A cheeky grin and a winning smile can go a long way in life, especially when the face behind them belongs to an adorably cute chocolate Labrador. That said, in a recent episode, my faithful and fur lined companion tested the maxim to the limit.
Not content with skittling a good friend of mine down a flight of stairs last year at a cost of one broken rib and a near bedridden Christmas, I am afraid to report to regular readers that young Dudley struck again only last week.
In a text book move lifted straight off the pages of ‘Bad Parenting Monthly’ (or Uncle-ing in this case), I had trusted the hound implicitly to get on with ‘playing nicely’ with my four year old niece whilst I sat at work on the computer nearby. “Such a modern scene,” I hear you all cry. To Dudley’s credit, spirits amongst the two protagonists were high and, on such a hot summer’s day when I suspect his top priority was sleep, he coped well with the heavy handed patting and general gibber jabbering chatter coming his way from my niece like white noise.
That was, until things moved up a gear, up the stairs to be precise. Again, more textbook child minding tips here for would-be babysitters. “Always allow ‘out of sight and unsupervised’ playtime on stairways and other uneven surfaces between small children and large dogs,” page 26 for those seeking clarity.
Sure enough, and with form in this arena already, what came next ought not to have surprised me. An impish yelp by Dudley first aroused me from my travails, no doubt the result of a probe too far from his youthful playmate. Then, no sooner had my head lifted upwards and my eyes come through 90 degrees than I saw a four year old’s frame sliding backwards on all fours down the last three rungs of the stairs. Her progress was quick yet lumpy, more bounce than ooze, like one of those neat coiled spring toys designed for that purpose.
Seeing the whole episode play out in slow motion and knowing just how indestructible my niece is, I knew the tears that followed would be those of fright rather than pain. And so, I headed straight for the sobbing pool on the floor, waved a faux accusatory finger at Dudley, who by now had taken on the role of pantomime villain and escorted her back to her parents, a move you’ll also find in the handbook.
The following public inquiry recorded an open verdict, but I happen to think young Dud is now a repeat offender.