A Time For Kelpie Spectacles

You may remember from my previous stories that my old dog Rocky went to university where he studied ‘sheep herding and the modern day kelpie’. Rocky was well educated, wore round gold-rimmed kelpie spectacles and usually carried a copy of the ‘Kelpie Times’ under his arm.

Rocky looking dapper
Photograph by Sam Rose

Now for a dog to get into university they have to be pretty smart. These places are usually filled with working dogs – kelpies, blue heelers, border collies, sniffer dogs in training etc.

Brutus you may have gathered by now, is not the smartest dog in the world but probably smarter than he realizes. He doesn’t like to be reminded of the time he attempted to jump in the air to catch a helitac during a bushfire and there are heaps of other examples and we certainly won’t talk about the ‘Tony Abbott doll incident’ either.

So my darling Brutus could not get into university because not only did they not have a course suitable for him; but he didn’t meet the criteria to get in.  

That’s OK though because university is not for every dog and for dogs like Brutus, they have special dog schools with courses like garden digging, how to make your bed explode and how to pull washing off the line when your human isn’t looking.

Not the smartest dog but certainly the kindest
Photograph by Sam Rose

Cats have a similar kind of schooling system and many cats go on to be superior creatures and acquire enough knowledge to make their human into their own personal servant. But if we are discussing Kevin the cat, he has been in and out of kitty prison for doing unspeakable crimes with a squeaky stuffed warthog, several blankets and my leg.

Kevin – in and out of kitty prison for being naughty
Photograph by Sam Rose

Brutus had always admired his kelpie brother Rocky, right up until the day Rocky crossed over to Rainbow Bridge. Sometimes Brutus would borrow Rocky’s kelpie spectacles and one of his sheep herding books and sit on the sofa pretending to read them. Rocky never had the heart to tell Brutus that the book was upside down or back to front, he just allowed Brutus to have his moment. 

It never stopped Brutus dreaming about going to university though and in the privacy of his room; he had made his own certificate complete with a ‘Passed’ stamp out of a potato and some ink he obtained by breaking several of my biro pens.

One day at Pippin’s House

Brutus was at Pippin’s house having lunch. It made him feel grown up to have lunch with Pippin. Pippin was sitting in his favourite chair reading the newspaper, occasionally taking a dainty bite from a dog treat that his Mum had bought for him from the markets.

Brutus always feels a bit more grown up when he hangs out with Pippin
Photograph by Sam Rose

Pippin smiled at something he was reading then picking up his handkerchief, he dapped his pointy snout a few times and followed by taking a sip of his tea. He could feel a pair of eyes on him and could hear the sound of heavy breathing from Brutus.

He sighed, put the paper down on the side of the chair and turned round to where Brutus was standing. “Are you OK Brutus?” Pippin raised his eyebrows at his giant friend.

Brutus’s treats remained uneaten. Crushing bits of biscuit with his paws, Brutus struggled to find the words to ask Pippin a question. “Pippin?” he eventually asked.

Pippin peered over his spectacles, “Yes Brutus?”

“Rocky went to university and made something of himself didn’t he?”

Pip nodded and agreed that yes, Rocky did go to university and achieved great things.

“So is there any reason why I can’t do the same?” Brutus questioned him.

Pippin puffed air out of his cheeks before responding; “I think dog universities have a criteria that has to be met and that maybe it would be a bit tough for you Brutus.”

But Brutus wasn’t interested in how tough it was. Ever since Rocky had gone, Brutus wanted to stand for something (other than for food in the kitchen). He longed to reach the giddy heights of university and be able to have awards in his living room and have his degree framed on the wall to show off to everyone.

Pippin tried to pacify Brutus by saying that he was smart in other ways and wasn’t that enough?

Except that it wasn’t, not to Brutus. Because he had decided that he wanted to be just like his big brother and he would not give up until he had exhausted all avenues of trying. If he had to write to the Queen herself then that is what he would do.

“He’s going to get hurt Pippin, you need to fix this and quickly.” Bronte said firmly to her brother who didn’t reply but inwardly knew that she was right.

A Few Hours Later – Back at Brutus’s house

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” Kevin the cat growled impatiently. He was trying to watch TV and Brutus was rummaging around in the cupboard and impatiently chucking things on to the floor.

Muttering something about ‘university stuff’, Brutus trotted off into the dining room where he spotted something on the table. It was Rocky’s latest quarterly university magazine – the subscription hadn’t yet been cancelled.

“That’s the one!” Brutus said triumphantly. Grabbing the magazine in his mouth, he walked off to his bed to read it. Which may well surprise you because if you remember from my book – ‘Planet Iggy’, that Brutus actually has dyslexia and at one point, couldn’t read at all. That was until Bronte the Iggy assisted him with various coping techniques and although his reading wasn’t nearly as good as the Iggies in his group, he could get by and if someone drew pretty pictures for him then he did even better.

Kevin stared at him intently stopping only occasionally to wash his anus, chew his nails and pick a fight with the cushions.  “Why are you reading Rocky’s magazines? It’s not as though you could go to university is it, I mean don’t you have to be smart to go there?” Kev laughed at Brutus and then proceeded to kick the shit out of the cushions with his hind legs bicycling furiously and snagging on the fabric.

Brutus ignored him and flicked through the pages of the magazine. Beautiful photos of smart kelpies and blue heelers on each page, some wearing their farming collars, some herding cattle and some posing at the university with their teachers, while holding their certificates.

Feeling a huge pang of envy, Brutus berated himself. What on earth was he thinking? Kevin was right; he was no way smart enough to even look at the magazines let alone dream of going to university.

Pulling a face, Brutus nudged the magazine to the edge of his bed but did it too hard so it fell on the floor. He was going to leave it where it was but when he looked down, Brutus saw it had opened up on a page and when he saw what was on it, he bit his lip to try and stop himself from crying.

There on a full page spread was a photograph of his brother Rocky and a tribute write-up. The article must have been done just after Rocky had died to make this quarter for publication. 

Rocky looked ever so smart and healthy in the photo. His shiny black coat, his eyes bright, ears erect and he had his university neckerchief round his neck. Proudly clutching his certificate for his degree in sheep herding, the look was finished off with a pair of gold-rimmed round kelpie spectacles (these are spectacles especially for kelpies, a bit like whippet jeans which are jeans just for whippets).

Brutus had been looking for those kelpie spectacles everywhere because ever since Rocky had gone, they held more significance than ever. The trouble was, Brutus just could not find them no matter how hard he looked.

He couldn’t make out all of the words in the article but realized that it was about Rocky and his success as a university educated but disabled kelpie with bad hips, while managing a busy sporting life, studying and living in the suburbs.

The next part of the article was a Q&A kind of thing where Rocky had been asked questions, one of them being did he think that all dogs should have access to higher education or should it be kept elite for the smarter dogs in life. It was Rocky’s answer that took Brutus’s breath away.

‘Intelligence should not be measured by academic qualifications because there are so many dogs that haven’t been to university and don’t have degrees but they are smart in other ways and they should be given the same chance to better themselves as any other dog’.

There was another section about Rocky crossing over to Rainbow Bridge and what a loss he would be to the university and the kelpie clubs that he was a member of. But the most surprising part to the article was a new program called the ‘Rocky Scholarship Program for Alternatively Gifted Dogs’ where dogs that are not academically gifted, could sit a special entrance test with a view to studying alternative courses at university. 

They had programs such as how to be a sniffer dog, guard dog training, cat herding, storm prediction, how to protect your suburb from the garbage truck, bushfire prediction and how to protect your family to name but a few. 

Dogs would graduate with their degree; they would get their special day wearing their gown and cap, a special university neckerchief, a certificate and a qualification. They would get their day of pride and recognition and would learn important skills – well cat herding is debatable but it can be useful in some circumstances I guess.

And this brainchild was the idea of Rocky. He had come up with the entire thing and had persuaded the university to run the course and had even assisted with planning it all, he really had thought of everything. 

The final question in the article was asking why Rocky had thought that setting up the scholarship program was a good idea and this was his reply:

‘My brother Brutus is smart but he just doesn’t know it. He is dyslexic so cannot study in the way that other dogs can but it doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be given a chance. He is kind and even when he is scared of things, he still protects his family from the garbage truck, he loves to learn and his sniffing skills are second to none’. 

‘Basically, Dogs like my brother deserve a chance to better themselves’. 

The article ended with a paragraph on how to enter for the program and a photograph of Rocky on the day he started his university course.

“I never even knew he had done that, I wonder if he would have told me had he not gone to Rainbow Bridge?” Brutus thought to himself. How on earth would he have known had he not found the magazine? Or maybe he was meant to find it, call it fate if you like.

Putting the magazine neatly on his bed, Brutus could not believe he was even thinking about it. He must be mad, dreaming – or both. Picking up his mobile phone, he called the one dog that he knew wouldn’t laugh at him and would support him – Pippin Potter. 

“Pippin, it’s me – Brutus, I need your help but you mustn’t tell anyone……” 

At Pippin’s House

“Who was that?” Bronte asked without even looking up. She had heard Pip whispering and couldn’t make out the gist of the conversation.

Ignoring her, Pippin put on his smartest collar, picked up his little bag and diary plus his phone and trotted off towards the garden, “I am popping out for a bit, off to see Brutus about something.” The door slammed behind him before Bronte had any chance of challenging him further.

“Boys and their secrets, probably discussing about those new leather collars Brutus was talking about the other week. Complete waste of money as he always ruins them by scraping them on the wall!”  Bronte said knowingly to her sister Latte.

At Brutus’s House

A light tap at the door disturbed Kevin out of his slumber. Having exhausted himself by insulting the parrots in the garden, he had spread himself out by the door and had fallen asleep. Quickly jumping up, Kevin took his position and floofed his tail out to resemble a toilet brush, “I am armed and dangerous!” Kevin shouted from behind the door.

“Hi Kevin, I have come to see Brutus. It’s me Pippin!” A well-spoken clipped English accent could be heard from behind the door.

“Oh it’s you, come in then!” Kevin sighed as he jumped up to swing on the door handle to let Pippin in.

“Hello to you as well Kevin, have you bitten your owner lately?” Pippin said bravely but had to run past Kev pretty quick before Kev swatted his bum. 

“Cheeky bastard!” Kevin grumbled, “What are you doing here?” 

“Private business, don’t worry though, we won’t disturb you.” Pippin said meekly.

“Bloody good job you are here, he has been acting strange since he saw that magazine.” Kev pulled a face.

Before Pip got the chance to ask about which magazine he was talking about, Brutus scaled the sofa and came charging up to him and licked his face. He looked unusually energetic for Brutus so something was up and judging by the immediate request for help; it was a pretty big deal by the look of it.

Scowling at the two dogs, Kevin decided to go to his room and watch some cat videos on his mobile. There was no way he was going to sit and listen to Brutus and Pippin going on about dog stuff because Kevin doesn’t have much time for small talk unless it’s him that is doing it.

“So Brutus, what is this all about, what do you need my help for?” Pippin crossed his paws and stared at him.

Taking a deep breath Brutus handed Pippin the university magazine which had a piece of tissue marking the page for Rocky’s article, “This!” Brutus said firmly.

Pulling out his spectacles and placing them on the end of his pointy snout, Pippin scratched his nose and began to read the article.

Ten minutes later, Pippin looked emotional and broken at what he had just read. “I never knew he wrote this, I just didn’t know and I know a lot about most things. But how come I didn’t know that Rocky would think of something like this?” 

Brutus silently pleaded with Pippin to help him. Pippin kept looking down at Rocky’s picture in the article and back at Brutus. After what seemed like an eternity, Pippin gave a firm nod “OK, let’s do it!”

Brutus’s grey flappy jowls turned into a grin, wiping his eyes he said in his deep voice, “Let’s do it for Rocky!”

“No Brutus, let’s do it for YOU!”

Both dogs hugged each other for a few seconds before they were disturbed by a loud ginger cough from Kevin who was sitting behind them looking irritated because he didn’t much care for male bonding sessions.

At Pippin’s house

Pippin had just got home. Barging through the kitchen door, he found Bronte and Latte curled up together on the sofa watching a DVD. “Where on earth have you been?” Bronte asked him. Her pretty little face creased with concern.

Pippin leapt up onto the kitchen counter to check for dog biscuits, grabbing a couple he then made himself a cup of Yorkshire tea in his favourite bone China mug with Scottie dogs on it and sat on the stool by the breakfast bar.

“Nothing much and please don’t ask me to tell you because I can’t. Now what DVD are you watching?”

Latte looked at Bronte and shrugged, there was no point in badgering Pip because he stored secrets in that brain of his that could rival those of a government agent. 

Nothing more was said between the Iggies, there was no need because the girls knew that whatever it was, Pippin had it under control. But when they did find out, it would certainly cause a stir in the Iggy community.

The day of reckoning

Pippin and Brutus stood outside the university where Brutus would be sitting his entrance test. Brutus was wearing a collar identical to the one that Rocky wore – a blue and black collar with a black clip on it and an identity tag. Pip reckoned that he had seen lots of kelpies in similar collars and after all, Brutus was half a kelpie and more than entitled to wear it. It was a smart collar, not too elaborate but perfectly functional and that is exactly the sort of thing that Rocky would wear because he was never a slave to fashion and even purchased his collars from charity shops.

Brutus gripped the handles of Rocky’s old university brown leather briefcase. There were some scratches on it from Kevin but you couldn’t really notice them too much as Pippin had given it a jolly good clean. Inside the briefcase was a pen, pencil, eraser, notepad and the treasured university magazine that Brutus had found with the page folded open on Rocky’s article.

“Look at me.” Pippin barked and as Brutus turned round, Pippin stood on his hind legs and straightened Brutus’s collar. Nudging him with his pointy snout, Pippin whispered, “Whatever happens my friend, I am proud of you!”

Brutus picked up the briefcase and nodded back at Pippin. He was so scared that his legs were shaking and he fought the urge to urinate himself from nerves and farted instead. As Pippin wrinkled his nose to stop himself from retching (Brutus did awful farts), Pippin forced a grin and waved him on but on the inside, Pip was as terrified as Brutus.

A group of kelpies and cattle dogs waited outside the hall where the test was to be held. They looked so confident and smart as they discussed which dog was the best sheep herder or what kind of farm they came from. Brutus didn’t want to walk past them and was certain that his legs might give way but he knew that in order to sit the test then he had no choice but to make that walk.

Nudging one another, the kelpies spotted Brutus carrying Rocky’s briefcase. They knew it was Rocky’s as it had his initials engraved on the leather and it had Rocky’s kelpie emblem on it – an outline of his head that been carved into it.

“You know who that is don’t you?” A red cloud kelpie whispered to the others. A blue heeler frowned and said no, she didn’t recognize the huge brown dog with enormous ears looking more than a little uncomfortable as he made his way to the hall.

The red cloud kelpie removed his biro pen from his collar and pointed it at Brutus, “That my friends is Rocky’s brother Brutus. Rocky went to Rainbow Bridge last year but before he went, he started this scholarship program so that other dogs could apply for university that wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.”

The group fell silent. They took in the sight of Brutus and his clumsy way of walking and how he carried that brown leather briefcase as though it were his most prized possession and perhaps it was because it was because it was certainly carrying his hopes in it that’s for sure.

The red cloud kelpie waved to a group of border collies and then to some more blue heelers and signaled for them to join the growing number of dogs that had started to gather round.

And because the group had got bigger, other dogs became interested and pretty soon there was a crowd of working dogs lined up into two lines either side of the entrance door to the exam hall.

Brutus was dragging his feet, he felt sick with nerves. What on earth had was he thinking? Dogs like him didn’t go to university. They did more practical stuff and left the smart stuff to the others.

Hearing the commotion around him, Brutus looked up and saw the dogs lined up either side of the walkway. Trying to make himself look small which is hard when you weigh 33kgs, Brutus blinked and gave a submissive grin to anyone that looked at him.

“Hey Brutus, you’ve got this my friend – do it for Rocky!” The red cloud kelpie shouted and then started to clap his paws in encouragement.

“Go on Brutus, you can do it, good luck mate!” A red heeler piped up and also started to clap. One by one the dogs began to cheer Brutus as he followed three other dogs that were also sitting the test.  

Dogs that he had envied when Rocky had spoken about them, smart dogs with briefcases and university neckerchiefs. He had even borrowed Rocky’s neckerchief once and placed a flat piece of cardboard on his head with a tea towel on top and a towel round his shoulders to make it look like the cap and gown that one gets when one graduates. 

Of course this moment was ruined when Kevin said he looked like an idiot but good old Rocky went along with it to make his brother feel special and had presented him with a rolled up newspaper pretending it was a degree.

And now the very dogs that he had envied; were waiting outside cheering him on. A grumpy looking pug in a thick studded collar and holding a clipboard; stood by the door marking the dogs off as they entered the building, “In you go Brutus and good luck!” The pug smiled at him which was a bloody miracle as pugs never smile unless it is for something really special and when they do smile, they usually flick snot everywhere as a party trick.

Brutus took a deep breath and turned round to have one last look at the dogs outside. He gave a feeble smile and a paws-up gesture but as he did so, he noticed a tiny little figure hiding behind the tree. It was Pippin Potter and if it hadn’t been for Pippin, then Brutus wouldn’t be about to sit his entrance test for university. 

The pressure was on; Brutus simply could not let Pippin down. He looked at Pip for a few seconds before disappearing into the hall.

Pippin watched Brutus right up until he went in. Then deciding that he would be there for when he came out, he curled up by the tree on the cold damp grass and waited for his friend to finish his test which was to take 2 hours and for Pippin, it was going to be the longest two hours of his life.

In the exam hall

A chunky yellow Labrador with a pen and clipboard was directing the entrants to their seats. The hall smelt of polished floors and you could hear the clipping of nails as dogs trotted up and down.

“Pssst!” A voice could be heard from behind Brutus.

Brutus looked round and saw an overweight pug in a leather waistcoat and a thick black studded collar which was far too large for his neck. He was sitting on a booster seat on his chair and on his desk he had a biro pen, pencil, eraser and a notepad with ‘Pug Life’ written on it.

To Brutus’s left was the boxer he had chatted with earlier. The boxer sat slouched at his desk and nervously clicked his biro on and off pressing the pen on the paper, making a row of inky dots while doing it. With festoons of drool hanging from his mouth, the boxer shook his head causing the drool to flick on to pretty much everything surrounding him.

“Excuse me, do you mind?” An indignant whippet bitch with an overshot jaw and an exceptionally long pointy snout, turned round and squeaked at the boxer. 

Forgetting his nerves, Brutus snorted with laughter. The boxer reminded him of his friend Vader and just for that moment, he also made Brutus think happy thoughts.

“Nothing wrong with a bit of boxer snot, it can put up wallpaper you know!” The boxer laughed and winked at Brutus, well you couldn’t tell he was winking as he had more wrinkles than the average dog but Brutus assumed it was a wink as he had seen Vader trying to do it in the whippet pole dancing club one time.

“So what’s making you want to get into university then?” The whippet asked Brutus, “Is it your owner trying to make you into a smart dog?”

“No, it’s not my Mum, she wouldn’t do that.” Brutus shook his head at her.

“I don’t get it, why would you put yourself through this if you didn’t have to, you must be doing it for someone?” The whippet pulled a face.

“Myself, I am doing it for myself.” Brutus said and picked up his pen so he could practice holding it properly. 

They were distracted by the appearance of the Labrador as he handed out an exam paper to each of the dogs. “No talking, no helping each other, answer each question, leave the ones you don’t know and once you have finished you can turn your paper the other way and raise your paw.”

Brutus felt a burning need to fart again; perhaps the others wouldn’t mind if he did, surely they would understand? Just as he was about to fart, the boxer also let out a loud one, followed by the whippet and then the pug. Not wanting to be left out, Brutus farted and gave a little snort of laughter and looked at the others. 

“Do you all need to use the toilet or can we start?” The horrified Labrador fanned himself with some paper.

“Let’s get this over with!” The pug said taking control of the situation and it was agreed that if any of them needed to go for a poo, then they would all have to wait until the exam was over.

“OK everyone, turn your paper over and start now!” The Labrador barked and then blew the whistle to indicate the exam had started.

Taking a few deep breaths, Brutus turned his paper over and saw that his first task was to write his name, age, breed and date. He gripped his pen as best he could and slowly started to write his details on the paper.

The questions were multiple-choice and would decide where a dog’s potential skills could be. There was no actual writing, just putting a cross in the box.

The boxer, the whippet, the pug and Brutus sat quietly in their seats and quickly became absorbed in their exam. This was the first intake on Rocky’s scholarship program entrance test; the dreams of the old kelpie were hanging on this group – especially Brutus.

Brutus only looked up once and that was when he noticed a picture of Rocky on a large poster advertising the exam, the old kelpie looked distinguished and handsome wearing his university neckerchief. Brutus felt proud because that was HIS brother up on that poster, his brother giving other dogs a chance to better themselves – even if one of them was a boxer because you all know how Rocky hated boxers.

Outside

Pippin was freezing cold. He knew he should have gone home instead of sitting outside on the wet grass for that length of time, but this was a huge deal for his friend and however hard it was for Pippin, you could bet your life it was even harder for Brutus inside that exam hall.

Pippin wasn’t entirely alone either because just a little way outside the exam hall, sat the working dogs that had cheered Brutus as he went in. They too sat outside waiting when they didn’t need to, some of them played a game of cards, some of them bounced tennis balls off the walls, but all of them waited patiently for Brutus to finish.

Two hours later

Brutus, the boxer, the whippet and the pug burst through the door, well Brutus burst through the door first, followed by the boxer – the others just ran through before the door slammed shut. The whippet and the pug made out that they assisted in the shoving of the door and even had the cheek to look exhausted. The whippet actually pretended to faint but that was short lived because the pug told her to stop with the dramatics.

Pippin Potter was freezing cold, he had no jacket on and being a slim dog, felt the cold more than other dogs. His paws were wet and he shivered to try and warm himself up.

He saw the kelpies and cattle dogs congratulating Brutus on finishing his test. Pippin was desperate to go and see him but felt too scared as there were lots of big dogs standing round Brutus. But after a few minutes he could contain himself no longer and slowly trotted up to go and meet his big friend.

“You waited!” Brutus looked relieved as he spotted the Iggy standing nervously next to the kelpies.

“Are you lost?” A red heeler asked Pippin.

Pippin dug a hole in the wet soil to try and hide the fact that he was shaking. Prone to bursting into tears at inappropriate moments, he didn’t want to embarrass Brutus by doing that today. Dancing from one paw to the other, the little dog responded in his English accent, “I am Brutus’s friend, I have been waiting for him to finish his test.”

The heeler cocked his head to the side and stared at Pippin for a few seconds, not quite able to believe that this little dog with a snout as pointy as a biro pen and legs as thin as carrot sticks, could possibly be Brutus’s friend.

“Pippin! You waited for me all this time! You must have been freezing!” Brutus’s loud voice drowned out the excitement of the other dogs. They all watched as Brutus ran past them and skidded to a halt when he reached Pip, nearly knocking him over and taking up chunks of turf in the process.

“This is my friend Pippin, isn’t he lovely?” Brutus declared to the bigger dogs that looked somewhat bemused at the unlikely pair.

After deciding that any friend of Brutus’s was a friend of theirs, the usual doggy pleasantries were exchanged and Pippin’s bottom thoroughly inspected and sniffed. Pippin felt his cheeks burning with embarrassment and secretly felt glad that Rocco wasn’t there because this would have been enough to make him shout and swear and even fight with his invisible friends.

“What do you want to do now old chap?” Pippin tapped Brutus on the leg.

Unknown to Pippin, the working dogs had invited Brutus to go to the local dog pub to celebrate, which he would have enjoyed because Rocky would have gone for sure had he been around. But noticing that Pippin was hopping from paw to paw in a bid to warm himself up, he replied simply, “Let’s go back to yours for bones and beer, how does that sound?”

“That sounds perfect!” Pip smiled gratefully and the two boys started to make their way back to Pippin’s house.

“How do you think you did Brutus?” Pippin asked him.

Brutus shrugged and said that he didn’t have a clue but felt super proud for even sitting in the same building that his brother Rocky had studied in, something that he never thought would ever be possible, let alone taking part in an entrance test. 

“Who knows, not me that’s for sure but I am glad that I tried.” Brutus replied, “And Pippin?” he added.

“Yes Brutus?” 

“Thanks for waiting for me, I know it must have been freezing for you to wait for so long.”

“That’s what friends are for and it wasn’t that cold really.” Pip nodded firmly trying to hide the fact his teeth were chattering.

“Liar!” Brutus barked and they both burst into fits of laughter. 

Back at Pippin’s House

“Where have you two been? Mum has been frantic!” Bronte squealed and jumped off the sofa when the boys came through the front door.

Brutus was about to tell them when he felt a sharp nip to his leg from Pippin who was making a ‘hush’ gesture with his paws.

“Nowhere really, just a walk.” Pippin responded. Chucking Brutus a can of dog beer, he nodded towards the sofa for Brutus to sit down.

Bronte looked boot-faced. They were hiding something and she was sure of it. But Bronte needn’t have worried because she would find out soon enough – they all would.

A month later

Pippin and Brutus had successfully managed to keep the entire thing away from the Iggy club. Partly because Pippin wanted to surprise them and partly because Brutus was terrified of telling anyone else in case they laughed at him, not that the Iggies would dream of doing that to him as you well know.

The day had finally arrived and that was the day the dogs were due to receive their exam results. 

On the outside of Brutus’s house, you could see a huge mushy, wet nose pressed against the window. He had been waiting for the mail to be delivered and had patiently been checking the mailbox every hour since 4am just in case the postie forgot where he lived and delivered it to the dog down the road by mistake.

Kevin shook his head at his brother and wondered what was going on to make him show such interest. He never usually did unless it was his food delivery and even then he never got that excited.

Brutus was about to turn away when he spotted the postman on his moped trying to stuff a large envelope in the mailbox. Opening the door, Brutus ran outside to intercept it.

“Excuse me, has that got my name on it?” He barked at the postman.

The postman squinted at the writing on the envelope; which also had a stamp from the ‘University of Working Dogs’ on the top left hand corner. 

Brutus could barely contain himself as he watched the postman struggling to read the tiny print. 

“Yeah, that’s for you I think, if your name is Brutus that is!” The postman handed the envelope to Brutus who took it in his mouth and without saying another word, ran up the garden and back into the house and in to his bedroom so that he could open it in private.

At Pippin Potter’s house

Pippin picked up his mobile for the umpteenth time that morning and checked for any messages from Brutus. There hadn’t been any, what on earth was happening at Brutus’s house?

“Why do you keep checking your phone Pippin?” Latte asked him.

“I am a busy dog and have to keep up with my business contacts, that’s why. Don’t be so nosey!” Pippin replied curtly in a bid to silence her.

Pippin – a very busy dog!
Photograph by Sam Rose

At Brutus’s house

The crisp white envelope was A4 and fairly thick – clearly padded with documents. It had Brutus’s name on the front and on the top right hand corner, it had the stamp of the university on it with a kelpie’s head as an emblem. Brutus felt sick just holding it, let alone having the courage to open it. What if he had failed, what on earth would he tell Pippin who waited for 2 hours outside in the cold? But telling Pippin that he hadn’t the courage to open the envelope was possibly worse than failing itself.

Ripping open the envelope, Brutus pulled out a university brochure, some forms and finally, a letter in the shape of a large bone with his name on it. With his mouth trying to make out the words, Brutus read the letter several times and tilted his head to each side – something he did when he couldn’t quite grasp something. Then dropping everything on the floor and without saying a word, he walked into the garden crying quietly and clutching his phone.

At Pippin’s house

The sound of Pippin’s phone ringing jolted the Iggy out of his slumber. Brutus’s name came up on the caller ID with a profile picture of him dressed as a pop star from when they did the boy band concert.

“Well, what’s the latest……?” Pip asked quietly and after a few minutes of discussion, Pippin ended the call and went back into the house.  But before he did, he looked up at the ceiling and mouthed the words ‘thank you’.

Six months later

It was graduation day at the working dog university and the new graduates were ready to receive their certificates in their chosen subjects. The chunky Labrador was bustling up and down on the stage making sure everything was perfectly in place for him to do the presentations. Dressed in what is termed a ‘Labrador suit’, he looked jolly smart – well, the suit was a bit on the tight side but he blamed that on the roast chicken he had stolen the night before.

The pug, the boxer, the whippet and Brutus were wearing their caps and gowns. Brutus’s cap was slightly wonky, the boxer’s cap had slipped down his face and the whippet’s cap was far too big for her. But that was OK because it worked for them and it was their day to shine – wonky caps and all. They sat at the side of the stage waiting for the ceremony to start. A giant painting of Rocky hung on the back wall with Rocky’s name and ‘2008 to 2018, Team Kelpie’ on the bottom.

Coughing to clear his throat, the Labrador tapped the microphone a few times to test the sound. Placing her paws in her ears, the whippet made various grumbling noises about how sensitive she was to sound and did they really have to do that?  The pug gave a disapproving look in sympathy and did exaggerated gestures about turning the volume down.

“Are you OK Brutus?” The boxer asked him. 

Brutus gave a determined smile and a quick nod to say that yes, he was OK even if he had to keep pinching himself to make sure it was real.

The whippet was delving into her handbag looking for her powder compact. Once she had found it, she opened it and quickly checked her reflection and examined her teeth for traces of Schmackos. 

“Well, looks like this is us guys!” The boxer puffed out his chest and straightened himself up.

Brutus turned round to look at Pippin. Nothing was said but the curt nod and proud grin from Pippin told Brutus everything he needed to know.

The Labrador waited for a few minutes for everyone to settle and once they had, he began his speech, “Ladies and gentlemen I am going to start with a dedication to a very special dog that had a great influence on this university.

“Now this dog was a fine senior kelpie called Rocky who believed that all dogs deserved a chance to excel in their chosen area and not be excluded because they didn’t fit the academic criteria to apply to the university.

“And it’s because of Rocky, that we have this new pilot course on offer at our university. It is also because of this course, that we have Rocky’s brother who Rocky believed could be the best version of himself with the right support.”

The Labrador gestured to Brutus to stand up, “Ladies and gentlemen, dogs and bitches and the cat in the front row, I am proud and honoured to call up Brutus!” The Labrador moved to the side to give Brutus the space to come up to join him on stage.

“Did he just say cat in the front row?” A kelpie whispered to a Schnauzer sitting next to him.

The Schnauzer put on his spectacles and frowned while trying to make out if there was actually cat in the front row and spotted an angry looking fluffy orange cat wearing a pair of ginger cat jeans, a leather waistcoat and a white T shirt with ‘Bollox’ on it. The Schnauzer glared disapprovingly at the cat and pursed his lips when he flipped him the bird and mouthed the words ‘shit-beard’ at him.

“Who on earth is that vulgar feline?” The Schnauzer growled in his German accent to the kelpie.

“Kevin”, the kelpie sighed, “And he is Brutus and Rocky’s brother – someone you don’t want to mess with. Rumours have it that he has actually killed several dogs and three humans in his time and dines on the bodies of his enemies – and he weighs 8kgs.”

Deciding that perhaps the kelpie was right, the Schnauzer decided to try to ignore Kevin and pretend that he wasn’t there.

Next to Kevin were Pippin, Vader the boxer, Bronte, Latte, Zara, Nica, Gigi, DJ, Carlo, Fletch, Kaya, Dash, Augie and Rocco. Once they had found out about Brutus’s exam results, they had all insisted on coming to see their friend graduate. Pippin had decided to splash out as it was a special occasion and hired a mini bus to transport them.

Brutus stood up, fighting the urge not to run in the opposite direction, he turned round and focused on his friends for a few seconds and then walked with as much confidence as he could muster on to the stage. 

Anyway, back to the ceremony. 

The Labrador was about to hand out the first award, “Congratulations Brutus, you have been awarded the Working Dog University Certificate in ‘Protecting your garden, your home and your family’ – graduating with honors. 

“You have also been awarded the ‘The Good Boy Award’ – graduating with honors. Well done lad, Rocky would be proud of you!” The Labrador handed Brutus his certificate scrolls tied up with a scarlet ribbon.

If ever there was a dog that shone with pride that day it was Brutus. Standing bolt upright, wearing his very own university neckerchief, cap and gown, Brutus tried to stay focused on the Labrador and not the group of dogs that were there for the award ceremony – many of which had come to support him.

Brutus held onto his scrolls and resisted the urge to look at them, touching the red silk ribbon, he allowed himself to imagine if that was how Rocky had felt when he graduated. He remembered how envious he felt of the little black kelpie when he got his degree and never in a million years thought that he would be standing in that exact same place to receive one himself.

“Are you crying Pippin?” Kevin hissed in his ear.

“Yep!” Pippin exhaled slowly to stop himself from doing that ugly crying you can get from watching soldier homecoming videos.

“How did you manage to keep it from us, from me?” Bronte sobbed to Pippin, “You both did this all on your own and we could have supported you!”

“Sometimes the best things in life have to be kept a secret until they are ready to come out. Besides, we told you in the end and that’s what counts.” Pippin responded.

“Oh, just one more thing lad!” The Labrador said to Brutus. Then bending down to the front of the stage he waved to a red cloud kelpie to hand him a tatty black glasses case with a gold ‘R’ embossed onto it.

The Labrador carefully opened the case and removed a pair of Rocky’s gold rimmed, round kelpie spectacles and gently placed them on Brutus’s face while adjusting the arms to fit behind his ears.

“Now you’re good!” The Labrador winked at him.

“Rocky’s kelpie spectacles! I wondered where they had gone!” Brutus gasped.

“Rocky had left strict instructions that they be given to you on your graduation from this university.” 

“But how did he know I would even go to university?” Brutus questioned the Labrador.

“Rocky was a smart dog and he knew you and what you were capable of.” 

“The kelpie spectacles, he has the kelpie spectacles, he had looked everywhere for them!” Pippin said to himself.

“I am so very proud of him!” Bronte whispered to Pippin.

Pippin gulped “You and me both Bronte, I just wish Rocky had been around to see this.”

“Well technically he is.” Bronte placed her paw on Pippin’s back. 

Pippin cocked his head, “How did you work that one out?”

“Because as you said, this whole scholarship thing was Rocky’s idea and he knew that Brutus would eventually find out about it and apply for it.”

They were suddenly distracted by the sound of ‘Team Kelpie’ that had started off a slow clap of paws until every single dog was clapping and cheering for Brutus – an ordinary mixed breed rescue dog that took a leap of faith and succeeded (with a little help and belief from a good friend).

As Brutus looked across the room to take it all in, he noticed a tennis ball bouncing by itself on the walkway in between the seating. Nobody else seemed to see it, only him.

He looked towards the dogs clapping at him; he looked at Pippin Potter sitting next to Bronte and the other Iggies. Brutus looked at Rocco who was busy clapping and biting his own tail at the same time. He looked at Kevin who was washing his bum to annoy the Schnauzer.

Not one of them noticed that tennis ball and neither did they notice the little black kelpie standing at the back of the hall wagging his tail and waving at Brutus who stared right back at him. Then after a few minutes, Rocky picked up his tennis ball and vanished as quickly as he had appeared.

Rocky believed in Brutus
Photograph by Sam Rose

“I saw you Rocky, I saw you!” Brutus said quietly and then unable to hold his emotion in a moment longer, he leapt off the stage and landed right in front of Pippin where he hung on to the little dog and cried his heart out. He cried for Rocky, he cried because he was so exhausted but most of all, he cried because he was so proud of himself.

The End

Conclusion

 It’s amazing what we can achieve when someone believes in us and what others can achieve when we believe in them.

And that goes for our dogs as well.

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright Feb 2019

This story is dedicated to my friend Robyn who was brilliant at bringing out the best in people and believing in their potential. I strongly suspect that she is now hanging out with my Rocky in a place that you and I could only dream about. – Love you always Robyn

And After Four Years – or something like that….

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Illustration by Art by Dejana Louise

Banner Design by Mac Bros Book Stuff

After four years (give or take) my book ‘Planet Iggy’ has just been published on Kindle, paperback and hardback will be available soon.

It has been a long uphill slog writing this as my health has been one huge challenge but on Thursday night I hit the ‘publish’ button on Kindle. Right up until the last minute I was contemplating delaying it, getting it checked again, reading it again, paying someone else to check it – again and feeling sick with nerves about errors.

Then came the worry about whether or not people would like a book about talking dogs that have adult social lives, swear, drink dog beer and do human type things. Then came the moment that was somewhat liberating which I will call the ‘Stuff it moment’ which is when you realise that no, not everyone is going to like it and may not like the adult content or the fact that it is a ‘children’s book for adults’ and it is not the end of the world if they don’t either.

I will say that I was at the stage of never wanting to read the damn thing again and when I did hit ‘publish’, I cried – solidly for a couple of hours. I cried because my Mum will never read it.

I cried because the nights spent feeling shit going through steroid withdrawal (going through that again now!) and needing to take painkillers in order to type, and now it had all paid off and it was time to hand it over to Amazon and ultimately out of my control.

The pressure is on for the paperback to get it out for Christmas as I have orders ready to be placed but for tonight, it is going to be the first Sunday where I am not going to hang out with my characters or worry about stuff – aside from the book cover which needs to be adjusted for the manuscript.

The book is for adults or older teens only and ten percent of every book sold will be donated to the Italian Greyhound Club of Western Australia.

Anyway, if you would like to download your copy from Kindle, the link is as follows:

Planet Iggy – Kindle Version

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Italian Greyhounds and Nail Trimming (leg amputation)

IMG_9515Pippin Pringle knows the horrors of nail clipping

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Anyone that owns an Italian greyhound will testify that they are not the bravest of dogs and the most seemingly simple of things for any other dog, is a fate worse than death for an Iggy.

They will also tell you that there is nothing and I emphasize that word ‘NOTHING’ worse than the Iggy scream of death which is often performed during routine stuff such as expressing of anal glands, general restraint, being bitten by an insect and of course trimming the nails.

This scream of death can be heard in the next suburb and some say, in the neighbouring States of Australia but that is just a rumour which was actually started by Amex the QLD Iggy who claimed to have heard the screams of Nica one day.

Any activity that has resulted in the Iggy scream of death is usually followed up by accusing looks, long guilt trips and the classic hurt gaze of an Iggy where they stare at you with bulging eyes that almost look as though they have tears in them.

This blog entry is dedicated to Zara and Nica – two beautiful Italian greyhounds that are characters in my stories and owned by two lovely ladies that are the epitome of ‘coolness’ and look exceptionally trendy just by their presence so it is no surprise that their Iggies are cool as well.

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Francesca and Zara – part of the cool gang

(Photograph by Denise Pringle)

At Lexie the Dog Groomers House

Zara and Nica were due at Lexie’s this morning for a quick nail trim. Now please understand that when I say ‘nail trim’, in Iggy terms it roughly translates to having all four legs removed in the most brutal fashion and it jolly well sounds like it too.

Well today I was to witness it for myself as I was round Lexie’s to organise our afternoon play session with Brutus and Vader so I can totally vouch just how traumatic it is for Iggies to have their nails (legs) cut.

Their Mums pulled up in the tiny little car which is really an Iggy car and tiny like the Iggies but full of attitude and fun.

Zara who is a cheeky young pup and in my stories she wears one of those special helmets to stop her bumping into things and hurting herself – just imagine a tiny Iggy with a huge bobble head wearing a crash helmet and you will get the idea.

She was so full of beans and speaking in her super fast voice that goes up several octaves at the end.

‘Hi everyone, how are you all, we had such fun, we had breakfast, we played in the garden, I went for a turd, Nica vomited for attention, everything happened, how are you all?’ Zara said without drawing breath and totally forgetting why she was at Lexie’s.

‘Oh god, please don’t cut my legs off, don’t kill me, I need my legs!’ Nica sobbed dramatically into her handkerchief. Why she had started crying so soon was beyond me, she wasn’t even in the salon.

It was decided that Zara had to be done first so she would not be alarmed by Nica’s dying dog routine.

Nica was already looking distraught at the thought of her sisters legs being amputated and had started the warning system to try to ‘save her’ from the dog groomer.

‘Zara, call the police, if they cut your legs off tell the police, tell them that you need your legs!’ Nica shouted after Zara who was wearing her special helmet to stop her bouncing into things and hurting herself.

‘I will be OK Nica, I can do this!’ Zara said with a fake confidence which came from wearing her tough-girl harness.

‘I can do this, I can do this, who needs legs anyway, they are so overrated’ Zara said quickly in between making whimpering noises. ‘Where is Brutus, I demand to see Brutus, I know he is here somewhere!’ Zara shouted.

Brutus had been there twenty minutes before but I never told her that but as she has met Brutus before, she has decided that she quite likes him.

‘Oh my god, was that my leg? You chopped my leg off! Nica was right all along!’ Zara cried, ‘I am SO going to report you!’ Bashing her special helmet around as her head wriggled around like a bobble head.

‘That’s you done’ Lexie the dog groomer told Zara and carried her out to her parents.

‘I did it, I fought them and I won and I still have my legs, it didn’t hurt and I was a brave girl and everything!’ Zara reassured Nica who was having none of it as Zara was still trembling at being assaulted by the nail clippers which was a dead giveaway that she wasn’t as brave as she was making out.

Handing Zara over to her parents, a quick swap was done in return for Nica who was announcing to anyone that would listen and everyone that wouldn’t.

‘I have done my Last Will and Testament, I leave everything I own to Zara, including my collar selection, I leave my iPad to Pippin because he loves iPads and I leave anything I vomit to Brutus’ Nica howled.

‘And if I should survive this ordeal, I have ordered myself a wheelchair for when I am disabled and Brutus can push me around in it and I shall need a specially adapted house for disabled dogs plus a tartan blanket to cover my knees’ Nica said firmly as Lexie carried her inside the salon.

‘I love you all, never forget that and I hope you can love me too, even when all of my legs have been amputated in the guise of a nail clip’ Nica squeaked as Lexie shut the salon door so all Zara could see was Inca’s mouth opening and closing like two biro pens clicking together.

‘Love you Nica and I will love you with no legs as well’ Zara barked and then decided that she too had better check all of her legs were there and not amputated along with her nails. ‘Oh my god help me! That hurt!’ Nica squealed.

‘That’s OK Nica, I haven’t touched you yet’ Lexie reassured her.

‘Just testing’ Nica said with her lips pursed together, ‘Keeping you on your toes’. ‘Ouch, that was my leg, that was my other leg, that was all of my legs, that was my head!’ Nica cried and then started reciting various prayers that dogs do when they get desperate.

‘Oh my god, how in the name of god can you expect me to run around on stumps? Did you have to cut my legs that short?’ Nica said in a voice so high-pitched that she sounded somewhat like Aled Jones with his testicles slammed in the door.

‘Nica, don’t be so dramatic’ Lexie said firmly and then picked up the nail file to finish the job.

‘What are you going to do with that?’ Nica looked horrified as Lexie gripped the nail file.

‘Tidy up your nails’ Lexie laughed and then set about filing Inca’s nails down to make them tidy.

‘You can’t file my head off – I need my head!

‘Zara please come and help me, go and tell Brutus to come and get me!’ squealed Nica.

Brutus however was oblivious to the noise as he was helping his Dad to finish his toast next door.

‘I won’t be good as an amputee, do amputees lead next to normal lives?’ Nica cried fretfully.

Nica was soon finished and carried out back to her owners looking as though someone had bashed her and cut her own head off and used her snout as a fountain pen.

Fanning her pointy nose with her paws, she briefly glanced around to see if any of the neighbors dogs had seen anything.

‘I am never coming back; each time I come here my legs are amputated. I have to draw the line somewhere so I am never coming back’ Nica shouted with a new-found bravado.

‘And I am never coming back either!’ Zara said firmly and then shouted ‘Oi, you – brindle staffie over the road, what are you looking at?’ to our neighbors dogs over the road.

It was very easy for Zara to be brave with other dogs while snuggled up in her owners’ arms but she always feels tough when she wears her camo harness.

The girls were put back in the car and as quickly as the drama had started, it had all finished.

‘Are you OK Nica?’ Zara asked her sister. Dabbing her eyes and composing herself,

Nica cried ‘Yes, I think so – now. My legs have grown back which is something’.

‘That’s good, I think my legs have grown back as well’ Zara said gratefully and then bent down to admire them.

‘See you in three weeks’ Lexie waved to the girls and their mums.

‘Oh god, we have to go through this again?’ Zara barked in a horrified voice.

‘Awful isn’t it, it’s a wonder we don’t run out of legs’ Nica sighed.

As the car pulled out of the driveway I could just see Zara’s special helmet wobbling around and Nica was being quite animated as she was telling Zara her grand plans to vomit everywhere once she got back home – purely for attention.

Iggy nail clips – it is never ever just a nail clip; it is a partial or total leg amputation at the very least.  Never underestimate it.

10968054_10152605695961921_215579022_nNica (left) and Zara (right) – Trust no-one

(Photo by Francesca Perino)

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright Feb 2015

Rocco’s Christmas

Rocco

Rocco

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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 1

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

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

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’.

IMG_7627

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’.

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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.

Iggy Choir

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.

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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.

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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*

Unexpected Visitors

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Rainbow Bridge

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!’

Merry Christmas

The End

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).

Iggy Club

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*