Henry the English Bull mastiff, the biggest and mildest fourlegs around, is facing an awkward problem at Swallow’s Veterinarians for Livestock & Pets. Thinking he’s going in for his annual rabies jab, he wakes up after the Op to discover it’s for a much more personal problem. Something to send him right off his chain, and wreak vengeance on all doggies within mauling distance. It may have something to do with a new nick name spreading on a sniffy wind amongst all the Swallow’s fours: Big Knickers.
It is a particularly whitedrink time in the South Western town of Swallow. Winter arrives and the whitedrink falls from the sky leaving favorite squirting spots and marker posts buried under this whitedrink stuff. Easy for the hindlegs who sniff particularly idiotic at this time of year, thoughtlessly leaving random tracks all over the whitedrink in Herdwick pooping park – not because they want to get from A to B. Instead, to see how many ways they can get from A to B, and for no sensible reason at all. That’s hindlegs for you.
Fourlegs are much more sensible. They go from A to B and B to A. And that’s the end of it.
More importantly, whitedrink time of year also means less chance for fourlegs to get out and about, socializing amongst the fours, squirting, marking and generally forced to spend more time in housedens than is normal. Unless you’re a street fourlegs that is. Out and about without the sniff of their mates is a pretty convenient time for eating ‘round back.
Check out the bins ‘round back of KFC. No whitedrink there…
And no houseden fours either
Pussies the loada ’ems
Better get down there otherwise the houseden fours will lead their hindlegs over soon as they’re out
-and then NO CHICKEN!
Exactly and Tuffy, GitOrrf! and Drizzle, the regular Swallows street fours, are quickly trotting on their way to stuff their faces.
Let me sleep
Wha! already? On my way mate
Heavy thud, floorboards squeaking, panting getting louder.
“thereyouare,boy!” FrankieFullermate exclaims as Henry, the English Bull mastiff, appears at the kitchen door. He yawns and pads up to FrankieFullermate to allow a rough rubbing on his head. He knows how much FrankieFullermate needs to do this rough rubbing every morning. Well, all the time really. Franks, as he’s called by the intimates, needs a load of rough rubbing love. Probably cos FrankieFullermate missus, Cheryl, don’t give him any rough rubbing love. Whatever.
Henry stands and contemplates his tiny bowl a long way down. And that’s cos Henry is full grown. Everything to Henry is a long way down. Today he’s sleepy and can’t be assed to bend all the way down there to eat the meagre portion of dried biscuits.
Bring it up to the level, mate he looks at Franks. Franks looks back. They face off one another until Franks sits down beside Henry and lifts up the bowl. Henry does nothing, not even lick his chops, until the biscuits are touching his nose. He deigns to taste one. Runs it around his mouth and drops it back into the bowl.
“lovelybrekkersHenry,yourfavoriteHenry,there’sagoodboy,Henry” the bowl comes closer, backs away, comes closer and floats about in a tempting circular motion.
Henry plays willing and sniffs all round his food. Doesn’t touch it, looks straight into Franks’ eyes again, sits on his haunches and waits. And so the morning ritual begins.
I do wanna go outside. I do wanna eat. And I need a squirt. But how about some decent grub? Meat. Full-bloodied red meat. Not this dry stuff? Always. Huh? Givvus a break, Franks
No I don’t
Henry eats. A few precious nibbles at first, sampling the biscuits, running them round the inside of his mouth. Big teeth delicately cracking them open. Every crunch draws a smile on Franks’ face. He slowly lowers the bowl to the kitchen floor, Henry eagerly following it down, sucking them up with a big spoon of a tongue, slobber catching the biscuits like beads on a string.
Bowl licked clean and brekkers over, Franks opens the kitchen door to the garden.
What is it with these hindlegs and whitedrink? Henry sniffs cautiously at the whitedrink covering the garden. He steps out, daintily lifting legs in and out of the cold stuff, before committing himself.
“gitoutthere!” Franks gives him a push, plunging Henry snout first into the whitedrink.
He turns round and round, lifting paws to escape the cold whitedrink. The kitchen door slams shut behind him.
He sniffs around for his toys, Farty the Hippo, Squeaky the plastic bell bar that squeaks; and Ball, the ultra tough rubber ball with holes in it for more of those dog damn awful dry biscuits. They’re all buried under the whitedrink. He knows where they all are but simply cannot be assed to dig them out. He looks down the garden to the small hedge at the end, his escape route into the real world when Franks is not looking.
Mayumi, the Japanese Spitz, wakes to the morning round of high pitched wailing and sub-sonic vibrations wafting out from some tiny box in the corner of the living room.
Ayaa, not this dirge, again
She twitches her snout at the so-called ‘ambient’ sound and the brown sniff of cedarwood incense sticks that her companions JumaSabah and DaisyZhang insist on making a noise with and burning every dog damn morning.
Ayaa, watta stink!
Mayumi, who is a brown furred Spitz – not the traditional white furred Spitz – suffers being companion to two young hindlegs who’re totally into new age what-nots, tantric philosophies and Karma sutras. Mayumi ain’t got a problem with any of that as hindlegs are prone to getting up to complete nonsense; but, she does have a problem with all the sounds, sniffs and thumps that go along with it.
Thump. Thump. Thumpater Thumpater ThumpThumpThump….Thump!
Mayumi lifts her snout in anticipation.
She sits daintily on her tatami dojo mat by the kitchen door, waiting for JumaSabah and to finish up exploring the latest page of their A to Z book of sexual healing, unsticking themselves from each other, shuffling into the hallway and facing the cold hard reality that they’ve got a fourlegs who urgently needs feeding.
That’ll be me Mayumi yawns by the door step to the kitchen.
Mayumi, which means true and gentle in Japanese, lifts her head towards DaisyZhang and then starts cocking it kitchenside
Ayaa, some breakfast might be nice, but only if you have the time
Popping his head round the bedroom door, JumaSabah calls out “goooooodmorningMayumi,peacebewithyou”
‘aren’tyoujustthecutistlittleflower?” DaisyZhang patters over in bare feet, falling to the floor and smothering Mayumi in kisses.
Ayaa, stop it with all the love and cosmic shit and get yerself into the kitchen
Mayumi just stares up at her. Nah, we can wait til tomorrow if yer likes?
“there’sdoghairsonmytoothbrush” barks JumaSabah from the bathroom.
“oh,isthatyours?” replies DaisyZhang giving Mayumi conspiratorial ruffle between the ear flaps.
Mayumi’s the only fourlegs in Swallow whose teeth are regularly brushed. With green banded non-chemical natural ingredients toothpaste, no less.
It ain’t long before the kettle is steaming and the sniff of green beans and tofu fills the houseden. Outside whitedrink is falling from the sky and the windows are steaming over. Mayumi makes her move towards the kitchen.
“outside!” barks JumaSabah.
‘no,no,nomytruandgentleMayumi” squeals DaisyZhang, lifting her up and depositing her back on the tatami mat outside the kitchen. ‘now,youknowJumaSabah’sbeliefsdon’tallowanimalsintothekitchenarea”
She slinks down, snout pressed into the mat, eyes staring upwards as far as they can point at DaisyZhang and that all important bowl she is preparing.
DaisyZhang drops the bowl into front of Mayumi. A steaming green mush confronts her.
She stares at DaisyZhang. DaisyZhang stares back, a karmic grin stuck on her face.
What am I, a rabbit?
“she’snoteatingit” DaisyZhang wails.
Dog damn right, I ain’t
JumaSabah steps forward and peers down at the Spritz. His eyes glaring and a nasty sniff coming off him. Mayumi knows this sniff. There’s violence behind it. Perhaps it’s about toothbrush.
“it’spedigreevegan” he growls. “we’revegan,Mayami…andyou’revegan,too”
Mayumi doesn’t know what vegan is, but she sure as hell knows she ain’t one of ‘em.
Stuff yer vegan
“eat” JumaSabah growls again, his sniff color changing from impatient blue to irritated aubergine. He puts his paw on Mayumi’s head and pushes her snout into the food. “eat!”
Unless she wants to drown in vegan green mush Mayumi starts eating.
Soon as we’re outside you twos, I’m gonna find some real food
“Ithinkshelikesit” DaisyZhang coos.
Outside, in the gutter, where it normally is
Ain’t my problem you dropped it, you go get it
GitOrrf! sits beside the camp bed, Halfleg curled up on it under a blanket. Revlegs approaches, giving GitOrrf! the eye, before gently shaking Halfleg.
“mrStevens….mrStevens” the Revlegs shakes Halfleg, rousing him from his very Bullmers Original sniffy sleep. “Itoldyoubefore,nodogsallowedintheshelter” he points up at a big sign on the wall.
NO DOGS ALLOWED
Halfleg peeks from under the blanket.
Revlegs stares down at GitOrrf!
“rightthen” and GitOrrf! the small street fourlegs finds all four toes lifting into the air as this musty-sniffy Revlegs lifts him by the scruff and carries him towards the door. Towards the whitedrink falling softly outside.
Hold on a tic Revlegs, but I’m with him
But Revlegs, who’s dressed in black furs with a little white fur under his muzzle is barking out to all the hindlegs on their camp beds “youknowtheruleschaps…youwannastayintheshelter,thenyougottafollowthoserules”
Door opens. GitOrrf! dumped outside. Door shuts.
Brrr, it’s cold enough to freeze the brass ones off
What to do?
It’s so easy peasy to sneak back in and hide under Halfleg’s bed. The back window to Saint Michael’s rectory is always open, down at the sniffy end where all the packhomeless do their squirting. But that musty-sniffy Revlegs is nows on a charge and might discover him if he tries anything. Best to stay out in the street and rustle up some more nosh.
And talking about nosh, better still Henry?
That big brute’s always got plenty. FrankieFullermate likes shoveling nosh into Henry’s slobbering chops whether he wants it or not. Mind you, Henry always ends up eating it. The right Gannet.
Gitorrf! sets out into the whitedrink from the sky. It’s more drink than whitedrink nows and little ice particles frost his ear flaps. St. Michael’s is a bit farther off from Henry’s than his usual pied-à-terre which is outside the Pig & Ferret up on the high street. But during the darker months, when the great hot ball is not so hot and doesn’t get thrown so far into the air; and when whitedrink makes squirting his marker posts more of a challenge, GitOrrf! lives with Halfleg at the homeless shelter. ‘cepting him and halfleg ain’t homeless. They usually live very happily outside The Pig & Ferret, the best pub in Swallows. Or outside The Dog Inn, the second best pub in Swallows.
Head down, GitOrrf! trots along the high street, splashes in a puddle, carefully inspects one or two pubic bins [no nosh] and speculates on the bins ‘round back of the Taj Mahal [too early] before heading into the backstreets and Henry’s. It’s a bit of a lonely trot. The whitedrink is keeping all the fours inside. He sniffs Tuffy who’s left his mark on the telephone exchange box on the corner of High Street and Nelson Street.
Hmm, interesting. Where’d he eat that! GitOrrf! licks at his squirt. Greggs?
He trots on. A few growling roundlegs pass by, but with less growling and more squishing in the whitedrink covering the roads. Stops at his regular number 3 pooping spot, turns a few times in a circle, poops, and admires the colourful sniffy steam rising in the air.
Nows where am I? thinks GitOrrf!, the thought of Greggs and the unexpected poop making him lose all sense of intelligence and purpose. Ah, Henry.
Of course, him and Henry are the best of mates, ‘cept that Henry is a young English bull mastiff, strongest fourlegs in Swallow, and packs a big pair of squidgy plumbs, uncut! And it is that particular asset which makes him dangerous to trot up to and simply say hello. At anytime. A serious butt-chewing might be the only hello he receives back.
I sniff you GitOrrf! a large voice calls from over the hedge.
I sniff you, Henry GitOrrf! replies, cautiously approaching the hedge and ready to run on the instant.
Yessir, I’m all for submitting
Sure? Henry sticks his head over the hedge looking down at the small Boston Terrier.
100% submitting, mate
Both fourlegs wag tails in comradely smiles.
Wattcha up to Henry? Got any grubbins?
Plenty. Who wants it?
Great thing about Henry is he’s strong, really strong. Just not so much his intellect. Henry’s deep-set brown eyes stare down balefully at the little street fourlegs. It’s a look some fourlegs have nightmares about. Not GitOrrf!.
Henry, you’re a muttwit
I am? His deep voice booms happily. You coming over or what?
Happy to mate…if I was a few times bigger or the hedge was a few times smaller
Forget it. You got some chicken or what?
Nah, but Franks is promising me a chop
Beef, pork or lamb?
There are times when even GitOrrf!’s good humoured patience starts wearing thin. Where is it then, Henry?
At the vets. Franks is taking me there to get the chop, so he sez
Great stuff! Bring another one back for me
Henry nods his head gravely if’s there’s another one, I’ll probably eat that, too
“Henry,Comeonmate,wegottago” Franks calls from the houseden.
No chance to jump over the hedge at the end of the garden today – Franks is taking him to Swallow’s Veterinarians for Livestock & Pets. Henry contemplates making an escape to go with GitOrrf! to find his mate Fudge, known by the misinformed as Drizzle. On the other hand, who wants to meet Fudge when chops are on the menu? On the other hand, it is Fudge –
But Franks has got his keen eyeballs right on the fourlegs “notsofast,bigfella” he grabs hold of Henry’s heavy collar, “it’sthesnipforyoutoday, mate”
Laters Henry booms, big head disappearing from over the hedge.
Laters as GitOrrf! wonders where the vets is and if there’s any bins ‘round back. Who doesn’t like a chop? Be it beef, pork or lamb.