An endless ribbon of grey has been Dudley’s focal point this week – or more accurately, the weekends that book ended it. For a change, this particular shade of grey was not Manchester’s rain pregnant clouds but a view of both ends of the M6 from a car window. For despite have attended precious few in years, consecutive November weekends were to be filled with the happy sound of wedding bells. Or at least they were for my wife and I. We had to tell Dudley his invite on both occasions had got lost in the post.
As he is the benefactor of my parsimonious nature and our general reluctance to place him in kennels, Dudley’s lot instead on both occasions was to spend hours ‘in-car -cerated’ in the boot of our motor before being passed around from one reluctant host to another like a dose of the clap in a wartime brothel.
First up, a trip to Edinburgh for wedding number one and what we expected to be a night of heavy traffic. Far from resembling a post apocalyptic scene from ‘The War of the Worlds’ however, motorways were clear throughout the journey and so with Jeff Wayne’s dulcet tones fading in our ears, Dudley was soon at his hosts for the weekend – though not before a stop at the fabulous Tebay Services for refreshments.
For the hound, wedding weekend one was relatively tame by contrast but still noteworthy. On night one, Dudley ingratiated himself by hunting out and stealing everything left in the bin of the downstairs loo. The sight of him gulping down toilet roll – used or not he isn’t fussy – from someone else’s bin is embarrassing for sure but not overly concerning. After all, he’s performing a valuable household chore. To then back this up with a snatch raid on the toilet brush was an action I could not so easily overlook. From a standing start, the brush and its athletic carrier moved around the house faster than the Jamaican relay team and covered more distance than the Olympic torch.
On night two, Dud was to be billeted with students in Scotland’s capital and his strong work with the toilet brush, I hear you thinking, might be a handy addition to your average student house. Not a bit of it. It turns out students are a more civilised breed these days and when we arrived to drop him off it was clear they had even swept the kitchen in readiness for our arrival. Their mistake however was not using the dust-pan and brush fast enough. Keen to develop his reputation as Scotland’s foremost waste disposal unit, Dudley entered the kitchen and headed straight for the pile of fluff and kitchen castoffs left by the bin before gulping it down greedily. Retreating hastily, we left our kind dog sitters to it.
A week on and Wedding two brought Dudley to my parents for a two-night stay whilst we partied hard in Birmingham. From the first picture to come our way, it became clear that the lifetime of German Shepherd ownership under the collective belt of my parents was not going to improve their chances of surviving 36 hours with a chocolate Labrador. Whilst undoubtedly cute, the Whatsapped picture of Dudley curled up comfortably on one of their wicker chairs was, I suspected, a harbinger of worse things to come.
True to form, the hound started Saturday morning with an uninvited visit upstairs and an impromptu dance on a bed or two including one that still contained my sleeping mother. All this was to be a mere curtain raiser for what was to follow later that night.
With a social event of their own to attend, Dudley’s guardians left him in good faith with the run of the kitchen and a weighty bone to chew on by way of distraction. Imagine their surprise then upon returning home that night to find a dog barking indignantly at them from the top of the stairs. His door opening skills are a thing of legend and not something my unsuspecting parents will overlook again in a hurry.
Gingerly, step-by-step, my Dad climbed the stairs to survey the damage much the same as you might upon discovering there’d been a burglary. What he found was a scene reminiscent of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Clearly Dudley had been in at least one of the beds longer than John and Yoko though worse discoveries would follow. For nestled within the crumpled sheets of my ‘folks’ bed lay an Ox-shin bone, bloodied, greasy and giving off a certain aroma. Dudley it seemed had managed effortlessly to combine the great Hirst and Emin art installations of the late nineties in a single evening though sadly without the recognition of these trumped up Turner Prizers.
For Dudley it had been another dirty weekend….