Sunday, 30 September 2012

Climb Every Mountain

Me at the top of the Crags of Callander

Sunny in September, so we decide to explore a new trail called the Callander Crags. The human contingent struggle with the gradient and even I pant a bit as we reach the top. We picnic and I play a game of stop the ball rolling over the edge between begging sessions. This is where the master wants to build his stately castle overlooking the Trossachs, or as I nearly mistyped the Trossahcs. He just has to play and win the EuroMillions when it next has a record prize amount on offer, then persuade the Scottish Government to sell him the land. And find a company to build it. He's a dreamer. Or maybe it's just the altitude thinning out the oxygen to this brain. It is a lovely view though. So long as the eagles don't come too close.

"Fifty Shades of Brindle"

I felt the car bounce into the driveway so followed Rizza's suggestion and wagged my tail and nudged him on the neck, letting him lick my face. When the master lifted the car boot door, we jumped out together and made our way to the side gate. Ushered through, gate closed behind us, the master, a bit surprised by Rizza's sudden recovery, examined Rizza's hips and legs to establish any painful parts. He's a bit careless that way. It's not wise to feel an unknown stray dog for sore bits, especially one with such a powerful jaw. But Rizza didn't bite. After all he was trying to avoid landing in police custody and he'd been faking the injury anyway.

"Never seen 'him' before... 'He's' not mine... How did the blind lady know you were a boy dog?" the master announced from nowhere and to no one in particular.

We both looked at one another, wondering where this line of conversation might go. Then he shook his head, unlocked the back door to the house and let us into the kitchen. Instinct took over and I rushed inside to stand beside the cupboard door, behind which sits the Bonio box. Rizza entered too and sniffed around, checking out his new surroundings. He settled in my bed and gave me another wink. 

The master called the mistress and continued his examination of Rizza's body, still unable to find the damage the car had inflicted. I barked my annoyance about not being given my Bonio immediately. He should care for his own dog first I repeated. 

The mistress came through to see our new guest. I got my Bonio and took it to the living room to devour. I needed to be quick because this was a critical moment. The mistress wore the trousers in any dog discussion. If she said Rizza had to go, Rizza was gone. Fortunately, having checked him herself, she suggested we keep him overnight and contact the police in the morning. Rizza tried to lick her face and wagged his stumpy tail in joy. Jealous, I pushed in, demanding a share of the attention, which the mistress took the wrong way. 

"But they're not sleeping in here together. She's far too interested in him."

I blushed at her remark, not that you could notice under my brindle coat. I was given the living room, while Rizza got my bed in the kitchen. Later, when the humans retired for the night, I sniffed loudly at the kitchen door to attract his attention without alerting them upstairs. Rizza's paw nails clicked as he crossed the wooden floor to the other side of the door.

"I bet you never thought I'd be sleeping in your bed tonight!" he remarked.

I could hear the smirk in his voice.

"Keep it down."

"How can you tell which way it's pointing? Do you have surveillance? Are you 'watching' me?"

"I mean 'shush'. If you disturb the humans you'll be plonked in a police cell in no time."

"Do you want me to use my low, sexy voice?" He growled softly to demonstrate.

"No, I just want you to whisper, and tell me about your book, 'Fifty Shades of Brindle'."

"That's not possible. It's still a work in progress."

"Rizza! I can make a lot of noise too. If they think I'm not settling, they'll have you out of here so fast you'll think you're in one of those Fast and Furious cars, rather than under one."

"Are you blackmailing me?"

"I would call it 'brindle-mailing'."

And so he told me his plot, without the need for any confidentiality agreement. I won't spoil all the details but I will say I was glad we had a chastity door between us. I wanted to know how he'd come up with such a racy subject matter. I mean, I knew he had doggy on the mind 24/7 but this had imagination and leashes and dog toy ropes and a ball in my mouth. He explained how the blind lady liked to listen to audiobooks and one she particularly enjoyed involved a Mr Gray. "And I thought, He's just like me. Damaged youth, dashing good looks and a vigorous sexual appetite. I could be Mr Brindle. Then I thought of you and the story just... flowed. Pun intended."

"You know what a pun is?"

"She also listened to Radio 4."

"So are you going to get it published? Sell it on Amazon?"

"Nah, I think I'll distribute it the old way, like they did in ancient times. By word of mouth."

"Because you can't write, right?"

"That too!"

"I'm glad you shared it with me first. I'm flattered."

There was silence.

"I was the first, wasn't I?"

"You were my inspiration."

"You're sidestepping the question. Have you told anyone else that story?"

"Strictly speaking, no, but there may have been... a few, previous drafts."

I didn't know what to say. I felt betrayed, cheated, disappointed. And confused. We were only friends. We weren't a couple. It was a story. So why was I angry? I humphed and got up and went and lay on the chair. I could still hear him sniffing apologies under the door. I ignored them all.

"Go to sleep. I'm tired. And don't go leaving any presents in my bed either."

"I'll do my best to keep my dreams dry."

I was thinking 'fleas'. What is it with boys that they always have to lower the tone? The disgust however was sufficient to bring me back to reality. And I was able to sleep.

Next morning, after breakfast, when we were both in the garden for our morning constitutional, Rizza approached me to apologise. He asked if he was forgiven with a gleam in his eye and I hastily said, "No". 

"I think I am," he insisted and winked.

"Why do you say that?"

"I could hear you dreaming last night. And I think we made up, several times."

But he left it at that. He could feel the heat from my blush from four feet away.

I noticed another side to Rizza in this new morning light: the gentleman dog, the charmer; the friend that I loved dearly but I never told him (I can only admit this in print because I know he can't read). 

We didn't get a chance to change our relationship status because he didn't get to stay a second night. The mistress insisted we couldn't be a two dog family. The master was ordered to take him to the police station. Fortunately, in the police station public car park, Rizza escaped, eluding the master as he reached for the lead. Rizza darted through the narrow gap in the open boot door and bolted across Mill Street and away, lead waving behind him. The master did feel a little stupid parked at the police station with an open, empty boot, watching his purpose vanishing into the distance. To the drivers waiting at the lights, it must have looked like he'd released Rizza back into the wild.

This meant he had to buy me a new lead from Pets at Home. I miss the old lead. It would have been an apt memento of that night together, both real and in my dreams. I wonder if anyone's noticed my increased friskiness.

Fifty Shades of Brindle

Saturday, 15 September 2012


The last time I met Rizza, my randy, long time Staffie pal, he'd talked about trying to break into Hollywood as a 'stunt dog' but I was more intrigued by his tease that he was writing a book. He ran off before he could explain further, apart from stating that he needed my help with some of the 'lady bits'. The whole concept bemused me. Rizza didn't know how to read, never mind write, so how could he be writing a book? This was a dog whose only previous experience of culture was licking the inside of a yoghurt pot. It was two weeks before we bumped into him again and when I say 'bump' I mean literally, with our car.

It was after an evening walk at Barshaw. I was tired, having chased the tennis ball until my lungs nearly collapsed, and was crouched down in the boot panting. The master was slowly reversing out of his space in the car park when we both heard a thump. I leapt up in surprise. He'd hit something. He halted the car, then jumped out to see what had happened. Rizza was limping away but my master failed to recognise him, in shock at the accident. He called over to the youths at the nearby bench to ask if the dog belonged to them. They shook their heads and pointed to the blind lady with the golden Lab who was heading towards the gate. Approaching her, he hesitated, unsure how to start, then apologised and asked if it was her brindle Staffie that he had just struck. She replied, "Never seen him before," leaving an awkward pause as my master considered what she meant. She walked on, stirring my master to confirm, "So you're saying he's not your dog?" She stopped, turned vaguely in his direction and replied, "Have you ever seen a blind person with a Staffordshire guide dog? I haven't. He's not mine." She continued her walk and Morris didn't even turn his head to check how Rizza was. 

My master looked around. The youths had left the bench and were heading in the direction of the pond. No one else was around. Rizza had lain down not far from the car, bathed in the security lights from the Cafe, and was whining. What else could he do but take the dog to a vet to get checked out. He'd need to report it to the police too. Naturally, he'd not brought his mobile phone so he'd have to go home first to make a call. Rizza was lifted carefully and put in the boot with me. I was warned to behave but I was more concerned with the well being of my pal to be offended.

In the car, I asked Rizza what had happened: didn't he notice us reversing? My master thought I was mimicking Rizza's whines and shushed at me but I had a lot of questions needing answered. Rizza just winked and gave a wag of his docked tail. He then wiggled his 'limp' leg. He'd faked the whole thing. He whispered that the blind lady had been driving him mad. She was so rude and bad tempered that he couldn't bear to be around her anymore, plus Morris had fallen out with him and stopped sharing his food. When he saw our car he leapt at the chance of being rescued, bouncing off the bumper with a thud. When my master hadn't immediately recognised him, Rizza had acted hurt. Lying down beside the car crying was the clincher. His plan had worked.

"So what are you going to do to stop being handed into the police station as a stray?"

"That's where you come in. When we get to yours, wag your tail a lot and snuggle me with your nose and I'll reveal my leg's not sore any more. We can bypass the vet and he's bound to suggest to the mistress I stay over till morning."

"Okay, on one condition. Tell me about your book!"

"No can do. That's top secret. I don't want you stealing my idea."

"But you asked for my help with 'the lady bits'."

"I know but I need you to sign a confidentiality agreement first. Tell you what. Do this for me now and I'll share the title. Deal?"

"Deal! I don't want you getting locked up again. What's the title?"

"Fifty Shades of Brindle."

The story continues next time.