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!”
“Well – you wee-ed on me!”
“Only ‘cos you wee-ed on me!”
“AND you kicked me!”
“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.
“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.
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…