky, rasping laugh, revealing a mouth full of the yellowest teeth I had ever seen.
"Yeah, that's me. Water rat. Yeah."
"You're quite a big one."
"Well, I'm like you - plenty of muscle." I liked him immediately. He went on: "I'll bet you're pretty handy when it comes to a scrap, eh?"
"Well, I don't like to boast..." I replied, blushing under my fur.
"Ah, come on now." grinned my new chum, "I'll bet you're the best there is." Well, reader, what else could I do but agree with him?
We passed a most agreeable time whilst I regaled him with tales of my past glories in battle with squirrels, swans, hedgehogs, buzzards (bah!), rabbits and, of course, the stag. All the while, my new friend listened attentively, nodding and chuckling in all the right places.
"Well," he said appreciatively, after I had concluded my tales, "Quite impressive, old son. There aren't many dogs that can bring down a stag by themselves." (Do not judge me too harshly, dear reader. I fully intend to tell him the truth when I know him a bit better).
"No," I replied proudly, "But then, I have been especially trained in elite, unarmed paw-to-hoof combat."
"Hmmm..." continued the newcomer, "And there was me just thinking that I could do with a handy chap around here..."
"Do you actually live here, then?" I asked.
"Here...abouts. It's a good spot. Plenty of kiddies - lots of food gets chucked out, hehehe. Then there's the river. Almost perfect, apart from all them f***ing cats."
I didn't appreciate his foul language, but I did agree with the sentiment.
"Are there more like you around here?" I asked politely.
"One or two." he grunted, "They ain't as nice as me though. Now, look, son - how's about me and you chum up?" I grinned excitedly and wagged my tail - my first new friend in my new house!! He went on: "There's these kittens-". He was suddenly silent, as a little bell could be heard close at paw. "F***ing cats." he spat, and hastily withdrew back into the hedge from whence he came. "See you around, son." he muttered as he disappeared.
I listened to the tinkling of the little collar bell. But its feline wearer was heading the other way. The ringing grew fainter and soon was heard no more. I waited in the silent darkness for my new friend to return, but he didn't come back.
Feeling pleased with the way the encounter had gone, despite my friend's foul potty-mouth and the slight twinge of guilt that I had for telling porkies about the stag-fight, I turned and padded softly along my flower border, when suddenly:
"You want to watch yourself with that one."
"Aaiiieeee!" I yelped, jumping about three foot into the air and, to my annoyance, leaking a little bit of wee into my fur.
It was Starsky, next door, standing in the dark shadows. His voice had come out of nowhere and frightened the bejeezus out of me. I yipped at him, a little more harshly than I intended, implying that he was jealous of my new friendship. To be honest, I still hadn't got over the terrifying suddenness of his comment. Starsky listened patiently to all I had to bark.
"Well, I'm just saying. Be careful. That's all." And, with that, he turned and trotted back into his house through his little dog-flap in the front door. I stood in the dark garden, waiting until my heart-rate had calmed down and then I downloaded the remainder of my weemail and went back into my own house.
"Blimey Jasper, what were you up to out there?" asked my partner. But she was sleepy, and probed no further than that, for which I was much relieved. We retired to our bedchamber and I drifted off to sleep as my partner wiped my pee-tainted fur with a moist towelette.
I can't wait to have lots of fun with my new friend!