Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Chronicles of Rug (and Dexter), Chapter One: The Great Disruption

Time for my close-up...
As first broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland's Morton Through Midnight, and first published in Shetland Life Magazine. Contact Rug and Dexter by emailing them here. Follow them @DexterRug

I would express my general unhappiness,  but oh, what is the point? My sunny disposition and pleasant, uplifting visage easily deceives the casual observer, and I must try to be positive. It would disappoint those who regard my smooth and lissome facial appearance  with pleasure and delight if they only knew my inner turmoil, desolation and depression. And so I must fight the tendency to self-pity, to be maudlin. Mon Dieu and sacre bleu, and other such ejaculations in my native tongue. Oh, to be back in the cantons! If only it were not so snowy there. And high up.

C'est vrai, I am not best pleased. I could cite my rights of residence in this household - fairly long term, a matter of 24 human months or 16 St Bernard years. ‘Ordinary’ dog years are calculated at  rate of seven per single human twelvemonth, while we St Bernards, with our shorter lifespan, greater size and general higher quality of demeanour - have an exchange rate of eight to one. Frankly, I am concerned that my life expectancy may in fact have been shortened still further by the arrival of the diminutive little piece of mongrel pestilence known, apparently, as Dexter. Named after a psychopathic mass murderer from an American Television series, though one with some semblance of twisted moral rectitude. I can see no signs of such extenuating goodness in this nasty little mutt. He is utterly depraved and more to the point, annoyingly active. I believe the term is ‘frisky’. 

He is also sexually insane.

I was not consulted in any way by the humans before he arrived to - it seems, and I have no certainty as yet - remain permanently in the house that I can quietly and confidently say I have made my own over the past two years. I admit that the tragic departure of my elderly relative Lulu after almost 12 human and thus a very impressive 96 St Bernard years left me initially bereft. But I had recovered my general equilibrium, had discovered the advantages of not having to compete for main meals, snacks, my breakfast toast and any waste from human dinners, not to mention my - admittedly unusual - taste for apple cores. Sleeping 20 out of every 24 hours had become a daily habit, and if the lack of canine company of my own class was occasionally dispiriting, at least there was no need to deal with some lower class peasant with out-of-control passions.

I have been, - how to put this - devoid of reproductive possibility now for several years, and by what I can understand from Dexter’s rough attempts at verbal communication, his abilities in that direction have been surgically negated. Yet his behaviour towards me is embarrassingly and sordidly inappropriate. To put it bluntly, he is attempting sexual congress every 20  human minutes or so, and in St Bernardine terms, that is constant harassment, not mention assault. Hence my calm quietude has been inflamed on many occasions into what for me is unaccustomed violence, including the wielding of paws in a clubbing and admonitory fashion. I mean, apart from anything else, mes amis, the little imbecile is too tiny to achieve any genuine, unaided access, had such a thing even been physically possible. 

What’s more , he seems to believe that nipping my ample and luscious jowls displays some kind of affection and attraction. What he should realise, and I believe this may occasionally penetrate to his stunted excuse for a brain, is that I could crush his stupid little head with one bite and swallow the rest of him whole, should I choose to do so, having first tenderised his over-muscled body through sustained treading. Which of course would be a dreadful betrayal of the St Bernardine genetic and moral code. 

We, after all, are aristocrats, born to serve, to dig, discover, rescue,save, and comfort . And sleep.Do we not deserve our rest?

And here’s a thing: Who does he think he is, with his supposed ‘Stollie’  or “Coffie” appellation? Staffordshire-Collie cross would be bad enough - a combination of sly self-righteous cleverness and brutal fighting instincts, not to mention a disgusting lack of hair and tendency to eat through partition walls. I detest this lack of purity in the line of breeding, this ridiculous fashion for combinations of breeds, such as Labradoodle, Chihuahuaboxer or the like. All for the sake  of not shedding hair? When I take pride in the tumbleweeds of glorious St Bernardine fur that gathers in the corners of the kitchen. Swiss Cashmere, I call it.

If he’s just Staffordshire and sheepdog, je suis une  Lhaso Apso. There’s other stuff in there. I can sense greyhound, whippet, lurcher, even - horror of horrors - Jacques Rousseaux terrier. He is an ill-bred little bitsa, unworthy of keeping company with someone of my pure heritage. Yes, I know I am technically, as he is, a ‘rescue’ dog. Indeed, I passed through the hands of several owners whose joy at my presence was not balanced by a willingness to cope with my size, appetites and, I will be honest, distinct aroma. I am an acquired taste in that direction, like a great Emmental or Camembert cheese, or well-matured smoked fish. To both of which I have been compared. But I am a gentlewoman, a dog - bitch if you prefer, though the connotion displeases me - of stature. He is nothing but a charlatan and a cheap little hoodlum at that. Spotted. He is Spotted. And he cannot change them, like the leper.

And why should he get to sleep on my human co-habitees' bed? When I have been denied such facilities since my arrival? And all because of some mild staining, a dislodged spring and a broken rib?

He has been here for a week, so far. I am keeping the situation under review, but whether or not this arrangement is tenable remains to be seen. Tiens, tiens, tiens...

Are you seriously going to try and get past me?

Blimey, she’s a stuck up old bitch and that’s a fact. I mean, I’m saying 'old', but she may just be acting elderly, as she lumbers from basket to back lawn and back again as if she bloody owns the place. Thing is, from what I can gather, she doesn’t actually know what age she is. The humans don’t. They rescued her from the slippery slope to the Big Needle, and they weren’t the first. She’d been in and out of hopeless homes all over the place, according to my mate Fang the Yorkie who I saw at Victoria the Alternative Vet’s the other day, when I was in for some kind of hypnosis, I think. Aimed at getting me to sleep somewhere other than the humans’  bed. Yeah, yeah, you have to go with it, pretend it works. I’ll do the carpet thing for a couple of hours and then quietly hop onto the king size, whining and shaking a wee bit. Easily fooled, those two. Soft hearted. But then, that’s good. Something  to work with. I like a bit of soft heart. Or liver. Or kidney. Though frankly, properly-buttered  granary toast is best.

Anyway, I reckon Big Rug - how she hates that name, invented by one of the humans because she’s so enormously...well, fat to be honest. Yes, FAT, not well-built, not substantial. Fat. Sixteen stone in old money fat. And disgustingly hairy. Like some kind of half-sheep, half Highland Cow. I reckon Rug is around eight in person years, which is only 56 in Dextime or maybe if that stuff about St Bernards pegging it early is true, 64. No reason to act like blooming’ Queen Victoria in a fur coat. A rubbish fur coat. And this genetic purity she keeps going on about? Bloody Borzoi sputum! St Bernards would have died out completely if they hadn’t started interbreeding with Newfoundlands and Mastiffs. There’s some ridiculous story that they’re descended from Hannibals’ war dogs, back in the days of elephants as tank substitutes? War dogs? Don’t make me laugh. Those things couldn’t fight a wet paper bag and win. And she needn’t try and impress me with that basso-profundo bark and swiping me with her over-engineered paws. I could take her down any time, one secure grip of those flappy jowls and she’d be mincemeat. Admittedly, I might suffer some crush injuries in the process, but sting like a butterfly, float like a bee I always say.

Anyway, she just needs to liven up a bit, have a play, respond to my friendly nips on her great flapping drool-soaked chins and then perhaps lose some flab. Me, OK, I’m young, fit, and would have been virile had not my appendages been clipped off in their first throbbing bloom. Which is not to say I can’t enjoy a bit of the old rumply-pumplystiltskin, know what I mean squire, or at least attempt it. But with Rug it’s like attempting congress with a moulting sofa. Which I have done, actually, and at least the sofa doesn’t try and stamp on your head, or drown you in Swiss spittle.

What am I doing here, anyway? Well, I was living with a delightful young lady, having been rescued by her from life with what I can only describe as a fairly rough-and-tumble crowd. This was in Ayrshire, where I lived on the streets, stealing food from bins, causing traffic accidents and chasing people on bicycles. Which is more fun than chasing sheep, I can tell you, though I’m supposed to have sheepdog in me on my dad’s side. Mum was a Staffie. Dad an almost-Collie gone to the bad, I’ve been told, in that he was working as a drug dog at Prestwick airport, catching smugglers. 

Unfortunately he got a taste for the old wacky baccy himself  and next thing he’s wandering the EasyJet queues, looking for a score, and runs off with a kilo of hash just arrived from Morocco. Or that’s the story they told me in the Home.

Me, I’ve never tried that stuff. Never been given the chance. I like the simple things in life. Chasing balls, eating carrots and Brussel Sprouts (I had a brief vegan phase, never quite got over it) and sleeping at the foot of a human bed. Or preferably under the blankets. Which is more than that enormous excuse for a piece of mobile furniture the Rugster can say. I mean, I’ve only been here a week or so, and already, I’ve got my blue blanket on the humans’ duvet. Easy. Eat your heart, you old motheaten  piece of  Swiss soft furnishing. Did I mention that she smells of cheese? That’s been mouldering underground for about a month? 

Hah! She’ll soon realise who’s in charge around here. Meanwhile, must go, it is time eat a wall.