But onwards; ever onwards we lumber. My partner recently (well, on 15 November) did her voluntary stint for Children in Need at the BBC, helping the good folk of Radio 2 to raise as much as possible for disadvantaged human pups. But what of Gisèle while my partner was away? I am sorry to bark that a rarely-seen but still existent less-palatable side to her nature reared itself. I confess myself less-than-impressed with her current romantic entanglements. Boris remains present and popular - but now a new and handsome young buck has arrived to turn pretty Giz's head. His "kennel name" is Riverside Maurauder, but he's commonly known by the less-formal (and less-explicable) 'Dylan'. He is an extremely attractive spaniel and an ex-stud dog to boot. He is, in fact, the father of Bug, Giz's younger friend. Gisèle is really quite taken with him.
Poor Boris arrived for a weekend visit, fully expecting a resumption of the frolics he had enjoyed on his previous sojourn, only to find Gizzy's frolic-tap well and truly closed off. She held him at bay with mentions of Dylan. Cometh the Monday, however, and the reunion with Dylan, Giz flirted openly with him but then, when he had had sufficient encouragement to believe that he would be welcome if he "clambered aboard", Giz snapped at him and started holding him off with barks about Boris... Not the sort of behaviour that I would be encouraging... silly girl - but she is old enough to know what she is doing and highly unlikely to pay heed to any advice of mine. I may have a discreet bark with Betty, when she returns after Christmas, to see if she can bark seriously to Gisèle about being a little less openly wanton in her flirtations. But this is not the side of Gisèle to which I referred above...
...No, this is something else altogether. This is what rose to the forepaw whilst my partner was away at the BBC and Gisèle was left in the fond care of my partner's parents. I was foolish enough to ask how Giz had enjoyed herself during her little holiday. Giz herself has asked that I now place this before continuing:-
For goodness' sake.
"It was okay," began the pretty little terrier, when first questioned, "But it was very hard. Very hard indeed."
I frowned, trying to think of a situation in which my partner's parents might be deliberately unkind. But Gisèle was already prattling on over my thoughts... "And then I wanted to go to the woods, but I had to go to play in the PARK instead! AND I had to sleep downstairs on the sofa, ALL BY MYSELF!! Can you imagine that, Jasper, can you?!"
I just looked at her.
"And then - this is the worst bit, so prepare yourself Jasper. I got a Rich Tea biscuit when I SPECIFICALLY asked for a shortbread finger! Oh! The horror!"
Gisèle stopped barking, clearly anticipating an outpouring of sympathy. This was a response that I would never give. If you have read my "Evolution of Jasper" series, you will know that my life began as a desperately abused and wretched puppy; in fact, my life very nearly ended as an abused and tormented puppy - it was only thanks to a lucky chance, a skilled vet and a salt-and-vinegar-flavoured potato crisp that I survived. I had also lived for at least a year in a rescue home (in Stokenchurch) for dogs, some of whom had histories so dreadful as to make my former life merely trivial by comparison. Animal abuse is therefore not a subject I consider lightly. It took all my patience to listen to Giz's descriptions of the bed, exercise and numerous treats with which she had been provided and hear her calling them "abuse". She was STILL wittering on as I left the house and wandered away. I knew she meant well, but I just needed to be temporarily somewhere where she was not.
I drifted up the road and along the avenue in which my partner's parents lived. To my immense pleasure, who should I see ambling along genially beside his master but... Harvey! My former protegée, fellow Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and playtime companion, along with my former girlfriend Candy the Labrador, in my trips to the park! The years had been kind to Harvey. He was visibly older and had lost some of the thick muscling around his legs, but his rich bronze coat still shone and happiness sparkled in his aged eyes. Beside him, his owner carried Harvey's most precious treasure; his football. I stayed with them all the way to the park, wondering if Harvey might sense my presence close to him. He did look around once or twice... but did not seem aware that his old chum Jasper was with him once more.
Once he'd arrived at the park, he capered happily over to a couple of young spaniels he obviously knew well, and began a lively game of football with them. At one point I heard him telling the spaniels (both female) of how a friend of his, a fellow-Staffie, had once run all the way down the length of the park and onto the ice covering the frozen river beyond, only for Harvey to have to bravely haul the "other Staffie" out of the perishing water when the ice broke beneath him. The two young spaniels giggled and Harvey beamed. Well, you MAY recall dear reader, that it was in fact Harvey himself who visited upon himself an unpleasant dunking in the deep and icy river and that it was I who had to throw caution (and Little Jasper's sensitivities) to the winds and haul him out. But I was glad to see him alive and well, and making use of the tale to make others smile. Good luck to him.
It was getting dark by the time I returned to Gisèle. She had completely forgotten her spurious complaints and was happily watching a DVD with my partner. Lucky little thing. And with no further ado:-
GISÈLE'S HOLIDAY DIARY - PART 3
... is to follow....!