In which Dexter reflects on sociable times in the City of Excrement-Plucking-and-Plastic-Bag-Purchasing...
Right, so there I was in the big city, the Dear Green Place Where Humans Have To Pick Up Your Excremental Doings, or jobbies if you prefer. I love that. That is properly brilliant, watching an owner who has forgotten to bring one of those perfumed, hand-shaped plastic bag affairs you buy from pet shops in packs of 10,000, and who has to desperately search for an abandoned carrier bag to collect your poo. Finding such a receptacle actually isn’t that easy since they started charging five pence for a plastic bag in the shops. And paper ones, too, which I frankly don’t understand. Haven’t people heard of biodegradability? Biodegradability's brilliant!
I remember, back in my wild and crazy days in Ayr, before I was picked up by the pooch police, when plastic bags grew on trees. Or blew onto trees. Now, on at least one occasion when I was on my recent holidays with my custodian’s son James, he was forced to tie me up outside the supermarket and then buy a plastic bag just in case I decided to do one of my gigantic number twos. In fact they can be so gigantic they should be called number fours. Or possibly fives. But oh, the power to know that each coil of faeces is worth five pence, plus the embarrassment of a two-leggeder going into a shop on your shite’s behalf. Yeah, they can pretend they were in for a well-fired roll or a miniature sachet of coffee, but nobody believes them. It’s all about the jobbies! Brilliant! Of course, he could have gone into this trendy shabby-west-end of Glasgow pet shop near his house called, wait for it, Wizard of Paws. Apparently they do facials in their, and spa treatments! I met an illegal Timber Wolf/Pit Bull cross called Tarquin ( a pussy cat, really. Well, a pussy cat who hated pussy cats) who claimed he was in there once a week for a massage. Brilliant! Poseur. Bastard.
So anyway, there I was, spendingten days in the epicentre of Glaswegian bohemia, the bit of the city’s west end where it merges, crumbly chic style, with marginally downmarket Maryhill, and the houses are just about cheap enough for arty people without proper jobs to live, and students. And lecturers, actually. There’s this patch of disused sports pitches the groovy locals call North Kelvin meadow, which has miniature groovy allotments and puppet shows, and it’s dog heaven. I met so many brilliant, brilliant mutts there. And the weird thing is, they all seemed to like playing with me.
You see, sometimes people look at my masseter muscles, my Staffordshire genetic inheritance, and they worry, they haul their precious Lhaso Apsos and Yorkshire Puddings tighter on the lead. Because although there’s a good lump of sheepdog in there, in my genes, there’s no doubt that if it comes to a fight, I have the jaws to start and finish it. The lengthy muzzle to slash and nip, the brutal base of skull strength to hold and snap. If it wasn’t for my rather attractive and dainty wee legs and feet, I’d be a killing machine.
As it is, due to my effervescent and sociable personality, I’m a playing machine. There may be, as with the mobile easy chair La Rug, a degree of nipping and tugging involved. Some lumps of hairy fatness are simply irresistible. But I like to run, chase, jump and generally roll around in the mud. This is much easier at the North Kelvin Meadow, where all the dogs appear to be owned by psychologists, doctors and other people with or studying for phDs, all of them well-versed in animal behaviour and keen to allow liberal freedom of movement among their pets.
So it is that myself and an American Bulldog called Fang, a full-on Staffordshire with an embarrassingly squeaky bark called Rebus, a couple of Labradors (one called Rioja, believe it or not, the other Deuchar) and an Alsatian called Tristan struck up a good, robust, non-confrontational (but occasionally niptastic) relationship. We spoke of many things: My island life, the Tedium of Rug (though I have to say I felt the occasional pang when I thought of her in the kennels, muttering to herself in French). Their existence in tenement flats, which I had 10 days of and did not really like very much. The sound of footsteps on the stairs outside the door to James’s flat, in the common stairwell or close, was initially alarming, then anticipatory, then simply unnerving. They were coming to my house, then going past the door and heading elsewhere. I didn’t know whether to bark, whine, salivate or urinate. Dogs and tenements may gradually accommodate each other, but a a proper back and front door with a garden is much to be preferred. But cavorting in the Meadow was a joy. We discussed some of the French existentialists, nationalism, public art, the disgraceful imposition of the so-called Halti muzzle on keenly sniffing dogs, techniques of drowning unpleasant owners by appearing to dive into a fast flowing river (a glum looking Fox Terrier said he had done that twice, though he may have been joking. Fox Terriers are odd that way) and the environmental issues raised by the five pence charge for plastic bags.
The Meadow was brilliant. Excrement bins are provided. James, my temporary guardian, was intent on teaching me to micturate and defaecate on demand, which I pretended to go along with, although frankly I considered this as simply intellectual pride induced by North Kelvin Meadow competitives. Just because a Dalmatian does it, that does not imply that I will. I am, at heart, a free dog. I make my own decisions. I do not take orders regarding ordure. I abide my general guidelines. Not in the house, not unless there are very good reasons such as being locked in for too long. This was also my thinking when it came to the destruction of James’s partner Fenella’s 400 pound boots. Sometimes a statement has to be made.
Eventually, my main human, Tom, returned ( I call him The Master, but only ironically, and not to his face) and - after I had shown my delight by peeing on his trousers - we were ready for the long journey back to the Greater Zetlandics and my reunion with Rug. I can’t wait. It will be brilliant. Or at the very least, quite good.