(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Here is my Christmas story about Rocco the Italian Greyhound who learns about the true meaning of Christmas.
It contains mild adult course language and content and may not be suitable for children or those easily offended by adult humour.
There are also a couple of Christmas carols that have had the words substituted for doggy ones so this may offend you if you are particularly religious. (no offence intended but I thought I would warn you in advance)
This is a HUGE read of over 8,880 words and is probably best read with a cup of tea/coffee – maybe even several (if you are like me).
So now take a step into the secret world of Italian Greyhounds and if you would like your Iggy to be in one of my stories, let me know and I will write them in.
Christmas Party at Pippin Pringles House
It was Christmas Eve and the Iggies were at the Iggy Headquarters (Pippin’s house) busy preparing for Christmas and by that I mean decorating the tree, urinating up the tree, running round the tree doing ‘zoomies’, placing wrapped up doggy treats under the tree that invariably ended up being eaten by one of the puppies.
‘Zara and Olive, will you please stop stealing the dog treats!’ growled Pippin, really it was no good; as fast as Rambow, Fletch, Hershey and Woody were wrapping them, Olive, Soobi and Zara were unwrapping them and cramming them into their slender mouths which were could hold a surprising amount of food.
Olive – the raider of the Christmas tree
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘If you have it in your mouth they have nothing to pin on you, just make sure you have no evidence’ Soobi whispered to Zara.
‘Treats? What treats?’ Zara replied innocently in a voice that sounds like it had just swallowed a Schmacko – which of course it had.
‘Mouth! Crumbs around it!’ Olive hissed to Zara who quickly wiped her snout and then got back to looking innocent.
‘Did you get me any biscuits?’ Fat Harry asked Zara, not that he needed any food but if it was under the tree then it was fair game because Harry is convinced that there is a constant famine going on and it is every dog for himself.
Fat Harry and the famine!
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘Don’t know what you are talking about Harry’ Zara said in a breezy voice and then turned her back on the chunky Iggy to try and hide the guilt that was clearly written all over her snout in the form of crumbs.
Bronte (left) and Zara (right)
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘A dog could starve to death around here!’ Fat Harry growled at nobody in particular and then sat down to keep an eye on a tray of Denise’s delicious famous ‘satin balls’ that had been made up for Mako to help him gain weight.
Actually Fat Harry was convinced those satin balls were for him and no amount of persuasion could convince him otherwise not even the fact that Harry didn’t need to gain weight as he could technically be classed as two very cute Iggies rolled into one.
Fat Harry (I love him)
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Rocco had his ‘grump on’ and was not joining in the festivities at all, he didn’t believe in the ‘Santa Paws’ Christmas thing, and certainly didn’t believe that some fat bastard went around on a sleigh giving out toys to the dogs that had been good. He just assumed that the gifts under the tree ‘just got there’ although he always did enjoy ripping them open.
Rocco loves his Mum
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
After having a fight with his invisible friend over the situation which involved Bentley joining in and attacking ‘fresh air’ to make Rocco feel more supported, both Rocco and Bentley were now sat in the corner furious over everything and nothing.
‘It’s all a load of old bollocks’ Rocco growled to Bentley who nodded in agreement, aside from the gifts and the food that is – they totally believed in getting their ‘food on’ when it was on offer and unlike Nica, never vomited afterwards on grounds of there being many a starving dog in Africa that would be glad of a hot meal.
‘If I see Santa Paws I will bite him’ Bentley said angrily.
‘Santa Paws my arse, how can anyone believe in such a thing?’ Rocco snapped.
‘But you have to believe in Santa Paws!’ Soobie barked looking upset; ‘Every animal believes in Santa Paws’.
‘Yeah right’ Rocco muttered and placed his snout between his paws. Honestly, there was no such thing and the rest of the Iggies were so gullible in believing otherwise.
‘Rocco, just because you are in a bad mood, don’t ruin Christmas for the puppies, now please everyone will you gather round the piano so we can practice for the choir’ Pippin said in his firm voice, which he tried to save for special occasions that involved naughtiness, farting and trying to gain order.
Wearing his half rimmed spectacles and his silk ruffle around his neck, Pippin sat bolt upright at the piano while frequently peering above his glasses to see that the Iggies were concentrating. He could already see Gidget trying to distract the girls by showing off her new outfit.
‘Gidget will you stop showing off now!’ Pippin said sounding exasperated.
‘I’ll try but I can’t promise you!’ Gidget giggled as Nica gave her the thumbs up to encourage her.
Gidget – can’t promise anything about behaving!
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
The Iggy Christmas Choir I’ll have you know; is the most important event of the year and involves all of the Iggies wearing ‘ruffles’ around their necks and standing round the piano which is always played by Pippin while Madam Gigi tries to get them to hit the high notes.
‘Right everyone, take it from the top!’ Pippin shouted and then with a curt nod in Madam Gigi’s direction, started to play the piano and in turn Madam Gigi started waving her front pointy legs about to the Iggies to instruct them.
‘No, no no! – You need to go higher!’ Madam Gigi snapped as Enzo sang in a forced deep voice.
‘Told you that you needed to go higher, didn’t I tell them Topper, they just don’t listen, I told you so’ Gidget said smugly to the other Iggies as they glared back at her – their snouts appearing more pointy and dangerous the angrier they got.
‘It’s like trying to polish a turd with this lot’ Pino whispered to Enzo who really wanted to sound like Pavarotti – except Pavarotti is dead and he wouldn’t really be suited to the Iggy Choir now would he?
‘I feel so silly wearing this’ Enzo said fretfully and tried to pull his ruffle off his neck until Pippin gave him ‘a look’ that said ‘leave the hell alone’.
‘I really don’t see why we have to wear them’ Rocco said angrily as Bentley agreed with him and muttered something about ‘ruffles up the arse’ or something equally as vulgar.
‘I think I might wet my pants if they don’t get started soon’ Bronte growled to Nica. She wouldn’t really wet herself of course; she purely wanted to draw attention to the fact that she was wearing her new ‘Diva Pantz’ from her favourite store ‘Spoiled Bratzwear Canine Couture’.
Bronte likes the boys to check out her bum!
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘If I could sit on someone’s lap that would make me sing better’ Woody said meekly but secretly praying that Madam Gigi would allow that to happen.
Woody is quite stealth in his approach to the humans and how he can wrangle his way on to their laps for attention without them even realizing it. Even my husband did not escape Woody’s charms one day when he found himself hugging the Iggy for quite a while before Woody sloped off and found several other laps to sit on, with each one he took the scent of the aftershave or perfume with him.
‘No Woody, you cannot sit on anyone’s lap – now concentrate please. Now once again everyone; take it from the top!’ Gigi barked and then nodded to Pippin for him to start playing the piano as the entire Iggy choir started to sing the canine version of ‘Away in a manger’.
The Iggies getting ready to do some singing
(Photography by Samantha Rose)
All Italian greyhounds have high pitched voices – it is ‘The Law’, they talk as though they have inhaled vast quantities of helium but once they sing, they have Aled Jones (The Snowman) style choir voices and even Rocco with his Tourette’s, can go from sounding vulgar to a high pitched angelic voice the moment he sings.
Rocco left, Pippin middle and Fat Harry right
(Photograph from Google and ruined beyond recognition by myself)
Fat Harry puffed his fat chest out as he hit the high notes, Enzo, Cino, Pino, Mako, Topper, Rocco, Bentley, Fletch, Woody, Dash, Rambow, Apollo, Charlie and Starbucks gave it their all as did the others. Zara and the other puppies were still at the embarrassed stage at the thought of singing in public and were miming – just like we used to be at school when Assembly was on and we were forced to sing but would mime along to morning hymns.
Fat Harry hitting those high notes!
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
(I still have nightmares about miming to ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ – but we won’t go there, it is too traumatic but it involved Nuns and stuff)
You are now privy to read the Iggy Lyrics to ‘Away in a Manger’ – please feel free to sing along using the words below to the music.
Away in a manger, no place for a dog
Cuzz Bro the Maori boi carved a bed from a log
The dogs were all happy and the cats went to stay
On the scratch post he made them
And they ran off to play
Some dogs go cold and hungry
Some have no bones
While some have no toys
And some have no homes
We Iggies are so lucky
That we are loved and well fed
And at night we are cuddled
And tucked up in our beds
‘Not bad everyone for the first attempt, take a few minutes break and we will try again’ Madam Gigi said approvingly.
Madam Gigi – she can get those Iggies singing!
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
*Cuzz Bro Kennels – the fabulous Maori boi that hand makes dog beds, kennels and any other pet stuff for the people of Perth. Lovely guy, everyone knows and respects him and I can highly recommend him to make stuff for your pet*
Suddenly sounds of singing could be heard from outside Pippin’s house that were only comparable to something being murdered, or Cliff Richard singing with a bad dose of gastro.
Either way, it sounded awful and it was coming from outside Pippin’s front door and it sounded suspiciously like a pair of large, clumsy and uncoordinated dogs with a penchant for licking windows, lure coursing, farting and loving each other. Can you guess which dogs I am talking about?
‘Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the new born king’
‘Give me food and give me toys
Our Mums said we’re both good boys’
‘I didn’t mean to dig the garden
Belch in your face and not say pardon’
‘Hark the herald angels groan
I deserve a juicy bone’
‘We’re both good boys for our Mums
With our jowls and dirty bums’
‘Do you think they liked it?’ Vader slurred his words at Brutus from outside Pippin’s house.
‘They must have, we sounded bloody awesome’ Brutus said proudly and then hiccupped loudly ‘Pardon me!’ – Yes, both boys were drunk.
Clutching their dog beers in their paws, they propped one another up and after visiting a local skimpies bar that had naked whippets inside dancing for Schmackos; the boys had decided to gatecrash Pippin’s Iggy Christmas Eve meeting.
Brutus and Vader – never could hold their drink
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘Bloody hell, what on earth is that?’ Pippin spluttered as he took his glasses off to wipe off some smudges.
‘I think someone has been murdered’ Nica replied and then placed her skinny little paws in her ears to block out the sound.
Apollo, Mako, Fletch and Starbucks were trying hard not to laugh as Pippin looked positively furious at the disturbance.
Starbucks – laughing at the disturbance (she is an Iggy in disguise!)
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘Someone must have lost their testicles or something,’ Bentley spluttered and then checked to see what could be causing the noise.
Just as the Iggies thought the dreadful noise was over, Brutus and Vader decided to sing (or rather invent) the words to ‘Silent Night’.
‘Silent Night in my home
God protect me and my bones’
‘Happy and grateful for my Kong
My Mum thinks I can do no wrong’
‘I did chew up the palm tree
I did chew up the tree’
‘And you shit yourself – several times, even I know that!’ Vader belched and slurred to Brutus.
‘Yeah alright, those days are behind me’ Brutus blushed and then poked Vader in the ribs to shut him up and added ‘I – AM – A- GROWN – UP’ as Vader burst out laughing at such a statement.
Brutus and Vader – grown ups you know!
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Leaning out of the window, Rocco strained his neck to see what the assault on their ears could be.
‘Oh god, it’s Brutus and Vader and they are drunk’ Rocco growled to Bentley who was wiping the tears from his eyes as he was laughing so much.
‘Priceless, totally priceless – come on Pippin, let them in before someone calls the rangers’. Bentley said while snorting with laughter.
‘Really this is highly irregular, they are not part of the Iggy Choir and it is our official practice night and they know they shouldn’t come round’ Pippin sighed.
‘Starbucks isn’t an Iggy?’ Zara said pointedly.
‘Yes but Starbucks is the same size as us so almost an Iggy’ Olive added as the other dogs nodded.
‘You can’t say no to them Pippin, they are virtually family’ Soobi cried as Pippin rolled his eyes.
But really it was no good, the boys would end up gatecrashing the meeting and Pippin knew it, in fact we all knew it.
‘Excellent!’ Bronte giggled to Nica, Zara, Olive and Enzo who were all trembling with excitement as there is nothing like an impromptu visitor to get everyone into the spirit of things not to mention cause a happy diversion from the routine.
Fat Harry who is pretty much welcoming to anyone just sat there grinning while Woody and Hershey took the piss out of him for how excited he always gets when anyone turns up, probably because Harry is convinced he will get food out of it – which of course he usually does.
‘Oh for goodness sake let them in before they embarrass us further!’ Madam Gigi snapped and then nodded to Bentley to open the door.
The smell of alcohol fumes could have lit a fire – the boys had been drinking dog beer.
‘Merry Christmas!’ Vader shouted with a mouthful of his own tongue as the door to Pippins house opened. Burping and hiccupping, Vader slurred ‘we have been to admire the whippets in the skimpies bar and man, do they know how to dance round a bone’
‘Whippet real good, she whipped off her collar that whippet did, even WA cop dog Rumble threw dog chocs at the whippets and ‘Z’ the Cop dog had to arrest him!’ Brutus giggled childishly and then tried hard to stand straight in a way that only a drunk person does but ended up hitting the wall and apologising to it.
‘Have you been drinking dog beer again?’ Hershey demanded.
Hershey – have you been drinking beer?
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘Yes, we have’ Vader hiccupped and then added ‘It was bloody nice as well, and we have been whippeted all over our bottoms. Mind if we come in?’ And without waiting for a response barged past Pippin into the living room leaving a trail of mucous behind him and a smell of farts that indicated that he really needed to go to the toilet.
‘Pippin, I just want to tell you that I love you as much as I do Tony Abbott!’ Brutus said with a big grin on his face as he walked past Pippin into the living room and then promptly collapsed in a big brown heap on the floor by the TV – leaving Pippin looking mortified, Madam Gigi looking furious and the other Iggies laughing hysterically.
Pippin looked down at the large brown dog that was now comatose on the floor and looked up to the other Iggies standing around him. ‘Not a word to anyone about this you lot and remember – what happens at the Iggy meeting, stays at the Iggy meeting’.
The Iggies all nodded their heads quickly in agreement; after all some pretty naughty things go down at Iggy meetings you know – we don’t know half of it although Enzo was making a mental note to tell Luciano in Karratha everything as he was the Karratha Correspondent after all and if he could get the news to Fabian in Puerto Rico all the better.
Enzo was laughing at the sight of a pissed up Brutus who was now snoring loudly with Vader curled up fast asleep beside him resting his head on Brutus’s bum with his huge tongue hanging out like a yard of Christmas ham.
‘At least he can’t get up to any trouble here’ Hershey whispered to Enzo just as Brutus let out an enormous fart, which caused Vader to wake slightly, snort with laughter and mumble ‘Nice one Brutus, don’t shit yourself’ before falling back to sleep.
‘Wanna bet on that?’ Enzo laughed as Pippin shook his head and clasped his pointy snout to avoid breathing in the Brutus’s bottom-offerings.
A bit about Rocco
Little Rocco hated Christmas and refused to get into the spirit of it all, saying that Santa Paws was a waste of time and a fat judgmental bastard that didn’t have a clue about how ‘real dogs’ lived their lives.
Saying that Rocco never questioned the presents that lay under his tree for him and Madam Gigi every year, he still didn’t care how they got there. Christmas is just ‘another day in the year – except that you get toys’, according to Rocco.
Bentley thought a bit differently about the situation as he totally believed in Santa Paws but would never admit it to Rocco so thought it better if he too declared that he hated Christmas.
But when nobody was looking, Bentley would make his list for Santa and lie in his bed at night, shaking with anticipation at what Santa Paws would bring him for ‘being a good boy’.
Even Keno, Amex and Shine in QLD would start their Santa Paws list months in advance for what they wanted.
Barney the horse-dog, Ruby the kelpie and Kath the greyhound in QLD also had their traditions for Christmas, which normally involved Barney eating far too much Christmas BBQ and spending the afternoon farting it off while Kath and Ruby covered their snouts. It was all in good fun though and farting aside, party games were played including ‘Who has the biggest paws’ and ‘The Ministers Cat’.
It was only Rocco that didn’t really get into the spirit because he didn’t believe in it either.
You know what they say – and that is we all need something to believe in; Santa, the fairies, and the spirit of our loved ones watching over us, or simply the fact that something nice is always waiting for us around the corner. Either way, it just keeps that tiny bit of magic in an otherwise ordinary life.
‘But why don’t you believe in Santa Paws?’ Zara asked Rocco one day.
‘I just don’t, it’s for puppies and idiots to believe in!’ Rocco growled Zara leaving her confused and upset at such a declaration.
‘And another thing, how can you believe in something you can’t see idiot?’ he sneered at Zara.
Looking thoughtful, Zara replied ‘You believe in your invisible friend and we can’t see him!’
‘That is different!’ Rocco spluttered, he was getting angry, as he didn’t like his logic being challenged.
‘Well I believe in Santa Paws and I don’t care what you think’ Zara snapped back and picked up her squeaky toy and walked off with it to tell Soobi and Olive how unreasonable Rocco was being about the whole thing.
So you see Rocco had no belief at all, except for his invisible friend who he enjoyed fighting with on a daily basis but as for Santa Paws – well that was for puppies and idiots.
Back to the party
The Iggies had abandoned hope of practicing for the Xmas choir and were now either dancing or playing party games around Pippin’s Christmas tree.
Zara, Soobi, Olive and Dobby were standing in a large circle while Madam Gigi and Nica danced in the middle as the others clapped.
Some of them were playing party games, some were just chatting about next years lure coursing season with West Coast Dog Sports and the next ‘Fastest Dog in Australia’ contest which was a huge success this year and promised to be next year.
Pippin was now totally relaxed and was joining in the fun which the other Iggies loved as it was rather like seeing your teacher relax at the school disco and do the ‘Dad dance’ across the dance floor.
*The Dad Dance is where you dance like a middle aged man and do ridiculous and embarrassing moves across the dance floor in a bid to look ‘cool’ whilst embarrassing your children*
‘Oh come on Pippin, show us your moves!’ Nica squealed at the normally very reserved little Pippin who was feeling brave at such encouragement.
Apollo, Mako and Pino started to clap and chant ‘Pippin! Pippin! Pippin!’ and pretty soon the others were joining until Pippin had no choice but to dance.
Pippin getting into the Christmas spirit
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Well I say dance, Pippin tried his best and ended up doing a mixture of the ‘Funky Chicken’ and the ‘Dad Dance’ around the tree as the other Iggies clapped and cheered in delight at their leader letting his guard down.
‘We can bribe him with this for years to come’ Hershey whispered to Woody.
‘Oh don’t you worry, I am recording it on my iPhone’ Enzo laughed.
‘Let’s do The River Dance’ Gigi cried and all the Iggies suddenly lined up with their paws across each others shoulders as they started to dance to Irish music with their hind legs kicking furiously in time to the beat – except for Fat Harry who could not keep up and danced in a circle on his own at the end ‘doing his thang’.
Just one solitary and lonely little figure didn’t join in and that was Rocco. He stared at his sister Madam Gigi and the others all enjoying themselves.
Rocco shook his head at the other Iggies and decided that he simply could not cope with watching it any more.
Without anyone noticing him, he slipped quietly out of the living room and went into the cat room for his own company and this time not even his invisible friend went with him and nobody noticed he had gone either.
‘It’s all a load of crap’ Rocco growled to himself and looked around for his invisible friend to back him up but for once he couldn’t see him and he was truly on his own except for his demons that he didn’t know existed.
Feeling somewhat unsettled, Rocco sighed and placed his head down on his front paws and within minutes he was fast asleep.
Rocco woke up with a start and the first thing he noticed was how quiet it was, no sound of the Iggies playing – had they gone home without him? The second thing he noticed was the sound of howling, very loud and almost ghostly and also that the room had gone icy cold to the point that he could see his own breath.
The howling got louder and Rocco lifted his head up and looked around him – what the hell could that be howling like a bloody wolf?
Standing up, Rocco trotted around the room to check what was going on and seeing that everything was in order, he lay back down; perhaps he was imagining it all.
The howling got louder until Rocco snapped and said ‘Look if that is you Dobby, you can piss off as I am not in the mood!’ God they were all so juvenile and he would be glad when Christmas was over.
‘Rocco my friend, are you there?’ A strong QLD accent came out of nowhere.
‘Bloody hell, what is that – Enzo, Pino, Hershey, is that you?’ Rocco shouted – clearly unsettled by the strange, loud but haunting voice.
Realizing that none of those Iggies had a QLD accent, he then switched his attentions to Keno, Shine, Gracie and Amex, or even Ruby, Kath the greyhound and Barney the horse-dog. Maybe they had set up some kind of webcam to tease him or something.
Except that once Rocco realized that it didn’t sound like any of them and the howling could not be explained, he was very afraid.
Rocco ran towards the entrance of the cat room to get out except that he couldn’t because the door was shut and there was nowhere to go and the house was now eerily silent. Where was everyone? Where had they gone?
Although it was a Christmas Eve party, the plans were that they would all go to their respective homes with their families but surely they wouldn’t have gone home without him?
‘I am dreaming, I am so dreaming – God if I find out Fat Harry or the others are involved in this, then I am going to be pissed off’ Rocco said to himself. Turning round to look for another escape, he came face to face with a large, majestic, beautiful white greyhound that stood so tall his presence almost filled the room.
Bowie – the Angel Dog (before he crossed over to Rainbow Bridge)
(Photograph by Fran Forbes)
With a large set of white wings on his back, he floated just above the ground and not quite touching it. His lean and muscular body quivered, his long pointy snout was bigger than Rocco himself and his kind eyes looked down on the tiny little Italian greyhound who was now so terrified that he had ‘done a Brutus’ and urinated down his own legs.
‘Hello Rocco, do you know who I am?’ The greyhound asked. His voice had an echo and at that moment in time appeared to be the only voice that Rocco had ever really tuned in to.
‘I don’t think so, who are you?’ Rocco stuttered and tried to stand on the cat scratch post to make himself big and brave to face the greyhound.
‘My name is Bowie and I am the brother of Keno, Amex, Gracie and Shine – I passed away a few months ago and I am now an angel dog and I get to go around and help dogs on earth that need some guidance and you my friend need some guidance over this Christmas issue that you have’ Bowie said as he looked directly into Rocco’s eyes.
‘I do NOT have an issue with Christmas!’ Rocco growled forgetting how scared he was.
‘Do you believe in Santa Paws?’ Bowie asked him.
‘Of course not, Santa Paws is for…..’ Rocco sneered.
‘Puppies and idiots?’ Bowie finished the sentence for him, ‘Well Rocco, there must be a lot of puppies and idiots in this world as Santa Paws is mightily busy this time of year’.
Blushing at Bowie’s words, Rocco quickly changed the subject; ‘Where is everyone, have they gone home? Do Amex, Keno, Gracie and Shine know you are here?’
‘No they haven’t gone home, they are oblivious to you and to me and as far as they are concerned you are fast asleep sulking away in your Christmas misery, you cannot see them and they can only see you sleeping but have no desire to come and find you’.
‘But can they see you? I could call Amex and the others and tell them I am speaking to you, they would be so happy’ Rocco sighed and he knew they would as well. Actually they wouldn’t believe him and would think he was talking to his invisible friends again.
‘They don’t know I am here as very few dogs get to see us Angel dogs until they are ready to do so’ Bowie smiled at Rocco.
‘Now Rocco, tell me why you really hate Christmas and if you don’t mind, could you refrain from swearing or at least not use the word ‘bollocks’ and take your time my friend’. Bowie said gently to Rocco who was looking boot-faced at the prospect of not only opening his heart but also unlocking thoughts and fears that he had buried some time ago.
The Pandora’s box of Rocco
‘I asked Santa Paws if I could be a big dog. I waited on Christmas Eve for it to happen, I went to sleep and woke up on Christmas Day and I was still – well, I was still me, tiny Rocco weighing less than Gordon the cat’. Rocco looked angry just by remembering such a travesty.
Bowie tried not to smile at Rocco who had his front paws folded tight and his hind legs crossed to try and hide his emotions by folding everything possible.
‘I wanted to be a big dog, I wanted to be able to go to the park and the other dogs admire how big I am and I would be afraid of nothing’.
‘But it never happened and I woke up still little, still vulnerable and I felt let down. Santa let me down’ Rocco sighed.
‘But did you get anything else for Christmas?’ Bowie asked Rocco.
Rocco looked thoughtful and replied ‘Oh sure, there were toys around the tree, lots of them but not what I had asked for’
‘Did you get treats and food on Christmas Day?’ Bowie asked in a patient voice.
Rocco nodded his head ‘Oh yes, there were lots of those – treats, sausages, BBQ food – everything really, but I still woke up being me, I still woke up being short’.
‘Did your Mum cuddle you on Christmas Day?’ asked Bowie as he stared intently at Rocco.
Cocking his head to the side, Rocco thought for a few minutes before replying ‘Oh yes, all the time, I was and still am always covered in her perfume’.
‘Do you get treats, cuddles, pats, love, warm bed, food, toys, social outings at any other time other than Christmas?’ Bowie growled gently at Rocco.
Rocco was getting annoyed now, such stupid questions, ‘Why of course – all the time, what dog doesn’t get all of these basic necessities?’
Bowie shook his head in disbelief and from nowhere he produced an iPad and beckoned Rocco to come and look at it.
‘What am I looking at?’ Rocco demanded.
‘Your reality, that’s what you are looking at’ Bowie said flatly.
Staring at the iPad, Rocco saw an elderly border collie, with a grizzled muzzle, grey tufts above his eyebrows, thick matted coat and feathering around his paws, his tail a tangled mess – just a scruffy, tatty and unloved dog.
An almost empty water bowl with barely a dribble on the bottom sat near the pergola. No kennel, no proper shelter, no blankets, no food until his owner deemed it fit to throw some and certainly no toys.
With a rope tied around his neck, he was tethered to the post, no collar, no council tag, no rego, no identity and no name.
Rocco looked horrified, was this joke? ‘What is this dog doing living outside? Where are his toys/treats/food bowls?’
‘Why is his coat in that condition, has his Mum not heard of Lexie the groomer?’ Rocco demanded to know.
Shaking his head sadly, Bowie said nothing and Rocco kept watching.
Rocco watched the video for 10 minutes, which showed a time lapse of 24 hours and in those 24 hours, Rocco could not help but notice that no owner came to check on the dog.
The border collie had given up lifting his head to check for his owner, he had given up on food being given and a bowl of fresh water and he had long since given up on the prospect of a pat/cuddle because to be brutally honest, he wouldn’t recognize affection if he saw it. With regards to food – perhaps tomorrow, who knows? – Not him that’s for sure.
Just as Rocco was about to look away from the screen, he saw on the video that the owner had returned.
‘Look, see his owner has come back – I knew he would!’ Rocco said in a smug voice.
Bowie ignored him.
The border collie looked up with a glimmer of hope, which was quickly replaced by pain as his owner threw a bit of meat on the floor and then kicked the frail elderly dog hard in the ribs – just for being there.
The elderly grizzled dog remained by the pergola too afraid to move and the meat remained next to him untouched.
‘Why did his owner do that to him?’ Rocco asked Bowie.
‘Why not?’ Bowie sniffed in response, ‘Why do you get toys? Why do you tell everyone to ‘piss off’? Why do we do anything in life – because we CHOOSE to that’s why. You choose how to behave and you choose how to react to the behaviour of others’.
Suddenly the footage on the iPad changed – It was Christmas Day and the scene was set at Rocco’s house where his Mum Gwynneth was sat cross-legged on the floor playing with his sister Madam Gigi. Rocco was nowhere to be seen.
‘That’s my house, that is my sister and that is my Mum!’ Rocco said excitedly, wagging his whippy tail so furiously that he almost cleared the table. Bowie smiled at such a genuine reaction from the tiny ball of Iggy fury.
‘Where am I though, I can only see Gigi?’ Rocco barked.
‘Keep looking’ Bowie instructed and Rocco kept looking.
There sat behind the sofa was Rocco in a curled up ball of angriness and resentment. He was so busy fighting with his invisible friend and telling it to ‘Piss off and to stop trying to put Christmas on him that he never noticed his Mum Gwynneth and sister Gigi happily organizing treats – HIS treats under the tree
Gwynneth was sorting out toys that Santa Paws had brought Rocco, soft toys, squeaky balls, chews, delicious yummy treats for him to eat – everything a dog could want and so much more.
Gigi was prancing around impatiently waiting for Rocco so that they could open their presents together.
‘Rocco, come on! We can open our gifts and see what Santa Paws brought us!’ Gigi squeaked in her high-pitched voice.
‘Bollocks, I don’t believe in Santa Paws!’ Growled Rocco and turned his back on his sister.
‘So you don’t want your presents then?’ Gigi replied, totally unabated by her grumpy brother and then proceeded to wave one of his presents under his pointy snout.
‘I never said that, give that to me!’ Rocco said firmly and snatched a beautifully wrapped gift with his name on it.
Rocco unwrapped each and every gift and trust me; there were lots of them.
Not one single ‘thank you’ passed his lips as he shoved some presents to the side although a great deal of food did as he ate his treats without even looking to see what they were.
He ignored the loving looks from his Mum who clearly loved him to bits, he ignored the fond glances of Gigi who loved him faults and all and he totally bypassed the amount of love that had been poured into these gifts.
‘What do you think Rocco? Do you believe in Santa Paws now?’ Gigi grinned at her brother.
Rocco lifted his head up and looked thoughtful before replying simply ‘Bollocks’
Bowie was staring sadly at Rocco who had the grace to blush at this behavior. Neither dog said a word, they didn’t need to really as the video said it all.
‘Rocco, what else did you want for Christmas aside from being a big dog?’ Bowie asked him.
Rocco was about to answer but thought better of it, he was already feeling pretty small with his behavior and being forced to watch it back was actually quite embarrassing not to mention shameful.
‘Well, was there anything else you wanted Santa Paws to get you for Christmas?’ Bowie repeated the question.
Remembering a bright red Kong Wubba toy that he had always wanted that Santa Paws never got him, it all seemed so trivial. It was silly really but Rocco had always wanted one of those and had every toy a dog could wish for but the Kong Wubba toy – now that WOULD have been a real treat.
But what Rocco did not realize was that in order to get your hearts desire from Santa Paws, you had to believe in him first because without that believe, everything was meaningless – even Kong Wubba toys.
Deciding to keep his wish for a Wubba quiet, Rocco whispered to Bowie ‘No Bowie, nothing else from Santa Paws’.
‘Well if you are sure…’ Bowie took a deep breath as he replied.
‘Yes, I am sure’ Rocco said so quietly that you could barely hear him.
‘How do you feel Rocco?’ Bowie asked while stretching his long legs.
Shrugging his shoulders Rocco didn’t trust himself to reply and carried on watching the screen on the iPad.
‘So Santa Paws let you down did he?’ Bowie said quite sarcastically.
‘Santa Paws didn’t make you into a big dog so you decided not to believe in him, yet you still expect every single Christmas Day to wake up bigger than what you are purely to prove a point to your friends and yourself that he still exists?’
Even to Rocco, this was sounding more ridiculous by the minute.
‘Rocco my dear, I repeat myself – to experience the magic in ones life, one has to believe in it and have faith in it’
‘Now take a look again’ Bowie ordered Rocco as he pointed to the screen of the iPad.
Rocco could see his Mum cradling him, his thin legs all folded up as he lay on his back in her arms while she rubbed his belly.
Smothering the Iggy with kisses and smoothing down his ears, she made promises of lavish gifts, food and attention and despite Rocco thinking Santa Paws was not real, she still patiently told him that he would be getting a visit which would result in all the toys and treats that he and Gigi wanted.
And in spite of knowing about Rocco’s lack of faith and belief in anything except for his invisible friend, she kept telling him this story so that one day he too would see the magic in something invisible yet so powerful that it had dogs all over the world on the edge of their beds hoping for presents (or just a loving home).
‘What do you have to say for yourself Rocco?’ Bowie finished as he slowly and purposely turned off the iPad.
‘That I have been stupid, that I am lucky to have my Mum who loves me, my sister Madam Gigi and all of my friends and that I have more than lots of other dogs have, and I don’t just mean toys either’ Rocco said while hanging his head in shame.
‘Do you believe in Santa Paws yet?’ Bowie asked him.
‘I think so, I haven’t felt any magic yet but I can see what I do have instead of what I don’t in my life’ Rocco replied nodding his head to convince himself.
‘And that my friend, is a start’ Bowie grinned.
‘What happens now?’ Rocco asked the big white greyhound.
‘It’s time for you to join the real world and your friends and when you do, they will know nothing of this and neither will they believe you if you told them’.
‘When you wake up it will be as though you had a good sleep’ The greyhound said firmly as he stood up and had a good stretch with his bum in the air, his wings stretched out and his front legs on the floor in a ‘play bow’ kind of way that only a greyhound can pull off.
‘Bowie?’ Rocco asked him.
‘Yes Rocco?’ Bowie yawned as he looked out of the window.
‘Thank you’ Rocco gave a very ‘un-Rocco’ like smile.
‘No worries lad, no worries’ Bowie grinned and ordered Rocco to shut his eyes.
One more glimpse wouldn’t hurt surely? Rocco wanted to see where Bowie went to, where he came from, surely he could take a peek?
Rocco closed his eyes for a second and then decided to open them. When he did; he found himself curled up on the floor by the cat scratch post in the same position that he had laid down earlier when he first entered the room.
Looking up to see if Bowie was still there, he noticed the time on the clock – it was just five minutes since he had left the others and not the hour it had seemed.
Back to the party
Rocco crept back into the living room unseen by the others. Pippin was playing ‘Blind dogs bluff’ and was blind folded while Zara, Soobi, Olive and Mako were spinning him around and the other Iggies were hiding and Pippin had to find them.
Squeals of delight could be heard as the Iggies teased Pippin and had even placed his spectacles over the blindfold to confuse him further while Bronte took the opportunity to flash her pretty little Diva Pantz and lift up her skirt at Enzo.
Brutus and Vader were still fast asleep and alternating between farting and snorting on the floor as everyone played around them and even using the giant dogs as stepping-stones.
‘Look at me, I am king of the world!’ Zara yelled as she stood on a sleeping Vader’s head trying to do a Titanic impression as Fat Harry stood behind her and held her paws.
‘Zara and Fat Harry get down now!’ Nica screamed, my goodness the last thing they needed were Brutus and Vader waking up. It would be like the giant in Gulliver’s Travels.
Rocco stood in the background quietly watching his friends enjoying their Christmas party.
Rocco was thinking that it would soon be time for them to go home and be put to bed so that Santa Paws could come and sort out gifts when he suddenly realized that he hadn’t even joined in with any of the games in any of the parties.
‘Oh I can’t do it, I am dizzy!’ Pippin laughed as Nica removed the blindfold leaving the other Iggies giggling.
‘What are you laughing at Fletch?’ Pippin said sounding confused.
‘Nothing’ Fletch grinned as the other dogs snorted with laughter.
Unaware that the girls had placed lipstick on Pip’s cheeks and ears and a love heart on his bottom, they left him to discover it himself, which he did on Christmas morning but that is another story.
‘Who is next? Come on Nica, you have a go!’ Soobi shouted.
‘Oh no, not me – I shall more than likely vomit if I do that’ Nica said in a prim and proper voice.
‘Let’s get two of us to do it, it will be fun!’ Bentley yelled and everyone clapped as though it was the best idea since Schmackos.
As the girls blindfolded Bentley, they looked around for someone else when Rocco quietly stepped forward.
‘Oh there you are; you were quiet, what were you up to?’ Pippin smiled at Rocco.
‘I’ll be your second dog’ Rocco said nervously.
Silence filled the room – you could have heard a bone drop.
‘What did you say?’ Pippin asked looking visibly shocked.
‘Yeah right, you never join in and never have done’ Enzo growled.
‘Now this I must see’ Bronte giggled to Nica and the girls.
Madam Gigi looked at her brother intently and after a few agonizing seconds, Gigi grabbed the spare blindfold and blindfolded Rocco and placed him in the middle of the room with Bentley where both Iggies were spun around until they begged to stop.
Rocco was terrified, not only about being blindfolded and the thought of the girls putting lipstick on him but also allowing himself to let go and admit that Christmas is rather fun.
‘I’ve got someone, I’ve got someone – who is it? They have a pointy snout and a fat neck!’ Rocco shouted happily.
‘We all have pointy snouts Rocco!’ Woody giggled as Pino went one step further and pissed himself while Cino snorted.
‘Oh my God, it’s a Labrador!’ Rocco yelled.
‘That is SO not funny, Pippin – tell them that is not funny, I am not a Labrador!’ Fat Harry said sounding awfully offended while everyone laughed at the horror on Fat Harry’s face.
‘I can smell turd, who has shit themselves?’ Bentley said in a worried voice as he clutched his blindfold.
‘Oh don’t worry, Vader has farted’ Zara said matter-of-factly.
‘That figures!’ laughed Rocco and then he and Bentley carried on with their front paws rigid in front of them as they walked around like a pair of robots trying to feel their way.
Nica stood next to Madam Gigi as they watched Rocco and Bentley knock ornaments over, take advantage of being ‘blind’ and generally groping the girls as the puppies teased them by nipping Rocco’s paws to confuse him and pull his tail.
‘What has changed do you think – with Rocco?’ Nica asked Gigi who could not take her eyes off her brother.
Nodding her response, Gigi replied simply ‘I don’t know, but you know what? I like it’.
‘Yep, and so do I – welcome to the fold Rocco. Nica agreed.
Back in their respective homes – tucked up in bed
The party was a success, the dogs were all back in their homes in their beds or their owners beds and everything was there for Santa Paws arrival (for the lucky dogs at least).
Madam Gigi was curled up next to Rocco who was resting his pointy snout on his paws with his eyes tightly closed.
‘Rocco, are you awake?’ Madam Gigi asked her brother.
After a few seconds Rocco replied ‘Yes Gigi, I am awake’.
‘Did you ask Santa Paws if he can make you in to a big dog for Christmas?’ Gigi whispered.
‘No Gigi, not this year, I don’t want to be a big dog any more’ Rocco replied.
‘But why not, that was always what you wanted?’ Gigi said sounding shocked.
‘Gigi, big doesn’t mean lucky and I think I have everything I need right here. Santa Paws can help the other dogs’ Rocco said with a newfound confidence.
The two dogs lay side by side for a few minutes until Gigi whispered to him ‘Rocco, I think you are perfect the way you are and will always be my big brother no matter what size you are’.
Rocco said nothing but without any prompting, he stretched his long slender brown paw out and gently touched Gigi’s leg and held it tight.
‘Merry Christmas Gigi’ Rocco said in a voice so quiet it was barely audible.
‘Merry Christmas Rocco’ Gigi smiled and snuggled into her bed where she quickly fell asleep to dream of all things nice and luxuries fit for an Iggy.
Bowie sat on his favourite sofa at Rainbow Bridge looking down at a fast asleep Rocco and Gigi curled up together.
It was a successful evening and turned out far better than he had hoped but it was painful for him to visit real life again and not see his Mum.
Surely once wouldn’t hurt, just to check on them? Of course it wouldn’t, after all being an Angel Dog must have some perks.
Bowie looked down in the QLD direction and allowed himself to peek into his Mum Fran’s home to check on his family – Shine, Keno, Amex and Gracie and of course his Mum Fran.
The gifts were round the tree, the house was as he remembered it and his Mum was sitting in the sofa while clutching a photograph of Bowie, tears filled her eyes as she remembered the gentle white greyhound that she loved so much.
‘I miss you so much big lad, why did you leave me?’ Fran sighed. With nobody watching her, she allowed the tears to fall.
Unknown to her, Bowie was now standing beside her so close that he almost went through her.
‘I never did leave you and I never will’ Bowie said quietly in her ear.
Fran looked at her sleeping Iggies and carefully placed Bowies photograph on the side. Standing up to go to bed, she noticed some pure white hairs on her chair – Bowie’s hairs.
Smiling to herself, she wiped her eyes and muttered ‘That greyhound gets everywhere’.
Turning off the light switch, she whispered to her dogs ‘Merry Christmas kids and Merry Christmas Bowie – wherever you are’.
‘Merry Christmas Mum’ Bowie replied and within a blink of an eye, he disappeared.
Christmas morning at Rocco’s house
‘Come on, let’s go and wake Rocco up’ Gwynneth said to Madam Gigi. Neither of them had given up on getting Rocco to believe in Christmas (or magic).
‘Rocco! It’s Christmas!’ Madam Gigi shouted.
As they burst open the door, there stood Rocco wearing a Santa hat, looking a bit out of place but with a big grin on his face.
‘Merry Christmas Mum, Merry Christmas Gigi!’ he said looking nervous.
Gwynneth didn’t know whether to be happy or send for the vet, for the first time ever Rocco was displaying enthusiasm for someone other than his invisible friend.
As they gathered round the tree to open their presents, aside from the usual toys they get, there was just one single present under the tree with Rocco’s name on it that no-one recognized the writing on the gift tag.
‘I love believing in Santa Paws’ Gigi said happily and then added ‘what is that present Rocco?’
Carefully opening the present, Rocco gasped when he saw it – a bright red Kong Wubba and next to it was the original tatty note that Rocco wrote when he was a puppy which read ‘Dear Santa Paws, please can I have a Kong Wubba, bright red if you can manage it – love Rocco’.
‘Oooh Rocco, what a lovely Kong Wubba, you never told us you wanted one of those’ Gigi gasped.
‘I never told anyone, not even myself’ Rocco responded as he stared at his Wubba toy in awe.
‘What’s that message on the back of your note?’ Gwynneth asked Rocco.
As Rocco carefully smoothed out the note, he could see on the back of it was written ‘Dearest Rocco, hope this puts the magic back in your life – love Santa Paws’.
‘How did that Kong get there Rocco?’ Gigi asked him as he read Santa’s note several times over.
Taking a deep breath, Rocco looked at his Mum and Gigi and nodded happily ‘I don’t know, probably magic and a bit of that never hurt anyone!’
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright December 2014
Acknowledgements and Thanks
I would like to thank each and every member of the Italian Greyhound Club of Western Australia for their warmth, hospitality and friendship. For allowing me to meet and socialise with their dogs and learn about their personalities and characters that have enabled me to write stories about them (including Starbucks who is not an Italian Greyhound but thinks she is and has starred in this story).
The photo says it all ‘Enjoy the Club’ (and we do!)
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Also to Fran Forbes in QLD who runs the Facebook group Queensland Italian Greyhounds. Fran has been a great help to me when I have been writing until early hours of the morning helping me with the QLD characters, and a special mention goes to her beloved Greyhound Bowie who crossed over to Rainbow Bridge a few months back.
Finally, thank you to Denise Pringle and her lovely Iggies Pippin and Bronte, who for some reason, totally inspire me to write about the Italian greyhounds. Pippin has seemingly become the main character in my stories and has actually overtaken Brutus as the main character and has so much personality for a little dog, as do all the Italian greyhounds.
I might not own an Italian greyhound but I have found myself in their world and the more I know about them the more I love them. After all, every pointy snout tells a story.
Have a wonderful and safe Christmas and fabulous New Year, wherever you are in the world.
*More photos to come*