Today the Owner takes me to Dog Day Care again. She says she has to go out to lunch and I am not allowed there. She says she will pick me up at tea time.
I express my concern by sitting on the floor when she attempts to lead me from the car. I say have been to Dog Day Care before and I was lonely and I pined.
She says I know you like it Hergest.
I don’t know how she knows. I didn’t tell her. I was careful to sulk all the way home. I say how can I like a place where Owners cast aside their Moral Dogs, like flotsam – or possibly jetsam?
She says I can’t come where she’s going. I say if that’s because you’re going to eat your lunch in some kind of sterile, dog-free establishment with no tripe on the menu and a ridiculous insistence on cutlery that’s not a very good reason. How can you abandon the Moral Dog for an Amoral Lunch?
The Owner sighs. Stop arguing Hergest, she says, I am not abandoning you and we’re late. I say that is as yet undecided since late is a relative term that assumes your presence at the engagement for which you are late is a forgone conclusion.
She says it is a forgone conclusion because she has booked and when you have booked you have to go. And the same, she adds, is true for day care. Everything has to be planned in advance, she says. Even the purchase of cheese.
I ignore the implicit cheese oppression. She will not enjoy it, I tell her. I glue my bottom to the pavement to make the point. At least she can’t carry me any more, I think.
She sighs and heaves me into the air like a giant sack of turnips. My legs dangle down her back, and as I am carried in a fireman’s lift through Crouch End I notice two poodles in a bedroom window, giggling. Thus I am borne, humiliated, to Dog Day Care.
It is Day Care! Day Care! Houdini is there! And Sauron! And Bercow! I manage to hide my delight when we arrive. She wouldn’t notice anyway. She is too busy explaining about her doyleys and her cutlery. A moment later, she is gone, to her Amoral Lunch. I expect she will eat lettuce and talk about salad dressing. What a waste of time.
The day passes. I have a wonderful time with Houdini, Sauron and Bercow. We run and play, we eat and sleep, we help the Dog Care person extract Houdini from the U-bend, we discuss the paucity of references to the rights of Moral Dogs in the manifestos of the major parties, and the need for a higher cheese content in kibble. It is thrilling, Morally Enhancing and far better than a day with a doyley.
The Owner appears at 4.30 looking guilty and full of lettuce.
Did you have a good time, Hergest? She asks.
I look hurt and miserable. Of course I didn’t. I pined all day, I say.
Wow she says when the Day Care Person returns my food bag, you ate all that food?
I didn’t have much, I say. I have wasted away.
Did you make some new friends? She asks.
No, I said, I spent the day with the Dark Lord, an Escape Artist and a Dog who never shuts up not for even one second. I had to pull one of them out of the U bend. I’m almost certainly marked for life.
I sense her guilt. We travel home in silence. She puts the radio on to hide it and sings along to Steeleye Span. I refrain from joining in, even though I can do the alto line to All Around My Hat.
When we get home I follow her silently to the kitchen. Bercow suggested I never make a point once when I can make it several times, so when we get home I eye the cheese fridge pointedly and use my eyebrows to full reproachful effect. I am channelling my Inner Gromit. If there were a scale of reproachful eyebrows mine are on DEFCON 1.
Is there something wrong with your eyebrows, Hergest? She asks somewhat disingenuously. I am surprised she even noticed. She is fiddling with her phone.
You left me, I say. I had a terrible day. How could you? Where is my cheese?
She shows me her phone. On it are a series of pictures of me, running and playing with Bercow, rolling in compost with Sauron, joyfully extracting Houdini from the plumbing, wolfing down an entire bowl of puppy duck and rice, wagging my tail so fast it is a total blur. Really? She asks.
I retreat, wounded. It’s a Pyrrhic kind of victory when you want it so badly that you have to spy on your dog.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.