How do you tell which loves you more, your dog or your wife?
Lock both in the boot together, and leave. Whichever is pleased to see you after an hour, well, there’s your answer.
Even to contemplate, I grip my chair.
You wouldn’t have thought there was another turd in her, so frequently does she squat and leave her odorous offerings. I feel undressed without a pocketful of green slippery poo bags awaiting their fill. But yes, in the brief hour between E exiting south: work, and me returning cross from a school trip, the beast had laid two tremblingly large turds of dubious consistency and a nasty sprawl of wee, the lot making the carpet outside the kitchen very much a no-go area requiring scene of crime tape. Penalty no doubt for inflicting dog prison on Lolly or, more likely, for bringing her home from it. Strange things have happened to her tum meanwhile.
I tackled the turds with long-stretched arm. Dollops which sagged and oozed and wept into loo paper which sogged and collapsed into a stinky mash. I gave myself wrinkles wincing.
Have I mentioned that dogs are vile?
Not nearly often enough.
Lolly herself lolled careless in her basket, sprawled like a post-coital floozy too idle to tug her dressing gown across her bits. She stumbled to, yawning. Very feckless teenager deigning to commit to breakfast at noon. She stretched her paws and gave a bored squeak while I gagged, and sprayed Oust and Febreze and I-Hate-Pets’R’Us, with generous abandon and little care for the ozone layer. Faecal particulate matter swamped the air, storming the nostrils. It begged for reviving handkerchiefs to be pressed to the snout. I needed a chaise longue on which to collapse and see out my recovery.
Next port of call for the frowsty wolf was the water bowl from which she supped greedily, replenishing her withered bladder. Her spongy beard steeped in slurpy leavings, she padded in to spray it, with the kind of extravagant shakes dog favour, all over the kitchen floor. Sending me scurrying for one of several mops which cause our utility room to be so dangerous.
God, but she’s a full-time job, a one-dog employment opportunity, salary in the negative, perks few.
I put her out with ill grace, my foot may have made sidling contact with her beamy behind. Accidents happen. She needed rapid re-acquaintance with her real lavatory, the great outdoors, although her interest in this swift tutorial was limited.
From the stair, I could hear her impatient, desperate bashing at the door, claws clattering on the glass, outraged to be left outside. She would be high on her hind paws, assaulting the door like a bear beneath the lash, baying in a booming bark too big for her.
In a 1950s film there would be the chance that a great big eagle might fly by and snatch her to its teetering eyrie but no such luck here.
I trudged back downstairs to let the foul hound in.
She stood stock still, eyeing me in an offhand manner, affecting blank surprise that I might think that she might want to totter in.
Hello? you barked, madam.
Then she took her time about swaggering inside, swinging her hips louchely while licking her chops with insouciance before lurching back to her basket, seemingly exhausted.
My don’t the heart just break? A dog’s work, it’s never done.
Man’s best friend?
Hmmm. Don’t think so. Not in this house.
The school trip had been to a Large Store, previously the sort of place I am fully prepared to linger, wafting up and down wide aisles like the Stepford Wife I aspire to be.
Every year each class is invited here to make something: a salad, a pizza, a cheesecake and to undertake some sort of item-spotting task within the store. This year a dragon had popped on an apron to do the recipe demonstration, best friends to Robert Helpmann’s child catcher. Her hair – it would not dare – was unmovable, her chin a knee, and her laser stare, scary with disdain, bore down on the children. “Step away from the table … don’t touch … don’t talk … it’s rude to talk when an adult is talking … keep back … stop talking … keep your hands off … be quiet …” on and on and bloody on. It was quite shocking how bossy and spoil-happy she was; and in the rare moments she wasn’t issuing orders – say to draw deep sour breaths – one of her three minions was there to carry on the good work, hissing, “it’s rude to talk when an adult is talking!” Cartoon snakes the lot of them, smacking the air with their wooden spoons, ridiculous red faces beneath hygiene caps. Pursed lips.
God knows I can’t stand an impertinent child and would put myself high up on the Stressy List but I was as a laid-back hippy, dopey with moon dust compared to this lot who seemed unable to accept that their tiny charges were only 8 and 9 and, rightly so, a tiny bit excitable about wielding a whip. Aren’t we all.
It made me cross.
Back home, scowling at the dog, I stood in the largest, most gorgeous kitchen in Europe knowing that unpleasant tasks faced me:
That my immediate future was grim.
The carpet in need of another chemical assault if our olfactory systems were not to be corrupted. Rock hard soil to be negotiated with outside in the name of weed clearance.
Dull things belonging to other people to tidy.
The dog shuffled over, as near to hang-dog as she could bear to muster, laying slow, precise paws, almost balletic, on the temporarily clean floor, while still rife with low cunning, for farts seep from her behind. Smelling moistly, like a pub pie.
Revenge is flatulence, best issued warm.
Her meaty brothy breath clouds the air. She barged her head into my leg. Gee, thanks. I fiddled kindly with her ear. Her tail swishes. Friends again. Sort of.