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Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Sweeney'd Dogg

We are all embarrassed to be seen with Lolly now. But then we’re very shallow. Apart from F9 who is a loyal little beast and will adore her forever. “Come on darrrlen’,” he croons, skinny arms held strangle-lovingly tight around her neck.

But for T11 and I it is testing. “Quick!” T hissed, “Let’s go now!”
He had worked out that if we left for school at 8.47, and walked with Lolly corraled between us like a prisoner en route to the black maria, then we would minimise the viewing opportunties. We would arrive at 8.52, 2 minutes after the gates had opened.
Thus the early crowd would be hidden in the playground, and their parents departed – leaving in a selfish screech of smoking tyres riding the pavement, too busy texting to bother with accurate steering, safe in the knowledge that their own children were kill-proof at school and only random others might get caught by a bull bar.
The late crowd would still be having breakfast ,and arguing over whether they’d done the maths game or not. At least that’s what happens in our house.
“Do you have to wear that orange coat?” he asked. It is my skiing-cum-dog walking coat and means that I am readily identifiable at 200 yards. He has a point.

For Lolly has been shorn and it is not her finest hour. We, meanwhile, now have first hand understanding of the phrase, “taken to the cleaners”.

The kennels she was at for a few days at New Year, while we had strange times in Devon in the name of holidaying with friends at a barracks of a hotel, was not a happy experience. They didn’t groom her, and she came home all matted. It was upsetting, but she was so pathetically pleased to see us that although they still charged us an extra 50% ,“it being Christmas” – a point I found myself dumbly agreeing with while inwardly thinking, “er, no it’s not, it’s the 5th of January" – I said nothing about it but hustled her home vowing never to return.
I cut out what I could and established a busy brushing regime to try to rectify the damage. She grew to loathe the comb. But then people kept being sympathetic thinking she’d had an operation, “ahhh, bless,” they’d say with their head held at a kindly tilt, so I had to bite the bullet and book her in for a makeover for the job to be finished off properly.

The “grooming parlour” (a building which might aspire to be a shed in another, more glamorous, life) was very 3 little pigs, seeming to be made from piles of hay and old clapboard. And that was the solid bits. I looked around for an obvious wolf huffing and puffing, but real wolves were thin on the ground, to be found instead I was to learn wearing aprons and bearing clippers and called Sue and Bev and they ran the place and hid their tails and What Big Teeth rather well.
And I didn’t know that then or I would have popped my matty mutt back in the car, locked the doors and driven away.

Inside (a moot point, the insideness of the “grooming parlour”) was a cage containing 4 white and clean little dogs. There were 2 industrial hair dryers attached to the meshed front in a manner displeasing to the health and safety executive within me (not a busy creature admittedly, that, being a disliker of same, but even I noticed it, so it must have been bad: a tangle of frayed extension lead leading unto another, even less impressive stretch of cable which in turn led out of the window and through the parking area and into another building, presumably one which had electricity all of its very own).
Buffeting the dogs they were these hair dryers.
I burst out laughing. Fur flying in all directions, the dogs blinking in mild surprise, I have rarely seen anything so ridiculously funny.

I handed Lolly over and picked her up, 4 hours and £24 later. The other dogs were still there, a permanent testament to the transforming power of the parlour. Cash was demanded first while the dividing door, plastic and collapsible, possibly stolen from a fire-damaged caravan, was kept determinedly shut. It was then opened sufficiently to allow the bulk of the groomer through, leading a large but skinny rat skulking behind her.
I craned my head into the innards of the far room for sight of Lolly.
“Here you are then, ducks,” said she who dared to call herself groomer: I demand an immediate downgrade to butcher.
You know where this one’s going.
The rat was Lolly.

How are the mighty fallen? Poor, poor, erstwhile beauty Lolly, the "darling of the village" now resembles a poodle rat made from pipe-cleaners, with a pornographic tail and Louise Brooks hair and eyes. Truly grotesque.
She had clearly been drugged, too; presumably to allow for the Shaving Of Parts, and looked more than baffled. It was all very disturbing.

We took her home and she shivered, so we laid her on a mountainous duvet and in the next 12 hours she mustered 6 massive turds. Made more extraordinary still coming from the thin sausage of her body, but not a subject best dwelt on.
Today she is sort of back to normal but it’ll be a while til she’s our old Lolly again and although she had to be clipped, about that there is no question, I can’t help feeling for what the poor dog has had to go through recently at the hands of those supposedly qualified to care for animals.