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?"
"Ewan told me."
"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.
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...