Another wonderful week of being Jasper. Full of sunshine and general capers.
Ewan and Fizzy had a day off yesterday, so I took my main exercise in the evening. Returning home, I was pleased to encounter my friend Eddie the Rottweiler, who was sitting in front of his house enjoying the sunset. He hailed me cheerfully.
"Edouardo! I grinned back. "How's it hanging?!"
"Oh, darling - don't even mention hanging." groaned Eddie. "Angus has got himself a new collar and lead-type affair. It looks just like a noose and does his great fat neck no favours at all."
Angus is another Rottweiler and Eddie's long-term "gentleman-friend". Separately, they were merciless in their abuse of each other, but in truth they were devoted to each other. I grinned again and was about to reply when my gaze was instantly arrested by the bizarre sight to be seen through the window into Eddie's sitting room. A vast glass tank was taking up almost all of the rear wall. A bright red light blazed away in the top corner of the tank, casting a reddish-orange hue over the tank's contents. Within the tank was an assortment of rocks, sand, a small water-pool and a smooth, interestingly-shaped branch. I had never seen anything quite like it before.
"What," I gasped, "in the name of high holy heaven and all the blessèd canine angels is that?!?"
Eddie glanced behind him to follow my gaze.
"Oh, that." he replied, "It's a vivarium."
As he said that, something scuttled out of a rock-cave in the corner of the tank, grasped a green item from the floor, settled down and began to eat his prize. The 'something' was a small salamander. "The lad himself!" beamed Eddie. "That's Pickle."
"Pickle?" I queried, with a raised eyebrow.
"Hmm... it's because he looks like one of those dill pickles you get in a jar."
"Pickle the Salamander?!?"
"I know. Poor s*d. We've had him for ages - ever since we were relieved of Kevin's company, in fact."
(Pause for explanation: Kevin was mentioned in this blog some two years ago. He was a foul-mouthed, arrogant, misogynistic bully in the guise of a white cat and shared a house with Eddie. Kevin had left his lover, Chloe, the cat from opposite my house, with three kittens to raise alone and then abusively denied in public that the kittens were his. He was a most repugnant individual. No-one grieved when he was killed by a car on the main road beyond our street. At the time, there was talk in both the canine and feline communities of procuring a card and fruit-basket to send to the car-driver as an expression of our deep gratitude. In fact, if the driver had gone for the double-whammy and taken out Peaches as well I would have put together a floral arrangement of blooms from my own garden for the fellow).
"He's a pleasant-enough fellow." continued Edward. "Every so often, he's allowed out of his vivarium for a potter around the living-room. I can't make head nor tail of his conversation, though. He jabbers away in some odd foreign language and chuckles a lot. Quite a jolly little lad, in fact."
"What does he eat?" I asked, watching Pickle finishing whatever he was eating before heading towards his little water-pool.
"Insects, mostly." replied Eddie, with a curl of his lip. "He likes crickets."
"Quite. Angus is terrified of him, bless him. Actually, I think he's jealous. He calls Pickle my 'little Morroccan boy'."
"Really? Is Pickle from Morrocco, then?"
"No, from a licenced reptile dealer just outside Southampton."
With that, and a last glance at Pickle, I bade Eddie a good evening. I'll admit to feeling a little envious of the young salamander. I rather fancied spending most of my day snoozing on a smooth slab of rock, with a sun lamp beaming warmly down on me. I wonder if I can bark my partner into getting a Jasper-sized vivarium...?