Never mind. I am much-mended and enjoying the Spring immensely. I thank my dear friends Lance and Angie for your words of support after the recent incident (which - to reiterate - did NOT involve me being beaten up by a girl), as well as all those who sent silent good wishes.
My partner did not go in to work the other day. "Women's monthly problems." she explained, when I expressed my concern. I do not understand ladies. They are always complaining. Why should any one problem cause more trouble than others on a recurring monthly basis? "No, Jasper." she said, attempting to clarify, "I mean 'having the decorators in'...? 'falling to the communists'...? 'surfing the crimson wave'...? 'having a visit from Aunt Flo'...? 'on the blob'...?" I listened to her euphemisms, but declined to remain for her explanations. It all sounded unnecessarily messy and far too inconvenient for my ears.
And barking of ladies' reproductive cycles...
Well, it was inevitable, really. I mean, where else would three handsome young studs head for in the wee small hours?
Kipper, Rex and I trotted across the daisy-spotted grass towards the Isolation Block as the rain began to fall in earnest. By the time we reached the door, our fur was soaked through and the rain dripped off our snouts. We heard a distant rumble - my first ever encounter with the thundering Sky-Dog! (Kipper had explained about the Sky-Dog to all of us dogs in our lights-out chat a few nights previously, when the heat-wave had entered that tell-tale stifling humidity, which often heralded the Sky-Dog's arrival). But we were not afraid. We were too absorbed in our little adventure. Besides that, we were all desperate for the relief from the insufferable heat that the storm would bring.
We reached the door and stood, dripping, while we waited for Rex to get us in.
"Hurry up." muttered Kipper. After much scuffling and scraping, Rex growled a gruff curse.
"Bl**dy thing." he grunted. "There's a key lock as well as the bolt."
"So?" I replied innocently.
"Oh - so you've got the key then have you, Captain, you numpty?!"
"Hey! Hey!" hissed Kipper. "Don't have a go at him! It's alright - there must be a window somewhere."
The three of us duly trotted around to the rear of the building where - sure enough - a window was open. The sweet scent of the ripe bitches inside wafted out and mingled with the smell of the rain. The window was lower than the one in the reception area (which we had used to exit the dogs' block) but still beyond our jumping range. If Rex stood right up on his hind tip-claws, he could just poke his head inside, but it was clear that we would need some kind of half-way step in order to successfully gain entry. We looked about us for something that might suffice.
"What about that?" I suggested, indicating a round metal dustbin up by the main gate.
"Definitely worth a try." agreed Kipper, and we trotted up to the gate. "Careful not to tip it over." he said, as he and I got behind the bin and began pushing it, with much scraping and crunching of gravel. Rex watched us, shaking his head.
"You prats." he groaned. "Just tip it over and we can roll it all the way to the window!"
Before Kipper had even finished barking "Rex - no!", the big Boxer had joined us behind the bin and given it a mighty shove. With a resounding crash, the bin toppled to the ground and we froze; rooted to the spot as the circular lid spun noisily round and round, finally coming to settle. Happily, luck appeared to be on our side. There was no cacophony of barking from the blocks of sleeping dogs and bitches, just one or two irritated whimpers and then silence, save for the rapid patter of heavy rain.
"Oops." said Rex, sheepishly, once we had decided it was safe to stop holding our breaths.
"Come on." muttered Kipper, and we rolled the bin down the slight slope to the Isolation Block, carefully manoeuvring it to below the open window. Kipper and I stood on each side of it, holding it steady, as Rex clambered on. The bin instantly spun between us and the movement, coupled with the rainwater on the metal caused Rex to slip backwards and fall off the bin.
"Sh*t!" he growled as he hit the ground. Getting up again, he looked sourly at the bin and said "Now what?!" We looked about us again.
Finally, Kipper said "That might work." We looked over to where he was indicating and saw a wheelbarrow about half-way down the hill. "Let's try it." he suggested, and we set off in the other direction. With another hefty crash, the three of us managed to push it over and began to shove it up towards the metal bin. About two-thirds of the way up, Kipper sat down suddenly on the wet grass, puffing slightly. "Hang on lads." he gasped. "Just got to have a bit of a sit down."
"Are you alright?" I asked, concerned.
"Yes, yes." replied Kipper, catching his breath, "Thanks Cap. Just a bit puffed out." He stood up and prepared to help us shove the barrow again.
"Don't worry Kip," said Rex, kindly. "Cap and I have got this covered. We'll shove it the rest of the way and you take it easy for a bit."
"Definitely." I agreed, nodding.
"Cheers boys." said Kipper, as his breathing became easy again.
With more banging and scraping than we intended, Rex and I succeeded in getting the upturned wheelbarrow behind the dustbin. "Now use the barrow to wedge the bin against the wall." directed Kipper. "And then it won't roll away again."
"Genius." grunted Rex, as he and I pushed the wheelbarrow against the bin until neither would move any further. "Now to have another go!" He climbed first onto the underside of the barrow and then onto the bin which - as Kipper had predicted - stood firm. In no time at all, he had squeezed himself through the window, followed closely by Kipper and then me.
Pleased to have succeeded in our goal and be out of the pouring rain, Kipper and I shook the excess water from our fur. Glancing about us, we saw one row of around ten nice, roomy pens. Eight contained bitches, all fragrant and alert, one pen was empty and one final little white body was curled up on a beanbag in the pen nearest us and the window.
"Oh look," remarked Kipper, glancing into this latter pen, "There's old George!" George was an affable little West Highland Terrier from our bit of the dogs' block. He had been selected for adoption by a nice retired couple but, before they had collected him, George had picked up an exceptionally nasty urinary infection. He ended up having to undergo a minor operation and was recuperating quietly in the Isolation Block until he was better and could depart to his new home.
"Oh yes!" I yipped. "Alright, George, mate?" But little George was fast asleep and didn't even stir from his slumbers. "Lucky b*gg*r." I muttered to Kipper, "Being stuck in here with all these girls."
"Yeah," grinned Kipper, "But judging from the state of his 'Little George' last time I saw him, messing about with the bitches is the last thing he'd want to do..."
"Yes - poor George." I chuckled.
Kipper and I didn't reflect for long on the miserable irony of George's situation, however, as the spectacle of Rex at his charming best proved amusingly distractive. He had sidled up to the nearest bitch and was beaming his most glittering smile at her through her pen door.
"Greetings, my dear," he simpered, in a tone of bark that almost made Kipper and I laugh out loud. "What an enchanting, slender young beauty you are. I do like the fascinating way you have styled your fur. How striking!" Kipper and I exchanged a glance, with raised eyebrows and grins. Kipper shook his head. The bitch, however, seemed delighted with Rex's flattery. She giggled coquettishly and whispered something to him. Without further ado, the Boxer reached up with his snout and unbolted the door of his lady's pen. Kipper and I discreetly withdrew further down the room, giving them some privacy.
The next bitch along was an exquisitely pretty young Brittany Spaniel, who batted her eyelashes flirtatiously at me. Her scent was utterly bewitching and closed out all other senses to me. 'Well,' I thought to myself, "If Rex can do it..."
"Please accept my compliments, my dear." I smiled, bowing low to the lady, who returned my bow with a wildly wagging tail, "For now I know where that sweet briar, the Dog Rose, got its name. Was there ever such a more beautiful bloom than you...?" The pretty bitch giggled enticingly. I was just about to try and "do a Rex" and attempt to unbolt her door when there was an almighty crash. The outer door flew open and there, dripping wet, in the doorway stood an extremely angry Dave, clad in a blue flannel dressing gown and hastily-donned trainers with the laces undone, with a torch in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. The traitorous harpy I had been wooing scuttled, like a hyperactive crab, back to her bed and pretended to be asleep. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Kipper trying to dissolve into the floor.
"What the bl**dy HELL is going on?!" bellowed Dave, flicking a switch on the wall, which flooded the room with light. He viewed the scene before him with a mixture of anger and incredulous disbelief. "How in the world did you two get in here?!" As water dripped from the ends of his dressing gown, forming little puddles on the floor, Dave struggled to comprehend our presence in the Isolation Block. He noticed the wet marks on the far wall and floor; where we'd got in through the window, and was about to say something else when he spotted the open pen door. With a roar, he dropped the torch and baseball bat and ran into the pen. "No, no, no, no, no, NO!!!" he yelled. Kipper and I exchanged a glance and huddled closer together as a mixture of frantic yelps, barks, growls and much scratching of claws issued forth from the pen. A red-faced Dave half-carried, half-dragged an enraged Rex out of the pen. When dropped, Rex flung himself back towards the pen, but Dave was there before him, banging the door closed and flinging back the bolt. Rex snarled and looked ready to attack Dave, so Kipper - with me close behind - ran up and put himself firmly between Rex and Dave.
"Rein it in, Rex." warned Kipper.
"Yeah." I backed up our leader. "We're already in the sh*t, Rex. Don't make it worse for yourself." Rex calmed himself, puffing and panting. Dave glared at the three of us. He walked back to the door and retrieved his bat and torch and then held the door wide open.
"Out." he said, switching off the light.
The three of us trooped sheepishly past him and out of the Isolation Block and stood shivering in the pouring rain as Dave retrieved a bunch of keys from his dressing-gown pocket and locked the outer door. Snapping on his powerful torch, he began to squelch across the sodden grass towards the reception area. Kipper and I walked side-by-side behind him and Rex followed behind us, muttering and grumbling to himself. The rain was driving down so hard that the drops almost hurt when they hit us. Dave's dressing-gown was soaked through and the flaps stuck to his legs
All of a sudden, Dave gave a cry as he suddenly slipped and fell backwards, landing firmly on his bottom in a puddle. A turd, lurking concealed at the edge of the grass, glistening wet, had toppled him and was now liberally spread across the base of one of Dave's trainers. Rex, perhaps uncharitably, but understandably (for Dave's fall was comically spectacular, with much flailing of limbs) exploded with laughter. Kipper and I just about managed to suppress our sniggers. We pursed our lips and stared resolutely at the ground, knowing that we would be undone if we caught each other's eye. I shook with the desperately-suppressed laughter, and could feel Kipper similarly twitching beside me. It didn't help that Rex was laughing and snorting behind us.
Alas! Dave's trials were not yet at an end. Swearing and muttering, he began to get up. Putting out one hand to support him as he rose, the palm of his hand pressed firmly down on another waiting turd; the twin of the one on which he had slipped. He gave a sharp cry of dismay and I thought Rex was going to burst.
"Mmmfmmffff..." whimpered Kipper, rapidly losing his battle with decorum. As poor Dave began again on his sleep-disturbed, soaking, be-fouled trek, I accidentally caught Kipper's eye.
"Pfffthhtt..." I spluttered and, with not a little relief, we both joined Rex in roaring with helpless laughter. Dave momentarily stopped walking, but he did not turn; deciding that he had lost all dignity, thus rendering pointless any reprimand.
We waited, still helplessly laughing, as Dave unlocked the reception door, and followed him into the building. It was a relief to get out of the rain, although any cold and wet annoyances had been totally forgotten. Dave opened the Door of Doors.
"In." he muttered through gritted teeth. Still chortling, we trotted past him. The majority of dogs were awake, awaiting our return and tales of our exploits. There were many raised eyebrows and interested expressions at the spectacle that greeted them. Dave squelched his soggy way to the end of the row of pens and glared at Rex, who wandered into his pen, still chuckling. With deliberate patience, he closed the door and bolted it firmly. After locking Kipper and I into our pens he turned back up the corridor and stood in front of Kipper's pen.
"And you." he said to my friend, "I am particularly disappointed in you." Kipper bowed his head and pretended to look ashamed, but the gleam in his eye did not escape me.
Dave dripped and squelched his turd-scented way back through the Door of Doors and we heard him locking the outer doors. Rex immediately began a recital of events and, a few moments later, the entire dogs' block erupted into laughter.
Poor Dave had to squelch all the way back down the hill to his bungalow, pursued by the sound of a blocks'-worth of helpless canine laughter ringing in his ears.
I am delighted to see a new follower in my list - welcome Nono, great to see you here (and Yushay, who I think I forgot to welcome before)!