The tail end of the summer and into the autumn and we are consuming the results of all our previous efforts . And it is good to get out and do some harvesting or simply get out and about in the Somerset countryside. I have had plenty of time to do both with my uncritical canine assistants.
Ella is the espionage specialist and has all the patience of George Smiley in seeking out those elusive moles that continue to threaten our Western Gardening Meritocracy. She stands for hours over the mole hills awaiting a false move. Then digs deep and fast as if searching for Arnie Saknusson*. We have found the occasional dead mole, so we assume she was responsible. But it is all very Top Secret – she never admits to neutralising any of the underground threat.
The more diminutive canine companion (Fudge) is a little less useful or co-operative. As I opened the door to water the hanging basket at 8 a.m. one Saturday – a time when good working folk are likely to be enjoying their rest – the ginger flash spirited herself out like smoke and proceeded to play a game of Grandmother’s footsteps with me down the garden path. As I followed her she maintained her distance. As I accelerated, she (quietly, carefully) raised her speed. As I whispered and gesticulated for her to stop, she pinned her ears flatter and stared straight ahead. “Hear no command, see no command” is her motto in old age and she hopped over the wall and was crossing the road to disappear down the lane when my patience ran out.
“FUDGE!!!” I shouted.
She stopped, thought for a moment, had to admit she had heard that command, and grudgingly returned to base camp – as our new neighbours were waking up, bleary-eyed, wondering what had provoked such a profanity so early on a Saturday.
Fudge is, physically, in remarkably good shape for a dog of her age (we reckon she is about 14), but mentally she is a dementia case. She obsesses about stuff – God only knows what. At least with the other pensioner in my life I know what his obsessions are. The Old Man will tell me every time I see him what he is going to have for every meal, and precisely how he (or Gill) is going to cook it. And this is only after he has told me what he had the previous evening.
And how he or Gill cooked it.
We think that Fudge is probably like the Old Man, with her food-based obsession. If I bring veg in from the garden, she will compulsively try to take some from the basket. I have lost chard, cavolo nero and broccoli to the ginger veg thief, which seems an odd diet for a dog, but there you go. And it does not end at vegetarian “edibles”.
The other day I heard an odd sound in the living room and came in to see Fudge chewing a piece of coal that she had taken out of the container by the fire. And she was consuming it on the (previously unmarked) new beige carpet…. It put me in mind of the day she and her sister (as puppies) ripped open a bean bag bed in the kitchen and looked bemused at the drifts of polystyrene beads wafting across the flagstones – not to mention my own declaration of them as “fuckwits”.
The demented fuckwit continues to lick anything that does not move such as her bed, the kitchen floor, the sofa, and even the hearth (though that is no surprise in view of the coal incident).
And what is the inevitable result of all this food-obsessed activity? The Newtonian law of every action having an equal and opposite reaction dictates that this dog could shit for Britain. But if producing crap was a competitive sport there are not many individuals that I would be able to put up against my fuckwit dog. She defies the normal laws of physics. In what is the defecatory equivalent of cold fusion she manages – in the space of one 45 minute walk – to produce faeces in excess of her own bodyweight. She starts before she is out of the garden (before she is out the door if we do not move quickly enough) and is still pooping as she returns to the house. I could name a few people who produce more than their fair share of metaphorical crap, but in literal terms, pound-for-pound my little demented Fudgey dog takes the biscuit.
(And the kale, and the coal)