Saturday, 25 May 2013

Saturday 25 May 2013

Betty returned yesterday evening (but she and Gisèle were not permitted to actually meet until this morning).

But WHAT a different Betty!  An humbled Betty - a contrite Betty - a quiet Betty - a GOOD Betty.  The change in her nature left me barkless.  Giz was more sceptical and hid herself away until her toiletry needs forced her into the open and the meeting, fraught with trauma and unsavoury memories, took place.

I have to bark that neither young lady relished this reunion.  Betty was overcome with guilt and wrought with solemn contrition - most especially after she had witnessed her best friend's trembling and my partner's wrist, where the worst wound remains STILL swollen, raw and red.  Betty would not meet Gisèle's eye, an almost imperceptible wagging of the tiny stump that remained of her tail was the only outward sign of Elizabeth's pleasure in seeing her little friend again.

I did her justice and pitied her.

The girls are not permitted to be alone together - but they quickly re-established the bond of friendship and love betwixt them with a truly heart-warming and lengthy cuddle.  Both apologised for their late disagreement, which had occasioned so much misery and pain.  The matter is now, therefore, closed between us.


Betty, however, as some of you may have surmised, has arrived with a certain piece of "equipment": a muzzle.  To state that this is not a welcome item would be to grossly under-bark the issue.

After a very happy Saturday of garden-pottering, affable chat - with Gisèle outlining the finalities of her planned "I Love Peaches Party" (the date of which is set for this Bank Holiday Monday - the day after tomorrow) - Betty assuring Gizmo that "it was only the prospect of the party that sustained her spirits during the weeks of their separation..."; Giz fortunately missing the sarcasm heavy in Betty's tone - and a joyous, well-behaved, delightful early-evening walk in the girls' favourite local woodlands, the dreaded muzzle made its first appearance.

The girls had been in the garden, enjoying the sunset and the music on the stereo - a pleasant mix of jazz and country - when they were summoned indoors and my partner sensed a certain tell-tale mischief in the atmosphere.  Nothing malicious or even mildly ill-intentioned.  Just that certain air of minds bent on cheeky fun, the sort of which can rapidly get out of paw and result in accidents - the like of which regular readers of this blog are all too familiar...

Despite never having seen one before, Betty instinctively shrank back from the muzzle, even though it seemed a kinder and far-less-harsh type of those to which I had been a witness during my lifetime.  Here is a link to the one Betty's owner selected for her: Betty's muzzle

"NO!" she cried as it was unwrapped.  "No!  I promise - I SWEAR - I'll always be good from now on!  PLEASE - PLEASE don't put it on me, I BEG of you!  PLEASE...!"  Betty screamed and wailed and pleaded - but to no avail.  My partner adjusted the muzzle straps, slipped it over Betty's snout, clipped it closed and drew the straps tight.  Gisèle squealed.
"Oh, stop, STOP!  It's horrible!  PLEASE don't make Betty wear it!  She can bite and hurt me as much as she likes, I don't care - PLEASE take it off!  TAKE IT OFF!"

But my partner was deaf to all pleadings.  Once the muzzle was firmly on, Betty made every conceivable effort to pull it off.  Gisèle listened to her struggles with increasing distress, before finally running back to her friend and attempting to assist by nibbling through the straps.  Giz was hauled away by my partner and was told to leave Betty alone.  Trembling and quietly sobbing, Gizmo sat in her favourite armchair listening as Betty's struggles grew weaker and finally subsided.

The defeated Betty slunk back into the living room and clambered into the armchair beside Gisèle.  It was a mark of the great friendship existing between the girls that Gisèle did not laugh at, or glory in, Elizabeth's humiliation.

"There, there..." soothed Giz gently, snuggling up to the miserable Betty.  "It's probably for the best, you know, for your own good..."
Betty muttered a reply, which my ears did not catch.  Sweet Gisèle laid a comforting paw upon one of Betty's.  "Yes," she replied softly, "But remember how very bad you felt about what accidentally happened to me and my Mistress - see?  I had to have two sorts of medicine AND stitches in my neck again, they only took them out two days ago -" She tilted her head to show Betty the fresh scarring and stitch-marks on her neck, where the fur had been shaved off and had yet to properly re-grow,  "- and Mistress was very ill in hospital and is still in lots of pain.  And I KNOW that makes you feel really, REALLY horrible, doesn't it?"

"Yes." mumbled Betty, her voice croaky and heavy with shame and mortification which had nothing to do with the muzzle she now wore.

"Well, if you had been wearing a muzzle then, it wouldn't have happened would it?" said Giz, in a bark which reverberated with nothing but kindness.  "But more than that Betty - more than that.  What if you had by accident hurt a dog we didn't know?  Or a human?  Or even the very, VERY worst of all - what if you had hurt a human child by mistake, when you were so cross that you didn't know what you were doing?!"

"Oh G*d!" gasped Elizabeth, horror filling her deep brown eyes.

"Suddenly,  wearing a muzzle for a few hours a day doesn't seem quite so bad, eh?" sympathised Giz. "I'd gladly wear one myself to make you feel better, but we only got the one."

Not for the first, nor, I suspect, for the last, time my eyes filled with tears at the sweet goodness of the little Jack Russell.  How powerfully she must have been tempted to laugh at Betty in her muzzle - and yet here she was, wishing that she had one of her own to wear simply to make her best friend feel less embarrassed.  I wished I had a physical presence so that I could have embraced her.

"Promise not to tell anyone?" whispered Betty, moving closer to Gisèle and snuggling up against her for further comfort.
"Of COURSE I promise." yipped Giz faithfully, "And you won't be wearing it to the party on Monday.  I will NOT have you humiliated in public.  You are my friend and I love you very, very much Betty.  I am so happy that you are in my life."

"I love you too, Gisèle..." murmured Elizabeth, before she was overcome and had recourse to silent tears of humble gratitude and affection.

At length both girls fell into a deep, peaceful sleep - each content and comforted by the presence and solicitude of the other.

Good night.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Monday 20 May 2013

I do not pretend to have mastered the secrets of the Timelords - but join me nonetheless as we step back a short while to before the recent unfortunate fang-based incident.  The hot topic of the moment was, of course, Gisèle's ill-advised "I love Peaches Party", which she was planning for one of the most irredeemably evil cats it has ever been my misfortune to encounter.  Giz's theory was that Peaches was so abominably foul to any and everyone because he was lonely and didn't have any friends.  Well, that much may be true, but in all the years I knew Peaches and shared a street with him I never heard him express any desire for a companion - quite the reverse, in fact.  Ghastly little maggot.

Anyway - Gisèle had made up her mind and was not to be swayed.  She had successfully roped in a reluctant Laddie and an even-more-reluctant and nonplussed Betty and was happily chattering to anyone who would listen (and a few who wouldn't) about her plans for the great event.  Betty's expression was one of weary resignation as she was forced to listen to another stream of party-prattle from her little Jack Russell friend.

"...Rosie says she will come if she doesn't have to sit in the garden with Peaches.  Fizzy says she's not coming if you are coming because she hates your whiskers-"
Betty snorted derisively.
"I should refuse to attend any function to which she was invited, in any case." barked Elizabeth.
"Well, quite.  Honey says she'll only come if Peaches isn't going to be there, so we'd better put her down as a 'no'.  Laddie is definitely coming, Archie [Jack Russell at the end of our terrace] says he might if I give him a kiss and Digby [Westie who has the gross misfortune to live next-door to Peaches] says he wouldn't come if I gave him all the roast beef in the world.  So a nice little number, I think..."

"Oh, for Heaven's sake Gizzles, just chuck some money at the d*mn thing and go out for the day!" sighed Betty.

"What d'you mean?"

"I mean give your housekeeper and the staff a wad of overtime and enough for their own party and let THEM manage the whole sordid affair.  That's what I'd do.".

"I haven't got a housekeeper!" yipped Giz, "Or any staff."
Betty, it must be explained, normally resides in a household with indoor AND outdoor staff - she possibly even has a maid to prepare her own meals, but of this one cannot be certain as Betty is extremely discreet and well-cultured.

"Well, what about your gamekeeper or estates manager?" sighed Betty, "Can't either of them sort something out, if you make it, er, worth their while?"

"I'm not sure what lands or estates you think I might have somewhere else, Bettz, but this is pretty much it." replied Giz, gesturing around at our small garden.

"It's nice.  I like sitting in this garden." said Betty, "But I've really got a bad feeling about this Peaches party, Giz.  I mean, he's SUCH a grotty little turd."

"Betty, that's unkind!" exclaimed Gisèle.  "Anyway, it's too late.  The invitations have gone out, Laddie is bringing some dips, Mistress is going to buy a carton of special milk for cats when she next goes to the shops, and I killed that mouse which I'm saving for our guest of honour..."

"Oh dear, were you saving it for the party?" mumbled Betty, looking shifty, "That might be a bit of a problem..."


"I ate it." confessed Betty, "Sorry Gizzy, I didn't realise you were saving it for the party..."

"Betty!" yapped Giz, "I TOLD you I was saving it for the party!  I'm going to have to do another one now!"

"Sorry." said Betty, humbled.

"Never mind." sighed little Gizmo, "I suppose a new one will be fresher...  So - are you all clear about what you are doing on the day?"

"Ye-ees." groaned Betty, rolling her eyes heavenwards. "I greet the guests when they arrive and bark 'Hello, welcome to our Peaches Party, may I take your lead and collar?  Drinks are over there.'  And don't worry Giz, I'll make sure that my maid's outfit is clean and freshly-pressed..."
"There is no need for sarcasm, Elizabeth." replied Giz, giving her friend a cheeky smile nevertheless. "Isn't this all so VERY exciting?!  It's getting closer - I can't wait for the party to come!"

"I bl**dy-well can..." muttered Betty under her breath.  Fortunately, Gisèle had pattered off indoors to re-count her party napkins and did not hear her.

Dear, oh dear...

By way of light relief, here is a picture of Gisèle from yesterday's Watercress Festival, where she was doing the rounds as Watercress Canine Princess.  Forgive the rather bizarre expression on her little face - she was attempting to wink at the camera:-

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Saturday 18 May 2013

"Rest in Peace" they say, "Rest in Peace".  Well, the last couple of weeks have been anything BUT peaceful for this restee.  What a business.

Betty was collected at the beginning of the week by her mortified owner, and packed off in high dudgeon.  This left my partner and me to deal with Gisèle.  As she, herself, had been injured (and has subsequently been stitched and medicated) I felt a twinge of guilt at having to discipline her.  However, I only had to recall the sound of her hiding in the airing-cupboard with Betty, giggling at what they had done - and to witness my partner's continuing pain in her right wrist - for my prickling anger to return.

"Sit down."  I barked at Giz as she tip-clawed hesitantly into the sitting room, shortly after Betty had been collected.
"Where's Betty?" asked the little Jack Russell.
"Never you mind." I replied, not inclined to chat.  "Answer me; you are aware of the injuries to your neck?"
"Yes." came the sulky reply.
"You are aware of the severe - and potentially permanent - injuries to your Mistress?"
"Then tell me why you were laughing."
"I wasn't laughing."
"Gisèle, I heard you.  Why were you laughing?"
"Because Betty was laughing."
"And why was Betty laughing?"
"Um... because I was laughing..."  Dear reader, I was frustrated to the point of wanting to slap Giz at her silly thoughtlessness.  "Jazz, guess what?" she piped up, "I ate some fish for tea the other night and then I did some botty-gas later and it smelled of fish.  And the NEXT night I ate some chicken and my botty-gas later smelled of chicken!  Is that magic, Jazz?  Can I do magic now?!"

I lost it.

"GISÈLE!"  I roared, terrifying the small dog out of her wits, "If you thought that you were going to somehow diffuse the blame for this because Betty was involved as well, or if you thought you were going to get around me by being silly, then you can nip those thoughts in the bud RIGHT NOW.  You have committed the gravest crime known to dog-kind: you have bitten the kindly hand that feeds you.  How DARE you?!  And your reaction is to hide in a cupboard with the other miscreant and snigger at your actions!  You foolish, silly girl!  HOW DARE YOU?!"
"Elizabeth has gone home to be disciplined separately.  Have you SEEN your Mistress's wrist?  Would you like that to happen to YOU?!"
"No, sir.  Not even one little bit." mumbled Giz, hanging her head in shame.
"Do you know how close you have come to losing your home?  Someone has even offered to buy you from your Mistress, even though you have demonstrated beyond doubt your TOTAL worthlessness and complete failure as a dog!"
Gisèle burst into tears, but I was too angry to feel pity for her.
"You were naughty too..." she sniffled pathetically, "When you first moved into Mistress's house with her parents, I read it on-"
"THAT'S ENOUGH!" I bellowed, glaring furiously at the cowering terrier. "Yes!  I was extremely wicked and stupid.  But I never bit anyone!  And the main thing - the MOST IMPORTANT thing - is that I learned from my folly.  You show no sign of improvement from this wretched business, and that is the worst aspect of the piece.  Betty - whatever her faults - at least sought out my partner and apologised before she was taken away.  You don't deserve your nice home here you stupid, stupid little girl."

By now, Giz was wailing openly and had wet herself.  Despite the fact that it had been her fang and not Betty's that had pierced my partner's artery I felt that I had now barked enough.

Gisèle was crying so much that she was incapable of speech.

"I take it from your reaction that you ARE genuinely sorry?"
Giz nodded miserably.
"Yes, sir."
"You will modify your behaviour?"
"Yes, sir."
"And this type of incident will never be repeated?"
"No, sir - um, yes, sir..."
"You are fortunate.  You have been forgiven.  There are few dogs who would be granted pardon after an outrage of this nature.  It will serve you well if you remember this in the future."
"Yes sir.  Thank you, sir."
"It is not me you must thank.  Forgiveness was not mine to bestow."

As awful as it had been to rant and storm at little Gisèle I could see that she had accepted and was seriously considering what she had heard, with an air of maturity hitherto unapparent in her mental make-up.
"Sir - please can I ask-" she whispered, making me jump. "-Betty.  She is my friend. Will she- is she-"

"Elizabeth is to be allowed to return." I informed her, trying to disguise the fact that I didn't entirely agree with this decision.  Gisèle's little face lit up.  "But-" I cut in, "There are to be strict conditions.  One: When Betty stays here, you will stay with your Mistress's parents and you will meet only for your walks and games; Two: If your Mistress's parents are away, Betty will stay here with you - in this case she will be muzzled, except during your recreational and dining periods;-"

Gisèle gasped in horror at this.  The prospect of having to be muzzled due to an inability to control one's temper is anathema to every decent-thinking dog.  I ignored her appalled squeak - Betty (and Gisèle) had brought this entirely on themselves.

"-Three: You and Betty are no longer permitted to share a bedroom.  You have each demonstrated that your private conversations and opinions are a malign influence upon the other.  Therefore you are no longer permitted to spend considerable lengths of time in each other's unsupervised company.  You will be accompanied, when together, by my partner - your Mistress - or another responsible adult of her determination, and you will spend your time together in a respectable way, without undue giggling or silliness; Four: You will both understand and accept that this is your final warning.  ANY repetition - or hint of such - will result in a full and final separation.  There will be no debate or negotiation regarding these conditions.  Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir."
"Good girl.  Then let us never speak of this again."
"Thank you, sir."

Gisèle crept off to have a long and conciliatory cuddle from my partner whilst I felt incredible relief.  And to think I had been fretting about the much-vaunted "I Love Peaches Party"...

What a business....

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday 10 May 2013

Grumble... I HATE these 'stop press'-type announcements; they almost always spell bad news.  And in this one in particular I don't see why I should have to be the one who barks about it; Gisèle (the villain of the piece) should have to do it.  But when I confronted her about it she squealed and ran away.  I couldn't find her - though I heard her whispering and giggling with Betty somewhere, in the airing-cupboard probably.  SO, once again, it falls to ME.   Grrrowl...

My partner has been (and still is) in MAJOR and extreme pain. Gisèle had a "difference of opinion" with Betty late on Thursday night, hours after everyone had gone to bed; my partner, fearing an episode of similar extremity to the previous 'affray', put herself in between the two dogs with the result that both went for her, each thinking they were going for the other. Betty managed to scratch my partner's right wrist bone whilst Giz distracted herself from biting her left hand and wrist long enough to assist Betty by severing my partner's right wrist artery. Arterial blood fountained forth everywhere, including over both dogs, but still they would not let go despite my partner's screams and pleadings.  Eventually, fangs were parted from bone and my partner's parents summoned.  Not long afterwards, my partner was taken to hospital.  The state of the house afterwards was appalling.  Splatter-stains on the walls and doors from the arterial blood (which actually pumps out in accordance with your heart rate when an artery is severed, apparently.  A little gross-but-interesting fact for you there), pillows, duvet and bed-linen soaked with my poor partner's plasma and haemoglobin, a bloody hand-print at the top of the stair bannister and more bloody prints all down the stair railing.  It looks like the horrific deeds of the Manson Family from the 1960s.

After much blood-loss and a hospital visit my partner's right arm (now mostly black and swollen like an elephant's leg) is useless and strapped into a sling - her left is slightly better off, being merely painful and in a variety of shades of purple. She has had injections and X-rays and all sorts.  Fortunately her wrist-bone was not snapped, just grazed, but my partner is unable to drive or do anything useful with her right hand and arm.  Watching her trying to dress and feed herself would be almost comical, were she not in so much pain.  She is to return to the doctor's tomorrow.

Elizabeth and Gisèle are both fine - they seem to find it hilarious to see my partner trussed up like a turkey. Little furry b*st*rds.  I have represented to them BOTH - in the strongest possible barks - my extreme displeasure in their wretched behaviour.  They appear apologetic but unbowed.  Their actions were utterly repugnant and I shall make sure they understand the full consequences of this.  They have gone too far this time.

Updates will be posted.

Yours ever,

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sunday 5 May 2013

I was no longer concerned by the late Ewan's non-appearance; I was seriously worried.  There was still no sign of the gangly-limbed mongrel.  I know that, "up here", there are apparently no boundaries - but I felt certain that he and I would have crossed paths by now.  I confided my fears to Kipper as we strolled close to the place where we had first re-united after my passing.  He listened patiently and with consideration, but was equally unable to account for the absence, given that descent to "the other place" could be ruled out with certainty.  We had almost resolved on a direct enquiry to the man with wounded hands and feet, who we'd spotted sitting on some rocks next to the river some way off, watching the progress of some fish in the water, with a contemplative look on his face, when Kipper suddenly stopped and barked "What's that?!"

I turned to follow his gaze and was surprised to see that he was looking directly upwards to the sky.  I stared with him, but failed to notice whatever had caught his attention.
"What're you-" I began, but Kipper shushed me.  And then I heard it.  A puffing and grunting sound, soft at first but getting clearer, accompanied by muttering.  It was bizarre, although faintly comical.  We stood and listened.
"Gnnnyyrgh! Grrrufffff..." - snort - "Stupid clouds... gnyrrrfffff..." - sounds of snuffling, heaving and panting - "Grrrrnnnnggghhh... Oh! Oh no! No, no nooo!"  After frantic scrabbling sounds, the tip of a tail appeared through one of the clouds overhead. "Argh! No!"  Two hind-paws appeared through the cloud, desperately paddling in the air trying to stay atop the cloud.  "Oh no! Oh no! Noooo!"  And then, with a piercing scream and a loud whump!, Ewan fell through the cloud and landed at my feet.

"EWAN!" I yelped joyfully.  My friend staggered to his feet, shook himself, and looked up.
"Hello Jazz!" he barked, "What are you doing here?!"
"Well - er," I turned to Kipper. "This is my friend Ki-"
"You haven't seen it, have you Jasps?" interrupted Ewan
"Eh?!" I was taken aback. "Seen what exactly...?"
"That ruddy staircase." replied Ewan crossly. "I wish I'd never climbed the stupid thing now."
I exchanged a puzzled glance with Kipper, who shrugged.
"Oh, so THAT'S where you've been all this time!" I replied.
"Yes!" barked Ewan, looking all about him for his mysterious 'staircase', "And I've looked EVERYWHERE and I can't find it and now, to be honest with you Jazz, I's getting very much annoyed.  I know you has always said that I's a couple of Cheddars short of a full cheeseboard but I PROMISE I is looking for a real and proper staircase."
"Well, Ewan, perhaps if you tell us some more about the staircase and how you came by it Kipper and I can help you."
"Oh!" said Ewan, turning to look at me properly for the first time, "Is this your friend Kipper?  Hello Kipper, it is nice to meet you."
"Likewise!" barked Kipper, wagging his handsome caramel-coloured tail with its white tip.

"So - OK - the staircase." said Ewan, "Well I hadn't been feeling very well at all.  I sees your partner and she says to my mummy that 'Ewan seems quiet today' which isn't normal for me.  I has had a sore tummy, you see."
"Well, I do recall that you weren't renowned for being a quiet dog...!" I cut in, with a good-natured smile at my simple friend.
"Well yes." he responded.  "Anyway, I was OK the next day and Fizzy wasn't worried, so it was everything OK.  But two days after that I had a sore tummy again.  And I mean SORE.  I didn't want to go out of my bed - and I has never been one to linger in my bed - and I didn't want my dinner so Fizzy eated it.  Mummy saw and so she took me to the vetsdoctor.  The vetsdoctor said it was OK but I needs a little operation so they gets me ready and I has the 'jection and goes to sleep.  No problems.  Anyway, so I was sleeping and then - THEN - I sees this light, sort of a golden glow.  It looks nice and then it comes nearer and I sees this GREAT BIG staircase, all shiny and golden - like Double Gloucester is golden.  Well - no, actually.  Double Gloucester is too dark and orangey.  It was more like Cheddar, a good strong Cheddar.  Sort of.  Well... a cross between Cheddar and Leerdammer, probably... anyway... erm... what was I talking about again...?!"

"The staircase!" I yelped as, behind me, Kipper tried to master his guffaws.
"Blimey," muttered my friend, "You said he was obsessed with cheese, but..."

"Oh yes, the staircase! Right.  Brilliant.  Yes." nodded Ewan. "So I climbs it.  It was cool and smooth like metal and very steep.  It seems like I is climbing for ages.  Then I gets to the top and there is a nice big silvery shiny gate and a man there.  He is a nice man and he says 'Ewan!  What a good, GOOD boy you have been.  You have brought so much joy in your life - you are welcome to come in.' So - like a fool - I strolls right in.  Well, it is all very nice and that, but now I can't find the staircase so's I can go back down again.  I looks and looks and looks, but can I find it?  No!  I cannot.  And now I's all cross and - to be quite honest with you Jazz and Kips - very worried.  I need to find the staircase so I can go back down it to Fizzy.  Fizzy will be very frightened about where I am.  She will think I has done something silly.  Fizzy-" he explained to Kipper "-is my pretty wife.  She makes sure I am all right and doesn't do too many stupid things.  I need to go back to her now."  He sighed.  "The only good thing about all of this," he concluded "Is that my tummy isn't sore any more."

"Oh dear." muttered Kipper, as he and I exchanged a glance.  How were we going to explain this to poor Ewan?  The confused dog was looking about him all the time, trying to find his precious staircase.  As he turned, he stumbled and fell against me.  I helped him to steady himself.
"Jazzy!" barked Ewan sharply, "I can TOUCH you!  You's solid again!"  He patted me all over, hardly daring to believe himself.  "But - yes!  You's whole and solid and strong again!  You has come back to life!  It is a miracle!!  I TOLD Fizzy that you would come back properly and here you are!  She never did believe me, but now she will HAVE TO! You're ALIVE!!"

Kipper and I looked at each other again.
"This is unlikely to be pleasant." murmured Kipper, and I nodded.  At that moment, Ewan tapped Kipper firmly on the shoulder.
"Kipper!  You's alive too! Brilliant!!" cried Ewan, "But... but I thought you's dead from a bad heart years and years ago.  Jasper told me what did happen.  I - I don't understand... Why are you solid now Jazz?"

Just when all seemed most dire and it looked like I had to break the truth to my trusting friend, Ewan turned and saw the man with the wounded hands.  He still sat watching the fish in the sparkling river, deep in his thoughts.  "Oh no!" wailed Ewan, "Jazz and Kips!  Look at that poor man's hands!  They look so sore!  And - oh, that's gross! - look at the holes in his feet, that's GOT to hurt...  Stay there Kazz and Jips, I's going to see if he's all right."  Kipper and I smiled slightly at each other as Ewan hurtled over to the water's edge.

It was more than half an hour that Ewan spent chatting to the young man.  Kipper and I maintained a discreet distance - it was clear that the man was gently explaining the reality of our situation as kindly as he could to simple Ewan, softly stroking the dog's head all the while.  At one point the man put his hands into his white robes and drew out a circular wrapped package, which he gave to Ewan with a smile and a loving hug.  At length, Ewan trotted quietly back to us, clutching his package in his mouth.  As he padded over and put the package on the ground he looked at me sadly.
"You's not really solid, is you Jazz?"
"No, Ewan."
"And neither is you, Kipper, is you?"
"No, Ewan.  I'm so sorry, mate."
"And I's not at the top of a staircase, am I?"
"No, Ewan.  There is no staircase to take you back down."  I shook my head sadly.
"He's nice, that man." said Ewan, indicating the rock on which the man had been sitting, but he had gone.  "He says that I can't see Fizzy any more.  Not yet, anyway.  And Fizzy-" he broke off and stared, hard, at the grass.

"Tell you what, then," said Kipper brightly, "You'll see your lovely lady again one day!  In the meantime, how's about you hang around with us while you wait for her, eh?  We'll look after you, son.  Would you like that?"
"Oh yes!" yipped Ewan, looking up into Kipper's kind face and beaming.  "Yes please, I would like that very much indeed!"
"Fantastic." grinned Kipper. "You'll have to forgive Jasper though, he flits back and forth like some canine yo-yo.  But we forgive him, 'cause he's Jasper and we love him!"  Ewan laughed and wagged his tail.  "Now then," continued Kip, "What's in that parcel?!"
"Ohhh-hhh..." sighed Ewan, gently stroking the white muslin that wrapped the round, flattish item. "He says it's ALL for me, because I was such a good dog when I was alive."
"Crack it open then, son!"
I grinned as Ewan unwrapped the package with the utmost of tender care.  It was an entire Port Salut cheese, one of Ewan's very favourites.  Dear Ewan looked as though he could hardly believe his eyes.

He pulled off the paper and opened his mouth as wide as he could, to take a massive bite.  At the last moment (and, I might add, after he had drooled a little on the cheese) he recollected his manners and offered first bite to Kipper and myself.
"No thanks, Ewan. I'm not hungry." I grinned.
"Yeah - it's all yours, mate, you enjoy it." smiled Kipper.

Ewan savoured every single mouthful.  Later, as we three dozed happily bathed in glorious sunshine, Ewan lifted his head.
"You know boys," he sighed, "I am SO glad that I was a good boy.  I know that I always says and does stupid things, but-"

"Ewan," I cut in, grinning at my dear friend, "You were a TRUE one-off, and all the better for it.  And - unlike King James I - Ewan; you really were the wisest fool in Christendom."