I'll admit that my stomach had been slightly troubled the previous evening, and that our journey into work was accompanied by a certain pungency. Shortly after arriving at the office, my partner had to pop out for a meeting. When she returned, she found me tethered up outside in the workyard and the office windows open.
My flatulence had reached a crisis point. My partner escorted me to a suitable location at which a mass evacuation of my bowels could be undertaken and we returned to offer profuse apologies to our traumatised workmates.
I have always had several nicknames in my partner's place of work. The inevitable "Bullseye", of course. In addition, I am sometimes affectionately referred to as "Piglet", "Jasbo" (cf. ASBO - an anti-social behaviour order for ne'er-do-wells) or "Jazzie". But now, there is a new one. My partner has cruelly termed me "The Devil's Air Freshener". My partner's colleagues laughed. I don't know why.
I began to whimper and cry as the door opened, although I was a little comforted to see that Bobby was wagging his tail.
"Hello boys!" said a voice, brightly. I was mightily relieved to see the nice nurse, Claire, from the day I arrived at the place, pushing a trolley through the door. She stopped in between Bobby and I and then uncovered a large silver bowl on the trolley. A nice, meaty smell wafted into the air. Claire opened a little packet and crushed up some little round pink discs onto the food. "Are you hungry, Bobs?" she asked, unbolting the door of Bobby's pen.
"Arf! Arrrrfff!" replied Bobby, his excitement increasing. Claire put the bowl on the floor for him, refilled the water in a neighbouring bowl and closed the pen door again.
Bobby attacked his food with vigour. He was a messy eater, gobbling and scoffing his meal as quickly as he could. Once the bowl was almost empty, he chased it around the pen, licking every last bit of meaty, biscuity goodness from it. Then he had a long drink, belched loudly, and settled down happily to wash his paws and whiskers.
"Good boy, Bobby." said Claire, approvingly, as she retrieved the empty dish. I craned my neck to see if I could see a bowl for me on the trolley, but there didn't appear to be one. Claire turned to me. "And how are you today, sweetheart?" she asked gently, unfastening the door of my cage and softly stroking my head. She leaned in and lifted the case in which the majority of my body was bound. I winced, knowing that she was about to discover what I had done in my cage. But her reaction took me entirely by surprise. "You GOOD boy." said Claire. "You've been to the toilet, haven't you?! Well done! Let's get you cleaned up and then you can have some dinner." She carefully carried me to a table at the side of the room and laid me down upon it. I watched as she removed the blankets and papers lining my cage and replaced them with clean ones. Then she returned to my side and carefully cleaned my bottom, the fur on my back legs and the whole under-tail area with soft moist wipes. All the time, she chatted to me quietly, telling me how well I was doing, what a good, strong boy I was, how pleased everyone was with my progress. My enjoyment of this was slightly tempered when a thermometer was inserted into my newly-cleansed bottom. However, even the reading from this seemed to please the cheery Claire. "Still going in the right direction." she commented. "I can't believe how well you've done over these three days. You're a tough little chap. Right! Dinner time for you!"
I wondered from where she was to produce a bowl of dinner for me. I was settled back securely into the frame in my cage and watched as Claire removed a large needle-less syringe-type thing from a packet. She then took a silvery-blue pouch from her trolley, opened it, and pushed the tip of the 'syringe' inside. The tool sucked up some dark-brown viscous liquid into its tube. Then, Claire gently pushed the plastic tip of the 'syringe' into my mouth and squirted a bit of the stuff onto my tongue.
I was mildly disappointed. I had hoped to have the same meat-and-biscuits meal as Bobby. I couldn't really complain though - the liquid was thick, meaty and nourishing. As I got used to it, Claire gave me more and more, until the pouch was empty. "Good boy." she said, kindly. "That'll help you get better. Was that nice?" She almost seemed to sense my puzzlement, as she then said: "I'm sorry you can't have proper food yet. Until your broken jaw mends, you won't be able to chew anything. Don't worry poppet - we'll find some special dinner for you when your jaw is better. Now then, I expect you're thirsty." She was right - I was very thirsty. Claire produced a clear bottle with a spout hanging down from its base. She carefully and patiently helped me to understand how I could lap at the spout with my tongue, which would make water fall into my mouth. Once I had the hang of it, Claire fixed the bottle to the door of my cage so that I could have a drink whenever I wanted one.
I realised that this had been the first time anything had passed my lips since I'd found the crisp in the van, which had led to my discovery, those few days ago (which now seemed like a lifetime). I was beginning to feel profoundly grateful to that crisp.
Bidding us a jolly farewell, Claire pushed her trolley out of the room and closed the door gently behind her. Bobby and I watched her go.
"Lovely girl, that." said Bobby, fondly. "And, I must bark, the food here is excellent." I felt I had to agree. Despite the fact that my dinner had been entirely liquid-based, I felt deliciously full and satisfied. "On the pouches, are you?" continued Bobby. "I had them when I first came here - my face was all smashed up too. They aren't half bad, considering."
"What happens next?" I asked. Bobby explained that it was nap-time for us both, which would be followed by exercise in the field outside - for him at least.
"You know," he said, "We really are very lucky, ending up here."
"Yes." I replied. And I meant it. I began to feel a creeping sensation; something that I hadn't felt for many, many months. In fact, it was a feeling that I had almost forgotten even existed.
Drifting into a contented sleep, I suddenly realised what it was.
I was happy.