Saturday, 28 July 2012

Saturday 28 July 2012

What did you think of the glorious opening ceremony laid on for us by Danny Boyle last evening, then?  I must humbly confess to some cynicism (as hard as it may be for longer-term readers to believe that I possess even the merest whisker of cynicism...), about the costs to our already beleaguered nation; the transport chaos (Olympic road lanes be d*mned), the inexcusable c*ck-ups (Q: How many G4S Security Guards does it take to change an Olympic lightbulb? A: Six squaddies and a policeman...) and the soul-less sponsorship Nazis (only MaccyD's are permitted to sell chips - sorry - "fries", and the rumours go that the police have been ordered by the refreshing carbonated beverage suppliers, Coca-Cola, to Taser anyone seen with a Pepsi can until their cold, dead, ungrateful body stops twitching).  However, I am now prepared to admit that I may have misjudged.

The opening ceremony was spectacular, and particularly well put-together - with a most refreshing blend of older, current, and potential future sporting heroes.  I very much enjoyed the part involving Her Majesty the Queen and James Bond - it was both surprising and amusing, and did much to convey just what a good sport our inestimable monarch is.  Quite excellent.  I will never understand why I was never approached for the role of Agent 007.  I had a great sense of derring-do AND looked very natty in my bow-tie.  But I think some of the stunt work may have been little overwhelming.  Yes - perhaps that was it.

Now then.  I HAD intended to use this blog entry to tell you all about the very special guests I have been entertaining at my home this weekend.  Alas, however, I have been getting distinctly behind-paw with news and must delay this to report, instead, a most distressing situation.

A delightful evening walk in the countryside had been enjoyed by Gisèle, Betty, my partner and myself, in the cool air, once the heat and humidity had decreased a little.  It was all most pleasant.  I ambled peaceably behind my partner whilst Betty and Gizmo dashed about, squealing, giggling and chasing any wily beastie that was sufficiently foolhardy to move within their line of vision.  The two ladies were quite some distance ahead as we began to turn our steps back to the car.

All of a sudden a stomach-churning, horrendous scream pierced the air.  It was Gisèle.  She was screaming as loudly as her lung-capacity could allow.  "Betty!  BETTY!!!" we heard her wail, as my partner and I broke into a run towards whatever was going on.
"That bl**dy thug, Betty!" I muttered furiously, through gritted teeth,  "How could she?!?  After everything?!?  I'll KILL her!  I'll-"  But I was stopped, in my tracks AND in my thoughts.

For Betty was not attacking Gizmo.  She was defending her - or, rather, trying to.  Little Gizmo was being attacked by some cows, who had been loitering, unseen, in the corner of an adjoining field.  Betty was bravely trying to put herself bodily between her precious friend and the bovine tormentors.  As my partner and I watched in horror, one of the cows finally succeeded in stamping on poor Gisèle, who shrieked in agony and fell to the ground.  As Betty put up another valiant effort to hold off the cows, my partner gathered up the trembling and barely conscious body of Gizmo as gently and quickly as she could.  Once Gizmo was off the ground, Betty joined us as we all ran along the remainder of the footpath towards the car.

Once safely in the car park, my partner laid Gizmo gently on the ground.  Betty and I watched, subdued, as the little Jack Russell struggled to her feet, squealing with every movement, and permitted my partner to begin feeling her bones for breaks and/or fractures.  The back legs seemed sound, but something was very wrong somewhere.

It was difficult to know which aspect of the incident left me feeling more wretched: the injuries to our tiny friend; the desperate despair of my partner; the heartfelt sorrow and concern etched on Betty's face - or the guilt I felt at having suspected that Betty was Gizmo's attacker.  These were notions to be processed at another time, however, for my partner had located the specific area causing Gizmo the most torment.  It wasn't good.  The hoof had impacted on Gisèle at the base of her spine, where the tail (which is, in fact, a part of a dog's spine) joined the body.  It seemed flattened - and such was her pain that when my partner felt the base of the tail poor, traumatised, Giz involuntarily whipped around and bit my partner very, very hard, drawing blood.  But it wasn't Gizmo's fault.  My partner gave the poor dog a reassuring hug.  As she opened the car door, Giz, with a further shriek, jumped in.
"Well, that's something." I murmured to Betty.  "At least she can move herself."

It was NOT a pleasant journey home.  Betty did her best to soothe, but could not console, poor Gizmo.  My partner was in torment - what should she do?!  She was unsure as to how best to proceed.  On the one paw, Giz was able to get in and out of the car AND up and down the stairs unaided - plus the fact that my partner still owed the vets some £400 from MY treatment.  On the other paw, however, Gizmo was clearly in very great pain.  After a brief conference whilst Gizmo slept (she had been able to eat a little chicken-and-rice dinner), we decided to see how she was in the morning.  My partner had, coincidentally but fortunately, pre-arranged for the day off work so that an inspection of a broken door could take place.

No-one slept that Thursday night.  Feelings were too raw - and Gizmo was unable to completely lie down.  She rested her head and shoulders on her pillow, but kept her rear end raised high in the air, with an accompanying squeal each time she moved.  Eventually, my partner was able to construct a pile of cushions and pillows that enabled Giz to at least rest, supported in this peculiar position.  

Betty once again demonstrated that she had undergone a complete character transformation for the better.  Nothing was too much trouble for her in helping to make Gisèle more comfortable.  Everything the large and formerly-aggressive dog could do to assist was done instantly, obligingly and without so much as a grunt of complaint.  As exhaustion overcame me and my eyes began to close I witnessed Betty humbling herself to the lowest rung in a dog's hierarchy for the sake of her fallen friend.  She was washing her.  Yes, proud and powerful Elizabeth was washing Gisèle with her own paws and tongue!  I felt deeply humbled and moved.  My drowsy eyes closed on the affecting sight of Betty - sweet, noble, good Betty - washing Gizmo's bottom gently and with the utmost care.

With the dawn of Friday came stark realisation for my partner.  Gisèle was no better.  I saw my partner locked in torment betwixt undoubted further financial misery and the morally-correct thing to do.  Of course, there could be but ONE decision.  And it was the right one.  Torments though there may be, when my partner decides that the right way, however difficult, must be taken then she is firm, resolved and determined on her chosen path, deviating for nothing and no-one.  Thus, we all piled silently into the car at 8.20am for an out-of-hours emergency appointment.  Elizabeth and I remained in the New Teal Megane as my partner carried a still-whimpering Gizmo into the waiting-room.

This was harrowing for my partner in more ways than one.  Primarily there was concern for the suffering little one cradled in her arms like a mewling pup.  In addition, there was foreboding for the inevitable expense of treatments and assessments for a partner who was already constrained to only one meal for herself per day and the most reduced circumstances in which it is possible to exist.  Notwithstanding either of these, however, it was the first time that she had entered that building since 5 January.  Under any other circumstance, nothing could have induced her to re-enter that place; to see "that table" and the last time she...

She saw "the table".  She cried, almost to distraction.  But was, fortunately, ushered into the other consulting room.  Perhaps just as well, considering her mind-state.  The staff were, as they always had been, almost impossibly kind.  After careful and thorough examination, three outcomes were proffered:
  1. Euthanasia, there and then;
  2. X-Rays to confirm/disprove initial diagnosis;
  3. Return home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to "play it by ear".

After heart-wrenching consideration, my partner chose door number two.  Gisèle was then left with the vet for sedation and x-rays.

Betty wailed when my partner returned without Gizmo.  She listened to what would happen, but was still almost inconsolable despite my partner's application of biscuits and cuddles.  Betty withdrew into the garden, her head hanging low, and I followed quietly.

"Are you all right, my dear?" I asked, as gently and sympathetically as I could.

"Nooo-ooo-oo!" sniffed Betty, miserably, "Oh Jasper, it's all MY fault.  My fault!  I've killed her, I have killed her..." she wailed on and on.
"Betty," I barked, patiently, "You did NOT kill her.  First-off, she ISN'T dead.  She'll be back from the vets soon and then we'll see what's to be done.  Secondly, I SAW that cow stamp on her.  YOU tried to protect her!"
"But nothing!  It was an accident!"
Betty mumbled something incomprehensible through her tears.
"Sorry?  Didn't catch that, Betz..."
"She wouldn't have done it if it wasn't for me!  I TOLD HER that it would be fun to chase the cows!  I made her do it!"

I sighed.  Betty was possibly right.  Gizmo was not the kind of dog to annoy farm animals unless she had been egged-on.  With a supreme effort I shook my head and placed one of my paws on one of Betty's.
"My dear, the time for recriminations is LONG past.  We must not waste time in apportioning blame.  Let us hope for better things - and a full recovery for Gisèle.  Yes?"
"Yes..." sniffed Betty miserably.  She didn't sound particularly convinced.

At 12.15 that afternoon came the 'phone call from the vets.  Betty and I sat up to listen expectantly.  My hopes faded as I could see from my partner's expression that the prognosis was not good.

The affected area is, indeed, at the base of the tail.  The spine was dislocated and has failed to pop back in correctly.  The tail is, likely, lost entirely.  Alas, however, the popped-back vertebrae seems to be impeding the area between the bowel and the sphincter and rectum.  If she should be, as anticipated, unable to perform her natural bodily expulsions then there is nothing more that man, God nor science can do for her, except to administer the final injection that will usher her from her pain and into a better place.  

Gisèle has been despatched home with medications for complete rest - a return visit to the surgeon is scheduled for Monday, and then we shall know.  One way or the other.

STOP PRESS:  Since writing the above - Gisèle is very subdued but HAS been able to go to the toilet and HAS eaten her dinner. She has been sleeping most of the day, which is good. She also made a rather sad attempt to wag her tail - there was a little bit of movement. ALL very encouraging. Betty is also being amazingly delicate and taking tender care of her little friend.

We shall keep you posted, dear reader...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tuesday 24 July 2012

“No, well, what you want to do, Giz,” barked Betty who, with Gizmo, was taking advantage of the first truly lovely (and dry) day for months to sit outside upon the patio, “Is to make a curl out of it and then lay it flat down the side of your pretty head.  That way, it won’t look quite so comical.  Can I show you?”

Gisèle nodded.  Betty was offering her advice on how to tame the unruly little tuft atop her head (the “Bobby Charlton comb-over”).  Extending a claw, Betty twirled the tuft into a pretty curl and patted it flat on Gizmo’s head.  “Personally I don’t think it looks that daft,” continued the big dog, “It’s actually quite sweet.”
“It makes me look silly.” said Gizmo, “I wish Mistress would snip it off.”
“Well that wouldn’t help much.” replied Betty, sensibly.  “It’d only grow back again.  At least it’s different – it’s got a lot of character!”  She finished manipulating the furry outcrop.  “There you go!”
Gizmo got up and trotted to the French window to peep at her reflection.
“Oh yes, that’s much better.” she smiled.  Betty wagged her little stub of a tail.
“Or…” barked Betty, “Or what you could do is to divide the tuft in half and make two separate little curls and have one on each side – come here; I’ll show you.”
Giz obligingly trotted back over to her new friend and inclined her head towards the large dog that, only a short while ago, had come extremely close to killing her.  There was no hint of this now, however.  Betty frowned in concentration as she restyled the fur on Gisèle’s head.
“How d’you know how to do all this, Betz?” asked Gizmo, from her bowed position.
“I go to a dog beautician several times a year.” replied Betty, as she continued twirling fur with her claw.  “You pick up all sorts of things there.”
“What, like fleas?!” giggled Gizmo.  I tensed, lest Betty should fly off the handle again at Gismo’s cheeky comment – but Betty laughed heartily, to my inestimable relief.
“Yeah, I did catch fleas from one place.” she chuckled.  “We didn’t go there again.  OK, I’ve finished – see what you think.”

Gizmo returned to the window and looked at herself again.
“Oh!” she declared, turning her head this way and that to examine all angles. “Oh, now, yes.  Yes, I DO like that.”
“It suits you.  Come back over here and I’ll show you how you can do it yourself.”

Dear reader, I could hardly believe the truth of what I beheld with my own eyes.  In such a short space of time, and despite all that Elizabeth had inflicted upon poor Gisèle, the two girls were now firm friends!

Due to the marauding presence of Betty, I have not yet had an opportunity to become more acquainted with my partner’s new companion Gizmo.  I had already witnessed sufficient evidence to prove that she was an exceptionally affable (if a little ill-read) young lady, but such forgiveness, acceptance and benevolence was on an uncanine scale new, even, to me.  With almost any other dog (or, indeed, any creature in general), the most that Betty could have hoped for after what she had done would have been reluctant, grudging forgiveness.  But the fact that her good-natured little victim had had the grace to forgive and then extend the paw of friendship both astonished and delighted me.

Of course, this had also had an extremely pleasing effect on Betty.  She stopped frowning at the world and began to enjoy a more peaceful manner of conduct.  She was also practically beside herself with joy and pride at having, finally, a genuine and real friend.  She barked, in introduction, to all she encountered (and repeatedly, to anyone who would listen,) “This is Gizmo.  She’s my friend.” or “This is my friend Gizmo.”

For Betty is approximately 7 or 8 years old and had lived thus far without the blessing of any true friends.  It had taken the tiny Gizmo (who was small, even by normal Jack Russell standards) to show her just how precious the simple blessings of heartfelt forgiveness and sincere friendship could be.

For Gisèle, it seems, is a jewel among bitches.  There is no limit; it would seem, to her goodness.  She is determined to see the best in everyone and to be friends with whomsoever she encounters.  Don’t get me wrong, she can be a cheeky little pickle sometimes, in a non-malicious way.  But the sweet girl’s conduct is generally exemplary.  She took at least as much joy in Betty’s friendship as Betty herself did.

Back to the morning in question: after the fur-style recommendations and the swapping of tips as to the best kind of faecal matter to roll in prior to going out to meet dogs, the topic moved on to dietary matters  (women, sorry girls, can have a somewhat limited range of conversation subjects sometimes.  Thus, they had already gone through fur-styles, make-up, perfume and boys.  This left only diets and menstrual cycles – and, thankfully, neither Gizmo nor Betty is currently On Heat).
“How do you maintain your slender shape, Giz?” asked Betty.  For Gisèle is, indeed, VERY slight of figure; one might almost call her skinny.  I know that my partner sometimes worries that her charge is TOO thin.

The lady in question was busy washing her lower forearms and paws.  She looked up briefly at her friend and said matter-of-factly “Sometimes I gets Colitis.”  (I really am going to have to educate Gizmo in basic speech patterns; she’s worse than Ewan and has nothing like his excuse.  I shall wait until Betty has gone home, however, for the sake of discretion.)
“What’s Colitis?” asked Betty, looking puzzled, “Is that some kind of special food or exercise regime?”
“No, it’s like a bad tummy.” replied Giz.  “I can only eat some types of food or I gets it.  It makes me poo out blood.”
“Eeeurgh!” winced Betty, “That sounds horrible!  Does it hurt?”
“Not too much.  It’s embarrassing though.  When I’ve got it and I needs to go, I HAS to go and sometimes I has made a mess in the house.  But Mistress says it’s not my fault and so we cleans it up.  It’s really annoying when I’s on a walk though, because it” [the Colitis] “makes me think that I still needs to do a poo when there is no more poo in my bottom, so I pushes and pushes but, of course, nothing comes out.”

Betty gave Gizmo a look of the utmost sympathy.  I almost thought she was about to cry, but she managed to restrain herself and instead gave Giz a big slobbery kiss on the top of her head.
“Thank you Betz.” smiled Gizmo meekly, looking up at her friend, “But I’s OK.  If I gets it, then Mistress gives me half a grilled chicken breast chopped up with two spoons of plain white rice for my dinner and I’s alright again after a few days of that.  I doesn’t eat meat out of a tin like you does, though – that’s what makes me bad worst of all.”
“Poor Giz.” sighed Betty.  “I bet I know what’ll make you laugh…!”
“A… FIIIIIIIIGHT!!! Rowrrrr!” and Betty leapt up and bowed to invite Gizmo to play-fight.  Giz immediately bowed in response and the whole house was filled with giggling, pretend-growls and shrieks and the two dogs racing up and down the stairs, in and out of rooms and around the garden in a long, joyous game, before the two collapsed in a breathless heap of fur, still laughing and tapping at each other.

It was a most happy sight.  And, lest it be suspected that I have dreamt up this scenario of canine friendship merely to quell the fears of nervous readers, I offer to you now this photographic proof:

Heading back to the car after a lovely walk

Enjoying a shared joke (most probably about me and of a highly disrespectful nature)

Getting ready for sleep...

Shhh...!   Sweet dreams, girls.

Happy days!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Thursday 19 July 2012

"Why?!" I complained to my friend Eddie the Rottweiler one morning whilst he was sitting by his partner's car, waiting for her to locate the keys within their house so that they could go out for the day.  "Why me?  Why the h*ll, of all dogs, do I have to deal with this nonsense?!"

I was referring, of course, to the continuing "awkward" situation between Elizabeth (Betty) and Gisèle (Gizmo) within my own household.

"But Jazz, darling," replied Edward, "I thought you liked the ladies.  You've had several wives and far more girlfriends than" [Ed's fellow-Rottweiler and long-term 'gentleman companion'] "Angus has imbibed in calories - and that's barking something, for his hips grow ever-more formidable by the day."
"Yes - but never all at once in the same PLACE at the same TIME." I sighed.  "I mean, none of them ever actually KNEW about each other!"  Apart, of course, from the near-miss I'd once had when I inadvertently almost called my girlfriend Candy by my wife Isolde's name - but I had managed to extricate myself from that one by a few neatly-timed flatteries.

"Well, perhaps this is some sort of comeuppance for you, young man." snorted Eddie sanctimoniously.  I, after all, would never be unfaithful to Angus.  No, I thought to myself, you abuse him to his face.
"Anyway," continued Ed, "Where the h*ll have you BEEN all these months?!  Angus and I have been beside ourselves."
"Can't rightly explain it, Ed."  I barked.  "I seemed to be here - then I wasn't; I was somewhere else.  And now I'm here again, but not really here.  Except that I AM here... oh, I don't know.  It's mad."
"But you DID die though, didn't you." said Edward solemnly.  It was not a question, but a statement.

I was dumbfounded.  HAD I died?  I didn't know.  Perhaps I had...?  What was the place I was in?  It struck me now for the first time, however odd that may sound to you, dear reader, that Kipper was there alive and well - and yet he had CERTAINLY died; I had seen his lifeless body.  I recalled a conversation with him in that place about some of our old friends from Stokenchurch Dog Rescue.  Kipper had told me that Rex was there, as were some of my other former chums - Ghost, Topic, Rats, Plum, amongst others.  I had enquired about little Pebble, the Staffie-Cross, only to be told that he hadn't arrived yet.  "He has not yet crossed over." were Kipper's exact barks.  When pressed as to what that meant, Kipper cryptically replied "He still lives."

I shook my head.  It was beyond my comprehension.

Raised voices suddenly began to waft across the cul-de-sac from my house.
"Oh d*mnit, they're awake."  I muttered, slowly and reluctantly getting to my feet.  "Better go.  Have you got a good day ahead, Eddie?"
"My partner and I are meeting Angus and his partner for coffee and breakfast pastries - and then we're all going on a long walk." he grinned.
"Don't fancy swapping places with me for the day, do you?" I sighed.
"Not for a SINGLE second, love." laughed Ed good-naturedly.  "I never was much good with women.  You're on your own there, sweetie."
"Cheers for that Ed.  Give my regards to Angus."

And, with that, I trudged as slowly as I could across the road, back home.

Despite the early hour, the bickering had already intensified to a feverish rate.
"You little thief!  You stole my breakfast!!" Betty was snarling at a cowering Gisèle.
"I didn't!" piped the little terrier, sounding highly aggrieved.  "I never eat any breakfast!"
"Why did you eat MINE, then?!"
"Well, who HAS eaten it then, because I haven't!"

I was just thinking about going upstairs to hide, when my sleepy-eyed partner wandered into the kitchen.
"Morning dogs..." she mumbled, getting herself a glass of water.  "Breakfast time..."  And, with that, she placed breakfast biscuits into Betty's dish and gave Gizmo a small piece of banana and a grape to eat.
"See?!" said Gizmo, unable to keep an element of triumph out of her voice; and she hopped neatly out of the way as Betty looked up from her breakfast and snapped at her.

A morning of uneasy calm persisted.  We all went into the garden to do some gardening and appreciate the brief burst of sunshine.  Alas!  Cometh the afternoon; cometh the onslaught.

I was sitting in the kitchen, keeping my partner company as she washed some vegetables in the sink for cooking later.  All of a sudden, there came an almighty roar, followed by piercing screams.  My partner and I fled into the living room and saw, to our horror, Elizabeth pinning Gisèle to the floor, with the little dog's head completely in her mouth.  Giz was on her back, flailing and struggling against the powerful Betty.  Without a thought for her previous bite injury, my partner instantly waded into the melée and separated the dogs.  Blood immediately fountained forth from Gizmo's pretty face and my partner screamed at the sight.  Betty took one look at what she had done and fled upstairs.

Gizmo's cries and screams seemed to shake the whole house and penetrate through to the very marrow of my bones.  My partner laid her upon a cushion on the sofa and began to inspect the damage.  A part of Gisèle's left-upper lip had been torn off and there was a fang-sized hole through the flesh of the lower jaw on the same side.  I almost recoiled in horror at the sight -  never had I seen such injuries inflicted upon an innocent, undeserving dog.
"Better get her to the vets', quick." I advised, trying not to think about MY last trip to the vets' surgery. "That top lip will need a few stitches at least."
My partner began to cry, adding her sobs to poor Gizmo's wails.
"I can't!" she wept, "I daren't set foot in the vets' with another dog - I still owe them £400 from you, and I can only afford to pay them a few quid a month!"  Little Gizmo was not to be neglected, however, and my partner set-to with what she had immediately to hand - a small quantity of Scotch whisky and some cotton-wool.  Giz squealed as my partner began to clean and sterilize her wounds.
"My face!" croaked Gizmo through her wracking sobs, "Oh, my pretty face... Jazz!  I is ugly!  I will never be pretty again!"
"Oh, don't say that, my dear."  I soothed, "It will all mend in time - don't you fret, now."
"Is it very bad?" she whispered.  I smiled softly at her and moved in for a closer look.
"My dear, you are as pretty now as you have ever been.  And you will only grow more beautiful with each new passing day..."
Gisèle regarded me doubtfully, before giving way to her pain and crying loudly again.  I averted my gaze and sighed.  I never was much good at lying...

As I looked at the sweet little terrier, lying on her cushion, howling and crying with pain and humiliation, a blaze of anger surged through me.  With one, last, glance at the poor suffering one, I turned and marched upstairs, spoiling for a fight of my own.  I located Betty in the bathroom, trying (and failing) to hide behind the lavatory.  She seemed to be attempting to render herself as small and transparent as she could and was trembling and sniffling.
"Spare me your false and pathetic efforts at remorse." I spat.  "You're going to bl**dy-well come downstairs with me right now and look at what you have done."  I scarcely stopped to draw breath, I was that irate.   "Madam, you disgust me entirely.  You are not worthy to bear the name of dog.  I had laboured under the impression that you you were a well brought-up and mannered young lady.  Now I see that I have been utterly mistaken.  You are a creature - less than a creature - of worthless-"

"Oh, please - PLEASE - stop.  I'm sorry, I'm SO sorry!" howled Betty miserably.  I looked at her and was somewhat taken aback to see that her face bore an expression of abject guilt and mortification.  She was also genuinely crying.  "I didn't mean to! I'm so very, very sorry..." she sobbed.  I sat down rather suddenly, unsure of what to make of this new scene opening up before me.

"Then why did you do it?" I asked, as gently as I could manage, given that Gizmo's anguished wails were still drifting up the stairs from the living-room.
"I don't know!  I couldn't help it!" wept Betty.  "I only meant to be playing but then Giz didn't want to and I got annoyed and then when she started to cry I bit her - I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"  And then she added, most pitifully of all, "This is why I am never allowed to have any friends!  No-one wants to be my friend and I never have anyone to play with!"  At this she dissolved so far into her tears that she lost the power of barks.  A pinprick of pity stabbed me, despite the wickedness Elizabeth had inflicted on Gisèle.

"So you only wanted to play with Gizmo...?" I mused, thinking carefully.  Betty nodded glumly.  A sudden thought struck me.  "Betty, did you TELL Giz that you were only wanting to play with her?"
"Why do you do that?" sniffed the big dog, "Don't they” [other dogs] “automatically know that you’re only playing?”
“No, my love.  You have to tell them.  Were you never taught to play-bow to invite a game first?”
“Well, yes, but I never really bothered with it.”

“Then, I fear, that might be part of the problem.” I explained gently.  “Unless you initiate a game with a play-bow – and receive one from the other dog in return – then how is the other dog possibly to know that you are not issuing a challenge to a genuine fight?”

“Ohhh…” mumbled Betty, a small light of realisation beginning to dawn in her eyes.  “So Gisèle thought that I REALLY meant to fight, when I only wanted to play a game…?”
“Precisely so, my dear.”
“Ohhh…” She repeated thoughtfully.  Then Betty gave a sudden gasp and hoarsely yipped “Jasper!  Have I hurt her very badly?”  She gazed at me with nervous apprehension.  There was but one way; to tell her the truth.
“Little Gisèle will bear the scars of this day for the rest of her life.”
At this, Betty cried out and began to wail just as sorrowfully as Gizmo.
“I’m SO sorry!” she repeated miserably.  “I SO wanted to be friends with her!  I like her and I didn’t want to hurt her!”
“Well – why don’t you come along downstairs with me now and tell her these things?”
“Oh, noooo!” wailed Betty, “She will never forgive me, and I will NEVER have any friends, ever.”

“You might be surprised.” I smiled.  “Little Gisèle is quite unique amongst dogs that I’ve ever encountered.  I have never known a young dog – a Jack Russell Terrier in particular – who is so loving, sweet-natured and forgiving.  I truly believe that she has not one single malicious hair upon her.  If any dog bears the capacity to forgive what you have done, it is Gizmo.”
“That just makes it worse!” whined Betty, “I don’t deserve to be forgiven.  I am a bad girl.  Bad, BAD girl, Betty!”

I let Betty get over this latest outburst of sobbing, and then said “Well, let us see what happens.  But first, you must come downstairs with me.  You have to understand that sometimes unthinking actions can have unpleasant consequences.  You will come downstairs with me now and see Gisèle.”  I stood up, turned to exit the bathroom, and looked back at Betty as I added “This is not a request.  Follow me now please.”  A submissive Betty sighed and stood up too.  “And I suggest that you pick out your teeth before you show yourself,”  Betty hastened to comply, and attended to her teeth with her fore-claws.  She still had a small part of Gizmo’s upper lip wedged between two of her teeth.

As I descended the staircase, I saw that my partner had done a magnificent job of cleansing the wound and was now busy with her embroidery scissors, snipping away the long fur on the affected side of Gizmo’s little snout, so that hairs would not adhere to the wound and impede the natural healing process.  The injuries were no longer bleeding and the fumes from the whisky had becalmed the frightened dog, who was now lying peacefully upon her cushion.

Unhappily, as soon as she spotted Betty meekly creeping down the stairs behind me, Gizmo began to quake and squeal again and had to be held down by my partner.
“She’s coming back to kill me!” screamed Giz in terror, “She’ll kill me!”  My partner gently shushed her, and placed herself differently, so that she was between Gizmo’s direct line of sight towards Betty.  She instantly saw that I had attended appropriately to Betty and automatically knew (in the way that true soul-partners always can) what was transpiring at my instruction.  As my partner held Gizmo in a comforting and secure embrace I nudged Betty forward.
Elizabeth.” I barked, clearly and loudly, “You have something you wished to bark to Gisèle.”

At my shove, Betty stumbled hesitantly forward and approached the sofa.  Gizmo tried to recoil but was held, gently yet firmly, in place by my partner.
“Gizmo.” said Betty, quietly – and without even a trace of sarcasm, insincerity or malice in her tone – “I am truly and very deeply sorry for what I have done.  I never did mean to hurt you, but I know that I have, by mistake hurt you very, very much and I am so much more sorry than I can bark.  I would very much like to be your friend but I will understand if you never want to bark to or sniff me ever, ever again.”  And then, still full of heavy remorse, Betty began to slope away to the kitchen.

There was a tiny, almost imperceptible, sound from the prostrate form of Gizmo.  Only Betty and I heard it properly, the squeak which issued forth being out of the common audible range of humans.

“’S alright Betz.  I forgives you.”

I felt moved almost to tears.  Betty was too overcome to show herself for at least the following few minutes.  When she returned, she was carrying one of the few possessions that stayed here whenever she did; her lovely scarlet brushed-cotton luxury blanket.  Betty proceeded to drag it to the sofa, where she carefully placed it, piling it up and around Gizmo.  Having accomplished this, Betty trotted back and forth collecting Gizmo’s favourite toys and placing them next to her on the sofa as well.  In fact, Gizmo had fallen asleep, but I (as Giz would when she awoke in the morning) appreciated the gesture and the heartfelt sincerity behind it.

And so it was, despite all these tribulations, that a semblance of calm and order was restored to this little household.  Well – perhaps, as we shall see, not quite calm and order – but certainly an end to the unfortunate savage bloodletting of late, and new friendships rising from the ashes of these misunderstandings…

Good night.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Friday 13 July 2012

Well – it lasted for a day – possibly a day and a half; certainly not much more.

Ambling happily back to the car after a most enjoyable walk the sweet, early-evening, peace and tranquillity was swiftly rent asunder.

“You wee-ed on me!” came the stentorian bark of Betty, with an angry suddenness that sent alarmed birds spiralling into the sky in all directions.
“No I didn’t!” protested Gisèle, sounding hurt and aggrieved.  “I never did wee on you!”
“You did!  You wee-ed on me!”
“I didn’t!”
“Well – you wee-ed on me!”
“Only ‘cos you wee-ed on me!”
“AND you kicked me!”
“Did not!”
“You did – you kicked me and wee-ed on me!”

I was somewhat taken aback.  But this was as nothing compared with the developments that occurred when we all got into the car.  The two ladies were still bickering and, inevitably, the moment came when even the peaceable, gentle, Gizmo was pushed beyond the limits of her endurance.  As soon as the car door was closed on us all, Betty recommenced hostilities.

“At least I’m not UGLY.” she sniped, viciously.  “YOU look like a scrawny little RAT!”
“Stop it!  I can’t help being skinny!” cried Gisèle.  “I DON’T look like a rat.”
“You DO.  You look like a nasty, flea-ridden, scrawny little rat!”
“I do not!  I do not look like a rat!  I is a little dog, not a rodent!”

Poor little Giz is so young that she has not yet learned to articulate herself properly – a fact which I suspected Betty wouldn’t be slow to seize upon.  I wasn’t wrong.

“You even SOUND like a rat, with your stupid squealing! “I is a little dog”, indeed.  You are an ugly little rat!”
“No I’m not!!”
“At LEAST I haven’t got a FAT BUM!” yapped Gizmo, with angry exasperation so sudden that it took even Elizabeth by surprise for a few seconds.
What did you say?!” growled Betty, dangerously.
“You have got a FAT BOTTOM!”

Oh, bl**dy h*ll, here we go… I muttered to myself.  I tried to catch my partner’s eye, but she was determinedly concentrating on driving, despite the insults flying back and forth between the two girls.
“Rat face!” – that was Betty again.

And on it went.  It was still continuing when we pulled into the parking space outside our house.  By this time, I had had more than enough and was beginning develop a nagging little headache.  Once we were all inside, I had anticipated peace – but, alas, it was not to be.
“Scrawny rat-face!”
“Big fat, fatty-bum.”

Oh, pack it in, the pair of you!!” I barked, finally losing my rag. “Or I’ll knock your bl**dy heads together!”
I instantly felt a twinge of guilt at this general admonition, as quite clearly the blame lay with Elizabeth and not Gisèle.  But the latter was not helping herself by prolonging the dispute.  Both young ladies at last fell silent – Gizmo with mute acquiescence, Betty with a look of acquiescent mutiny.

Most unhappily, in this moment of fleeting peace, young Gizmo was seized with a most ill-timed cough.  As she hiccupped, Betty (who is somewhat older and on occasion somewhat hard of hearing) mistook Gizmo’s little cough as a further repetition of the insult on the size of her posterior.  With a howl of rage, she launched herself at Gisèle with such fury that neither my partner nor I had time to react.

Betty’s mighty jaws clamped down on Gizmo’s little bottom, and Gizmo screamed in pain and terror.  Yelling and howling herself, my partner tried to separate the two bitches, earning herself a very nasty accidental bite from Betty in the process.  I was enraged.
“STOP IT!”  I shouted, “STOP THIS AT ONCE!!”
“No!” retorted Betty, her voice muffled as she had Gizmo’s tail gripped between her teeth.  “I haven’t got a pretty tail – why should SHE have one?!”

The appalling fight continued until my bleeding partner was successful in prising open Betty’s jaws, allowing Gizmo to escape.  The little Jack Russell sprang away from her assailant, wailing and shaking.  I immediately put myself between her and Betty, who spat two great clumps of Gizmo’s fur out of her mouth onto the carpet.

My partner was in a state of subdued shock.  Betty retreated upstairs whilst my partner fetched her First Aid box and began to tend to Gisèle – before, I noticed, attending to her own bitten and bleeding hand.  Fortunately for Gizmo, Betty’s attempts to bite off her tail had not been successful.  Once the bleeding had been staunched and the pain subsided a little, Giz lay morosely on a cushion.
“Is it gone, Jazz?” she whimpered.
“My tail.  Is it gone?”
“No, my dear, it’s still there.”
“D’you think it will fall off?”

I looked carefully at the base of Gizmo’s pretty tail.  The bite was certainly a nasty one, but one which would heal, given time.
“No, my dear.” I replied, gently. “Elizabeth’s fangs have only pierced the uppermost base of your lovely tail.  The joint is perfectly sound underneath.  Your sweet tail will not fall off and the wound will heal over in time.”
Gisèle seemed relieved and reassured – and then she noticed what my partner was doing (tending to her own bite-wounds).
“Mistress!” she squealed, “My Mistress is hurt!  I must help her!  Oh, it is ALL my fault…”
I shushed the panicking terrier quickly.
“It’s alright, my dear.”  I comforted her, “You are NOT to blame for this.  You did not bite her.  The miscreant is hiding upstairs, like a spineless cat.  Barking of whom…”  I leapt down from the sofa and trotted upstairs, locating Betty in the bathroom.  The ‘Standard’-Schnauzer glared at me defiantly, as though she was daring me to chide her for her actions.
“I think you have an apology to make.” I sighed, after what seemed like an age of awkward silence.  “You inflicted a nasty bite on Gisèle AND my partner.”
“Sorry.” muttered Betty, with gruff insincerity.
“Not to ME, you fool.” I barked.  “Come on.”  And I led a recalcitrant Betty downstairs and shoved her towards Gisèle, who lay whimpering on a cushion.  After another difficult silence I hissed “Say it!” through gritted teeth into Betty’s ear.
“Sorry.” grunted Elizabeth to Gisèle, in a tone more reluctant than remorseful.

Gizmo sniffed back fresh tears, sighed, and then looked up at Betty.
“That’s alright Betty, never mind.” she yipped, in a bright but still slightly-subdued bark.  “I am very sorry that I said you have a fat bottom.  It’s not true.  Your bottom is VERY pretty.”  And, with that, the sweet-natured, innocent Gizmo rose from her cushion and planted a kiss on her former attacker’s cheek.

I felt much moved by this humble and touching gesture.  Betty, on the other paw, flinched and curled her lip when Gizmo gave her the friendly, peace-making kiss.  Unable to contain herself, she rubbed her cheek vigorously on the arm of the sofa, obliterating all traces of Gisèle’s kiss.
“Urrrgh!” she muttered aloud, “Better wipe off that muck!  I might catch rat-poisoning or something…”

I was utterly disgusted, but my first thoughts were for poor Giz.  Her lip trembled, as she flopped down in distress.  Her resolve crumbled – and sweet little Gisèle dissolved back onto her soft pillow, her tears of mortification and pain spilling uncontrollably down her pretty cheeks.

But if I thought that this would be the worst of it – then I was sorely mistaken.  This was only the beginning