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)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Gisèle, I am happy to report, has made an outstanding recovery.  Not just from her appalling colitis, but also from her spinal injury.  Thanks to the vet, my partner and the tender attentions of Betty, little Giz is once again her bright-as-a-button self.  We are overjoyed.  The word "miracle" is not one I often employ - but, in this case, there is none other more appropriate.

This evening, we all enjoyed a delightful walk in the woods and it was a true joy to behold Gizmo racing hither and thither as though illness and injury had never visited her at all.  The open, honest, happiness of Betty, at having her much-loved little friend back again with undiminished character and energy, is also as beautiful as it is heartfelt.  The two of them raced around after squirrels like a pair of complete nutters, leaping across ditches and vaulting over fallen trees, laughing and squealing with sheer elation.

My partner and I were highly diverted in watching them - but, after a while, I noticed that they seemed to be running in a circle.  A wide circle of around a mile's circumference, to be sure, but a circle nonetheless.  They were obviously pursuing a scent of some description.  To my experienced eye it quickly became apparent that Betty, the larger and slower of the pair, was pursuing the scent of Gizmo - and Giz in turn was pursuing a combination of her own scent and Betty's.
"For goodness' sake!" I thought to myself, groaning inwardly, as my mind drifted towards my friend Ewan - a truly lovely dog, but one who is SO daft that even his empty skull's echo has got an echo - "Surely they can't be that stupid?  God can't have let two more like him slip through the net!?!"  I decided that I had to intervene as the two ladies sped past once again, Gisèle for her fifth circuit and Betty for her fourth.

A moment's consideration led me to conclude that Betty would be the easiest to intercept.  Accordingly, on seeing her approach, I put myself directly in her path.  Happily, she spotted me and stopped in plenty of time.  Less happily, Gizmo was so committed to the chase that she failed to notice until it was too late.  Skidding and slithering in the mud from the morning's rainfall, the little Jack Russell went careering into Betty's flank and the three of us crashed to the ground in a tangle of legs, tails and snouts.
"Brilliant!" panted Gizmo, her eyes shining and her tail wagging wildly, "Can we do that again?!"
"No." I barked firmly, seeing Betty about to enthusiastically agree.  I explained to the girls that they had each been running after the other and, at the moment of realisation, they both dissolved into giggles at their own foolishness.  My hope for their future developments was restored.

En route back home, we stopped for a moment whilst my partner collected a book which she had loaned to a friend.  It is an excellent tome by vet Bruce Fogle, published in association with the RSPCA, called "Know Your Dog" (see here).  The book is illustrated throughout with excellent and helpful photographs and so, in order to settle them after their excited walk and their suppers, my partner sat Gisèle and Elizabeth on the sofa and gave them this book to paw through.

I accompanied my partner into the kitchen and attended her whilst she did the washing-up.  I was amused to listen to the two girls on the sofa, fussing and cooing over the photographs of little infant puppies and gossipping about the various fur-styles of the older dogs in the book.  They seemed very happily occupied, so I followed my partner upstairs whilst she changed the bed-linen.

Now then.  A moment's digression, if you'll permit me.  If you are a parent, or the owner of more than one active and sentient animal, you will know that, if you can hear them then all is generally well.  It is when things are suddenly and uncharacteristically quiet that you KNOW mischief is a-paw.  In actual fact, this is often the way with more serious situations.  Several months ago my partner volunteered to be the "accident victim" in an unpleasant - but staged - motorway car crash.  It was a training exercise by the local Fire Service.  My partner was wedged into a car (with guidance as to what her "injuries" were to be), which was then rolled down a motorway embankment and into a tree.  The plucky Firemen had to act as though it was a genuine emergency, manage the (unaware and regular) traffic, secure the scene and cut the crashed vehicle from around my partner, keep her alive, free her, and finally lift her to safety.  All MOST interesting.  And, let me bark to you here and now, if you are ever unfortunate enough to be in a real accident then you could not be in better and professional hands.  (And, before you suspect that these noble Firemen were eschewing their duties in order to b*gg*r about on a motorway embankment with my partner, one of the things that my partner had to agree to was the possibility that if a REAL 999 call came through she would have to be left alone in the crashed car until the Firemen had dealt with the genuine emergency and then returned.)  Anyway - prior to the arrival of the Fire Crews, whilst she was sat shivering in "her" crashed car, she asked the Training Officer how distressed she ought to be in order to sound truly authentic.  She asked if she should scream and cry out in pain.
"No." replied the Officer.  "If you're screaming and yelling, then you're clearly not the priority.  The folks we look to first are the ones who are very quiet, trembling or mumbling.  If you've got the energy to make a racket, then you've got the energy to keep going."  See what I mean?  But enough - yet again I have digressed too long.

Returning to the present, as I patiently (i.e. without laughing) sat and watched my partner wrestle valiantly with a recalcitrant duvet-cover, it suddenly struck me that things downstairs had gone awfully quiet.  Padding to the head of the stairs, I cocked my head to one side in order to listen more carefully.  Lots of whispering was going on, accompanied by MUCH muffled giggling.  This did not bode well, so I thought I had better investigate further.  I had not even begun descending the staircase before a sudden and dreadful thought gripped me.  With an increasing sense of foreboding I went downstairs.  But I needed no visual affirmation - my worst fears were confirmed: Betty and Gizmo had found the chapter on courtship and reproduction.

Amidst stifled hysterics, the two girls were looking at a large photograph of the two dogs (or, more correctly, a dog and a bitch) engaged in "the act" (I trust I need not be more descriptive).  Elizabeth, by my reckoning, was no stranger to the ways of the flesh, but this was quite clearly the young Gisèle's first such educational foray.
"Look!" squeaked Giz, barely able to speak through her laughter, "Look where he's put his pee-stick!  Ewww!! Hiihiihiihiihiihiihiihiiiiiii.....!"  Betty spluttered the beginnings of a reply, but she then noticed me peeping through the balustrade at them.  Betty nudged Gizmo in an obvious, though what she intended to be a subtle, way; the two of them glanced briefly from me back down to the picture in the book (which now lay open on the floor) and then dissolved into fresh volleys of giggling.  As I had been seen, there was nothing to be gained from trying to slink back upstairs, so I mustered as much as I could of my little-remaining dignity and finished my descent of the stairs.  "Good evening ladies." I remarked, determinedly ignoring the open book and seating myself by the French window.  I could feel the two pairs of eyes on the back of my head, accompanied by yet more ill-suppressed giggles.  At length:-
"You ask him!"  That was Betty.
"No, you ask him! Hiihiihiihiiiiiii.....!" giggled Gizmo.
"You ask him!  Hurrhurrhurrhurr - snort! - hurrhurrhurrr."  For an attractive and elegant lady, Betty possessed an absolutely filthy laugh.  I half-expected Sid James and Kenneth Williams to appear through the door at any moment.
"Nooooo! YOU!  Hiihiihiihiiiiiii.....!"

Gisèle's high-pitched giggle was starting to seriously grate on my nerves, as was the apparent reason for them.  I stood up and turned to face them.
"Can I help you with anything, ladies?" I barked irritably.  Betty, somewhat uncharitably, gave her friend a gentle push and Giz tumbled onto the floor in front of me.
"Hiihiihiihiiiiiii.....!  Umm... does it hurt when you sit down...?"
"Your 'Little Jasper'!" barked Betty, emboldened by her friend's courage.  "Does it hurt when you sit down? Do you have to move it when you sit down so you don't squash it?!"
"Er - I've never really thought about it." I muttered.  "So I suppose that must mean that no; I don't.  Anything else?"

There followed a succession of increasingly cheeky and detailed questions,  all of which - naturally - were interspersed with saucy giggling.  At one point I, unfortunately, let down my guard (I was amused by one of the ladies' pert remarks and deluded into informality by the shared union of our laughter) and barked:
"Oh G*d!  I remember the night Little Jasper was impaled on a sharp thorn!  That's something I won't be repeating!!"  (By this, I refer to the occasion - described in an earlier blog-post - when my partner and I were still living at my partner's parents' house and ventured onto the front lawn well after the witching-hour to view a rare full-lunar-eclipse.  The eclipsed orange moon was strikingly beautiful and a once-in-a-lifetime (at least, for me) spectacle.  Alas - prior to returning to the house and my bedchamber - I lifted a leg to download a final, pre-sleep, wee-mail.  Unhappily my target of choice proved to be a large rose-bush and I inadvertently speared Little Jasper on a large and unyielding thorn.  My screams woke up half the street and I had to lie down with Little Jasper carefully draped across an especially-chilled cushion for the next three days in order to fully recover).  Following my relation of this harrowing trauma, my voice trailed into nothing as I saw the two girls gaping at me in open-mouthed horror.  And then:-
"Hurrhurrhurrhurr - snort! - Hurrhurrhurrhurrrrrrr....!"
"Hiihiihiihiiiiiii..... ohnostopitplease - hiihiihiihiihiihiihiiiiiii..... ohnoithurtsdon'tithurtsBettyplease, hiihiihiihiihiihiihiiiiiii..... ohBettynohiihiihiihiihiihiihiiiiiii.....!"  The two helplessly giggling dogs clutched and pawed at each other as they collapsed together, lost in their united hysterical, mocking, laughter.

"Oh, naff off, the pair of you." I grunted, which only served to increase their mirth at my - and my Little Jasper's - expense.

I stomped back upstairs in high dudgeon.  As I rejoined my partner, who had vanquished the stubborn duvet and was now attending to the less-troublesome pillow-cases, I flopped to the floor and sighed.

"You know," I opined, "I think I actually preferred it when they hated each other...."

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Tuesday 7 August 2012

STOP PRESS: Since writing much of what follows below, Gisèle has been seriously - almost dangerously - ill with Colitis.  After six different courses of medication from the vet she is, just this evening, beginning to recover.  I do not propose to enter into details - they are grossly unpleasant and Gizmo is a very discreet young lady.  Suffice it to say that the past few days have been excessively traumatic and it has taken the combined efforts of the vet, my partner, myself AND Betty (for, yes, nothing could have been more touching than the lengths to which proud Betty went in order to assist her little friend.  And this INCLUDES washing Gisèle's bottom and keeping my partner company whilst carpets were repeatedly scrubbed).

Did you hear about the Olympic gymnast who walked into a bar?
He lost six points and the chance of a medal...

Hehehe - we are still very much enjoying the Olympics here in England.  The way it has captured the best of our national spirit is wonderful to see and, at time of writing, Team GB have won 21 Gold Medals, 13 Silver Medals and 12 Bronze Medals - all fantastic achievements.  But what particularly irks me sometimes are cases in which an athlete who has won a Silver or Bronze makes a statement along the lines of "well, obviously I'm disappointed..."  This annoys me intensely.  Yes, you may have won "only" a Bronze - but you are still the third best in the entire World!!

It has been a fortnight (though it seems much longer) since Gisèle had her accident and she continues, albeit slowly, to mend.  She took her first walk yesterday evening and managed extremely well.  Alas, however, she is unable to sufficiently lift her tail in order to avoid soiling her fur when defecating, so my partner has obtained some moist baby-wipes to assist with cleansing purposes.  Giz is also reluctant to return to the vehicle after her exercise (this is a new development, we are unsure as to why it might be the case - I thought that, perhaps, she and Betty had "had words" but they remain good friends so it is a mystery) and this rather sours the walks somewhat.  Last evening, my partner, Betty and I had to pursue Gizmo for some 45 minutes before employing strategic manoeuvres in order to catch her and fix the lead to her collar and, this evening, my partner had to get cross with the little terrier.

Any irritation was soon dispelled, however, as it is still early days for little Gizmo - and she had been damaged very seriously indeed.  When my partner returned with the reluctant Giz to the vets on Monday, she did not have the same fortune as previously, and had to lift Gisèle onto the very table onto which she had last lifted me.  As ghastly as you may imagine this experience to be, the visit was not improved when the x-rays of the unfortunate Jack Russell were displayed to my partner.  On seeing them my partner was stunned into silence and she wondered, along with the new young (male and quite handsome - but let us not go there) vet, how Gisèle was achieving her recovery.

These are, obviously, not the actual x-rays, but are a true reproduction:

Normal dog skeleton

Close-up of normal rump section.

Close-up of Gisèle's current rump section

See what I mean?  That HAS to hurt.

Elizabeth continues to be excessively gentle and nurturing.  It is a joy to behold.  I'm not sure that Gisèle, by herself, would have been brave enough to enjoy a walk so soon after her accident were it not for dear Betty, watching over her and guarding her every step.  But it is not merely when out and about that Betty maintains her vigilance over her tiny friend.  Oh no.

For Betty has been tailing Gizmo throughout the house and garden, ensuring her safety in all things.  If Giz chooses to nap in the bathroom, Betty will follow and make sure that there is no water, on which Gizmo might slip, in on the floor and that no bags or boxes stand close to Gizmo's chosen resting spot, in case the little dog rolls over in her sleep and knocks her rump.  In the garden, similar trip hazards or other obstacles have been moved aside by the newly-safety-conscious Betty.  Within the bedchamber, none of Betty's effort is spared in procuring the best pillows and section of duvet for her belovèd best friend - she has even been sighted warming Gizmo's favourite teddy-bear prior to placing it next to where Giz is sleeping.  But Betty herself announced that her greatest triumph in securing Gisèle's comfort has taken place in the kitchen.  She proudly conducted us, followed closely by Gizmo herself, into the kitchen yesterday evening and stood, beaming, awaiting our fawning praise.

I couldn't actually notice anything different about the room or its furnishings, but it did not escape me that Gizmo's smile had become rather fixed, though the sweet girl's manner remained unalterably polite.
"See?!" barked Betty, happily, "I even ate Gizzle's dinner for her, to save her from hurting her belly when she was digesting her food!!"

Ah.  Now I understood.  I looked at Gisèle, who seemed almost straining with the effort to appear outwardly grateful.
"Oh, I see..." I murmured.  "Yes, indeed.  Well - that was, er, ummm, yes.... VERY, uh, kind - of you Betty."
Betty nodded confidently.  I glanced at Gizmo, with a wink and a sympathetic smile.  The merest glance between my partner and I instantly determined a way forward.  "Elizabeth, my dear, would you be kind enough to accompany me into the garden?" I enquired, adopting one of my most charming smiles, "I failed to profit from your advice previously and feel I would benefit enormously from a further explanation of the safety arrangements which you have made for Gisèle without-doors."
Betty looked doubtfully down at Gizmo.
"Er - I know she is safe within." I hastily continued, "If you would favour me with your company...?"
With that, Betty trotted out into the garden with me and began to go over once again the finer points of the relocation of our tomato plants.

Whilst I occupied Betty outside my partner hastily prepared another chicken and rice dinner for Gizmo, and joined us on the patio so that Giz could eat her meal in peace.

Another disaster happily averted - and we all continue in peaceful harmony.  I was careful to look away, so as to shield my smile, when I later heard Gizmo thanking Betty most earnestly for her kind efforts, whilst assuring her that the dinner prepared for her by my partner was easily digestible.

If only ALL such paths were so easily smoothed-over.  For, just the other evening, the long arm of the law finally caught up with we four fugitives from justice.

We were in the New Teal Megane, all behaving ourselves properly, Betty 'riding shotgun', with Gisèle and I sitting in the back, when my partner noticed in her rear-view mirror that we were being followed by a Police Officer on a motorbike.  On exiting the first of two adjacent roundabouts it became clear, from his flashing blue lights and obvious gesticulations, that he wished us to pull-over.  After negotiating the second roundabout, my partner steered the car into a handy lay-by.  Muttering to us about "not making trouble", she wound down her window and waited in a state of some agitation and muttering profanities under her breath.  I was similarly mystified - what COULD we have done wrong?!

We sat in uneasy silence as the Policeman dismounted his motorcycle and marched purposefully towards us.
"Hello sir!" my partner greeted him brightly, with her prettiest smile and the subtlest hint of her majestic cleavage (shameless, perhaps, but one must flaunt one's physical gifts to the utmost.  In this, I have taught her well).  "Is everything all right?"

The scowling Rozzer wasted no time in coming straight to the point.
"Is that child wearing a seatbelt?!" he barked, angrily, at my still-beaming partner.  Her winning smile faltered in her confusion.
"Excuse me?"
"THAT CHILD!" he snapped, irritably.  "In your front passenger seat!  Is it WEARING a SEATBELT?!"

At this point, Elizabeth turned to look at the officer.  Dear reader, it was all I could do not to laugh aloud as I witnessed the Policeman's stunned reaction.
"Errooohhh!" he yelped, as he hastily backed away, almost tripping over his own feet in his shock.  "It's a DOG!"

"Yes." said my partner, aware that she was now going to be late for work and an important meeting.
"A dog!" repeated the Policeman.  "Not a child!  But from the back it looked-"
"Yes." said my partner again.  "She's got my eyes and her father's tail.  We're very proud."

The unfortunate Rozzer gaped in open-mouthed embarrassment.  Gisèle was not aiding the situation by lying across the back seat of the car, helplessly giggling.

"Erm," spluttered the Officer, trying to recover a semblance of his lost credibility.  "I'd better let you get on your way, madam... I am sorry to have troubled you..."
"That's OK.  Thank you." replied my partner, though much of this civil reply was lost on the Policeman's hastily retreating rear as he stumbled back to his motorbike and sped off in pursuit of other, legitimate, miscreants.

We gave him a second's grace before all four of us exploded in merciless laughter, which continued all the way to the office.

Good night.