This week’s Stare of the Dog is a sobering reminder of just what a liability your boisterous pooch can be when exposed to the innocent and unsuspecting general public. There are no accompanying pictures either, Dudley has asked that I refrain from publishing any whilst court cases are still live etc.
First up – and admittedly tame by the standards of some out of control canines – his magnetized attraction to the ‘older lady’ and the hazardous implications this often has. You’ll understand, this is not the same affliction that troubles football stars like Wayne Rooney or befalls Joan Collins’ latest sqeeze. Instead, Dudley’s affections for the older lady are very much food orientated in nature.
This fondness for the ‘female over fifty’ derives, I suspect, from the delightfully kind lady who lives on our street and who showers the hound with dog treats whenever their paths cross. She is something of a Mary Poppins figure around these parts in that her handbag must have a similar capacity for dog biscuits as Julie Andrews’ did for standard lamps. Sadly, unlike Jane and Michael Banks’ well-drilled behaviour around their infamous nanny, Dudley, dancing wildly across the street like a lit firecracker whenever he sees her, seems more like the anarchic Admiral Boom from the same film.
How does this attraction to older ladies manifest itself? To date, he has jumped up and nearly skittled one such target out walking her equally aged Labrador in our local park. His speed on impact was such that your average rugby player would have struggled to remain upright, though impressively, she did. There were however, two very hefty paw marks covering both shoulders of her coat, which I sought to immediately distract her from noticing. Luckily, this particular lady took the incident in good faith and moved off in high spirits as though Dudley had passed on some mystical life affirming powers.
A few months later, and a second lady was about to be put to the test as we ambled along the bank of the River Mersey. Dudley, bored of harassing the ducks at the water’s edge, suddenly appeared over the brow of the bank and began a casual trot straight towards the aforementioned woman. This time, the soon-to-be victim wasn’t really ‘older’ so much as ‘frail’ in appearance and was clearly phased by the presence of the hound who, by now was homing in on her like a North Korean missile. As with much of Kim Jong Un’s finest handiwork, Dudley stopped short of his target. The damage had already been done though, for the mere sight of him bearing down had been enough to panic her into tripping over her own feet in a desperate bid to avoid him.
What impressed me most as she fell in that slow, animated, freeze frame Hollywood way was the fact that she clung tightly to a cup of coffee the whole way down without once relinquishing her grip. I could only conclude that she was cut from a tougher cloth than that which her outward, frail appearance belied. That, or she was a New Yorker, the type that can negotiate any hardship known to humankind so long as their wind-chilled hands are clasped stoutly around a fresh cup of ‘Stumptown.’ My imaginings had run too far though and the sight of her searching with both feet for purchase on the wet and muddy river-bank jolted me violently back to reality. Feigning an exaggerated retrieval of Dudley, I let my wife handle the apologies before hastily parting company.
All this is as nothing however, compared with Dudley’s most recent thuggish action. Late home as we were from the throes of a 40th birthday party, an excited hound managed to bundle a good friend of ours down three stairs at the cost of at least one broken rib. Though I personally missed the incident, the sight upon my arrival seconds later was enough to drive home the magnitude of the situation. As I surveyed the carnage, the last vestiges of the party mood ran out faster than Trump’s ‘St Tropez tanning lotion. A rapidly greying friend, bent double and wheezing like an old steam boiler occupied one corner of the lounge whilst Dudley, blissfully unaware of the havoc he had wreaked, still danced around the other end like a kangaroo on a space hopper.
The last I saw of my friend that evening was a forlorn and hunched figure being escorted to Accident and Emergency by his children. And as he sat there, rapidly sobering up and in considerable discomfort, he will doubtless have had the pleasure of fielding more than a few probing questions from an overworked and underpaid casualty nurse wondering indignantly why a middle aged man, stinking of booze, could get into that sort of state when his adult children were still sober. Of course, by this point, Dudley and I were safely tucked up in our respective beds.
What are friends for?