Monday 28 April 2008

As sick as a dog

14st 4lb again, according to the best available local information; at least 6.0 units of alcohol again yesterday; 1,376 days left; Doncaster and Alnwick.

I woke at 5.30, which is not as crazy as it sounds as I must have fallen into a slightly drunken sleep at around half past ten. So I sat up brightly, avoiding banging my head on the ceiling with the sort of joyous swerve that Dick van Dyke used to effect around his pouffe in the alternative credits for his eponymous TV show in the 1960s. Then I whipped it out – my laptop, that is – and started happily tapping out some replies to assorted e-mails. At which point the dog, who normally has to be prised off the bed around noon, with threats of mild violence or completely mendacious promises of food or a walk, suddenly leapt to the floor and pointed to the door in a way which indicated that he would rather like to pass through it.

Given that he had kicked up merry hell about the concept of sharing the kitchen with another dog on his first night, and had insisted on sleeping with me, I did not feel minded to indulge him in his desire to go and play with his new canine chum. The idea that he might need to go out for some more serious purpose never occurred to me; he’s not that sort of dog. So I whispered that it was far too early to go anywhere, as he would disturb the rest of the household. Shortly afterwards, I was a little taken aback to be treated to the sound of a Border terrier vomiting copiously over someone else’s bedroom carpet.

My previous Border used to throw up about once a week, on average. Indeed, he used to eat copious amounts of grass to induce this little treat. His saving grace was that he did this “I’m about to be sick” sound effect which acted like the Fylingdales early warning station, providing ample time to locate a suitable broadsheet newspaper and to spread it out across the target area.

I sighed and escorted him downstairs, where I opened the back door in my underpants. The lady of the house appeared at this point and remarked that it was a most unusual place to have a back door. We chuckled and agreed that the old ones were always the best, then she supplied me with a bucket of warm water and a sponge. This came in jolly handy in the three subsequent spots where he was sick before I left.

As I was heading north, casting occasional uneasy glances at my canine passenger, I called on my friend the Lord in his office at Doncaster. Here my companion was treated to the warmest of welcomes in a “Hoochie, coochie, who’s a lovely little doggie, then?” sort of way. (I should perhaps emphasize that this was the reaction of the more susceptible female members of the staff, rather than of the august figure of the Lord himself. Just as I should make clear that this Lord is, so far as I know, completely unrelated to the one with whom I was encouraged to engage in church yesterday.)

He treated me to an excellent lunch in his staff canteen. As we reached the top of the stairs on our way back to his office, our paths crossed that of a woman with a mop, bucket and somewhat world-weary expression, who had been cleaning up after the dog’s latest demonstration of his projectile vomiting powers.

His predecessor used to pull this stunt whenever a holiday or particularly desirable social event loomed. Just as he was about to be despatched to kennels, he would contract some dread disease or inflict a physical injury upon himself so that he could not possibly be left on his own, and my trip had to be cancelled. Clearly this knowledge has been passed on through the generations, and this little fellow has picked up on the fact that I have a Hot Date in Chester tomorrow night, and is determined to screw it up. Though I don’t really understand why he feels he needs to bother, since my entire track record suggests that I am perfectly capable of doing that on my own.

As only fule kno, the only thing to do with a sick dog is to starve it for 24 hours and see what happens. But, as I was planning to leave him before that period was up, I felt that I had no alternative but to take him to the vet when I got home. He gave her that look when she produced her thermometer, clearly indicating what he thought she should do with it, but unfortunately for him she misinterpreted it and did it to him instead. That cheered me up a bit. A mere 22-mile drive, half hour wait, ten minute consultation, two injections and a £43 bill later, we were heading for home with a no doubt totally unnecessary ten day course of antibiotics. The dog did not say anything (and just think of the living I could make as a club act if he did) but I could tell that he was still silently plotting the destruction of all my plans for Love, Life and Happiness.

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