Vivienne Davina Baroni
Thursday 24th April 2003
I’ve been stuck in this run with some yapping spaniel puppy all week and I’m sick of her. I keep telling her that I haven’t been stretched – I’m a dachshund and a miniature one, at that. My perfect physique, combined with my beautiful red coat, means that I will remain a loveable little dog, while she will get bigger and get on everyone’s nerves and in their way.
I’m now ten weeks old and should be getting a new pack leader very soon. All my siblings have been taken away by some really strange looking humans and I just hope, when the time comes, mine’s presentable. My dad said that there’s nothing worse than having to walk down the road with an ugly human; it’s embarrassing.
Just as stupid spaniel puppy is, once again, trying to get her nose stuck up my bum, and I’m contemplating biting one of her flappy ears, a woman approaches our run with Spotty, the fat kennel maid. I immediately adopt my adorable ‘get me out of here’ pose and Spotty picks me up and hands me to the woman. She loves me straightaway, I can tell, and she smells nice so I nibble her ear. She’s presentable, too. Nice hair and big, brown eyes, bit like mine really, and she’s wearing a long, flowery skirt. Dad would approve.
‘Oh, he’s gorgeous,’ says the woman, and so I wag my tail even harder and lick her neck. She’s holding me like she’s never going to put me down and I feel an instant bonding happening. Then all three of us set off for the office while stupid spaniel puppy yaps her head off and try’s to climb the run fence.
‘Tat ta, stupid spaniel puppy. You’ll look far more appealing, now, without me stuck on the end of your nose.’ She looked puzzled but that’s only to be expected; spaniels are such late developers.
In the office, nice woman struggles to write out a small piece of paper with numbers on it – I’m still in her arms, you see – and gives it to Spotty. My dad says that piece of paper means the human will love and cherish you forever, even when you wee on the carpet. Then Spotty gets a big box with holes in it and nice woman puts me inside. Then, for heavens’ sake, they closed the top and everything went dark. I yelped like mad.
‘He’ll be fine in there until you get home. You haven’t got far to go, have you?’ Think again, Spotty. I’m not fine and I might just do a pooh to prove it.
‘Only a couple of miles and my car’s just round the corner.’ What’s a car?
A car is a moving thing that humans sit in and it takes them places, I later find out. Nice woman is chatting away to me as the car thing is moving and I decide not to do the pooh. She tells me her name is Hannah and she is my new mum and that we’re going to my new home. I’m still yapping away inside the box and feel a bit sick. I think it’s the moving car. No point not doing the pooh and then being sick. So I push the top of the box as hard as I can with my head and, hoorah, my head pokes out and, bloody hell, things outside the car are whizzing past like no dog’ business. Nice woman laughs and pats my head.
‘We’re nearly there. Just stay still. Won’t be long now.’ Actually, I quite like the car thing now that I can see, and just make the occasional yap, sort of conversational like.
Nice woman makes the car stop and gets out. Hey, what about me, I think to myself, and then she comes round to the other side and opens the car and lifts out the box.
‘Here we are, Bertie. We’re home.’ One small thing, who the hell is Bertie?
Saturday 26th April 2003
What a busy couple of days I’ve had. Got the ‘Bertie’ business sorted out. That’s me, my new name and I quite like it, rather distinguished don’t you think. My new mum has a mate, a big fella with huge feet. I’m going to have to watch that one, as the house doesn’t seem to be big enough for him, his feet and me.
Just one big problem. The cats. They’ve got three and they’re all fat, lazy, and very big. For some reason that escapes me, Mum thought they’d like me and would fuss over me as though I was a funny shaped kitten. Think again, Mum. They thought I looked more like a rat and said I stink, and I told Big Fat Black Cat that was rich coming from something that smells like rotten fish. Then he whacked me across the nose and made it bleed. Result. Mum whacked him and sent him to the shed while I whimpered, realistically, I thought, in her arms.
Mum works at home, upstairs, on a box thing with lights she calls a pewter, and she’s put a comfy cushion near her desk, in front of the fire, just for me. And when I get fed up with that, I jump up at her legs and she puts me on her lap, and then struggles to tip tap on the pewter because I‘m licking her face.
Spotty had given Mum a list of my dietary requirements, which she must have made up because I’ve never had any of this revolting stuff before. Scrambled egg is horrid and tinned rice pudding is for wimps. Mum threw the list away this morning and we had a bacon sandwich.
The sleeping arrangements are not to my liking as I have to spend the nights in a kennel cage in the kitchen. It’s not the cage I object to, it’s quite cosy and I have three blankets; no, it’s the taunting and spitting from the cats that gets on my nerves. Big Fat Black Cat even sprayed in my face last night and it took me ages to wash off the smell. But I have a plan for tonight and then it’s no more night time, bullying moggies for me.
Sunday 27th April 2003
Hoorah for me. My plan worked perfectly and I am now safely cuddled up in the duvet with my Mum, listening to the Archers Omnibus. I like Radio Four. My dad said Radio Four was for intelligent dogs, such as us and Staffordshire bull terriers, and that Radio One was for the likes of stupid spaniel puppy and Yorkies. Perhaps that’s why they all yap so much.
Back to my plan. Mum put me in my kennel cage last night, as usual, turned off the lights and went up stairs to bed. I waited for a few minutes and then I howled and howled. It was a pitiful sound – one of my best, I thought. I could hear Mum coming down the stairs, so I quickly grabbed my water bowl and tipped the water just outside my cage and called out to Big Fat Black Cat.
‘Hey, Fish Face. Smell my bum.’ And, yes, you guessed it. Big Fat Black Cat sprang from the living room and attacked my cage, just as Mum turned on the kitchen light.
‘Bad puss. Leave the puppy alone. Oh, you naughty, naughty boy. Did you do that? Fancy weeing up Bertie’s cage. Get out. Go on.’ Such a satisfying sight; Big Fat Black Cat’s bum disappearing through the cat-flap out into the dark, cold night. And, I think I can hear rain.
Mum cleared up the ‘wee’ and then opened my cage and took me into her arms.
‘Oh, you poor boy. Did that nasty puss frighten you? Come on, you’re coming upstairs with me.’ And, with that, she turned off the lights.
We didn’t make a sound as we crept into the bedroom and me and Mum got comfy in bed. Big Fella was still awake.
‘Is Bertie okay, now? He’s gone very quiet.’ Then he turned over and I licked his face. ‘Hannah! You can’t let him sleep up here. He’ll never settle downstairs if you do that.’
‘Just for tonight. Niko scared him and weed up his cage. He’s only a baby, after all.’
‘On your head be it.’ And, before long, Big Fella is snoring like a drain. I’ll have to deal with that another time.
After a lovely night’s sleep, I woke up to warm milk and toast. Big Fella had got up early, leaving me to sprawl across the warm place he’d left on the mattress, and then he came back with the toast, milk and tea for Mum. Suddenly, I remembered my puppy bladder and danced around on the bed, making cute little whining sounds, and Mum told Big Fella to take me downstairs to the garden.
It was wet outside and I don’t cock my leg yet, so I had to squat in the rain, while holding my tail up at the same time. You try it. It’s not easy.
Suitably relieved, I was taken back up stairs to Mum, the duvet, warm milk and toast, and The Archers. I like Sundays.
Later, Mum was making food in this big hot cupboard called an oven. The smell was making me dribble. I was looking forward to this. I have a cushion in the kitchen, right near the hot cupboard, where I can sit and watch Mum as she does all sorts of things, including opening a tin of some smelly muck for the cats as they purr and wrap their tails around her legs. I whimper and wag my tail, not because I want the smelly muck, I just want Mum to remember that she loves me the best.
‘You’ll get yours soon, silly boy’, she says in that funny voice she has recently adopted for talking to me. ‘It’s chicken – you’ll like that’. Too right, I will but you’d better get a move on, my tummy’s rumbling like mad.
Eventually, my dinner arrives and I stick my nose in the bowl. What’s this? My lovely chicken dinner has been adulterated with green and orange bits. Sorry, Mum, I don’t do green and orange bits. So I carefully lifted them all out and left them in a little pile beside the bowl, and then scoffed my chicken.
‘Oh, look! Little Berts doesn’t like his vegetables, do you boy?’ No, I don’t and I wag my tail and beg to be picked up and cuddled. ‘You’ll get used to them, Bertie.’ Oh no, I won’t. In my opinion, they belong in the same category as scrambled egg and tinned rice pudding.
Thursday 1st May 2003
Had a wee bit of a shock today. This morning, Mum got a pet carrier out of the cupboard and put it in the hall. The beginning of the week had gone very well, I thought, and I’m gradually getting everyone to come round to my way of thinking, even me and Big Fat Black Cat have come to an understanding; if I get too close to him, he whacks me across the nose when Mum isn’t looking. When he saw the pet carrier, he sniggered in a hissy sort of way that made my hackles tingle.
‘I knew you wouldn’t be here for long, Scraggy Puppy. Do you know what the pet carrier means? Of course you don’t, I can tell by your stupid, little, quizzical face. That’s the trouble with eyebrows, they give away your every thought.’ Big Fat Black Cat then jumped onto the settee and curled up and started to purr.
‘What do you mean, Fish Face? I’m not going anywhere. I’m not. What do you mean? Tell me, tell me, ‘and I jumped up at the settee and breathed on his face, wagging my tale, furiously.
‘He who gets put into the pet carrier is never seen again, Scraggy Puppy. I know this because it happened to my mother. One day she was here and the next, into the pet carrier and gone. I didn’t mind too much because she was old and moaned a lot and used to eat all the crunchy dry food before I had the chance to taste it. Now get your smelly face away from mine and let me sleep.’
I whined. What had I done? This wasn’t the way my dad said things would turn out. And then Mum came into the room and picked me up and put me into the pet carrier. I cried like hell.
‘Don’t be silly, Bertie,’ she said. ‘You won’t be in there long. We’re only going to the vet’s.’
The vet’s. Well, that was all right then. I stopped crying and sighed, heavily. I knew what the vet was, he used to come to the kennels, a nice chap who feels your chest, looks at your willy and then gives you a biscuit. As Mum picked up the carrier and headed for the front door, I yelled out to Big Fat Black Cat.
‘See you later, Fish Face. Keep the settee warm for me.’ He then said something very rude.
At the vet’s, Mum took me out of the carrier and held me in her arms. I have this endearing way of hanging my head over her shoulder when being held and so, head positioned and big brown eyes fixed with a look of suitable apprehension, I surveyed the waiting room. Of course, everyone in the waiting room said I was beautiful and all went ‘Aah’ when I licked Mum’s face. Everyone, that is, except the miserable old mongrel sitting in the corner who just ignored me. Perhaps he is going blind or has catamarans. My dad said that some dogs get catamarans in their eyes when they get old.
Eventually, the vet called us into his poking room and Mum put me on the table and told me to be a good boy. Of course I was going to be a good boy. I was going to have my willy looked at and get a biscuit. Well, I was right about the willy but wasn’t expecting the rest. The vet looked in my ears and felt my legs, back and tail, and then he put me on some rubber platform and told Mum that I was sick pound, and that I could have half the worming tablet. Sick pound sounds like a nasty disease but it isn’t; it’s a way of saying how big I am. And then, yeowser! The vet stuck a sharp thing in the skin of my neck and I cried out loud. Mum picked me up and cuddled me and then thanked the stupid man for hurting me and apologised for the wee I had just done on the table.
‘Oh, don’t worry about that. The little chap was very brave, weren’t you, boy?’ Yes, I bloody well was. ‘Do you have any problems with the puppy at the moment?’
‘Not really. Well, just one thing. He won’t eat any vegetables or puppy food, just chicken really. So I was wondering if I should be using a supplement?’
‘These little dogs are notoriously fussy eaters and bossy to boot.’ Bloody cheek. ‘Remember, you’re in charge, not him. Try to break him of this sort of eating behaviour while he’s still a puppy. Look, try him on these, it’s a complete dry puppy food,’ and he offered me some yucky, little, brown crunchy bits. I ate the crunchy bits just so that we could get out of there as I’d had enough of this vet and his unfounded opinions.
Back in the waiting room, Mum was looking at the toy stand. This was promising, as I haven’t got any real toys at the moment, just a flannel and a pair of socks I pinched from the bathroom. She picked up this big black and white thing called a ‘Harry Humbug’ and pressed it. Hoorah. It made a lovely squeaky noise and I wagged my tail.
‘We’ll have this one,’ said Mum, ‘because he’s been such a good boy.’ And she handed it to the girl behind the desk.
‘It’s bigger than him,’ laughed the girl as she gave Mum a piece of paper. I don’t know what was on the piece of paper but it made Mum’s eyes go very big.
‘I’ll have to put all this on my credit card,’ said Mum and she gave the girl a piece of plastic.
‘I know it seems like a lot, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to their injections.’ I had a nasty feeling that Mum was compensating these people in some way for hurting me in the neck, but I had Harry Humbug so I didn’t make a fuss.
Back home, I ran up the hall, dragging Harry Humbug with me, and bumped straight into Big Fat Black Cat who screeched at the sight of Harry, and shot into the kitchen and out of the cat flap. Another good day, I think.
Vivienne Davina Baroni©2003