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.