Let’s get this clear at the start. I love dogs.
I really, really, really love dogs. I love their big soppy eyes, their ridiculous wagging tails, and their unconditional love and affection that becomes even more unconditional the more you feed them.
But what I can’t stand about dogs is their inability to distinguish between grass (toilet) and cream carpet (not a toilet).
My mother and her Bichon Frisé, Maddie, came for Christmas, and it was wonderful to see them both after my having spent months away. Maddie has been very ill recently, and after fears for her health she has returned to her usual bouncy self. She wet herself with the usual excitement when she saw me (I wish I had the same effect on men), then raced around the living room, once again delighted to be in the home where she knows she gets a gravy dinner if she goes outside to empty her bladder.
Because of her recent illness, doggy gravy dinners were off the menu this year, and it was doubtless this change in routine that confused her, resulting in two puddles on my bedroom carpet, one on my dining room carpet, and a monster of a river in the hallway that I slipped on, sending me flying and injuring my hip.
That wasn’t the only injury I sustained. On Christmas Eve, after being let into the garden for her last ablution before bedtime, she decided to go walkabout – or, rather, hideabout. She gets very upset every time she sees a squirrel running across my wall, and the non-stop barking serves only to entertain said squirrel, who runs up and down in the knowledge that Maddie cannot climb walls.
But on Christmas Eve, Maddie decided to try another route and found a part of the garden that might gain her access to her new playmate. It took me half an hour to find her hidden amongst a clump of bushes where holly and nettles and all manner of wood and mud had somehow congregated to make a climbable mound.
Coaxing her out of there was the difficult part. I finally managed it by calling “Treat”, which she knows to be a reward in the form of a biscuit. When she emerged in the small clearing and excitedly sniffed at my hand, she knew she had been tricked not treated, and was straight back into the forest. I returned to the house to get a real treat (a piece of ham) and a large umbrella to battle my way into the woods.
“Treat! Treat!” I called. No way. She had been caught on that ruse once and wasn’t going to be fooled again. As I beat about the bushes with the giant golf umbrella, I fell off the mound and injured my already bad back and started to bleed after being attacked by a holly bush.
“She’s back, she’s back!” called Mum from the house. Well, good for her, I mumbled, pulling branches from my ears.
Back on the sofa, she did everything a dog can do to try to apologise, but I ignored her. For all of five minutes. Then she blinked those big brown eyes with such pitiful love, I melted yet again.
Until the alien. You remember the scene? The one in which a gross creature leaps out from someone’s stomach? That was Maddie, except the alien emerged from her mouth.
I am not great with human vomit, but doggie vomit isn’t too bad. I had already cleaned up a yellow, frothy one from the cream carpet (how she loves that carpet) a couple of days earlier and, as she hasn’t been well, my only concern was for her health. But after her safari, she returned to project a veritable snake of a thing that bore no resemblance to anything I have ever seen come out of any mouth. Ever. And I know a lot about horrible things in mouths. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.
“No, don’t eat it!” yelled Mum, when Maddie started sniffing at her installation.
I made Mum clean it up. I really couldn’t. Turkey, gravy and grass. Solidified. I am heaving just thinking about it.
They both went home yesterday and I am resting my injured hip and back. I’m already missing them. The house is strangely quiet without the echo of my voice shouting “No, Maddie, NOOOOOOOO!” The squirrel looks a little bit lost without its companion. The installation is an empty space, as if the work of art that once stood there has been moved to another gallery.
Weeing and vomiting dogs are, I suspect, like childbirth. It’s hell when you’re going through it, but the long term benefits far outweigh the bad. Maddie is, at the end of the day, the cutest dog on the planet.
And certainly a worthy successor to Alien: Resurrection.