Monday, November 08, 2010

Dogs in burberry blankets

Amongst the things I didn't know about Whippets before inviting one in for 15 years was that they get cold, because they're skinny and wimpy. They actually need clothes.

This news arrived to an audience of regret and disbelief on my part and profound joy on the part of Jess who'd been desperate to Google Brightly Coloured Wooly Whippet Warmers since it had dropped below 10.

If you know Jess, and I'm sorry if you don't, you will know that written into her DNA, next to the strand which says breathe often, is one which says there is no such thing as too much colour.

(...Our sofa is aubergine. The cushions which litter it are variously pink, hot pink, orange and pink, brown and pink, red and pink, purple and pink, off pink and pink and yellow. They feature motifs from the abstract to cup cakes, Chiwawas, floral union jacks, owls and flowers. A lot of flowers. Amongst the other items visible from where I sit are a pink flower pot with a yellow chilli plant in it; a pink and orange clock; pinky purple flowers with LEDs inside them draped over the telly; a headless, legless paper mache mannequin which has been covered in multi-coloured, multi-patterned tissue paper; a purple throw; two benches, painstakingly hand-covered by Jess in thousands of stamps; a light blue, spotty table cloth; a black board wall with a pink clock on it, endless plastic flowers in shades of pink; bright green, orange and pink candle lanterns and, another, multi-coloured, clock made from solid square blocks, each its own bright tone. 
Frank and I are always the dullest things in the room, by a long way.
It works, in the inexplicable way the universe is both chaotic and uniform. 
It is madness and beauty in one. 
I am not involved in its creation or maintenance and it is far better for it.)

When Frank walked in for the first time, eight weeks of age, he looked rightly startled.
And at six months, those same eyes, still struggling to adjust, looked at me this week, saying, Adam, stop her from adding that to our basket. Please. It's pink.

Actually, I want to choose, he continued.
Neither of you two are up to it.

Everything Jess owns is pink, and I've no idea what your shit looks like because it's not allowed out of the loft. I can only imagine it must be worse.

Not pink, I said, speaking up for the dog.
And not burberry.
And god, not whatever that is. Not that.

What do you mean we'll have to have the wax jacket with the wooly inside then? There must be other options.

Whippet Warmers-r-us (or similar), in its own way, was polarising the English class system before our eyes. This winter our dog, it seemed, was to present as posh, chavvy or pink, or remain naked and quivering at the Wreck.

You chose the only breed that has to be dressed up like a doll, Jess thought, as I moaned.

I'm fucked, Frank muttered.
Even Rossco will laugh at me, and he looks like a sheep on the outside.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Heal fail (like he always does)

What happens when it gets dark?
This is a question we are asking ourselves with the sudden arrival of Daylight Saving, for the first time.

Oh, damn, the seasons. We just didn’t really think about that in May.

The park is out of bounds, unless you’re one of the neighbourhood’s 12-year-old smokers, so where do all the dogs go?

No time like the present to revisit that Walking To Heal failure of a couple of months ago.

Right boy, we’re going for a walk on the lead, I said tonight, aware of doubt in my voice.
It’s like the usual walk, but without the good bit in the middle. Not so much as a chuckle.

Heal. Heal. Heal. Heal, heal, heal, heal, heal-heal-healhealHeal. Frank, HEAL. Heal. Heal. Frankie…heeeeal. Heal? HEAL! FRANK, STOP pulling you little sod. Frank. FRANK!

By the corner at the end of our road we were making somewhat artificial progress.

Through no fault of his own (rather a considerable reduction in lead length), Frank is walking closely and looking up at his master, eyes bulging.
End of the next terrace and I’ve given up.
Frank, heal. Heal. Hea… please? Oh, common. Frankie?

Look, I say bending down and waving a treat in front of his not insubstantial nose in the way the obedience trainer had shown us during our first and only visit. Treat.
He responds.
I guide him around to the start position (on my left) and he hovers just above sit, hoping I’ll not notice. No, Frankie, sit!
Have you any idea how cold this pavement is?, he projects, before momentarily touching the ground with his bum, snatching the treat from my fingers and standing bolt upright again, looking crossly along the street.
Ok, heal now boy, I say, taking a step. He’s off, yanking at the lead.
Cumon you old git, it’s freezing and my arse is cold.
Frank, come here; heal, heal. Treat?
Another one?
I’ll get piles.
I leave the treat in front of his nose and begin to try and walk, stooped, along the road. Discomfort and boredom overwhelms me.
Frank jumps at my ascending hand, before giving up himself and continuing his pursuit of the thing just ahead of us.

Occasionally, as we continue, he walks alongside me for a few paces by accident and I immediately reward this with a completely unmerited treat and accompanying enthusiasm. I’m not sitting down again, he says.