CRINGLE: Dog rough

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SADLY I have to report that Duncan and I are no longer an item.

Death intervened and he passed away peacefully in the fullness of his years. But life must go on and young Charlie has entered mine. We are an item now and it is a relationship which promises to be a lasting one.

For the benefit of persons suddenly gripped by these revelations about my private life, I should explain that the late Duncan was a West Highland Terrier and in his latter years his owner, my old and valued friend Peter, and I would take him walking one night a week before repairing to Peter’s house for a modest meal and an immodest amount to drink.

When Peter died I took it upon myself, with the permission of the widow woman, to continue the dog walking tradition with Duncan and now a new chapter has opened because she has enlisted a new puppy – Charlie.

For the benefit of doggy persons (of which I am not one really) he is a West Highland Terrier Bichon. I’m not quite sure what Bichon means. But he has a great deal of white curly hair, even more than me, and, as I soon found out, if he was a Russian dog he would have enough energy to fly himself to the Moon.

I was fully alerted to this on our first trial outing which, as far as Charlie was concerned, was meant to be conducted at a brisk and wide-ranging run.

Because of this he had to be kept on a shortened lead, with hand brake on, until we reached the off-road sanctuary of the greensward at Onchan Park.

There I was able to let off the handbrake to give Charlie a chance to stretch his legs. He jumped the gun. He took off like a bullet and wrenched the handle of the lead out of my grasp, heading in the direction of the thundering motor traffic on Summerhill Road.

I stared after him, wondering what I would have to tell the widow woman, when Charlie screeched, if dogs can screech, to a halt.

For him a game was now afoot. He stopped and looked back at me. I lurched after him, reaching for the handle where it lay. At the last second he turned and sped off again, leaving me standing. He liked this. He did it three more times.

There was only one course of action. Next time I dived full length for the handle. I never took a dive, even in my boxing days; nobody offered me the money anyway. Today I have given up diving because it’s not the thing for a portly old gentleman to do.

But I got the handle, lying flat on my face. I had caught Charlie out. But he started off again at full speed and this time the lead brought him to an abrupt halt followed by the canine equivalent of a low-flying triple salko.

There was a piercing scream. But not from Charlie, or even me. I looked up from my sprawled position on the grass and coming off the pathway was a pretty young lady jogger, in fetching shorts.

In distress she was crying out: ‘Oh you poor, poor thing. Are you all right? That looked awful. I hope you haven’t hurt yourself.’

I made to reassure that I had survived but she wasn’t talking to me. She was passing me by, on her way to extend motherly comfort to Charlie.

It took me a longer time to get up than it had taken to get down. The girl had the kindness to check on me while cuddling a rather smug Charlie.

Yes, Charlie and I are an item. But it looks like he’s going to get all the girls.

We often see, propped up by the side of the road, hub caps and number plates which have fallen unnoticed from passing cars, in the hope that they will be reclaimed.

But propped up down at the bottom of Broadway in Douglas for nearly a week I saw a wheel which had apparently fallen off.

Wouldn’t a driver notice that?

Wheely!

John Kermode swings back into Songs for Swinging Manxmen with the following:

‘I Know That My Redeemster Liveth’

‘When the Saints Go Moughtin In’

‘Sweet Leece of Richmond Hill.’

‘I Hear You Callin Me.’

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