Friday, 28 December 2012

Thursday 27 December 2012

Well.  It was a wretched beginning to the year - and the ending is somewhat less than perfect.

A week or so prior to the Christmas festival my partner and Gisèle, whilst travelling home from work, happened upon an unfortunate road incident.  They were, in fact, the first car upon the scene which was not damaged or otherwise directly involved (despite witnessing) the alarming episode.

Getting out of the New Teal Megane and locking Gisèle safely inside, my partner went to see if she could assist.  Almost the first thing she heard was someone calling for anyone with a knowledge of First Aid.  Being a qualified First-Aider, my partner identified herself as such and was immediately directed to the vehicle which had caused the incident, a large (and thankfully empty) tipper-truck.  Another bystander was already telephoning on his mobile for an ambulance and it was immediately apparent that the driver of the truck was very unwell indeed.  He was unconscious and slumped over the seats.

My partner ensured his airways were clear, manoeuvred, with assistance, the man into the best approximation of the recovery position that was physically possible and took his pulse, which was warm and strong, all the while attempting to rouse the stricken gentleman by shouting such things as "Can you hear me?!"; "Can you tell me your name Sir?!"; "It's OK, you're going to be all right now..."  The 999-dispatcher kept asking the caller infantile, repetitive and unhelpful things.  Even when my partner informed the dispatcher c/o the young man on the 'phone that the unwell victim "appeared to be dying and that an ambulance was needed now" the response was indifferent at best.  Ultimately, all my partner could do for the poor man was to hold his hand until the ambulance came.

Sadly, the gentleman died.  My partner and Gisèle then had to remain at the scene on the freezing-cold night for almost four hours, whilst the Police photographed the scene and interviewed the 'participants'.  My partner was greatly distressed and little Gisèle was utterly terrified.  Both were terribly cold besides, and my partner was, and is, so sad that she couldn't save the driver.  It has had a rather profound effect upon her, to be truthful. What she ultimately drew from the experience is this: NEVER make any journey – even if it is just to the supermarket for a pint of milk – without telling your partner/family (if you have them) that you love them. For you never know the time or the place. I’ll admit that the experience was made more challenging by the fact that the late gentleman’s wife wanted to speak with my partner, as she’d been with him until – well, you know… I think it was helpful for the poor bereaved lady… But PLEASE, never part or go to sleep without telling those you love that you love them.

Alas, now, my partner is besieged on all sides by constant reviews of the "wonderful" and "historic" year that was 2012.  The centenary of the Titanic and sundry commemorations, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Bradley Wiggins' triumph in the Tour de France, the Olympics and Paralympics and the British Teams' triumphs, the introduction and periodic visits of Betty, the arrival of sweet Gisèle... the list goes on...  But did my partner have a good year...?  No.

Oh no.

For 2012 was the year in which Jasper Horatio Stafford died.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Saturday 22 December 2012

As I had hoped, Elizabeth proved to be just the very salvation needed by Gisèle.  They spent a long time chatting and hugging on the sofa, in the manner shown in the previous post's photograph.

At length, I rejoined them.
"D'you know what I REALLY think you need, Giz?" said Betty, after a long silence.
"Hmm?" responded the little terrier.
"I'll tell you.  You need.... a FIIIIIIIGHT!"  And, with that, Betty shoved Gizmo off the sofa and jumped down on top of her.  The two girls snarled and bit at each other - all in fun of course - and chased each other up and down the stairs, yapping and squealing all the while.

And then I heard something which I'd almost given up hope of ever hearing again.

Once irritating, the sound of Gisèle's laughter was now truly delightful to my ear.  I smiled at the squeals of delight emanating from the two friends and stole a glance at my partner, who was wiping a happy tear from her eye at the reanimation of the inestimable Gizzy.  Up and down the stairs raced our two girls - squealing, laughing and play-nipping at each other.  My partner and I were just careful to keep out of the way as they crashed past us, out into the garden and around our small plot, then up the stairs to jump up and down on the bed (heedless of any effect on the mattress-springs or bed-linen).  This continued until almost midnight, but my partner was loath to put a stop to the girls' amusement due to the long-absent delight of little Gisèle.

When the shenanigans recommenced at 3.10 the following morning, my partner's patience began to wear thin. The play-fighting and noisy, boisterous games continued throughout that day - and the next day - AND the one after that; each time beginning before the winter sun had fully risen in the morning and lasting until long after most normal folk had retired to bed.  As for me, I'll admit that I'd had enough after about ten minutes on the first day - and my partner's smile had, by now, become decidedly fixed.  To be honest, it was more of a grimace.

On the fourth night, the bedroom door was firmly closed on the capering bitches.  I heard the (admittedly mildly satisfying) sound of two heads, one tiny and one large, smacking into the wooden door followed by the (less satisfying) outbreak of fresh giggling - and settled down at last to a full nights' sleep as the pair of miscreants trotted back downstairs, prodding each other and snickering as they descended.  My partner was already fast asleep...

These events took place over a week ago (I have been somewhat remiss in updating the blog for unfortunate reasons, which will soon become clear).  But, with the selective benefit of hindsight, I am very thankful indeed for the short visit of Betty.  She pulled Gisèle from the abyss of her despair.

The healing powers of the simple love and company of friends ought never to be underestimated.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Saturday 15 December 2012

A stop-press on the post I was part-way through writing.

The hearts of Gisèle, my partner and myself are broken, and united with our friends in America today following the appalling and mindless slaughter at Sandy Hook Primary School in Connecticut.

The stolen lives of the innocent babes and those who loved and cared for them reduces me to disbelieving incomprehension.  There are no words - no barks - of balm that I can offer.  Our love and prayers are with you.

The massacre of the innocents will never be forgotten by anyone in the right-thinking world.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Funeral Blues, by W.H. Auden

Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday 10 December 2012

Betty, true to form, arrived a little later than anticipated - although on the same evening she was expected.  She steam-rollered into Giz-Town all guns blazing, ready to have plenty of fun with her very best friend and to play nurse-maid to Gisèle's suckling puppies.

After standing on her hind-legs and warmly embracing my partner in the hall, Betty suddenly remembered the situation in which she had left her little friend Gizmo and bounded into the living room.
"Where are they?!" she yapped, her small stub of a tail wagging wildly.  "All my new little darlings?!  Whooooooo's got the BIGGEST kiss for their Auntie Betty?!?"

The Giant Schnauzer skidded to an abrupt halt at the alarming scene which met her eyes.  NOT a cacophonous melèe of innocent unweaned squalling newborns - just Gisèle alone on the sofa, clutching her teddy-bear tightly and staring blankly out of the window, rocking most unsettlingly backwards and forwards.

"What - where - wh..." stammered Betty uncertainly.  Giz didn't seem to hear her.
"Elizabeth," I murmured to her, "Would you join me in the lobby for a moment, if you please?"
Betty, her eyes still fixed with concern on her little friend, barklessly nodded and followed me out into the small hallway.

As quietly and sensitively as I could I appraised Betty of the situation.  She stared at me for a couple of seconds whilst her mind processed the sad news (Betty was by no means simple, but she was not the sharpest blade on the razor, if you catch my meaning).  When I looked into her face again, the mighty dog seemed to struggling to hold back her tears.

At that point my partner went into the kitchen and began preparing the girls' dinners.  With a sigh I told Betty about Gisèle's medicine-induced anorexia symptoms, and that it had now been a long while since Giz had taken a proper meal.  Betty shook her head, but there was nothing but heartfelt sympathy in her eyes.

The young Gisèle herself appeared on hearing the rattle of biscuits being placed into dinner-bowls.
"Hi Betty," she piped indifferently, with a rather pathetic half-wag of her tail.
"Hi Giz, my friend!" wuffed Betty affectionately, as she nuzzled her little friend's neck and gave her several big licks.  She was about to say something else, when my partner set the two dinner bowls (one small, with semi-moist biscuits, and one large, filled with juicy tinned meat and mixer-biscuits) on the ground.  (Because of Gisèle's propensity towards Colitis, she is generally kept away from tinned meat).

Betty immediately fell upon her bowl and, with much mess, noise and slobber, began to gobble down her dinner.  Giz, on the other paw, reluctantly crunched her way through three or four of her little marble-sized biscuits and then pushed the rest of the bowl away, untouched.  Betty looked up from her meal, meaty jelly covering her snout and beard, and watched Giz with concern as the little Jack Russell glared coldly at the rest of her dinner.  With a momentary pang, Betty looked again at her food and then turned to Gisèle.
"Giz," she barked gently, "I've eaten my mixer but not all of the meat.  I'm not sure - " frowning as she struggled against all of her inner values and instincts "- I don't think I can finish it.  There's only a bit left - would you like to finish up my meat?"  I whipped around to look at Gisèle and felt a glimmer of hope as I thought I detected a flicker of temptation cross her face.  "Go on, Giz," coaxed Betty, "I really can't manage any more.  It would be such a great pity to have to throw it away..."

Giz took a few steps towards Betty's dish and ate a tiny bite of the jelly-covered meat.  Her tail wagged involuntarily and, without much more prompting, she had finished off Betty's dinner.  Betty, in the meantime, had crept around behind Giz and had eaten about half of what remained in the little bowl, to compensate for what she had offered her solemn little chum.

I cannot tell you how glad I was to see Gisèle eat a sensible portion of dinner for a change, and how utterly grateful I felt towards the once-selfish and obstreperous Betty.  After Giz had finished eating, Betty gently and kindly ushered her diminutive friend back to the sofa in the living-room and quietly invited her to bark about what had happened.  I heard Gisèle beginning to cry as she replied to Betty and decided to leave them to it.  I remained with my partner in the kitchen as she did the washing-up.

I confess myself to have been utterly unprepared for the sight that met my eyes when I re-entered the living-room.  I felt as though I had never witnessed a greater character-reversal (consider the early days of Betty's and Gisèle's acquaintance and such incidents as Betty biting off part of Giz's upper lip and her attempt to pull off the little Jack Russell's tail), or such an example of selfless love throughout ALL my years on Earth.

And, with apologies for its blurriness, I can assure you that this photograph was not posed, set-up or otherwise photo-shopped in any way...:-

I am barkless; utterly barkless...

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Gisèle managed to sleep throughout the whole evening and night - 'twas the shock, perhaps.

There were no more tears in the morning from her pretty eyes, but she declined the offer of any breakfast.  She refused to eat her dinner that evening as well, and looked positively nauseous at the next morning's proffered breakfast.  My partner began to grow worried and I have to bark that I shared her concerns.  Whilst Gizmo was in the garden, we examined the leaflet inside the medicine-carton for any clues.  We found it on the third page.

"It has been recorded that some dogs experience symptoms of anorexia nervosa as a result of taking this medication." declared the folded sheet of paper.

"Hmmnm..." said my partner, sighing heavily and putting the paper back in the medicine box from whence it came.
"Well, that's not exactly good news." I remarked, "She hardly eats anything anyway."
My partner nodded, watching Giz through the French Windows as she pottered in the garden, trying her best to go to the toilet despite an empty stomach and bladder.

We could not afford to waste any further time on the subject at the present moment, however, as we needed to set off for work.  I had decided to appraise Fizzy the Labrador of the recent unhappy development at the earliest opportunity.  I knew that I'd have to catch her by herself in order to do it discreetly, but the sooner she knew the better - for the most part so that she could make her pea-brained spouse Ewan understand the situation.  He had been almost beside himself with joy at the expectation of the anticipated pups, frequently chattering on about all the games and gifts he was keen to share with all his new little "nieces and nephews".

On arrival at the work-yard, Gisèle said that she would prefer to sit quietly by herself in the car that day.  My partner made sure that she was well-guarded against the cold and closed the car door on her, after giving the morose Giz a little cuddle.  By a happy chance we had arrived only a few minutes behind Ewan and Fizzy, who were ambling around the yard and sniffing the perimeter.  I sidled up to Fizz-Bang and asked her for a private word.  She could see that something was not quite well and we concealed ourselves behind the fuel-store.  Fizzy expressed much sincere sympathy on learning of the previous evening's events and promised that she would break the sad news to Ewan as quickly as possible - and that she would see to it that he fully understood both the truth and the need to be thoughtful in his remarks to Gisèle.  I was as profuse as I was heartfelt in my thanks.

True to her bark, Fizzy wasted no time in escorting Ewan into the workshop for a discreet chat.  I left them to it and, looking around, was pleased to see my friend Mac the Springer Spaniel in his garden, which bordered the work-yard.  He was no less happy to see me and bounded up to the wire fence for a chat.
"'Ullo Jazz!" he beamed in his deep, rich and strongly-rural accent.  "You still hanging around?  I'll tell 'ee, I were real sorry to see you go.  Last time I saw 'ee, 'twere in the back of the ol' boy's [his master's] van.  I shed a fair few tears at seeing you lying there, I did that."  (Mac's master looks after the pet-undertaker's crematorium, where my mortal remains... well, you know...)  "We laid a right grand do on when we saw 'twas you, yes we did.  We always does the job right and proper y'know - but it fair broke our hearts to see you in that box.  The ol' girl [Mac's mistress] shed a good many tears.  Oh yes.  But what're you doing back, now boy?  You oughtn't not to have more'n your time, y'know.  T'ain't proper."
"I know." I sighed, shaking my head.  "I know.  But people - and dogs - down here hadn't finished needing me."
"No matter, though." replied Mac kindly, "When your time's up, 'tis up.  No more to it'n that."
I nodded and attempted to explain.  "I tried to go back a few months ago - but Gisèle had a fit of the hysterics, so I agreed to stay a bit longer."
"T'aint right." said Mac, "But I'm fair pleased to see 'ee, that I am."
"Cheers Mac," I grinned. "Great to see you too."
"So, what's occurring then?  That young 'un Gisèle's a fair l'il maid, b'aint she?"
"She is, Mac." I smiled, "She's a real little gem.  I couldn't have wished for finer for my partner."  I then proceeded to confide to Mac the recent unfortunate circumstances involving Giz.  Like Fizzy, he was genuinely sorry to hear it and asked me to pass on his condolences and compliments to the little Parson Jack Russell.
I was just about to reply and make further remarks on Gizmo's good-nature when piercing screams wrent the air asunder.  The workshop door flew open with a resounding crash and Ewan almost flew across the yard squealing in terror and then fleeing into the woods on the opposite side to where Mac stood with me.  We watched - and then listened to - Ewan's flight into the woodland, his progress marked by the sounds of headlong crashing through increasingly-thick scrub and the indignant protests of startled pheasants as their secluded peace was disturbed.

"BL**DY H*LL!!" bellowed Fizzy, as she came bolting out after Ewan and thundered past us in pursuit of her hysterical basket-mate.

Mac and I exchanged a bemused glance.
"Fairly average for a Friday morning..." remarked the Spaniel with a sigh and a raised eyebrow.

I was tempted to laugh, but checked the urge.  I knew that he had long "had feelings for" the pretty Fizzy - and he had known Ewan for years before I had ever arrived upon the scene; I didn't feel qualified to comment.  "Tell me, Jazz, has that ol' fool ever tried to preach to you about cheese?"
"Erm...." I responded, "He might have mentioned it once or twice..."
"Nutter." sniffed Mac.  "That fair Labrador maid is wasted on that ol' idjit."
I didn't know quite how to reply - after all, much as I liked Ewan, these had once been my own thoughts...  But before I could formulate an answer - "Aye-ay," muttered Mac, nodding over my shoulder.

I turned and saw Fizzy dragging a protesting Ewan back to the depot.  She had him by the collar, and there was no let-up in his cries, protests and pleadings to be allowed to continue hiding himself in the deep woods. He wriggled and fidgeted without cease.  Occasionally, he managed to wrench himself free from Fizzy's firm grasp between her teeth of his collar, but Fizzy was far too wily for him and as soon as he broke free she seized him by the tail and continued to drag him backwards, until he tried to pull away again and she renewed her strong toothy grip on his leather collar.  He was dragged past Mac and I, the gangly mongrel's claws scrabbling desperately on the tarmac in a last-ditch effort to escape.

With a final, mighty, effort, Fizzy shoved Ewan back into the workshop and kicked the door closed on him.  Wheezing and panting, she staggered over to Mac and I.
"Bl**dy h*ll!" she spluttered again, as she flopped down next to us.

I let her catch her breath before asking "What was that all about?!"

"Phantom pregnancy..." spluttered a gasping and angry Fizzy, "Ewan thinks that Gisèle is going to give birth to a litter of ghosts..."

She shook her head.  Mac did the same and hastened into his house before he was called upon to comment.

And thus died my hopes of Ewan's being able to lift Gizmo out of her grief and depression.

There remained now only ONE hope for our sweet and anguished little Gisèle:

The return, tomorrow, of The Hon. Elizabeth Rae de W***-B*****-N********* a' S*******, more familiarly-known to you and I, dear reader, as "Betty".

Dewclaws crossed, OK...?  Until next time, then...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Sunday 2 December 2012

My partner decided to heed Fizzy's advice and take Gisèle to the vets'.  Although this was due also, in part, to the observations of her parents.  They had cared for Gisèle over the weekend during which my partner was at the BBC in London, and remarked upon the little terrier's swollen belly and engorged teats.

And so thus it was, that this evening, my partner escorted the irrepressibly effervescent Gisèle to the vet.  I waited at home, not wishing to re-visit the scene where I... anyway - Giz was almost beside herself with maternal joy; my partner scarcely less-so, and I wandered home by myself.  Little Gizmo was singing happily to herself as I departed - I elected to overlook the fact that her tune of choice was Psy's "Gangnam Style"...

I pottered about the house, dwelling on happier times when I had been alive in this space and wondering how best to make myself useful when the time came for Gisèle's whelping.  At the sounds of the New Teal Megane returning and my partner's key in the front door lock I made my way downstairs.

But I was entirely unprepared for what I encountered.  Sweet Gisèle crept into the house, bent almost double like an elderly dog.  Her eyes were glazed and bore a hollow expression of mortification.  Glancing at my partner, I saw that she, too, looked somewhat strained.
"What's the matter?!" I yelped, forgetting my manners.  "Giz - is everything OK?!?"

"Yes, thank you, Jasper." she whispered in a strangled and unnatural voice.  The tiny creature then burst into tears and fled upstairs.  I heard her flinging herself onto the bed and wailing in anguish and despair.
"Wh - whatever has happened?!" I cried.  I saw that my partner was holding a small box of medicine, which she laid upon a kitchen worktop.  She then came into the living-room, slumped onto the sofa and held her head in her hands, whilst the entire house reverberated with the agonised sobs and screams from Gisèle.

"Oh no."  I wuffed quietly.  "Oh - no, no, please no.  Gisèle has miscarried her babies."

"Hasn't she?" I prompted, when no answer seemed forthcoming from my partner.  "Are they ALL dead?  All of them?"

"Oh Jasper," sighed my partner, but she stopped before continuing - casting her eyes upwards as Gisèle's wails became more distraught.  I made a snap decision.
"I'm going back." I announced.  "I know that you and Gisèle will miss me, but I am going back.  Kipper and I will look for the souls of those precious unborn pups and make sure that they are all right and surrounded by friends.  Tell Giz that I w-"
"Oh, Jazz," cut in my partner, sighing heavily again, "You always were a thoughtful dog; that's one of the reasons why so many people loved you during your life.  But you don't need to do anything this time."
"But the babies - those poor pups -"
"There are no puppies.  There never were any puppies.  Gisèle was not pregnant."
"It was a phantom pregnancy."
"But- but- the swollen belly and breasts - the milk...  The nesting and grooming behaviour...?"
"All relatively common for a full-blown case of false pregnancy, apparently."  My partner frowned and sighed once more.
"Well..." I said slowly, "It would have been difficult, I think, to cope with puppies at the moment - financially quite apart from anything else.  I suppose it's for the best really..."  But I could tell my partner wasn't convinced.
"It's just that - well, it would have been quite exciting, and fun to have the little ones in the house.  But I'm SO sorry for Giz.  The vet weighed her, and really felt her belly hard.  And then, when he said 'No, she's completely empty.', the look on Giz's face was awful, I just felt so sick and sorry for her."
"What's the medicine for?"
"To dry up her milk so that she doesn't get Mastitis.  Actually, I'd better give her the first dose and make sure she's OK..." With one, final, sigh my partner got up and went to the get the medicine.  It was in a glass vial and the box also contained a pipette/dropper with the tube made from toughened glass and marked with the dosage level.  She drew the prescribed level and replaced the lid of the vial.  It did not escape my notice that there was a large disclaimer on the outer box stating "Do NOT administer to pregnant bitches as it may induce abortion".

And then I knew for certain.  NO respectable vet would prescribe this medicine to a lady who was, or even MIGHT BE, pregnant.

As Gisèle's screams and sobs of desperate anguish continued to reverberate throughout the house I stopped my partner before she ascended the stairs and indicated the sweet little girl's teddy-bear, lying unattended upon the sofa.  With a half-hearted smile my partner picked up the toy and we went up the stairs together.

We found the little Jack Russell curled up on the furthest edge of the bed, facing the wall.  It looked like she was trying to disappear into the corner as she whimpered and trembled.  My partner lifted her onto her lap and tried to soothe the grief-stricken and humiliated dog.
"Dearest Gisèle, please don't cry." I wuffed gently.  "You are young and pretty.  You've got so much time ahead of you to have puppies.  It will be all right."
"But what will people think of me?" wept poor Giz.  "What will people say when they find out?"
"People will understand, my love." I soothed. "It was not your fault; you haven't done anything wrong."

Whilst I comforted Gizmo my partner prepared to give the medicine.  She gently held Giz's mouth open and administered the dose in one rapid movement.  Gisèle spluttered and wrinkled up her snout - it clearly tasted utterly revolting - but she is a good girl and dutifully swallowed her medicine.
"Well done Giz." said my partner, giving the little dog another comforting cuddle.  "Do you want to come downstairs and have a little bit of dinner?"
"No thank you." whimpered Giz.
"I could look you out a bit of chicken, or something else that you really like?"
"No, I'm not hungry."
"OK.  Look - here's teddy.  He wants to know that you are OK."  My partner held out Gisèle's little stuffed toy.  At the sight of the small bear on which she had practised her grooming skills, Gizmo's expression changed.  She snatched it away from my partner and threw it across the room.
"Burn it!  Put it in the bin!  I never want to see it again!" shouted Giz, in a sudden explosion of violence.
"I'm not going to do that." replied my partner quietly.  She calmly got up and retrieved the teddy-bear and put it on the bed beside Gisèle.  Then she gently kissed Giz's head and suggested that she tried to get some sleep.

As my partner went downstairs, I decided that I would keep company with the unhappy little dog and sat down beside her.  Gizmo glared at me coldly.
"And you can s*d off as well." she snarled.

Her words hurt, but I knew that they were only borne out of her shock and distress.
"I'll go." I said, "But only as far as just outside the bedroom door.  I am not going to leave you while you are so unhappy."  I jumped down from the bed and curled up on the landing.  After a while I heard Gizmo's breathing settle down into a heavy, regular pattern and poked my head around the door.  Little Gisèle had fallen fast asleep, her head resting on her teddy-bear's lap with one paw on its ear.  I smiled sadly to myself and jumped softly back up onto the bed to lie beside her.

Poor Giz.  What a sad end to her happy plans.

Let us hope for better things next time...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Saturday 24 November 2012

My partner has lately enjoyed a rare weekend in London, amusing herself amongst dear friends and BBC Radio 2 staff, as well as sundry other celebrities, for the benefit of the BBC's most worthy (human) Children in Need charity.  But I must set this aside for another time, as I return to the topic that was formerly uppermost in my mind; Gisèle and her impending motherhood.

So now, in addition to the ongoing saga of Ewan's bizarre entrepreneurial master-plan, I find myself having to mentor a pregnant young bitch.  I thought that my untimely passing might spell, at the very least, an end of these traumas.  Alas, to be sure, the signs confirmed it.

I don't know how knowledgeable you are when it comes to canine physiognomy in general, dear reader. But  I daresay your knowledge extends to the understanding that dogs have a highly-developed sense of smell.  Ofttimes, we can actually smell when a fellow-being is sickly, unhappy, or dying.  The phenomenae have been previously much-documented.  We can also smell when a female is pregnant.  And, believe me, sweet Gisèle absolutely reeked of the maternal hormone.  Even her countenance betrayed her.  Her eyes shone with sweet fulfilment.  She even seemed to glow.  As little Giz's breasts continued to swell and produce milk (dearest Steph; I thank you for your lovely comment!  Yes - Ewan's latest business ventures and the knowledge concerning Gisèle's condition have been kept VERY widely apart!)  The bloom of pregnancy brought, not that it was needed, an extra beauty to the countenance of the pretty Jack Russell Terrier.

I knew that my partner was inexperienced in such matters so, at the nearest opportunity, I sidled quietly up to Giz and asked her if she was well.
"Yes, thank you, Jasper." she grinned, looking up from her devoted grooming of her teddy-bear.
"Gisèle - Gizmo.  Sweetie, is there anything you would like to tell me?" I asked, as gently as I could.
"No..." replied Giz affably, as she carefully licked teddy's underarm and leg areas clean, "Are you OK?"

"Er... erm, yes." I muttered.  Awkwardly continuing, I said "Lovely Giz.  SUCH a good girl.  How are you getting on with Milo next door?"
"Haven't seen him for weeks..." muttered Giz, as I studied her expression closely.  No obvious clues presented themselves.  I cannot say that I was disappointed.  Despite the fact that Milo was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, similar in colouring to myself, he had a MASSIVE head and upper-body.  Giz would be, at least, spared the agonising and potentially fatal delivery of THOSE horrors.
"What about other young men?  I'll bet you are surrounded with admirers, being as good-natured and beautiful as you are...?"

No response.  So I waited.

When nothing further seemed to be forthcoming - "Gisèle, have you ever had a secret?  If you know something that is secret, you do know that you can always tell me, don't you...?"
"Yes, thank you, Jasper.  And I am grateful for that."

Another silence.  I tried again.

"Giz - has a boy-dog ever... I mean, have you ever, ur..., are you...? Oh g*d.  What I mean to say is - has a man... Umm...  Or, to put it another way, are you still a vir, oh no, I can't ask that... Oh, I hate this...  Right.  Get a grip, Jazz.  Yes.  Gisèle.  Have you, at any time recently, accepted the attentions of a man?  I mean, in the basket sense of the bark?"

My courage, dear reader, had never failed me in life - not even to the point of my death.  But it had well-and-truly deserted me now, much to my disgust and embarrassment.

Gisèle had long since abandoned her washing of her teddy-bear and was gazing up at me, in an effort to comprehend.
"Gisèle." I began again, more firmly.  "Do you understand where puppies - baby dogs - come from?"
"Oh yes!"
"Thank G*D!"

"Ewan told me."
"Oh no..."

"Oh yes.  He said that puppies live on the ends of boys' pee-sticks and they live there and then when lady-dogs want them, the boy-dogs put them on the ladies' belly-buttons and they go inside and live in the ladies' bellies until they are ready to come out."

I gaped at her for what seemed like an eternity - until I realised that my mouth was hanging open.
"That's right, isn't it, Jasper?  Isn't it?  Jasper?  Was Ewan right?"

"Erm..." I mumbled weakly, "Well, Ewan seems to have, at least, identified the correct area on the body in general - but... er...  Gisèle: Are you familiar with the story of the downfall of Troy and the Trojan Horse?"
"Oh, well, you can Google it for the main points, but-"
"Oh, hang on!  Betty told me once, at story time.  Yes, the Trojan Horse.  I hope there was a toilet inside it."
"What?! Oh, never mind.  Anyway, it gave rise to a saying which humans still use sometimes today - Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.  I'll paraphrase that now and bark Beware of Ewan bearing knowledge.  It's just as dangerous."

Gisèle blinked up at me and nodded solemnly.
"OK Jasper."

As I smiled down at her, I realised that I was a bit out of my depth here and wondered who, in the absence of Betty, would be best-placed to offer Giz sensible advice and guidance.  There was Rosie, the little Westie next-door, but she was young and a notorious giggler.  Plus, she and Giz had lately become very good friends and had been on several outings together.  I didn't want to embarrass Gisèle.  I then wondered if Honey, the ginger cat from opposite might help.  Despite the fact that she was a cat, she had always been kind and sweet-natured.  But Giz didn't know her as I had.  The idea was dismissed as quickly as it had occurred.  All of a sudden, I had a flash of inspiration.  It was so obvious!  I smiled down at little Giz, with her swollen belly and milk-laden teats.
"Gisèle, my dear," I said gently, "I have seen the recent changes in your body.  Would you like to bark to Fizzy about what is happening?"

Fizzy, Ewan's black Labrador basket-mate was not the most tolerant and patient of dogs, even with her belovèd dolt of a husband, but she WAS unfailingly kind - and she had experienced much in her pre-Ewan life.
Gizmo's eyes lit up and she nodded enthusiastically.  The following day, I managed to get Fizzy by herself and discreetly explained the situation.  As soon as Ewan was asleep, Fizzy invited Gisèle to join her for a stroll along the bridleway.

They were gone for almost an hour.  I was beginning to grow concerned when the two girls re-entered the yard - and WHAT a difference!  Gisèle was trotting confidently beside Fizzy, her head held high and her tail wagging happily.  I beamed at them both as Giz trotted past me and went off to her favourite spot for a nap.
"Thank you Fizzy." I barked, "I really do appreciate your help."
"My pleasure, Jazz." replied Fizzy, "She's a dear little creature - but so young to be a mother."
I sighed, nodding.
"You need to make sure she sees a vet - sooner rather than later." continued Fizzy.  "Her time is close now."

Hmmm....  I'd better get my partner to start saving old newspapers...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sunday 11 November 2012 (b)

Remembrance Day

So that I can write this in a FREE country, where fascism NEVER did triumph, I - we - THANK YOU.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Remembrance Day

Sunday 11 November 2012 (a)

A digression from the previous unsettling subject - if you'll permit me, dear reader.

I was dozing peacefully on the bed, next to young Gisèle, in the early hours of the morning, a few days ago.  The sound of raised voices from the direction of my garden dragged me from my repose, though sweet Giz slept on, unencumbered.  The first voice which destroyed my peace was Betty's (she was staying with us again for just a few days, a short while ago).  She was employing all manner of profanities in her upper-class, educated voice.  A tell-tale whiff in the air told me that her combatant was none other than the foul feline Peaches.

" anyway," he was mewing, snidely, "What's the name of that scrawny rat that lives here now?"
"If you dare to meow ONE WORD against my friend Gizmo, I'll rip off your tail and beat you to death with the wet end!" retorted a dangerously-livid Elizabeth.
"Yeah, her." replied Peaches indifferently.  "Has she had the courage to tell anyone yet?"
"Tell anyone WHAT?"
"About her being up the duff."
"Well, it's obvious, isn't it?  For f***'s sake, open your eyes, you dozy fat bint!"
"Any other last words?" snarled Betty, "Before I tear your wretched body into ribbons?!"

Peaches laughed, malevolently, and then stalked off with his usual air of self-importance.
"Don't say I didn't warn you." he hissed, by way of a parting shot, "Oh, she IS all right..."

What was THAT all about?!?

Betty waited until the wretched Peaches had disappeared from view.  Then, she turned and raced up the stairs, bounding up several steps at a time - and even running through me (painless, but something I'd not experienced before and therefore a little unsettling), finally leaping onto the bed and shaking Gizmo awake.

"Is it true?!" demanded Betty.
"Mmmmm... what?"  mumbled the sleepy Giz.

"ARE you pregnant?!"
"Oh... I..."

But, unhappily, at that very moment the doorbell sounded and Betty had to go home.  She left with one last, desperate, look at me and frantically mouthed "Help her!" through the car window as she departed.

I stood and watched her vehicle disappear around the corner.  NOW what...?!  I forced myself to be calm. 'Come along now, Jazz," I said to myself "Be calm and examine the evidence.  Draw upon your experience-based knowledge..."  I chuckled to myself, thinking how ludicrous the very IDEA of sweet Gisèle being in-pup was...

Oh SH*T.

My chuckles abruptly ceased.  I cast my mind back to the book "Know Your Dog", mentioned previously, which contained a chapter on the signs to look out for if one suspects one's bitch is pregnant.

"1. She may begin to nurture, or 'mother' a toy or other young creature, for example an orphaned kitten."
I had not seen Gisèle without her teddy-bear by her side for some while now.  The bear had also not been as clean as he now was since long before I departed this life - Giz was taking particular care in cleaning him, especially his bottom-area, his mouth and his ears.

"2. She may begin to build nests within furniture, or to dig a den in a secluded area of the garden, to create a safe and warm place in which to deliver and suckle her pups."
My partner had just recently been forced to buy a new duvet, the latter having been destroyed in "nesting activities", which I'd assumed had been part of a game betwixt Betty and Giz.  Now, I wasn't so sure...

"3. Her teats will swell and begin to produce milk, indicating that birth is imminent."
How could I not have noticed?!?  Gisèle HAD been putting on weight, to be sure, but I had viewed this as encouraging progress, given how emaciated she was on first coming to live here.  But there was no denying it - even my partner's parents had remarked upon how swollen Gizmo's mammaries had become and how large and red her little nips now looked.  Work colleagues had commented upon it also, and milk positively SHOT forth from her breasts, each time she licked to relieve them.  One spurt shot a length of six foot.

Oh SH*T indeed, then.  Gisèle is pregnant.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Monday 5 November 2012

I was utterly barkless.  I opened my mouth to bark, but no sounds came out.

Suddenly realising that I probably looked like a goldfish, opening and closing my mouth in silence, I recovered myself enough to weakly croak "Dog's milk?!"

"Yes!" yipped Ewan, almost beside himself with excitement.  "Yummy and full of goodness!  Isn't it the very stuff that made us grow strong when we was puppies?!  And there's definitely a market for it - I's done the weesearch-"
"Ewan - let me get this straight." I barked, frowning, "You are proposing to milk bitches, make cheese from this milk and sell it to humans?"  Ewan nodded enthusiastically.  "And does Fizzy [Ewan's black labrador wife/care-worker] know about this?!"

"She helped me with the weesearch.  We sniffed all the wee-posts we could find to see what other dogs was eating.  DEFINITELY no dog cheese."
"I cannot imagine why." I remarked drily.  "And what does Fizzy have to bark on the matter?"
"She says it was nice to see me happy again after you went away.  She says it is good to see that I am working on a big project and using my time properly."

A sudden thought struck me.
"Ewan - does Fizzy REALLY know what you are up to?"

"Yes..." muttered Ewan, carefully avoiding my eye.
"Ewan...?!" I growled.
"Well - OK, not exactly then.  But-"
"And what do you think she would say if she found out?  Ewan?!  How would she react?"
"Probably not all that keen..."  mumbled Ewan sulkily.
"I thought so.  Keeping that in mind, then, what are your plans?"

Ewan's eyes lit up again.
"OK!" he yapped, with renewed enthusiasm.  "I makes the cheese in my kitchen.  But first we needs the milk.  OK?!  And that's where YOU come in!"
"Go on..."
"Yes, well, you is handsome and ladies like you lots, yes?"
"I cannot deny that, during my lifeti-"
"Yes, exactly!  So what you does is this:-  you meets a pretty lady and says 'come for a walk with me, my dear' and she goes with you and then you takes her into a field and where I is waiting.  When the pretty lady is looking at you, I creeps up behind her and clobbers her on the head-"
"You clobber the lady on the head?!  EWAN..!"
"Iss, iss, I clobbers her!"  Ewan's limited linguistic skills tended to desert him in proportion to how excited he was getting.  "And then she is knocked out and when she wakes up we has hooked her up to a milking machine!"

Oh, bl**dy h*ll.

Seeing the expression on my face, Ewan hurriedly continued.  "But it's OK, Jazz, once we had taken her milk, we lets her go!"
"Oh well, that's all right, then." I muttered sarcastically.
"Yes." nodded Ewan, entirely missing my meaning.  "Now then.  We is having three different varieties of cheese.  Betty is a very big dog with lots of milks, so Betty-cheese will be our economy-value line."
"Don't let Betty hear you saying that, for Heaven's sake."  I warned, imagining what Betty would do to the hapless Ewan if she caught him describing her milk as cheap and cheerful.
"OK.  Then, we has 'The Fizzy'.  Lots of ladies are Fizzy's size, so that is our standard range."

"Ewan, please stop saying 'we' and 'our'.  I want no share in this travesty."
"OK!  And then we has Gisèle.  Now then.  Gisèle is tiny.  Teeny-weeny.  So not much milk there, and what there is will be rich and highly-flavoured.  That is our Premium Range, for the more 'esciperian' palettes of our discerning customers."
"I assume you mean 'epicurean'?"
"Iss, that's what I said - 'episcerian', no, 'enpiricsean', er, 'epicas-', anyway, POSH cheese."
"Brilliant, eh?!"  beamed Ewan.  "Three different sorts of cheese from different sizes of ladies:  The Betty, The Fizzy and The Gizmo.  Of course, we won't always use these ladies.  But we needs to start small.  Once  we is established we moves on and then is when we do the clobbering.  What do you think Jazzy?"

I was stunned.  Of all the mad things Ewan had said, done or thought in his delusional little head, this was by far the maddest.  I don't know what was more disturbing - the idea in itself or the fact that Ewan utterly believed that this was a viable business idea.  This was madder than the time Ewan knocked on the side of a wasps' nest and asked the angry wasps within if they wanted to play football with him.

"Er, one or two initial thoughts, Ewan, if you'll indulge me..."
"Please." he grinned, "The forum is yours.  Let's hoist your views up the flagpole and see if they fly!""
"Ewan, does your new TV package include a business channel at all, by any chance?"
"Oh yes."
"Hmm.  Well, I have to bark that I might have an issue with the clobbering aspect..."
"Really?!" asked Ewan, looking slightly crestfallen, "But that's a good bit!  Sometimes, you know, Jasper, you has to put gentlemanly behaviour aside for a moment when you is a high-powered business-dog like me."
"Actually, Ewan, it's not just me being gallant.  I'm pretty much against clobbering per se."
"But they would like it!" protested Ewan.  "It's fun!"

"All right, Ewan." I sighed wearily.  "Let's just say that we have our collection of clobbered ladies, all awake again and happily gossiping together, exchanging stories about major head-trauma.  What then?"
"We milks them!"
"OK.  How?"
"Ah, well, you see - I, er... That is why I is in charge and you is just a non-executive director."

"I resign."
"You're not allowed.  You has to have the permission of the board of directors to resign."
"Who's on the board of directors?"
"Please, Mr. Chairman of the Board of Directors, may I resign?"
"Worth a try..." I muttered to myself, shaking my head.

"Right then."  I sighed.  "We milk them.  So where do we get the male dog?"
"Well, surely even you know that you need a male dog?!  I mean, you've had "the snip" and I'm dead, so-"
"Jaspey!  You silly!  You don't get milk from boy dogs!!"
"No, I know that Ewan, but-"

"Actually," mused Ewan, thoughtfully, "You can get stuff that looks like milk out of boy dogs... It's not actually milk, but sometimes it looks a bit like milk, and-"

I winced.  Of all the things on the ever-increasing list (now becoming almost Biblical in length) of subjects about which I never wished to have a conversation with Ewan this was very, VERY, near the top.

" -it's like milky but not milk, and it comes out of-"

"Ewan, can I just stop you there," I interjected hastily.
"Yes." he replied. "What?"
"Oh, no reason.  I just had to stop you there."

"OK, then.  But why woulds we need boy dogs?" he queried.
"Well," I explained delicately, "I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm mistaken - but I've yet to encounter any female of a mammalian species who produces milk in any significant quantity but who ISN'T pregnant!"
"Really." I nodded.  "Ladies in season, going through menopause or experiencing a phantom pregnancy sometimes produce small quantities of milk.  Also, if a lady adopts orphaned babes it is possible that her maternal instincts kick in and she produces sufficient milk to nourish her foundlings.  But I can guarantee that you won't get enough milk for your cheese-proposals from an infertile bitch."  Thank goodness, I concluded privately to myself.

"But - but-" spluttered Ewan, looking disconcerted, "All those cows in the fields - the ones who gives us tasty milk and cheese and that - THEY aren't all pregnant!"
"Yes!  They ARE!!"  I barked.  "A lady needs to be expecting at least one infant in order to give lots of milk!"

"Are you SURE?!" whined Ewan.  "I's going to ask Fizzy, just to be sure."
"Well, you do that." I replied.  "But she'll want to know why you're asking..."

"Jazz."  decided Ewan.  "I shall take that risk."  And, with that, he marched off back into the office.  I decided that it would be foolish to follow him.  This decision was borne out when I heard angry snarls, followed by a couple of shrill yelps from indoors.

Ewan quickly returned, nursing a slapped cheek and a badly-bitten ear.
"How'd it go?" I asked, doubtfully.
"Actually, not that well." came the glum reply.  "This" indicating his ear "was for wanting to steal lady-milk.  And this" gesturing towards his reddening cheek "was for even thinking of the whole idea in the first place."
I can't say that I was entirely surprised.
"But don't worry Jazz," continued Ewan, "It's all right now.  I has smoothed the waters.  Everything's OK."
"Yes.  I told Fizzy that it was all your idea."
"Brilliant.  Jolly good.  Cheers for that, Ewan."

"So, then.  ON to our marketing strategy..."

Oh NO...  It just gets worse from here-on in...

Guy Fawkes' Night tonight.  Never my favourite.  Happily, Gisèle is SO chilled-out that even the fireworks don't faze her.  I wonder if, in centuries to come, the foiling of other terrorist atrocities will be celebrated with fireworks, bonfires and greasy hot-dogs?  Somehow, I doubt it...

Friday, 2 November 2012

Friday 2 November 2012

I explained to Ewan that although I, personally, had never seen any cheese in Heaven, I am sure that there was some there.  And that, if he was a good boy, one day he might get to find out for himself.

My simple friend seemed delighted to find that he might find some of his belovèd cheese in the place of eternal repose, and his tail wagged happily on.

"Actually, Jazz, I am especially glad that you came back when you did." barked Ewan.
"Oh yes?"
"Oh yes.  You see, mummy and daddy have got some new television channels in our house and one of them is all about how to make your own food and that, and so I has decided to go into business!  Oh yes!  I is going to make and sell my very own, home-made cheese!"

I know, I know... I should have left it there.  But curiosity got the better of me, I'll admit - and Ewan's enthusiasm was so infectious that I professed myself keen to know more.

"Well, I's already got a name for my product - "Charming Cheeses" - and Fizzy has helped me with a pose for the picture on the packets - "  At this point, I made the mistake of looking at my friend, and inadvertently leapt back in terror at the expression on his twisted and gurning face.  It was only when I recovered my composure that I realised that Ewan had adopted what he felt to be a winning smile.  "What d'you think?!" he continued.

"Erm..." I muttered.
"Exactly!" beamed Ewan, "I's so glad you agree! Brilliant!  Fizzy says that it's important that I looks processival on the packets."
"You mean 'professional'..."
"Yes, that's what I said.  Now then, I thinks you will agree that I have picked a product that no-one has EVER done before, and-"
"Ewan, there are LOADS of cheeses on the market.  Why, France alone has over 300 different types of cheese, and here in England-"
"But none of MY sort of cheese, Jazzy, that is the point.  Mine is new and special."
"How so?  What sort of milk are you using?  Cow's?  Sheep?  Goat's?"
Ewan denied each of these three options, getting progressively more excited with each shake of his head.
"Er... Buffalo? Camel's?  Um... OK, last guess. Yak."
"Noooooo....! Heeheeheeheeeeeeee!"

This was the moment when I began to get seriously concerned.
"Ewan," I barked, sternly, "WHAT have you been up to in my absence?!"

"None of these milks are what I's making my cheese from.  Ask yourself this, Jazz - what is the BEST and most yummy and healthy milk of ALL?!
"I bet you is thinking Cow milk!!!"
"Well, that was my first thought."
"It's not Cow milk."

"Oh no.  Not Cow milk."
"Ewan - what sort of milk are you proposing to use?!"
"The very best of all, Jazzy."
"Go on..."

"Dog milk."

Oh G-d.  Oh G-d, no.

This was worse that I had imagined.  But further horrors were yet to come.  If you thought THIS was bad enough, just wait until you hear his business strategy  (and my intended role in it)...
I knew I'd left him to his own devices for too long - but I had NEVER anticipated this...

Be afraid, my friends, for, this time, your fears are justified...

Oh dear...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Wednesday 31 October 2012


Ewan's excited bark echoed around the yard and the woods beyond, sending startled crows from the nearby rookery flying up in a great dark mass, all cawing indignantly at the disturbance.

"Jazz! Jazzy Jazz! Jaaaaazzzzzzzzzzz!  Is it really you?!?"

I grinned, my tail wagging madly, as my friend Ewan capered joyfully around me.

"Oh, Jazz!" he squealed, with tears pouring from his big brown eyes, "Fizzy said you had gone for always, but I KNEW you would come back again!  Where did you go?"

I was stumped.  How could I break his sweet, innocent, trusting heart?

"I searched for you for three WHOLE months." continued Ewan in a quiet, more subdued, bark.  "I know you was very ill and everything, and when Fizzy told me I had to say goodbye to you that time and mean it properly and all... But I wanted you to come back.  WHY didn't you come back?  Every day for three months I looked and waited for you, and I cried every single day.  Where was you?  I don't understand.  Don't you want me to be your friend any more?  OK, that's OK.  But I is very, very sorry for whatever I did or barked that made you go away.  Please don't stop being my friend.  Please - "

This was heartbreaking; more than I could endure.

"Oh, Ewan." I sighed, sadly.  "Please believe me, I would have done anything - anything - to stay here with you.  And Fizzy, and my partner, and my family, and my other friends like dear Lance.  I tried so hard.  But I was too ill.  And so I HAD to go away.  I am here again now - I am not completely sure why - but I am here.  And wherever, or whatever, I now am - I will ALWAYS be your friend."

"But you IS dead, isn't you."  said Ewan.  It wasn't a question.  "You is all see-through and everything, and you has no smell.  Fizzy said you was dead.  Can I really still be your friend?"

"Oh Ewan," I sighed again.  "You will ALWAYS be my friend.  No matter what.  OK?"

Ewan visibly relaxed.  He wagged his tail again.
"Phew!" he panted. "I don't mind then, if you is still here to talk to me sometimes, even if you is dead.  I don't mind ANYTHING if you are still my friend."

I grinned at him.  Ewan might well still continue to be the most simple dog of this lifetime - but you couldn't deny that he had the most loving nature of any worldly creature.

For those unacquainted with the tall, awkward, gangly-limbed dog, allow me to effect an introduction.

Ewan with his belovèd football
Ewan is a dog, older than me; a dog who is loved but who has something missing in his head.  Whether he was born this way, suffered a difficult oxygen-deprived birth, or some kind of drastic head-trauma in his youth we shall never know.  He is at once both exasperating and adorable.  And he has an extremely odd but all-consuming obsession with cheese.  Don't ask....

Some examples from this blog:

1) I attempt to explain to Ewan the mysteries of female ovulation.  It doesn't end well:;

2) Ewan believes he has a fatal tumour, oozing toxic pus.  The "lump/tumour" turns out to be his penis.  And the pus?  That's him going to the toilet:;

3) Ewan explains that 25 December, Christmas Day, is a day on which most of the world's population join together to celebrate the birth of Our Saviour, who will one day come amongst us again, riding a Holy Jacobs Cream Cracker to bring Peace on Earth - The Baby Cheesus:

There are other examples, many and varied.  All are recorded here, on this blog.  Seek them out if you dare.

Having barked all this, however, I ought also to point out that Ewan is totally inoffensive.  I have often wished to batter him to within an inch of his life when he has been wittering on for ages about his latest mad theory.  But it is impossible to dislike him.  He has the most selfless and loving heart and would readily give up his very last morsel of food in the world in order to nourish a less-fortunate and hungry creature.  He is determined to try his best in all he does, and only the most churlish of individuals would dismiss him as a mere, insubstantial, fool.

As I was musing upon all these points, Ewan suddenly piped up once more.  "Jazz!" he yipped, "It's Hallowe'en today!  Is that why you're back?  Is it?  Is it?!"
"Actually, I've been 'back' for a while and-"
"Can you see in my head, Jazz?  Can you?  Can you see what I am thinking?!  Ohhhh!!!  Can you tell what will happen to me?! Can you tell my fortune?!"


"That's what they can do, you know!" insisted the excited dog. "They can tell your happenings in the star and the sky!!"

"No, Ewan.  NO-ONE can tell that.  When you are dead, you are dead.  No-one can read your thoughts and no-one can predict what is going to happen to you or what choices you should make based upon the movements of random dying suns billions of miles away.  Got that?"

"Yes Jasper."

I breathed a small sigh of relief.  The relief, inevitably, was short-lived.  After a brief moment of respite:
"Is there cheese in Heaven...?"

At this point the conversation took a downward - and decidedly awkward - spiral into the realms of dairy-product-based insanity.

To be revealed next time.  Even I need to go and have a lie-down now....

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tuesday 23 October 2012

My birthday today.  14.  If I had lived.  Alas, I am destined to be forever 13 - and more honestly than most who lie about their age, hehe...  A good day, on the whole.  My partner and Gisèle have brought new lampshades for the house (of which I heartily approve) as well as a new duvet - the existing one having been destroyed in a recent game of Betty and Gizmo's called "Mummy and Puppies" - of which more another time.

Good evening.  You may guess from my rather prolonged absence that I have been busy (in the non-toilet sense of the bark).  If so, you guess correctly.  I have been engaged in no less a task than the further education of little Gisèle.  Her barked English was appalling and as for her writing - I was left barkless.

Please do not mistake me; I am not, in any way, suggesting that she is simple or otherwise challenged in her intelligence.  Far from it - she is a very smart little lady with a keen eye and a ready wit, it was that she had never received encouragement in this area - indeed she was, in her previous home, discouraged from any form of self-expression.  But if she is to inherit this blog from me, then she could not remain in ignorance any longer.

I have to bark that Gisèle was an exceptionally apt and willing pupil.  Her young and eager mind quickly leapt to absorb the knowledge that I had to share with her.  Ultimately, it proved beneficial in more than one way.  I had noticed, over the weeks, that sweet Giz often became somewhat frustrated.  She would take out her irritation in chasing squirrels, but I could see her pretty brow furrowed on occasion and wondered what I could do to assuage her annoyance.  Ultimately it became clear that she was frustrated because she simply didn't have the ability to express herself and make her meanings clear.  She knew the words, but not how to arrange them in a sensible order.  Happily, with her education has come relief for her mind.  She is now able to properly indicate to my partner various things, for example, how to ask if she can go outside to go to the toilet, how to accept or decline sundry offers, how to politely make herself heard when she is in a larger group or wishes to attract attention; and I trust we shall never again have to be confronted with horrors like "When I was borned", "We is playing" or "I is hungry" or other such linguistic aberrations again.

As a matter of fact, I rather enjoyed the experience of getting better acquainted with the little Jack Russell.  I think I may have barked this before, but I have truly never encountered a canine (with the possible exception of Ewan, but he is sadly feeble-minded, and one often finds that those folks with unfortunate mental deficiencies are generally the sweetest-natured, trusting and loving of individuals) with a more pure, honest and loving nature.  She is SO easy-going, takes everything in her little stride and remains chilled-out until certain that something may prove problematic.  She makes her decisions and choices based solely upon the evidence she receives and is determined to be friendly and accepting to all.  I am sorry that our lives did not coincide; I could have learned as much from her as she has learned from me in my present state.  For example in her relations with Betty.  You may recall that the much-larger and somewhat spoiled Giant Schnauzer Betty, an occasional guest in our house, beat poor Gisèle into a bloody, ragged, sobbing pulp on several occasions when they were first acquainted.  Not content with bullying her, stealing her food, pushing her off the sofa and hiding her toys, Betty tore off a part of Gisèle's pretty face (it grew back and the fur is almost back to normal), leaving her with a permanent scar.

Betty is now Gisèle's best (canine) friend.

The two girls are happy and comfortable when together and act as a perfect united team when out chasing squirrels.  In fact, Gizmo often dashes off unexpectedly in pursuit of a fresh scent leaving the older and slower Betty standing.  When Betty feels that her little partner-in-crime has been gone for too long, she searches for her with increasing anxiety and doesn't relax until the little Parson Jack Russell terrier has returned to her side.  It is extremely touching to witness.

The true test of Gisèle's exceptionally easy-going personality inevitably arrived - as I knew it ultimately must - with her introduction to the amoral, foetid open sewer that is Peaches the Cat.  For those unacquainted with the foul feline git-wizard please feel free to click HERE for his unwelcome début on this blog.  Briefly, however, Peaches is a cat with fur and paws as black as purest anthracite.  The heart that beats within his malevolent, twisted breast is just as dark.  Now then.  It matters not the smallest jot to me what an individual's fur or skin colour may be;  there is good in everyone.  But not Peaches.  Peaches is evil.  Were it merely an innate bitter nature, due to the fact that some human idiot took on a jet-black male cat and decided to christen him "Peaches", I could perhaps have forgiven him.  But he is that most unforgivable of types - an unmitigated, calculating bully.

Peaches is uniformly foul-mouthed, regardless of whether he is speaking to a man, woman or a child.  He heeds not the etiquette between species; I have seen him reduce adult cats, as well as small kittens, to tears alongside his canine victims.  My little Jack Russell chum, Archie, from the end of my row of houses had his face brutally slashed open when an infant pup by Peaches.  Only Edward the Rottweiler has been able to successfully repel the cruelty of Peaches.

Cometh the fateful evening; cometh Peaches to my garden fence.  Sweet Gisèle was playing in the garden with her belovèd teddy-bear.  The bright evening sun was tormenting my eyes, so I remained in the lounge.  My partner was upstairs, cleaning the bathroom.  Naturally, I smelled the wicked aroma of Peaches long before he showed himself.  Keeping to the pavement outside our garden, he popped out from behind our trailing Honeysuckle and fixed his beady eyes on pretty young Gizmo.
"Good evening, my dear." purred Peaches, all false smiles and deceptive charm.

"Hiya!"  yipped Gisèle brightly, leaping up and eagerly wagging her tail, happy at the prospect of meeting a brand new friend.  "My name is Gisèle - but my friends call me Gizmo, for short."

"I beg your pardon, my dear?  I didn't quite catch that..." mewed the cat.  At once, I recognised the usual tactic of the rotten Peach.  He deluded the innocent and uninitiated into thinking that he was partially deaf, friendly and well-meaning, thus causing them to move closer to his side and speak clearly into his inviting ear - at which point he would instantly turn, slash open the newcomer's cheek, ear, neck and/or lip(s) and then retreat to a concealed vantage point, to safely enjoy the suffering he had inflicted.

"Gisèle!" halloed the little terrier loudly, "MY NAME IS Gisèle."
"Good heavens!" chuckled Peaches, amenably, "Your name is almost bigger than you are!"  Sweet Giz giggled.
"My friends call me Gizmo." she smiled.

"Hello then.  Gisèle."  simpered Peaches (at which I was disgusted).  "And where did you come from?"
"I live here now!" beamed Gisèle (politely overlooking Peaches' insolence).
"I beg pardon?" queried Peaches.
"I LIVE HERE NOW!!" repeated Giz, a little louder, moving closer to Peaches' inclined ear.
"And I see you are a Jack Russell Terrier?" mewed Peaches.
"Yes!" grinned Giz, pleased to have been identified.
"Excuse me?" meowed Peaches, "Forgive me, my dear, I am a little hard of hearing today..."

As little Gisèle inched trustingly ever-closer to the ghastly Peaches I jumped up and prepared to hasten to the lady's defence.  At that precise moment, however, I was forestalled.  In one of the distant opposite fields, a bird-scarer (a fake gunshot-effect, to deter game-birds and deer from eating farmers' crops) sounded.  Gisèle's sharp eye did not fail to spot Peaches' flinching at the sudden noise.  She turned an accusatory glare at her new 'friend'.
"You heard that!" she barked indignantly.  "I don't think you are deaf at ALL!"
I sat back, confident now that my youthful protegée had the situation in paw.  Peaches, for his part, looked discomfited.  Gizmo continued: "I think that you are a very mean cat, pretending to be deaf when you are not.  Being deaf must be horrid and you ought not to make a mockery of it to suit yourself!"

I was proud of her.  Peaches, however, spat in Gisèle's pretty face and began to hiss and swear at her.  I tensed, prepared to employ whatever I could to defend the lady's honour.  Again, sweet Giz was in no need of assistance.  She got to her paws delicately, stretched, and padded quietly onto some upturned empty flowerpots in the garden storage area.  "Did you know," she wuffed gently, tapping casually at one of the fence-posts with a fore-paw, "That, if I breathe in tight and push hard, I can get through the fence here...?!"

At this point I knew, for certain, that Gisèle had no need of my assistance.  But Peaches was not done yet.  Oh no.  His evil yellow eyes scanned the garden.
"I see that Jasper's Holly tree is still struggling to live.  At least it is making a braver effort for its life than HE ever did.  He gave up at the first opportunity, the lazy fat - dead - s*d, did you know that...?"

Little Gizmo's whiskers tensed, but she affected not to hear him.  Unaware of any gathering storm, the foul Peaches went blithely on.  "Every day, Gisèle Parson-Jack-Russell-Terrier, I come into this garden when you are at work and p*ss all over that little tree in the hope it will go the same way as its worthless namesake.  I p*ss on the tree as I long to p*ss on his worthless corpse."  The feline paused, waiting for the reaction he had hoped to provoke.  Sweet Gisèle merely blinked calmly back at him and padded over to the small Holly-sapling, looking upon its supple shoots with affection.

"Good," she replied to the scheming Peaches, with total unconcern, "Well - please continue.  The little tree seems to be thriving, so your wee is obviously nourishing the tree and helping it to grow stronger.  I beg you to consider this thought, and that it might comfort you in your long and - clearly - lonely evenings."
Peaches scowled darkly.  "As for Jasper," continued Giz, smiling benignly, "His body has been committed to a far, FAR better place, and his spirit has a tranquil repose, where it never ceases to do good.  I doubt the same will be said for yours..."

At this, my heart leapt.  Only the rarest of creatures could have attempted to counter Peaches with naught but patience and polite explanation.  Gisèle is truly a very rare gem to be treasured.  But the evil one sadly remained unswayed.  He suddenly lashed out at Gizmo, who had to jump back in order to avoid his sharp claws coming through a fence-post, trying to slash open and permanently maim her pretty face.

Gizmo instantly sprang back up onto the flower-pots, snarling most effectively, and jabbing at the fence posts with her strong right fore-paw.  Somewhat fortuitously (and unexpectedly), the fence post against which she was pressing shifted slightly.  Giz yipped in triumph and moved it even further aside.

Peaches couldn't fail to see this and yowled in panic, horror-struck at the notion that certain tables might be turned and that he could easily be out-run by the young and exceptionally-fit Gisèle (Peaches was always a corpulent b*gg*r, but age and gluttony have expanded his girth yet further).

As Gizmo (who had no intention of actually escaping our garden) squeezed her head and shoulders through the fence, still growling and yapping most alarmingly, the cowardly Peaches fled, squealing.  To our further amusement, he collided with a parked-car at the corner of our cul-de-sac, and wailed all the louder.  We listened as he cleared his garden fence in a single leap and smiled even more at the satisfying "click" of the cat-flap closing behind him.

Peeping out of the window, I spotted Honey, the cat from across the road, in one of her favourite spots atop her household's recycling wheelie-bin.  She affected to be asleep, but I couldn't fail to notice that a small, delighted smile was playing across her lips...

It has now been over nine months since I departed (most unwillingly) this life.  Now I understand why I needed to remain here in spirit for all this time.  I hinted to sweet Gisèle that, perhaps, it was nearly time for me to go.  This is a concept that my partner, at least, can view with some modicum of acceptance.  But Giz started to cry as soon as I broached the subject.  It would seem that she can face up to Peaches - but not the challenge of learning the remainder of her life-lessons without me.  Soon then, I told her, but not yet.

Not yet.  And besides, I have forgotten to tell you about Ewan.  Oh dear, dear me.  For, in my absence, it would seem that the very worst has happened.  The very, VERY worst.

Yes.  Ewan has been trying to think for himself.  No good can come of this.

Until the next time, then.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Sunday 30 September 2012

Please forgive our lengthy absence - we have been away!  Sweet Gisèle's first-ever holiday came courtesy of my partner's parents.  It has been a long and deeply unpleasant year for my partner thus far; a week on Dartmoor was offered as a gift to alleviate the general despair.

The weather was exceptionally kind and we were equally fortunate in our choice of accommodation.  We stayed here:  "Our" cottage was the one in the foreground, with the terracotta pot in front of it, and the room in which we slept has the window above the door.  The owners were lovely, delightful people with two fine spaniels, Max and Milly.  Milly was not unlike my late wife Isolde, but with intricate feather-like markings upon her back, and sweet Gisèle was very taken with the dashing Max.  The cottage was small but beautiful, with original exposed beams and an inglenook fireplace, and well-situated both for the charming town of Tavistock and lovely Dartmoor.  We even passed the pub that my partner and I had frequented during our final Dartmoor trip during my lifetime, back in 2007 - she and I had assisted there with the redecoration of the gents' lavatories there (it's a long story).  Memories for us both - vastly happy, yet bitter-sweet, with a sense of continuation with Gisèle.

Barking of fair Gisèle, our erstwhile hosts were most tolerant of an altercation she had with one of their chickens...  Suffice it to bark that the chicken lived, though denuded of its tail-feathers - leaving its poor bottom bare and exposed to the elements.
"But I only wanted to play football with the chicken!" protested Gis, when confronted with the evidence of her mischief.  Her claims and apologies were accepted and the incident thus passed without further comment or remonstration and the hapless innocent fowl made a full recovery.

There was one other notable event to disturb the general peace.  Denied the guidance of my physical presence, my partner and Gisèle got lost in the middle of a mire on the South Moor, whilst trying to complete a journey that my partner and I had once started but abandoned.  They achieved their destination: Ducks Pool.  See the evidence here:-

Alas!  Waterlogged boggy ground forced an unanticipated detour.   That which had appeared a simple back-and-forth journey was first delayed by talking to a fellow-walker who had recently been bereaved of  his canine companion and then by Gisèle's obsessive pursuit of a rabbit.  Night was falling as we struggled back to our familiar route.  We kept having to stop to answer increasingly panicked calls on our mobile 'phone from my partner's mother as to our whereabouts.

By way of a convoluted set of circumstances, we ended up being transported off the moor by Ray, a noble farmer from Sheepstor, on the very quad-bike used by Steven Spielberg in the filming of "War Horse".  I hopped, unseen, into the rear rack of the quad to perch alongside Chap, the farmer's sheepdog, and my partner's rucksack.  My partner climbed onto the quad to ride pillion behind Roy, clutching Gisèle to her for dear life.  We were saved!  And, let me assure you, never - NEVER - again.

On a happier note, it took Gisèle only three days to grasp the nettle of cognisance as to the utter no-no of harassing livestock on the moor.  I witnessed the struggle within her, as she overcame the inbuilt impulse to chase all manner of beasties,  in order to recognise the difference between that which was off-limits and illegal and the situations in which she could run and caper unimpeded.  I was minded to laugh - until I recalled that it had taken me far and away longer than Gisèle's three days to learn the same lesson.  I kept quiet.

In general, then.  Much fun was had by all.  Here are a few more pictures to enjoy:-

As I was bringing this entry to a close, I heard an odd hissing sound.  It rapidly became clearer:
"Pssst!  JASPER!!"
It was Gisèle.
"Shh!" she whispered, confidentially, into my ear, "Don't tell anyone... I said I just wanted to play with the chicken.  But actually, secretly, I wanted to EAT it!  Don't tell, will you?!"

"Of course not!" I assured her, with a smile.

Apart from posting it here on this blog, for all to read, obviously...

Until the next time, then.  Good-night.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Here is the first post on "my" blog, written by young Gisèle herself.  I'll not bore you by recounting the argument about her wish (and my objections) to use pink text.  Suffice it to say that she won.  Be kind - and forgive her the spelling and grammatical errors.  She is very young and ill-educated.  But there HAS been progress...  Over to sweet Gisèle...:-

I is Gisèle.  But if you are my friend you can call me Gizmo.  Hello.

I wasn't borned wen this
and this
happened 12 years ago today.  Even my mummy wasn't borned.  Jasper was, but now he isn't.

I is very VERY sorry.  Lots of nice people who didn't dezerv to die did die.  I wish this dident happun.  I wish I was not borned in a world where this did happen.

I is sending lots of love and kiss to people who is sad today.

Bye love from Gisèle xxxxx

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Wednesday 29 August 2012


Gisèle's high-pitched giggling  was seriously beginning to grate on my nerves.  I feared that I might be developing an obvious nervous twitch every time she started up.  But I kept my thoughts to myself, for it was nice to hear her laughing, despite any attendant irritation.

As the weather had been particularly changeable and inhospitable, I had advised the two young ladies to remain indoors.  Gizmo was more than happy to comply, but Betty continued determinedly in the garden.  I wondered what was a-paw and, after a latest dart into the garden and outburst of giggling from Gizmo, I followed the little Jack Russell into the garden.
"What's going on?!" I enquired.  Gizmo giggled again.
"Betty's in luurve!" she squeaked.
"Shut up." muttered Betty.
"Betty's in love!  Betty's in love!  Betty's in LOVE!" sang Gizmo, capering and dancing around her friend - all the while taking care to keep out of nipping or slapping range.  Betty, in addition to her arsenal of strong and sharp teeth, was also capable of delivering a very hard smack with her right paw.  So quick was it that, particularly when accompanied by a side-dish of sharp claws, one would almost have preferred to have been bitten.

"Who is the fortunate young man?" I asked, trying to ignore the high glee of Gizmo in deference to Betty, who looked extremely embarrassed.  Betty gestured vaguely towards the other end of the cul-de-sac, and the short stretch of road which led into the next cul-de-sac.  "Ah.  Of course." I smiled.  I was aware that a new dog, with his owner, had recently moved into one of the houses at the top of the next cul-de-sac.  He seemed a rather affable young dog, a little too popular with the local cats for my liking, but inoffensive and handsome in a rugged sort of way.  He looked very much like "Pete"; the dog belonging to the character Aidan Shaw from one of my partner's favourite television series 'Sex and the City':
The newcomer's owner operated a stall in our little town's weekly market.  The dog, so I understood, was called Laddie and habitually wore a red neckerchief about his neck.  Despite his popularity amongst the local (mostly young and female) felines, I could understand why he was attractive to the ladies.  All of a sudden,
"There he is!  There he IS!" squealed Gisèle, with a fresh peal of giggles, as someone's front door could be heard opening.  Elizabeth immediately tensed and stood up, craning to get a better look at her new beau.  Only it wasn't Laddie.

Oh dear.

It was Edward the Rottweiler.  Yes; that Edward, who had been in a "couple" with his fellow-Rotti, Angus, for at least the last seven years (and probably longer).  Poor Betty.
"Isn't he strong and handsome?!" sighed Betty.
"He is." agreed Gizmo, loyally.  "He will make a nice boyfriend."
I was in two minds.  On the one paw, I didn't want to be the one to deflate Betty's hopes.  On the other, I did not want to leave her in ignorance and thus open to embarrassment.  Neither did I wish to undeceive her in front of Gisèle - not because I thought that Giz would make cruel mockery of Betty; there was no chance of sweet-natured Giz being so spiteful - but because I thought Betty's discomfort would be enough without the added awkwardness of an observer.  I resolved on seeking a private audience with Elizabeth later in the evening, when Gisèle was otherwise occupied.  Unhappily for my carefully-crafted plan, the lower gate betrayed me once again.  Edward, clearly on the watch for Angus with whom he was going swimming, had retreated back into his house, but Laddie's voice was heard loud and clear and the two girls were out and scampering in his direction before I could alert my partner to the unhooked gate.  I had no option but to follow them.

Laddie, predictably, was surrounded by a gaggle of admiring young lady-cats as he stood, holding court in the small parking area beside his owner's small blue van.  He looked up at the approach of Elizabeth and Gisèle.
"Aye-aye!" he grinned in a broad Cockney accent, "'Ullo treacles*!"  He showed a particularly keen interest in Betty.  He promptly abandoned the patter with which he was entertaining the cats and, stepping over one of them, moved closed to Betty, Gizmo and I.  "Got something in the van that might interest you three: Cat-Spray.  100% reliable in keeping cats away!"
"Oh yes?" barked Gisèle, with interest, who I noticed was already twinkling coquettishly at Laddie.
"Oh yes!"  he replied, winking at her. "All kosher, honest!  Wearing it myself at the moment, in fact.  It's a complete scientific mystery - but guaranteed satisfaction.  £2 per can, or three for a Lady G*!  Can't say fairer than that!"

"Effective, is it...?" I asked, pointedly staring at the queen-cats who continued to cluster around Laddie, hanging on his every word.
"Hey, come on!  Do they look like shills to you?!  No! And besides-" he leaned in and barked confidentially into my ear "-if they don't sell, a quick switch of the label and an extra quid on the price and they're 'dog repellents'!  They'll" [indicating the cats] "snap 'em up!"

Despite myself, I couldn't help but warm to him.  Of course, much of what he was touting was utter tat, but he wasn't malicious, offensive or forceful.  He took denials of his offers in his stride with as much good humour as he proposed them.

"How about it, duchess?!" he asked Betty, giving her a wink and his most winning smile.  She wasn't amused.
"No, thank you." she replied, stiffly.  Elizabeth, I should point out, is born of exceptionally good stock and noble heritage.  The closest she had probably ever previously come to a market was the end-of-season sale at Fortnum and Mason's.
"Ah!" grinned Laddie, not to be discouraged despite Betty's increasingly haughty composure, "I can see that you three are more discerning customers.  All right then.  It's next week's offer - but I'll give you the inside-track:  My brother's owner has the butcher's wagon at the local city weekend market.  Bag of pigs' d*cks for a quid.  Can't say fairer than that.  Tempted...?"
"Certainly not." sniffed Betty haughtily.
"I might be!" squeaked Gizmo, wagging her tail and giving Laddie her most winning smile - she was clearly rather sweet on the new dog.
"Blimey!" exclaimed Laddie, with a cheeky grin at Giz, "Is that a dog under there?!  I thought it was a couple of little bones with some fluff tacked-on!"  Gizmo looked back at him uncertainly.  I don't think she could tell whether or not he was joking.  "Sorry darlin'," he continued, "I like my girls with a bit of meat on 'em!"  He nodded significantly at Betty, who glowered at him.  "Tell you what I'll do for you though, treacle," he continued to Gizmo, "'Cause you've got a pretty face - don't do this for everyone, mind.  The bags are a quid each, but I'll let you have two for £1.50.  What d'you think?"
"She's not interested.  Thank you." I replied, seeing Gizmo about to turn and race home to ask my partner for £1.50.
"Suit yourself, guv." said Laddie genially.  He turned his attentions back to Betty.  "How about it then, Duchess?  You and me - nice bowl of fresh rainwater; couple of meaty bones; nice moonlit night...?  I'll even chuck in a bag of the pigs' d*cks for free!"

Betty muttered something indistinct, the second word of which was clearly "off".  Laddie shrugged.  He turned his attention back to the cats, who had continued throughout all this to gaze at him in rapt admiration.
"Right girls!" he addressed them brightly, and they all immediately began to purr.  "My step-father and his owner are off to Billingsgate next Friday, and I've managed to swing a special deal for my favourite girls!"
"What's Billingsgate?" whispered Gisèle, as the young queen-cats all giggled flirtatiously.
"It's a famous fish market in London." replied Betty.  "Loads of shops and restaurants get fresh fish there every morning."
"Oh." nodded Giz, as Laddie continued his polished patter.
"I can offer you a bag of the finest fish heads and tails you'll ever see!  100% fresh!  Some of those heads are SO fresh, they'll be nipping at you as you eat them!  But you'll need to put a deposit down in advance, as I ain't sure how much space there is in the van.  Guaranteed bargain though - anyone interested; come and put your names down."

The queen-cats almost fell over each other in their scramble to put their names on Laddie's order-list.  The air was positively alive with mews of names and questions - "Can Tammy and I share a bag between us?!" and suchlike.  I wondered why the young female cats were so keen to get themselves bags of scraggy old fish-ends from Billingsgate, especially as we live amidst some of the finest rivers for freshwater-fishing in the country.  Even Royalty come here to cast their lines.  During a good fishing season, an entire fresh Rainbow Trout from the local waters (a tributary of which even flows past my own humble abode) can be had for 50p, or for a modest extra, skilfully filleted for one, as one waits, at the excellent local fishmonger's shop.

I watched the young felines mewing and fawning over Laddie and it suddenly struck me - perhaps they weren't shelling out for the fish.  They were clamouring to obtain his wares so that he would continue to bark to them and entertain them with his patter.  I sidled over to the dog and put this to him.  He grinned back at me and winked again.  "Supply and demand, mate." he replied happily.  "They demand it; I supply it.  If it's me they want or my top-quality goods, that's what it all comes down to.  Supply and demand!"  I shook my head, smiling back at him.  The irrepressible mutt's geniality was infectious.  To all, it seemed, save Betty.

Betty clearly saw the cheeky dog as socially inferior and therefore unworthy of her attention.  Poor Gizmo was quite smitten with the fellow, but he only had eyes for Betty.  Once the last of the cats had melted away after putting in her request for some of Laddie's fish-ends, he turned his attentions back to the reluctant Betty.  She was beginning to get visibly annoyed, and I could hear her muttering to herself, which was a sure sign of an imminent explosion of anger.  As Gisèle was the unwitting general target of Betty's tempestuous rages, I began to grow concerned,, as well as for Betty and all life in the immediate vicinity.  Since my return to this household I have found that I have almost no physical abilities - I have never yet felt the need to eat, drink or attend to any other bodily functions.  Thus, I concluded, I would be unable to defend the ladies' honours if it came to it...

Just as I began to panic, an unlikely saviour appeared in the shape of Edward.  He came marching over and placed a firm paw upon Betty's shoulder.
"My dear!" he barked, with firm authority, "Time to go!  I did not marry you so that you could loiter in the street like a loose woman!  Come along now, dear, and bring your little step-sister with you!"  At that, he turned Betty around and marched her towards his house with first Gizmo, and then I, trailing in their wake.
"Hang about!" yapped Laddie, "YOUR wife?!  Don't make me laugh!  You and that chap of yours" [Angus] "are both as bent as a nine-bob-note!"  Edward did not deign to reply.

"Thank you!" whispered Betty gratefully, as Eddie propelled her into his house.  Once safely within, Betty, Gizmo and I looked keenly about us - we had never actually been in Eddie's house before.  It was quite stylishly decorated, the living room dominated on one side by an enormous flat-screen television and on the other, opposite the window, by the vast glass vivarium containing Pickle the Salamander (who, regular readers will recall, narrowly escaped being "adopted" as a "son" and forced to wear an humiliating succession of "cute" outfits by Edward and Angus).
"Yes, thanks Ed." I echoed, "You're a star."
"Never mind that!" barked Eddie, "You three had better scoot, smart-ish!  I've got Angus arriving to join me for our afternoon's session of swimming in a hydrotherapy pool any minute now.  It's hanging over me like a s*dding Sword of Damocles Jazz, unless you get these girls out of here!"

Even as he barked these words, the gentle engine of the small blue car belonging to Angus's partner was heard pulling into the road.  "Sh*t."  muttered Eddie succinctly.  As we heard a car door open, Laddie gave a whistle.
"Hey, Angus, me ol' china*!" he hailed the incoming Rottweiler, "I see your boy Eddie has switched!  He didn't waste any time getting himself two s*xy young wives!!"
"WHAT?!" barked Angus, angrily.  Eddie looked stricken.
"GO!  GO!!!" he hissed desperately.  But we all knew that our collective goose had been well-and-truly cooked.  Gizmo, however, with her unfailingly razor-sharp wits, had already formulated a plan.  She met a fuming Angus at the front door.
"Oh!" she yipped in her most disarmingly-winning voice, whilst bowing low to Angus, "You must be Mr. Angus!  Mr. Edward has told us SO much about you - he said you were good-looking, but I never thought you'd be THIS handsome!  What a great pleasure it is to meet you at last!"
I felt a sudden surge of admiration for the tiny, skinny, beautiful terrier.  She went on - "My name is Gisèle, but you can call me Gizmo if you want.  I live at number ----, Jasper's house.  This" [looking over her shoulder] "is my friend Betty, who is staying with us for a while.  Jasper told us about, er, Pickle and we asked Mr. Edward if we could come and look at him.  Yes.  And so here we all are....!"
"Er..." replied Angus uncertainly, "A pleasure to meet you Miss Gizmo, my dear.  And you of course dear lady - Miss Betty.  Hi Jazz..."
"Hello Angus." I replied politely - aware that the gathering storm had not yet broken.

Here it comes....

"You seem quite familiar with that new dog..." remarked Edward, with forced politeness.
(Bit of background: Angus and his partner live in the main centre of our little town, in the "posh" bit.  Angus therefore has ready visuals upon and access to the central shops and weekly Thursday market, which we - in our road - do NOT have).
"Of course!" replied Angus, in a matter-of-fact way.  "His man has a brilliant stall, full of useful items.  Plugs, screws, fuses, pegs, clips - all sorts of ironmongery that is useful around the house.  And the dog, Laddie, is with him every week and he has this barrel called Laddie's Lucky Dip, which is full of one thing that's on special offer for each week!  Last week it was a load of these amazing cans of cat-repellent spray..."
"HA!" I snorted derisively, "They were a load of complete-"
"I got three cans!" yipped Angus enthusiastically.
"Er..... a load of complete BARGAINS!"  I completed, hastily.  Angus nodded keenly.
"I'm wearing it now!" he declared, "It's a miracle!"
I sniffed him.  It seemed to me as though he has just paid an extortionate amount for three cans of what smelt like cheap vinegar-based window cleaner.  I prudently kept this opinion to myself.
"Amazing." I tactfully declared.
"I can't wait to see what next week's Laddie's Lucky Dip will be!" beamed Angus.
"I think it might be bags of pigs' d*cks." hinted Giz.
"Really?!  Fantastic!" enthused Angus.

"You seem to be paying a great deal of attention to this 'Laddie'."  growled Edward acidly.  I was immediately aware of an unpleasant shift in the atmosphere.  I turned towards the door and prepared for a hasty retreat.  Eddie growled again: "Just how many times have you been sticking your paws into his 'Lucky Dip Barrel'?!"
Angus looked most affronted.  Gisèle giggled nervously, trying to restore the previous harmony.
"I think Laddie wanted to dip his paws into Betty's 'Lucky Barrel', hiihiihii....!" she beamed, alas to no avail.  The two Rottweilers glowered at each other, hackles raised, with fangs bared.

"Ladies!" I barked with forced brightness, "I fear we have prevailed upon Edward's hospitality for too long.  Shall we?  After you...."  Before I had even finished, the girls had already bid their hasty goodbyes and were scuttling over the road back to the relative sanctuary of our own little house.  I wasted no time in following them, the sound of raised barks, yips and profanities following me all the way.

The last sound I heard was Eddie screaming "Go then!  GO to your WH*RE, with his lucky barrel of tricks and his bags of willies!!"  before I quietly closed the French windows, shutting out the angry sounds.

Later that evening, I noticed that little Gisèle was somewhat subdued.  I went to sit beside her and endeavoured to supply comfort.  (Betty, however, was quite philosophical and relatively untroubled by the discovery of her erstwhile paramour's "preferences").

"Don't you fret, Giz." I soothed, "Eddie and Angus are ALWAYS fighting.  They might say the most appalling and vicious things to, and about, each other - but they are the most devoted pair really.  In fact, I saw them coming back from their swimming appointment this evening, and they were laughing and chattering together as though they had never disagreed before in their entire lives!"
Gisèle nodded but still looked glum.  I asked her if she was troubled.

"Why did Laddie fancy Betty and not me?!" she yapped.
"Ah." I sighed, "I think he prefers larger ladies.  Forgive me, sweet Giz, but - even for a Jack Russell Terrier, though a VERY pretty one at that - you are very tiny indeed."

"Huhmnnpf!"  sniffed Gizmo.  "Well, I might be tiny to everyone else - but, to me, I is MASSIVE!"

I laughed, and nuzzled the dearest girl.  She really IS the loveliest - and greatest - little terrier.

*Cockney rhyming-slang.  
Treacle = Treacle-tart = sweetheart
Lady G = Lady Godiva = Fiver (£5)
Guv. (not rhyming-slang).  Short for Guv'nor = Sir
China = China Plate = Mate (friend)