Supervising kidnapped fourlegs at Freddy’s Kennels is rewarding work, so sez ThreeLegs, the fearsome bully-boy terrier who runs the place with a firm bite. However, his world is quickly turned upside down with the sudden arrival of fleet-footed Βία, a gorgeous ex-racing greyhound. Soon finding himself caste out, broken-hearted, and on the wrong side of every fourlegs in Swallow, ThreeLegs is set to learn the tough-love truth of who his real friends are, the hard way. Unreasonably, it’s all thanks to his arch enemy, that tough-snouted Thames Valley K9 trooper, Duncan.
It is a particularly puffy time in Swallow, the small town on the edge of the drinkThames, just a few paddles away from London. Puffy because Spring is up and out, thickening out the marker posts with fresh green leaves. Puffy because animals, on two, four, six and even eight legs are heavy with babies, pups, litters and, well, with whatever it is things with six or eight legs are heavy with. Spring is working hard making everything as puffy as possible. Noisy, too. Especially Swallow’s melee of fourlegs waking up across the small town.
Another day another noshing
Old kebabs ‘round back of the Turkish, fellas
Hello. Hello everyone
Check out the bin tipped over behind Mackers
A spring morning. The hot ball in the sky is bouncing its way up and all the fourlegs are out and about. Let the day’s noshing begin.
Checkers, the fawn bull terrier fourlegs who supervises at Freddy’s Farm, stretches out his three legs, furry toes splayed, and sighs in luxury.
Ah, it’s good to be alive and hungry he says to no one in particular.
Speak for yerself a voice from one of the cages answers back.
I am, so shut it, Scroggy Checkers rumbles at the Redbone Coonhound. He’s a good mind to go give that dumb muttwit a nip on the earflaps for interrupting his morning thinkings, but as Scroggy is currently Fred’s most valuable ‘misappropriated’ merchandise, he knows he’ll only end up get a right kicking from Fred. Instead, he gets up, single front leg pitching forward like a tent pole, the two hind legs raising up the rest of him in a seesaw motion until he’s fully standing. He often wonders if his 2-1 leg layout were the other way round. Like 1-2. Easier to stand bold chested and intimidating in front of the caged fourlegs around the farm with two sticks out front, underneath that fine chest and head piece. Absolutely. And a lot easier to play role of head gnasher and enforcer.
Nah he then thinks, as he always does immediately after thens I only got me one toe in rear to push meself along. Not good. Not good at all, nubbins, me old darlin’
Now that he’s up, Checkers, more commonly known as ThreeLegs by the intimates, hobbles out into the yard.
Morning all inmates and inbreds he shakes his cone-like snout at the rows of caged fourlegs. Peering at them closely, one by one, with small, close-set eyes, shiny as black pebbles another fine day to bask in the joy of my good company
The caged fours all mutter sullenly in reply.
Say what? ThreeLegs questions, a nasty edge beneath the bonhomie which they all appreciate can turn this bully boy into a right nasty piece of work. Right fast, too. Woe betide the unfortunate muttwit closest to appreciating ‘that’ before ThreeLeg’s breakfast nosh. Morning all me little darlin’s?
Morning all they all reply a touch less sullenly – just enough to stop any instant mauling around the earflaps.
Another day, another basking opportunity to impress me…if yer all wants yer brekkers he stops at the entrance to barn number one, holding the females, and cocks his leg to impress all within with a long and mighty squirt. Another good reason to have two back pins he reminds himself beyond counting. Not that ThreeLegs can count more than the number fifteen, which equals all his dog-given toesies put together.
Better out than in he shakes himself down and hobbles through the barn door and straight towards the first caged female.
Nothing like a little bit of sporting eightleggers to get the day off to a grand start he pushes open the spring-loaded door and steps in. The small King Charles Spaniel squints up at him, trembling. Ello Veronica, me delightful, looks like it’s yor lucky day ThreeLegs hobbles towards her, over her, tongue hanging.
Βία, pronounced Veeyah, the racing greyhound, thinks she’s in a chasing dream. ‘cept her eyeballs are wide open. The world is racing past in a sniffy blur of colour, just like it does at the track. ‘cept she’s not running today.
Of course, yer silly tart she shakes herself, remembering she’s in the back of a sniffy growling roundlegs, looking out the window you ain’t got much sense for an English Derby winner, have you girl?
Not that she’s been doing much running lately, what with that one front ankle all purple sniffy and painful. She doesn’t worry. Beforenows, she’s taken many a tumble on the track, resting a large number of squirts before returning to the race, fighting fit.
Maybe we’re going racing at the dog’s now? she presses her snout against the window, dreaming of the track curving away in front of her. Her back legs kicking in anticipation.
Up front two very dark sniffy hindlegs are yapping at one another.
“firstimeyouboughtadoggy,Fred” says one, sniffing green of nosh, especially fried nosh.
“Whaddyamean,Terry?” says the other, sniffing of danger, pure black danger.
Fred just stares at Terry, blackness sniffing out every which way.
Βία’s snout recognises most of the tracks around about, but she doesn’t recognise the track they’re pulling into today. In fact, she can’t even see the track. But she knows it must be there cos the place is well sniffy with a load of fourlegs. Hundreds of them. But not an healthy sniff amongst them. Something’s wrong.
The door pops open “c’monthen,outyergets”
Βία spills out, a coiled spring, trotting around in circles, stretching and shaking herself down. Racing muscles don’t like resting. A long squirt on the muddy courtyard of Freddy’s Kennels, although she doesn’t know this unhealthy sniffy place is called that. A reeking sniff separates itself from the background of fourlegs colour and she turns her graceful head, eyeballs peering down her long barrel of her snout, ending upon the shape of a very ugly fourlegs trotting her way. Except trotting is almost polite cos the fourlegs is actually hobbling her way.
“nicelynowCheckers” the black sniffing hindlegs warns, wagging a paw at the three legged fourlegs “thisone’smoney!”
“honestmoney” adds the green sniffing hindlegs “paidforcash,andall”
Is she now! Checkers hobbles right up and let’s his snout introduce itself all over her blue steel furs Hello petal
Βία lets him hobble around her in a little jiggly circle, sniffing away at the nether end, the front end, and back at the nether.
“Isaidnicely,Checkers,andnotouchingBeeArr” Fred, the dark sniffing hindlegs growls.
Bee-who? Checkers looks up at Freddylegs don’t you worry about him, my plum says Checkers to Βία he’s always barking away like that
I’m not, but by the sniff of it she turns her head, eyeballs boring into his sounds like you should… and that end’s off limits by the way
Touchy, aren’t we! Gurgles Checkers lest I forget my manners, my name’s Checkers raising his snout conspiratorially known as ThreeLegs to my very bestest confidants…and nows you
And you’re the big dog of the yard, right? she stares down at him disdainfully, a sudden urge to lunge at his thick muscled throat. Sensing danger and being a bit of a survivor, ThreeLegs hobbles back, just out of biting range. His snout dribbling lust.
So then, where’s the track? Βία continues, already relegating ThreeLegs to a low-level irritant.
ThreeLegs hops from back leg to front legs to back leg, unused to a female, any female, speaking to him without a shred of fear, and worse for the fact that he’s no clue what’s she’s on about.
The racecourse yer muttwit!
Sudden understanding emerges alongside a big grin Oh that! Right this way, yer highness he hobbles off towards the number one barn for females.
After a moment’s pause, Βία follows.
(ThreeLegs part.2 follows next week…)
Copyrighted work by Julian Boyce