The Olympics have been dogged with stories of consumption of illicit substances and the availability or otherwise of athletes for drug testing. I ponder this as I take a time trial trip around the garden with my fine athletic colleagues Ella and Fudge: two canine athletes with distinctly differing body types and particular specialisms in athletic endeavour. The older more experienced Fudge, with a lighter body for exceptional agility and short sprinting speed is more of a gymnast with a strength on the floor exercises (though she prefers a bed). The younger more heavily built Ella, whose brilliance at jumping onto a sofa is not matched by any ability to jump the same height into the back of a car, is more geared towards to the water events, or ball sports. She practices her ball skills around the garden, but she has a poor disciplinary record and repeatedly steps outside the competition area and into the flower beds resulting in constant warnings from officials.
To maintain their high levels of competitive activity, the dogs’ refuellng requires almost unbroken monitoring by the authorities. Even though they are able to take in correctly prescribed amounts of pre-prepared, nutritionally well-balanced dry food twice a day, the dogs are always on the look out for any extra supplement to give them that competitive edge. Rabbit droppings on the lawn are a favourite during competition, while the appearance of some recently picked beans by the front door proved too much of a temptation for Fudge.
Beyond the main Olympic Park, out in the counry the discovery of recently muck-spread fields provided the type of extra food stuff that is just so good you not only want to ingest it but smother your whole body with it. So this morning both dogs got good cold showers after their walk.
Such behaviour flirts with illegality, but the bigger concern is Fudge’s failure to be present for testing. The other night, when let out for her final chance to provde a urine sample before lights out, she simply failed to return. As this is the third time in a year she has failed to be where she was supposed to be, she will have to accept the punishment that the is prescribed under the rules: namely the string of shame. It is not the first (nor will it be the last) time she has fallen foul of the Whereabouts Rule, but like a Russian swimmer she remains unreprentent complaining of some big Labrador conspiracy to get her ejected from the side of the table.