The doggie’s community of Swallow is in shock: doggies are being kidnapped off the street, in broad daylight, right in front of their dumb hindlegs companions. This cannot go on. Surely, the time has come for a fourlegs hero to wake up, stretch, sniff the air, cock a leg, eat something, and do some serious digging…before it goes back to sleep!
It’s a particularly fine summer’s afternoon in the southwestern town of Swallow. Clouds are making those whooshing noises, jostling each other out the way across the sky. Heat rises from the pavement, carrying the sniff of earth, fag ends and well-trodden fruity bubble gum. It’s a particularly sniffy day.
Hindlegs are everywhere. They always come out in hot weather.
“nonsense,nonsense,andnonsense,” they bark. Who knows what they are saying! “nonsense,nonsenseandmorenonsense.” You don’t need to know what they are barking when you can sniff what they are thinking. Their hindlegs tips smell of their kitchens, their homes and other hindlegs who lived with them. Underneath the first sniff is the deeper sniff of their happiness or their nervousness, and their health, their age and their troublesome intelligence. Fourlegs call this sniff their spirit. They carry the spirit of their whole lives around with them on the tips of their hind legs, shouting their spirit names louder than the loudest bark.
“nicedognicelittledognonsensenonsense,” the hindlegs bends down to stroke the Boston Terrier, waking him up from a chasing dream.
“Gitorrf!” Halfleg grumbles at the intruder. “Gitorrfhimorgiveusfiftypence.” Halfleg holds out his cupped hand.
“nonsenseyou,” the intruder sneers and walks off. GitOrff! lays his head back on the cardboard, nestling closer to Halfleg with the intention of going back to chasing scratch in his dream.
“GitOrrfmutt,” Halfleg grumbles, unhappy at missing out on quick drinking money. He kicks at GitOrrf! with his stump.
Missed! GitOrff! doesn’t move, staring with those big black eyes that makes most hindlegs think Boston Terriers are cute. Halfleg slumps down on his cardboard outside the Pig & Ferret, a bottle of warm Bullmers original tilting at his face. He swings his stump again at the little dog’s head. “GitOrrfme.”
Missed again the little dog ducks. Enough of this. He rises, shakes himself, sniffs the air, deciding the time to get eating is now, and sets off down the high street ignoring Halfleg. Let him beg for himself for a while.
Between the Pig & Ferret and any other eating spot there are lots of pointless shops with foodless sniffs. The bank, the estate agent’s, the pharmacy and Oxfam. Particularly Oxfam which has a kind of sour sniff. Luckily there are a few honest street lamps along the way that need marking.
Duncan’s passing by today. Giblets and Kublai and Jesus. And Missy Biscuits. And now me. There is the sniff of many other fourlegs, but you can’t know everyone.
One little squirt does it and onto the next.
GitOrrf! trots past Costa Coffee, licking his chops at turkey and Emmental cheese toasties wafting out. Stopping for a quick look see and a sniff of the door jam, and uh-huh there’s nothing worth eating within easy grabbing-and-legging-it range. Trotting on.
He shoots up his ears two foodless shops further on outside the Star of India. Ah, butter chicken, Rogan ghosht, oily slurpy stuff.
He heads towards the tradesman’s passage leading ’round back of the curry house to the kitchen bins.
That’s better. Even if he wants to climb into the bins he can’t, his four legs are too short. But there are plenty of tasty droppings ’round the bin wheels. Meal after meal of droppings pressing into the paving. Bits of shredded chicken between the paving slabs, squirts of oily food dripping down the sides of the bins, and always split plastic bags being thrown out the kitchen door, mixed full of total Indian goodness, missing the bins and bursting like swollen seed pods across the ground. Biriyani, shrimps, butter naan, lamb chops all washed in tasty greasy gravies and old serviettes, all leaking into the gutter. That’ll work.
GitOrrf! noses open the closest plastic bag and sniffs his way in.
A ginger scratch watches everything from top of the bins, a single eye staring from a scarred face.
Back through the tradesman’s passageway, out into the high street and straight into Giblets.
I sniff you Giblets grunts.
I sniff you GitOrrf! replies.
Giblets, a young black and tan Boxer runs his nose down the back of the little dog and sniffs his butt, a quick lick telling him everything he needs to know.
Anything worth eating back there?
Always, but watch out for that evil looking scratch with the one eye.
Sure. Giblets yawns a mouth full of big healthy teeth. Let’s go take a look – whoaaa!
His hindlegs packmate yanks him by his lead, thinking it has more important things to do. Force marched away Giblets turns his head back as far as he can Sniffed any bitches ragging it lately?
GitOrrf! wags the stub of his tail Nope.
Keep sniffing and he’s gone.
A bellyful of good Indian take away deserves an equally good chasing dream in the shade, somewhere quiet and away from Hindlegs.
The Boston Terrier carries on down the high street, sniffing and squirting his way towards Herdwick pooping Park, that little bit of green space beside the drinkThames, great for running and pooping. He can already taste the drink that makes up the drinkThames behind the oily sniffs and low-pitched growling ‘rounds legs. GitOrrf! is content. He is not hungry, cold or wet, and he doesn’t need a poop, yet. Swallow is his town and he’s lived on its rich sniffy streets all nine summers of his life.
He sniffs Missy Biscuits. A few shops later he finds her tied up to a public bin outside the mini-mart.
I sniff you he walks right up to her
I sniff you too, mate, but no licking now she turns her hindquarters away from him.
My dog, but you are one fit looking big bitch. Just one whiff? Hmmm?
Missy Biscuits, the red marled Australian Shepherd, regards him from a solid height. Go on then, try it mate
GitOrrf! lays down, head between paws, staring at her in wonder. There are no other fourlegs like her in Swallow. One of a kind. His tongue drops out.
The growling roundlegs stops beside Missy Biscuits and before either of them can get in a sniff or tail wag, some hairy hindlegs with a reeking spirit is untying Missy Biscuits and hurrying her onto the growling roundleg’s back seat.
What! Wait a tick, mate, I don’t packmate with you! Missy Biscuits pulls back, dropping her head, paws straight out for better breaking power.
“getin,getinwithyers” the hindlegs growls, yanking her inside. A kick to her rump and a slamming door seals her fate.
Do something a muffled bark at GitOrrf!
I will as he sits on the pavement, licking his chops, watching the scene unfold before his big eyes.
Like right now, mate she paws at the window.
The growling roundlegs roars down the street, turning right and disappearing past the Offy on the corner.
GitOrrf! catches one last bark from Missy Biscuits who is staring from the back window. But it’s enough.
Leave it to me. I’ll come get you. Leave it to GitOrrf! and with that he sniffs the spot from where Missy Biscuits has just been kidnapped, squirting it for good measure.