This story is about Dash the Italian greyhound. Dash was one of the characters in my book Planet Iggy and his real life naughtiness and escapades have kept his humans on their toes and the vets busy.
A very special little dog deserving of this tribute.
At Dash’s house
Dash and his brother Augie were at home. Augie was lying on his back playing on his mobile phone. He was obsessed with the ‘who’s who on the show circuit’ page, he enjoyed checking out which dogs were doing well and who had the biggest testicles. It made him miss the days when he had a splendid set of gonads himself – those were the glory days!
“I say Dash, have you seen this Iggy, he is pretty new to the circuit?” Augie asked him without even looking up.
Dash didn’t reply, he was busy gazing out of the window. He could just see the BBQ outside and it reminded him of all the times that he had stolen food from it – something he was pretty proud of. Had food theft been an Olympic sport then he would have surely won a Gold.
He hadn’t been well for a while and had been diagnosed with a serious liver issue that he knew would not allow him to live as long a life as a healthy dog. Although he wanted to have a full life with his humans, he knew it wasn’t possible and he was just waiting for the right time to leave them.
His humans had been warned that he may have to go to Rainbow Bridge at any point. It didn’t make it easier mind you, but they did understand and were trying to make each day with Dash count.
“Dash, I am talking to you!” Augie nudged him with his pointy snout.
Giving his head a little shake, Dash turned around and gave Augie a tired smile. “Sorry Augie, what you were saying?”
Augie frowned, his little face looked troubled, probably not helped by him having more grey hairs than Dash, who simply refused to age in both appearance and attitude. “Oh, never mind, it doesn’t matter. Are you OK Dash?” Sitting up, Augie picked up his drink and took a mouthful and dabbed his snout with his handkerchief to remove the coffee froth.
“Sort of, I will be….” He replied simply and then added, “Hey, do you remember the time I sneaked into the kitchen of the dog café when nobody was looking?”
Augie snorted his Dog-o-Cinno coffee through his nostrils. “Do I remember? How could I forget! Do you remember the tomato incident, nobody could believe it!”
“Oh my days! That was talked about for ages afterwards.” Dash laughed.
“Talked about until this very day and will be forever more I reckon.” Augie added.
“I remember how we used to stand on Brutus’s back so that we could reach the café table and steal the food!” Augie wiped his eyes as he roared with laughter. “Dear old Brutus, such a good boy for letting us use him as a ladder.”
“Actually Dash, isn’t there a photo somewhere of you and Brutus getting cosy together at Chewie’s birthday at the dog cafe?”
Dash cocked his head to the side. “Might have been!” he said knowingly. “Photographic evidence is kicking around somewhere I do believe.”
“You haven’t had a boring life have you Dash?” Augie poked him playfully with his paw.
Dash grinned, “No, I most certainly haven’t and I have kept my humans on their toes that’s for sure!”.
“Dash?” Augie asked him quietly.
“Yes Augie?” Dash stared at his brother.
“Are you OK?” Augie asked him again. His eyes bulging, his ears flat back on his head, the tiny Iggy trembled as he asked Dash the question, because he kind of already knew the answer. He was just hoping by some miracle that he was wrong.
Taking a leap on to the sofa, Dash then gestured for Augie to sit next to him. “I need to have a chat….”
“I don’t want to hear it Dash, please don’t make me hear it, I am not ready to hear it!” Augie rushed his words out all at once and spoke so quickly that it was almost hard to understand him. But all the same, he jumped up and sat next to his brother to hear what he had to say.
Dash gently explained to Augie that it was now time for him to go, what was going to happen next and how he was relying on Augie to take charge of the family afterwards. He told him how he was a big brave boy and that he would be just fine.
“Dash?” Augie asked him after a few minutes.
“Yes Augie?” Dash replied.
“Are you scared?” Augie’s eyes stared intently at him.
“No Augie. We all have our time with our humans – be it a day, a week, years – whatever. But when it’s up, it’s up. Besides, I am tired of being unwell and if I can’t steal my human’s food with the stealth and professionalism that I am used to, then that means it’s my time”.
Augie huddled up to his brother. “Will you be able to steal food at Rainbow Bridge?”
“I bloody well hope so!” Dash growled and both dogs burst out laughing.
Later that day….
Bowie the large white greyhound and gatekeeper of Rainbow Bridge stood outside the entrance with his regulation clipboard and a chewed-up pen in the shape of a large bone. It was a bad habit chewing his pen and he knew that, but he still enjoyed doing it.
“Hi Bowie, who are we waiting for today?” An important looking Scottish terrier named ‘Bertie McTavish’ asked in his strong Scottish accent. He looked quite dapper wearing a red tartan collar with a whistle clipped to it, which he was not afraid to blow to regain any order should it all kick off with any newbies. Not that it ever did of course but Bertie did like that whistle and the power that it gave him – think about the policemen in the UK when they had whistles in the olden days and you will just about get the picture.
But nobody ever kicked off at Rainbow Bridge and aside from a bit of exuberance when reunited with old friends, there was never any trouble.
“Someone pretty special who is going to keep us all on our toes, that is all I can say.” Bowie gave a curt nod to Bertie.
Bertie who had seen it all before – or so he thought, sighed, “There isn’t anyone we can’t handle here and should anyone be naughty then I have this!” He pointed dramatically to the whistle clipped on his collar.
Bowie raised his eyebrows and smirked, “Are you sure about that?” But before he got chance to say anything else, he could hear a commotion of an incoming new resident.
It’s a great source of excitement for new animals coming to Rainbow Bridge; it’s like being given a new lease of life and getting reunited with old friends at the same time. They tend to make a bit of noise on arrival but it’s all high jinx because they are so happy to be there.
“Excuse me, but where is the food? I am bloody starving!” Dash suddenly appeared out of nowhere. They always do that on entry to ‘The Bridge’. They transition through and appear very quickly. It never fails to make Bertie startle and say ‘Now then, there will be none of that here!”
“Hello Dash old boy, how are you doing?” Bowie said affectionately.
Dash’s tail wagged furiously, so hard in fact that it smacked the Bertie in the face and made him sneeze. “I could murder a chocolate muffin my friend!” Dash grinned.
“Why does that not surprise me?” Bowie laughed, “Let me get someone to escort you through the gates. You are the only one coming in today.”
“Who is going to take me through, I can’t see anyone around, are you going to take me?” Dash asked Bertie.
Bertie shook his head, “Not me pal and I don’t want any funny business from you!” he said sternly and then catching Dash’s worried face, he gave the little black dog a cheeky wink to show he was joking.
“Come on my friend, follow me.” Bowie reassured him.
“Wait a second!” Dash shouted and quickly lifted his leg to pee on the gatepost. Bertie rolled his eyes at Bowie and muttered something about it being ‘highly inappropriate’ and should he blow his special whistle to control the situation?
Dash hesitantly walked through the gates to the other side when he was suddenly bowled over by another Italian greyhound. “Darling, you are here! I thought you would never arrive!”
He looked up and saw Madam Gigi looking absolutely gorgeous with a pair of oversized sunnies and an Italian silk scarf tied around her neck. The two Iggies hugged each other tightly, that was after Gigi had done the European thing of kissing the cheeks of course.
“Follow me, everyone is waiting for you! Fat Harry is eating everything in sight and it’s high time that you came to redress the balance!”
“It’s so good to finally be here Gigi. Tell me, do they have tomatoes where we are going?” Dash asked her.
“Tomatoes? Darling, there are more tomatoes than you would know what to do with!” Gigi barked at him and waved her front legs in the air – Pippin always said that if you cut off Madam Gigi’s front legs, she would be speechless.
The further he walked the more energetic he became and the better he felt until all evidence of pain and illness had vanished. Across the field, Dash could just make out the rotund figure of Fat Harry frantically waving his stuffed hamburger toy in the air to get his attention.
Nearby a black kelpie dog with an Australian neckerchief tied around his neck was sat on the grass reading a newspaper titled ‘The Kelpie Times’. He stopped reading and folded up his paper on his lap and glanced up. With his tail wagging slowly in recognition, he walked towards Fat Harry and said, “Is that who I think it is?”
“Yes Rocky, I think it is! – Isn’t it brilliant?” A huge grin appeared on Fat Harry’s face.
Rocky nodded, “Yes, it is absolutely marvellous. We all meet up here in the end, that’s what is so special about this place – there is no such thing as goodbye.”
“Is that it for today Bowie, shall I close the gates?” Bertie asked him.
Bowie looked on as little Dash was welcomed into the next level and final part of his life surrounded by his friends. “Yes, that’s it for today, close the gates. Oh, and Bertie?” Bowie asked him.
“Yes Bowie?” Bertie turned around to answer him.
“You can put your whistle away for today, maybe you can use it tomorrow?” Bowie winked at him leaving Bertie McTavish to reluctantly tuck his whistle under his collar for another day.
At Augie’s House
Augie was sat on his bed looking out of the window. He didn’t know how long he had been there for but it must have been a while. Dash’s bright red collar was on the coffee table and his toys were where he left them, Augie stared at them sadly and briefly wondered how he would manage without him. He would of course, but it would take time to adapt without Dash.
There was one more thing left to do and Augie had been putting it off. Taking a deep breath for bravery, he picked up his mobile phone and dialled Pippin’s number.
Pippin had been having a wonderful time lately. His sister Latte had recently had puppies and you all know how Pippin loves his puppies. One time both he and Brutus did some ‘doggy day care’ involving looking after Bronte’s puppies and it all ended in a flurry of talcum powder and diapers put on the wrong way – but that’s another story.
“Pippin, will you stop disturbing the babies!” Latte barked at him.
Pretending that he hadn’t heard, Pippin nudged the puppies with his pointy snout in the hope of waking them up so that he could justify a cuddle with them.
Pippin had actually grown quite distinguished as a senior dog and his grey fur had blended in quite nicely on his face. Unlike his friend Brutus who was looking pretty grizzled with age, but hey, we all get older right?
“Pippin, it’s for you?” Bronte handed him his mobile phone.
Looking boot-faced at being taken away from the pups, Pippin grabbed the phone from Bronte and took it into his office.
It all happens in Pippin’s office – good news, bad news, naughtiness, reprimands and everything in between. The large regal looking chair, the huge leather topped desk, a brown china pot with all of Pippin’s pens and pencils in it and his bright red lounge coat with golden trim, hanging up on the door. This office has seen it all and could tell a thousand stories about the Iggy gang and the life of Pippin.
Pippin sat in his chair clutching his phone and after a few minutes replied quietly, “Thank you, I will let the group know.”
Then as per tradition and the rules of the gang, Pippin sent a group text simply saying, “Dash has landed.”
A few hours later
Latte had just finished feeding her puppies. Pippin was standing behind her watching the babies trying to snuggle up to her.
“I shall miss Dash you know.” Latte said to Pippin, “Will you miss him?”
Pippin gave a little nod, “Yes, I shall miss him greatly. He was a character that’s for sure with all the naughty stuff he got up to.”
“What’s this tomato incident that everyone always talks about?” Latte asked him.
“OMG, Pippin you MUST tell her about that, please tell her – you tell it best!” Bronte barked excitedly.
A smile spread across Pippin’s face as he curled up next to Latte and Bronte and began telling the greatest story ever told about a dog café, a group of Italian greyhounds, a tomato and a little black dog called Dash.
Our pets may not live forever but the memories of their antics and naughtiness will remain alive for as long as we tell their stories.
This blog is dedicated to Dash.
Written and published with the kind permission and blessing of Dash’s human Kylie.
Gigi the Italian greyhound – or Madam Gigi if you would like her proper title, had been feeling unwell due to her eating a bone. Being one for enjoying her food, whatever Gigi ate was no real surprise to anyone and you can just ask her human about the ‘lettuce’ incident at the Iggy Christmas party one year – honestly, that story is legendry.
She is a beautiful and glamourous dog with a very well-spoken and some might say, posh accent (In case you didn’t know, in my stories all animals can talk – you just have to believe it). Just imagine a wealthy lady with flowing scarves tied round her neck, speaking at least 32 languages, wearing huge over-sized sunnies smelling of gorgeous expensive perfume which leaves wafts of it wherever she walks. If you can imagine that then you can imagine Gigi.
Gigi’s brother – Rocco, now he is a different character altogether with a tendency to swear at random and inappropriate moments, fight with his invisible doggy friends (all dogs have invisible friends) and even attack his reflection in the mirror and bite his own hind legs for annoying him. Although Rocco may be scary on first impressions, once you get to know him he is an utter darling.
One particular day, Gigi was curled up on the sofa because she wasn’t feeling too bright because the bone that she had eaten was causing her pain and it was decided that her human Mum would take her to the vet.
About twenty minutes before the appointment, Gigi slowly got up to get smarten herself up, even in her time of sickness, she didn’t let her appearance slip up and while she was waiting for her human to get everything ready, Gigi was powdering her snout and spraying herself with her favourite perfume ‘Dog Eau De Ca Turd’.
Rocco was busy washing his genitals and not taking much notice of Gigi. It was girl thing you see, and he knew that Gigi had to be perfect before she left the house and if she was going on a lunch date with Nica and Zara, oh my goodness it put a whole new meaning to the words ‘Girl Power’.
But this time something made him look at her, something made him stop right in his tracks and REALLY look at her. Cocking his head to one side, he studied his sister who in between smoothing her fur down, was grimacing with pain and discomfort. “Are you OK Gigi?” Rocco frowned, then noticing that she was putting on her most glamourous scarf that she only ever wears for special occasions, he swallowed a couple of times and gulped.
Gigi took a deep breath before turning to face him and patted the floor a couple of times to signal for him to come over to her.
“No! No, I don’t want to hear it!” Rocco’s voice stumbled as he fought back the tears. “That scarf, that scarf – you said it was for a special occasion and you have owned it for years and have never worn it until today!”
“Rocco, we need to chat darling, come here.” Gigi said calmly.
“No, I am not ready to come over, I am busy, no Gigi, don’t make me!” Rocco cried, but he knew he had to and usually nobody could make Rocco do anything that he didn’t want to do, but this time he knew that he had to go and sit by Gigi to hear what she had to say.
“Good lad!” Gigi smiled encouragingly, “Now, let’s have that chat…..”
As the two Italian greyhounds sat huddled up next to each other, Rocco listened to his sister talk while at the same time, trying hard to be the big strong brother that he knew she really needed.
Suddenly they were interrupted by their human Mum calling Gigi to take her to the car. “Right then, this is it!” Gigi nudged Rocco with her pointy snout. “Give me a hug then!”
Rocco stared at Gigi and thought how nice she looked with her scarlet red scarf wrapped around her neck, her fur smoothed back, the silver-grey fur on her muzzle and round her eyes making her look distinguished and ridiculously gorgeous.
Leaning towards her to give her a hug, he thought how nice she smelt with her doggy cologne and just her own individual smell that all of our dogs/cats have and if you don’t believe me, go and smell your precious cat/dog now because they do have their own unique scent that simply cannot be replicated.
“Look after Mum for me and keep an eye out for Brutus, you know how he gets bullied by other dogs.” Gigi re-tied her scarf and gave Rocco a quick lick on the cheek.
“Promise you will let me know once you arrive?” Rocco whispered.
“You my dear brother, will be the first to know.” Then turning to face her Mum, Gigi allowed herself to be picked up and carried outside to the car. As Rocco ran to the window and pressed his snout up against the glass, he could see his Mum start up the car and drive off with Gigi in the back.
Rocco left the window and trotted through the house, going from room to room to check. He eventually he found one of Gigi’s toys which he picked up and carried on to his bed and then burying his entire face in to the toy to muffle any sound, Rocco started to cry.
When glamour walks into the room
A large white greyhound known as Bowie (AKA – the Gatekeeper) stood outside a huge brass gate. Holding a clipboard with some names on it, he impatiently pressed the button on his biro pen a few times and frowned. Everyone was in that should have been, well except for one – one dog was late. Checking the list again, Bowie realised who it was and laughed, “Now why doesn’t that surprise me!”
A tan and white self-important looking staffie was chowing down on some doggy treats in a bag. Delving his snout into the packet, he triumphantly pulled out a kangaroo flavoured biscuit before offering Bowie one. “Fancy one Bowie? Who are we waiting for?”
Bowie politely declined the treats, he was watching his figure and wasn’t as active as some of the other dogs. “You will know soon enough, it will all kick off when they arrive I promise you that.”
The staffie shrugged and muttered something about going for a game of tennis ball with the kelpies that were waiting for him. A handsome black kelpie with a white cross on his chest, waved in the distance and yelled, “Are you coming Rex?”
Rex wagged his tail, “Yes Rocky, I will be there in a second!”
Bowie winked at him, “Off you go lad – your mates are waiting for you.”
“Well, if you are sure…” Rex started to say but didn’t bother to finish because the temptation to play ball with the kelpies was just too much. Before Bowie got to say anything else, Rex was running as fast as his little legs would carry him to where the kelpies were and all you could hear was the typical ‘piggy’ and snorting sounds of an out of breath staffie dog.
“Thirty minutes late!” Bowie growled to himself, then lifting his head up high, his nose started to twitch as he picked up a scent. “Can anyone smell that? Smells like perfume?”
He could hear her before he saw her, in fact there was no mistaking that voice. “Darling, I am finally here! Did you think that I wasn’t coming? You must tell me absolutely everything!
“Oh God it is so good to not have that awful belly pain. They operated of course but I was so sick and had totally had enough of this old age lark. How amazing though, death-by-bone, what a way to go!”
Bowie laughed, it was hard to be annoyed with her. I mean, what a grand entrance to make and only she could carry it off, “Gigi, fashionably late as usual – loving the scarf sweetheart!” Then leaning towards her, he accepted her dramatic air-kiss on either side as Gigi made the ‘Mwah, Mwah!’ sound for effect as she kissed him.
Grabbing his biro pen, Bowie marked her off on his list. That was it for the day, the next intake would be tomorrow. He pointed ahead of him and nudged Gigi on her rump, “Are you ready then Gigi?”
Gigi looked longingly through the gates. It was better than she ever could have imagined, so beautiful with all the animals looking in superb condition and what is more, she could not wait to go through and start enjoying her new-found health, youth and vitality.
“Oh darling, I just need to let someone know that I am here if that is OK?” Gigi gestured with her paws.
“OK, off you go then, but make it quick sweetie as I want to watch a dog program on TV later and I have some mates coming over for some dog beer.”
Gigi sat down, closed her eyes and took a deep breath and whispered, “Rocco, Madam Gigi has landed!” Then standing up and wagging her tail, she trotted over to where Bowie was standing.
“Ready?” Bowie nodded at her.
“You betcha I am ready!” Gigi clapped her paws.
They both walked to the gates which opened automatically to allow them to go through.
As Gigi stepped over to the other side, with each step she became fitter, younger and more energetic until she became the age and fitness level that suited her best.
Over to where the kelpies were playing, one black kelpie in particular stopped playing ball with his mates. Glancing up he noticed Gigi walking towards them. Walking slowly towards her, the black kelpie beamed when he realised who it was.
“Rocky, you waited for me – I knew you would, now tell me everything about this place!” Gigi barked at him.
“Gigi, allow me to welcome you to Rainbow Bridge and you are going to love it…” Rocky greeted her warmly and led her to her new friends and a life that you and I as humans can only dream about.
At Rocco’s House
Rocco was asleep in his bed when suddenly he sat up and cocked his head to the side as though someone had called his name.
Getting up and having a stretch, Rocco looked up and started to wag his tail. He smiled and said in a quiet voice, “Thank you Gigi.” Then picking up his mobile, he texted his good friend Pippin Potter.
At Pippin’s House
Pippin Potter was in his office organising the Iggy Christmas party, it was the most anticipated and looked forward to event of the year and Pippin positively relished in organising it.
“Latte, can you come here please I have a job for you!” Pippin called out to his younger sister. But before he had chance to follow up on the conversation, his mobile phone beeped and a message flashed up from Rocco. Dabbing his pointy snout with his favourite blue silk handkerchief, Pippin picked up the phone and read the message.
“Pippin, I was busy you know, I am not your servant!” Latte sulked as she barged into his office. Then noticing the look on his face, she stopped in her tracks, “Is everything OK?”
Ignoring Latte, Pippin quickly composed a group text and then hit the ‘send’ button, “Go and get Bronte, I need to tell you both something”.
At Zara and Nica’s house
“I can’t believe she has gone.” Nica shook her head sadly as she had always been good friends with Gigi.
Zara snatched some handkerchiefs from the tissue box, wiped her eyes and then noisily blew her snout afterwards. “I just don’t understand why she had to go, why did she have to go Nica?”
Nica being a much more sensible dog than Zara, smiled kindly at her sister. She wasn’t used to discussing Rainbow Bridge and had no idea that really was the best place for animals to go when their lives and purpose with their humans was done. “It was her time Zara, there comes a time in every animal’s life where they need to make their journey to Rainbow Bridge and today was Gigi’s.”
“Nica?” Zara asked her sister.
“Will Gigi like it there?”
“Yes, Zara she will love it,” Nica answered truthfully. And with that answer, Zara had to be content.
At Rocco’s House
Despite Pippin Potter offering the group support for him, Rocco had declined, saying that he preferred his own company. He had even sent his invisible friends away so it was just Rocco and his own thoughts.
Rocco sat on the sofa and glanced around the living room. Gigi’s toys were where she had left them in the corner by her bed which had her favourite blankets still moulded into her shape where she had slept. Her bowls in the kitchen with the uneaten kibble and tiny paw prints where she had bought in some mud from the garden. Rocco wondered how could so much of her still be in the house without her being there?
Taking a deep breath and puffing his cheeks out, Rocco went to pick up Gigi’s toys. One by one, he tidied them up and placed them next to her bed then once he had finished, he pressed his nose onto her bed to take in her scent before getting in to her bed and curling up on the blankets. After a few minutes all you could hear were the gentle snores of an exhausted and heartbroken dog.
A couple of weeks later
“Go away, I hate everyone and no I am not interested!” Rocco barked furiously at whoever was knocking at his door. He had been a grumpy-guts all week, refusing to talk to anyone or discuss his feelings. Even Brutus couldn’t get through to him and that was saying something.
“Rocco my friend, it’s Pippin. Can you open the door – talk to me, you can’t stay shut in here forever.” The quiet, posh voice of Pippin Potter sounded from outside, in his well-spoken ‘BBC English’ accent that everyone knew and loved.
“Leave me alone! I don’t need any of you – bollocks to you all!” Rocco yelled.
Pippin sighed, there was nothing he could do or say to break down the invisible barrier that Rocco had built up to keep everyone away and for the first time ever, he didn’t know what to do and Pippin always knew what to do.
Gigi had been at Rainbow Bridge for a few weeks but had still been keeping an eye on Rocco from above to see how he was coping. She was not happy with what she saw, she really had believed that Rocco would have started to move on or at least allowed his friends to be there to support him.
Rocky the kelpie and Gigi were relaxing on the sun loungers by the swimming pool one day. They often enjoyed one another’s company and would do respectable things like go to the opera or have dog beer while reading upmarket magazines and newspapers while discussing sheep herding or current affairs.
The pool really was rather marvellous non-slip rocks scattered on the edges. Balls and toys were everywhere for the dogs to play with and even some inflatables that magically stay inflated no matter how many times they are bitten. There were bottles of water and dog beer on the little round tables next to each sun lounger and bowls of dog biscuits and treats for those that wanted them.
A golden Labrador was swimming lengths in the pool while occasionally diving for his favourite rope toy. He was being cheered on by a brindle whippet who was coaching him. The pool was big enough for all to enjoy but the Labrador still kept a respectful distance from Gigi and Rocky because he thought that Gigi did not look like the type of dog to enjoy getting wet. He was right as well because later Gigi told him that she would actually melt if she went in the water and the Labrador never forgot it.
“He is in a pretty bad way Gigi, what are we going to do?” Rocky took a mouthful of his dog beer, savoured it in his mouth for a few seconds before swallowing it and giving a little belch. “Excuse me!” Rocky covered his mouth with his paw and blushed. Thank the Lord that Gigi hadn’t noticed as Rocky would have been mortified.
“I think it’s time that I sorted this out once and for all!” Gigi said firmly and placed her drink back on to the table.
“Do you think he is ready?” Rocky asked as he stood up, stretched and walked to the edge of the pool, “After all – there is no going back if you do this.”
“Absolutely, I know my brother and he is more than ready. He just doesn’t know it yet.” Gigi gave a confident nod and raised her drink, “Cheers, here’s to Rocco!”
“To Rocco!” Rocky barked and dived into the pool to retrieve a tennis ball that he could ignore no longer.
One Month Later
Rocco had been in the foulest of moods since Gigi died. He had even taken to insulting strangers that knocked on the door and had told one salesman that he hoped that his testicles would fall off and be eaten by the crows.
His days were spent sitting by the window calling the neighbours dogs ugly and telling the poodles down the road that their hair looked shit. He had stopped hanging out with his invisible mates and had become so withdrawn from life that he wouldn’t even talk on the phone to his friend Brutus.
Anyway, it was one afternoon and Rocco as usual, had his grump on and was busy swearing at himself on his bed and chewing his own leg because it had moved without his consent. On hearing his human put the keys in the front door, Rocco quickly curled up into a ball so that he could pretend to be asleep – that way his human would think twice about disturbing him.
The door opened and Rocco felt a blast of fresh air infiltrate his nostrils, he closed his eyes tightly and shuddered out a big sigh. But then something else hit his nostrils and the scent was so strong that it may as well smacked him in the face and despite not wanting to open his eyes, the presence of something staring at him was that intense that he had no choice but to open them.
“Hello there! I am Cilla, I am going to be living with you! How jolly nice this house is, do you have any toys? I love toys, do you love toys? Where is my bed? Would you like to play? We are going to be lifelong friends! Aren’t you excited? I am excited!”
Rocco was horrified to be met with the sight of a beautiful blue/fawn and white Italian greyhound puppy of about 8 months old. And like all Iggy puppies, she spoke fast while asking a plethora of questions and changing the subject several times in the process.
It’s not often that Rocco is lost for words but this time he was. He sat up, rubbed his eyes and watched little Cilla squealing with excitement as she ran from room to room, frantically circling every time she picked up a scent.
“Oh, look what I have found! How lovely, can I keep it?” Cilla ran up to Rocco with one of Gigi’s soft toys in her mouth.
“No! Get that out of your mouth now! It’s not yours, that is Gigi’s!” Rocco shouted at Cilla.
Startled, Cilla dropped the toy and scampered behind the sofa whimpering.
“That’s not yours to take! Gigi would be furious if she were here!” Rocco growled and picked up the toy to take back to his bed.
Too terrified to move, Cilla remained behind the sofa and eventually fell asleep in a tiny ball with her long legs folded up like a dead upturned spider and Rocco being the stubborn boy that he is, didn’t want to move either.
But Rocco needed to know more about this imposter. I mean she could be anyone – she could be intending to steal his toys, his human and everything. Curiosity got the better of him and he decided to go and check her out.
“And another thing, you can’t just come in here thinking that it’s your home….” Rocco began to say but stopped when he saw little Cilla.
She looked so tiny and had a sweet puppy innocence about her. Where everything is exciting and wonderful, where every toy belongs to you, where everyone loves you and thinks that you are marvellous. Puppies often get into the wrong hands and don’t always end up in a good home and Rocco knew that from stuff his mates had told him.
Cilla’s ears were neatly folded back on her head, her nose tucked under her tail by her bum. She had that delicious puppy smell that pups tend to have. It reminded Rocco of Zara, Latte and the other puppies that he had seen in the Iggy Club, puppies that he had grown to know and love.
Gigi would have loved her for sure and probably given her the toys because Gigi delighted in other dogs being happy and relished in making them so. Cilla was a blank canvas and Rocco realised that he could teach her everything he knew and how to be the best dog that she could be.
Feeling a huge pang of guilt that he had been so mean to her, Rocco went back to his bed and picked up Gigi’s toy. Careful not to wake her, he gently dropped the toy by Cilla’s paws and stared at her for a few minutes. Snuggling into the toy, Cilla made a few little puppy moans of contentment.
“I guess that Gigi won’t be needing that toy after all.” Rocco thought to himself. The temperature had dropped and Cilla shivered a little in her sleep tucking herself even tighter to keep warm.
Gigi used to love it when Rocco curled up next to her and they would keep each other warm. That was just what they would do for each other you see, it was what you would call a team effort I guess.
“Oh, alright then, if you insist!” Rocco shrugged and curled up on the floor next to Cilla. Shuffling across towards her, he felt her shivering to keep warm. Pressing himself closer towards her, he rested his head on her neck and it wasn’t long before he was fast asleep with the only thing between them was Gigi’s little stuffed toy.
Always room for a little one
Gigi was alone in the gardens of Rainbow Bridge. She had been there for a few hours while having some quiet reflection.
“Everything OK Gigi?” She heard Rocky’s voice from behind her.
Turning around, she beamed at him. “Yes, my friend, it most certainly is…”.
And the moral of the story is, when one beloved pet leaves our lives, it paves the way for another one to enter. It doesn’t mean that we love the old pet any less, it just means that there is always a space for another pet to love. It gives them a chance to have a loving home and it gives us the opportunity to love again and at the end of the day, a short time of loving a pet is far better than not loving one at all.
Dedicated to Tunamara Dolce Gigi 2006-2019
This story has been published with the kind permission of Rocco and Gigi’s human – Gwynneth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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
From little things planted, mighty dogs do grow – according to Brutus
Photograph by Samantha Rose
It was a beautiful sunny day and Brutus was round his good friend Pippin Potter’s house for lunch and a long overdue catch up. Brutus always feels very grown up when he hangs out with Pippin. He looks up to the little dog and even puts on a pair of spectacles (with no lenses) and a bow tie to give the impression of being a university educated dog like his brother Rocky.
Rocky teaches Maths in his spare time
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Today was no different because Brutus was sat at the table pretending to read a copy of ‘The Daily Dog’ newspaper which is a publication for all educated canines and has lists of doggy universities and stuff in it. Except that Brutus can’t read as he is dyslexic and has to use colours, symbols and photos on paper to help him understand. Don’t feel too sorry for him though as he manages very well with the help of Pippin’s sister – Bronte who has endless patience when she gives him lessons.
Brutus sat there with his big boofy head buried in the newspaper while Pippin sat opposite him reading a book on ‘Showing for the Neuter Champion’. He kept sneaking quick glances of Pippin to watch him reading and felt envious at how quickly Pippin could scan a page.
Pippin has always been an avid reader
(Photograph by Denise Pringle)
You know what it’s like when you want to be like someone, sometimes you copy their mannerisms or perhaps how they dress and generally try and mimic the qualities that you admire, well dogs do the same and like us, they all have their hero to look up to.
Pippin looked up at Brutus and smiled at him and then removed his half rimmed spectacles, huffed on them and cleaned them with his silk handkerchief.
Brutus stared at Pippin and then removed his own spectacles to clean them. As he gave giving them a big huff, he nearly sent Pippin off his chair – Brutus is a big dog you know and has enough ‘huff’ in him for several dogs. He suddenly remembered that he didn’t have any lenses in them, feeling embarrassed, he quickly put them back on his face.
‘Oh I know what I meant to tell you’, Pippin nodded in Brutus’s direction as he picked up a dog biscuit, took a delicate bite and then dabbed the crumbs off his snout afterwards.
‘What’s that Pip?’ Brutus replied and folded up his newspaper, pretending that he had read it even though he had been holding it upside down without realising.
‘Mum has pulled a big tree from the garden for you to put in your garden, I think they are dropping it round this week’, Pippin grinned, ‘But tell Rocky that he must not dig it up or your Mum won’t be happy’.
Brutus looked thoughtful but said nothing, he didn’t really know anything about trees and unlike his brother Rocky, was always far too lazy to dig anything in the garden. He did have a habit of claiming Rocky’s garden holes as his own and for years we actually believed that the holes in the garden were Brutus’s. That was until we found Rocky looking breathless with dirty paws, short stubby nails and a shelf of soil on his snout.
‘Pippin?’ Brutus asked him.
‘Yes Brutus?’ Pippin took a sip of his drink.
‘Can I give my tree a name?’ Brutus wagged his tail in excitement, he always gets excited when anything new is brought to the house. Brutus has such a good imagination, that he had already convinced himself of all kinds of magical stuff about the new tree.
‘Well you can give it a name, I don’t see the point myself but whatever makes you happy’, Pippin smiled, ‘Fancy a pigs snout? Mum bought some the other day and they are rather delicious’.
The two dogs said nothing further about the tree or whether or not Brutus was going to name it but knowing Brutus, he probably would give it a name and fabricate an entire story to go with it.
The Next Day….
‘What did you say?’ Frugal McGuff the boxer snorted with laughter, ‘The Pigaloo Tree? What the hell is a Pigaloo Tree?’
Brutus stood next to a group of dogs in the park. Unable to stop himself, he blurted out ‘It’s a special tree that grows friends when you need them’.
Frugal McGuff looked at a chunky pug sat next to him. The pug shook his head and wiped the skin folds in his neck with his paws and stared at Brutus, ‘Run this by me again lad, you have a tree called Pigaloo; that grows new friends?’.
Brutus had been backed into a corner, he really didn’t know why he had just made that up but he couldn’t back down now. Besides, he had always wanted an Iggy brother or sister to live with and how marvellous would it be to have a tree that actually grew Iggies and as his nickname had always been ‘Brutus Pigaloo’, then it kind of made sense that his new tree should be named after him.
‘Yes’, Brutus faltered, ‘And I have wished for an Italian greyhound (Iggy) brother or sister and my Pigaloo tree will grow exactly that’.
Frugal McGuff wiped the snot off his face and smirked in the direction of a couple of Maltese terriers who were busy laughing and taking the piss out of Brutus.
‘Well, if we don’t see it then it didn’t happen, so we shall be at your house at 11am tomorrow morning then?’ Frugal replied – it wasn’t a request either.
Shrugging, Brutus looked stubborn, ‘You can see my Pigaloo tree but you are in for a shock!’.
‘Catch ya later loser!’ Frugal yelled as he waddled off – he was a big overweight you see and couldn’t move as quickly as some boxer dogs. He was followed by the pug and the two Maltese terriers, the other dogs had quickly dispersed a few minutes earlier.
‘Oh god, what have I done?’ Brutus said to himself, perhaps if he wished it hard enough it would happen but if it didn’t then he would never live it down.
At Pippin’s house
You know how I have told you about Pippin knowing everything? Well he honestly does and he really does carry several mobile phones and two iPads as well as a Filofax with ‘stuff’ in it. Pippin is in fact a canine Oracle and has been known to mark the papers for the local universities.
Anyway, let’s get back to the story. Pippin was on his phone talking to someone, I don’t know who it was but what I do know is that he looked troubled and it was something to do with Brutus and his Pigaloo tree.
‘Oh dear, well of course it could all go very wrong once Frugal McGuff and his mob find out that Brutus has a fertile imagination and his precious Pigaloo tree is the Frangipani that my family have given him’, Pippin sighed and rubbed his paw along the desk to remove some crumbs.
Bronte was curled up on the sofa reading her monthly magazine. She was half halfheartedly listening to the conversation and felt quite sick at the thought of Frugal the boxer and his mates bullying Brutus. Having fiercely defended the giant dog in the past and assisted him with his dyslexia, she simply could not stand it if he was bullied again.
Pip was now off the phone and looking concerned. ‘Pippin, we must be able to help him, we can’t let Frugual McGuff find out that Brutus’s Pigaloo tree isn’t magic, it would simply destroy him’. Bronte said anxiously.
‘Yes, I was thinking the same’. Pippin agreed.
‘So what are we going to do about it?’ Bronte demanded.
Grabbing his car keys, Pippin picked up his mobile phone and called Rocco, ‘Hi Rocco, I need your help – round up the boys and I will meet you in the park in 10 mins’, Pippin said in a gruff voice – well gruff for an Iggy anyway.
The next day
‘So, is this the so called Pigaloo tree then?’ Frugal McGuff barked.
‘Doesn’t look much to me, looks like the same sort of thing that my Mum has in her garden’, shrugged a pug in a leather jacket (Pugs always wear either leather or denim jackets and chew gum to give them more attitude).
The two Maltese terriers were there and there was also some dogs that Brutus didn’t recognise but was too scared to ask them to leave. In fact he didn’t want any of them there but he had to prove to them that his precious Pigaloo tree was real and Brutus felt that perhaps if he believed in magic hard enough then surely something had to happen?
Brutus stood by his tree while Frugal McGuff, the two Maltese Terriers, the pug and a GSD checked out the garden and in particular, Brutus’s toy box. ‘I say, that’s a shitty selection of toys in here!’ Sniggered the GSD as the other dogs joined in laughing.
Brutus looked upset, he was proud of his toy box and generous with it too and was known to share his toys around to dogs less fortunate than himself and it upset him to hear of his toy box being disrespected in such a way. Too scared to argue back, Brutus stared at his toys and in particular his new honking pig and hoped that Frugal wouldn’t puncture it out of spite which he had been known to do in the past.
But Frugal was busy making a point by urinating up every tree in the garden and kicking up the soil which is a total insult to any dog – having a strange dog piss up your tree is second only to stealing ones bones in terms of doggy crimes or in Brutus’s case – insulting his toy box.
Brutus felt nauseous, his nerves were building up and the more Frugal strutted around his garden, the worse he felt and the more he wanted to cry.
‘Well come on, show us what your tree can do!’ Shouted the pug. The other dogs all nodded in agreement.
‘Don’t dare me, you will be sorry!’ Brutus barked defiantly but inwardly wishing that this blasted Pigaloo tree would eat him up. He wanted so badly to believe that his tree could grow friends that he had almost convinced himself and had Frugal and his mates not been in the garden, he could have carried on believing it as well and just made up invisible friends like Rocco the Iggy who regularly fights with his pretend mates.
‘Looks like we are wasting our time guys’, Frugal laughed and beckoned his mates to leave the garden while Brutus sat hunched up by his precious tree with his bottom lip trembling. He would never live this down – ever.
Suddenly there were sounds of squeaking, high pitched voices, spluttering and muffled barks coming from the ground.
Frugal turned round with the other dogs and saw that the soil by the tree was moving. ‘What the hell……?’ Frugal gasped, ‘Hey you lot come and check this out!’.
The other dogs gathered round and stared at the soil as tiny little paws frantically dug their way out of it.
One by one four little Iggies popped out of the ground, coughing and sneezing and wiping the soil from their faces. Brutus didn’t recognise any of them and it was at that point he truly believed that his Pigaloo tree had grown him some friends.
Little did he know that Pippin had rounded up some young pups that Frugal had never seen so could not recognise and it was an easy task to correspond with Rocky who is a champion digger, to dig holes big enough to accommodate four baby Italian greyhounds.
Brutus stared open mouthed at the Iggies as they emerged fighting their way through the soil barking loudly.
‘Well I’ll be damned! He wasn’t lying after all’, Frugal McGuff shook his head in disbelief, ‘Am I dreaming? I said AM I DREAMING?’ Frugal repeated to the pug who assured him that no, he wasn’t dreaming.
Once the four Iggies had dug their way out of the soil and had wiped the mess from their faces, they wagged their tail at Brutus and grinned at him.
‘Wow! My Pigaloo Tree really does grow Iggies!’ Brutus said happily, his tail wagging so hard that he knocked the pug over, ‘Now do you believe me Frugal?’ Brutus barked with a sudden display of confidence.
Brutus does ‘confused’ so well
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Frugal looked boot-faced and decided that he had been seen quite enough and it was time to go. Signalling to his mates to leave, they all turned round and left the garden with the pug being last in line, farting with each step as he waddled off down the driveway.
‘Well I have never seen anything like it….’ Frugal McGuff muttered to nobody in particular.
Rocky and Pippin
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Brutus was so overwhelmed with the Iggies that had seemingly sprouted from his tree, that he farted which of course caused the pups to giggle and let a few off themselves.
‘Got to admit Pippin, you were right’, Rocky whispered to Pippin from their hiding place at the side of the house.
‘I usually am Rocky, I usually am’, Pippin said smugly, ‘Now let’s get out of here before Brutus spots us’.
Brutus and Rocky were curled up on the sofa with Kevin the kitten. They were discussing their day and what they had got up to, Rocky could see that Brutus was bursting to tell him about his Pigaloo Tree.
Discussing The Pigaloo Tree
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘Rocky you will never guess what happened today?’ said Brutus.
Kevin the kitten nearly gave the game away had it not been for Rocky giving him a sharp nip on his bum.
‘What’s that Brutus?’ Rocky asked with feigned innocence – pretending that he knew nothing. Except Rocky does actually know everything as he has been to kelpie university and is very smart indeed.
‘You know my Pigaloo Tree?’ Brutus nodded in the direction of the garden.
‘Yes Brutus, I know your Pigaloo Tree’, Rocky glared at Kevin daring him to ruin the moment while Kevin made rude gestures with his paws.
‘We all know about your Pigaloo Tree, it’s all you have spoken about since it was planted!’ Kevin growled threateningly. He is such a naughty bastard and has no verbal filter – ask anyone. I got out of the shower the other day and he actually laughed at my bum, he is so rude for a kitten.
Kevin – so much disrespect in that ginger body!
(Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Ignoring Kevin, Brutus said ‘Well it grew four Iggy puppies, I saw it with my own eyes and so did Frugal McGuff and his mates, you can ask them!’ Brutus nodded a few times to reaffirm his big announcement.
‘Bloody hell Brutus, that is jolly impressive!’ Rocky smiled at his brother and when Brutus wasn’t looking, he quickly sent a text to Pippin to tell him that ‘operation Pigaloo Tree’ had been a success.
Later when the dogs were in bed, Brutus was curled up with his toys thinking about his day. ‘Rocky?’
‘Yes Brutus?’ Rocky signed – Brutus always has his million questions at bed time.
‘Now I know that friends can grow on trees, does that mean all the dogs with no friends can grow them as well so they never have to be lonely?’ Brutus nudged his toys in order on his bed.
Rocky remained silent, he had no answer to that question but it certainly got him thinking, how nice would it be if everyone had their own Pigaloo Tree to grow friends from.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental – except for my own animals and we all know that they talk.
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:
It was Sunday afternoon and Rocky was in a bad mood as he hadn’t had a good walk in ages, he was also pissed off because he doesn’t have any friends because he hates everyone, including his invisible friends that all dogs have – just ask Rocco about that.
Rocky in his Kelpie Spectacles
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘What are we doing today?’ Brutus demanded in a bored voice. Brutus always assumed things had been organised for him and kind of expected it.
Brutus always expects stuff to be organised for him
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Rocky shook the absurdly large newspaper that he was reading, taking a deep breath he peered over the top of his kelpie spectacles which are just like Harry Potters spectacles except that they are for kelpies.
‘We are probably doing nothing, I hate everyone and I hate everyone even more today’ Rocky snapped and then bent down to chew his anal glands.
Brutus who is not good at ‘reading’ other dogs, shrugged his shoulders and trotted off to Rocky’s bed to steal his gingerbread man who had taken Tony Abbott’s place for suckling time when he needed a comforter.
Unknown to Rocky I had been messaging Denise Pringle asking if she fancied going to North Lake for a walk with Pippin and Bronte and I would bring Rocky.
Telling me that yes she would meet me in the car park I then set about breaking the good news to Rocky that he was to be meeting Pippin and Bronte and Brutus would be staying home with Dad to ‘help in the garden’ (dig the crap out of it).
‘What do you mean I can’t go? I always hang out with Pippin?’ Brutus protested with his bottom lip quivering.
‘What does she mean I can’t go?’ Brutus repeated to Rocky who grinned and replied simply ‘You go everywhere, it’s my turn now – catch ya later alligator!’ Rocky barked back at Brutus.
‘Come on Brutus, go to your room – I have put some treats in there’ I reassured him.
‘Not going, won’t go, can’t make me’ Brutus said in a high pitched voice and then promptly threw himself to the floor (I am not joking either)
Brutus – an expert on sulking
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
The large brown dog buckled to the floor and started to howl. Now the reason for him not going was because I am working on Rocky’s behaviour and confidence around other dogs and he is far better when he is not with Brutus and Pippin has a calming influence on him.
Eventually I got Brutus to his bed and placated him with a carrot but not before he threatened to do rude things with it and the last I heard of him was him threatening to self harm as I drove off with Rocky in the car.
‘Yeah, this is so cool! Do you mind if I drive?’ Rocky grinned at me.
‘No, you are not driving’ I said firmly.
‘Oh well, I shall yell stuff out of the window then’ Rocky shrugged and before I could stop him; he was calling a Jack Russell terrier a ‘flea bitten stumpy legs’.
Soon we pulled up at North Lake and Denise, Pippin and Bronte arrived minutes after we did.
‘Hi Rocky!’ Pippin’s face beamed through the car window as he steamed it up trying to talk and greet Rocky.
Rocky and Pippin – members of the Sensible Club
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Rocky who is so sensible and full of self control, tried to contain himself but as he doesn’t have any friends except for Lexie’s Tess and Pippin and Bronte, he was absurdly pleased to see the two little dogs. He was especially pleased to see Pippin as on the whole and when they are not being corrupted, are both very sensible dogs that wear spectacles and read large newspapers with big words and get on very well together.
‘Hi Rocky, do you think I have my figure back after my babies?’ Bronte said flirtatiously to Rocky who looked approvingly at her skinny bum.
‘Bronte, don’t be so forward!’ Pippin reprimanded her. Bronte looked boot-faced at Pippin and winked naughtily at Rocky causing him to blush and look away.
Rocky and Bronte – a forbidden love
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
‘Call me’ Bronte mouthed and did a phone gesture with her paws before running off ahead so that Rocky could get the full benefit of her svelte figure and pretty purple outfit.
‘Girls, I will never understand them’ Pippin sighed to Rocky, ‘Now – shall we discuss what has been happening in the UK as I understand they have voted out and I am not sure what that means for exporting dog collars and clothes’
Rocky pretended to listen but kept a beady eye on Bronte who kept turning round to see if he was looking and remaining in one place just long enough to catch his glance.
It was a very pleasant walk and aside from discussing politics, Rocky and Pippin had a jolly nice time that involved treats from Denise’s pocket, discussing the benefits of making ones bed explode and the glories of rolling in horse shit.
‘You see this is the equivalent to Facebook, if I pee on that post then you have to pee on where I have peed’ Bronte said confidently to Rocky as they trotted beside each other.
‘Oh I see, let me see if I can get a bit more out’ Rocky replied and then cocked his leg up a tree and was followed by Pippin who had enough pee for all three of them which made them all laugh.
Anyway the rest of the walk went very well, treats were given and eaten, bottoms were sniffed and the three dogs just enjoyed each others company.
At the End of the Walk
‘Oh I wish I didn’t have to go home I have had so much fun’ Rocky said to Pippin while looking longingly at Bronte who was smiling back at him and doing her ‘call me’ gestures again and was frantically sending Rocky a text. They always have had a bit of a forbidden crush on one another much to the horror of Nica, Zara and the rest of the girls.
‘We can meet up next time old chap’ Pippin patted Rocky reassuringly on the back. Knowing that Rocky had bad hips, Pippin always liked to do his bit for the disabled and felt that it was no trouble helping Rocky as the two had become quite good friends and members of the ‘sensible club’ – well we won’t count the time that Pippin ended up in a lap dancing club run by whippets as that is another story.
Rocky was reluctantly put in the back of the car. With his black snout pressed against the window, he yelled out through the gap ‘Catch ya later Pippin’ and before Pippin could see him, Rocky gave a cheeky wink to Bronte who waved back at him.
Sweet Kelpie Dreams (of Bronte)
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
In Denise’s Car
‘What a lovely boy he is, so polite and handsome’ Bronte sighed as she settled into her bed.
‘Bronte!’ Pippin chastised her.
‘Well, he is jolly handsome’ Bronte barked back and then huffed some steam on the window and drew a love heart on it with her paws.
‘Rocky is too sensible to have flirtations with Italian greyhounds’ Pippin said firmly.
‘Yeah, I guess he is – but a girl can try….’ Bronte said quietly.
Bronte the pretty girl
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Back at Home
‘You are such a bastard, I hate you, I am never talking to you again!’ Brutus sobbed as Rocky jumped out of the car.
Ignoring him Rocky took a pee up the garden pot, well he had actually used his pee allocation while out with Pippin and Bronte and was now doing invisible pee, but even invisible pee counts when it comes to dogs.
‘I said I hate you and I am never talking to you again’ Brutus said loudly and as if to prove a point, he squatted down and pissed down his own legs. Brutus always looks as though life got a bit too much for him and when he gets upset he gets very loud and very cute.
‘You just did talk to me silly’ Rocky laughed.
‘I said I am never talking to you again, that’s it!’ Brutus started to cry and remained by my car as Rocky marked his spots around the garden to make sure that strange invisible dogs had not infiltrated our security system while we were out and my husband was in bed or whatever he did while we were out.
Later that afternoon
Having thawed out somewhat and deciding that he was totally unable to ignore or be ignored, Brutus decided to ask Rocky about how it went with Pippin and Bronte.
‘Well she is very nice isn’t she, she looked so beautiful in that purple outfit and she has lost so much weight – you wouldn’t believe she had not long had pups’ Rocky said as his face softened at the memory of the afternoon.
‘You fancy her don’t you?’ Brutus burst out and then catching Rocky blushing furiously, he stood up and farted with excitement. ‘You do, you fancy her, you fancy Bronte Pringle!’
‘You are SO childish, I don’t know why I bother with you’ Rocky growled and nipped Brutus smartly on his brown bum to shut him up and made him cry.
Curling up on his bed Rocky hid under his blanket and pretended to be asleep.
‘Rocky, are you asleep?’ Brutus whispered, ‘I am sorry, I didn’t mean to say you fancied Bronte, I know you prefer sheep to girl dogs, I was just joking’ Brutus who was mortified that he had upset his brother.
Rocky stayed silent and kept his eyes tightly shut until he was sure that Brutus had gone back to his own bed. But clutched tightly between his paws was a photo of Bronte that she had texted him plus her mobile number with a message saying ‘Call me’.
Brutus was round Pippin Pringle’s house for tea and bone broth. They were hanging out quite a bit really and the tiny little dog was teaching Brutus how to be intelligent but as Rocky said, ‘you can’t polish a turd’. However, Pippin felt flattered that Brutus had asked him to make him a clever boy and was only too happy to oblige.
Pippin teaches Brutus how to be a clever boy (Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Brutus was sat on one chair with a mug of bone broth and Pippin was on the other. Bronte was round Ayla’s house having a girly night with Gigi, Nica and Zara. Fat Harry had tried to gatecrash it to try but was caught out and sent away by Gigi.
Brutus trying to replicate the ‘Shelby position’ (Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘Pippin’ Brutus asked him.
‘Yes Brutus?’ Pippin said without looking up.
‘How come Shelby has such large testicles and we don’t have any?’
Shelby is an Italian greyhound with a set of testicles that could be used as door knockers for a castle and was often seen proudly displaying them to make other dogs jealous.
Shelby’s testicle door knockers (Photograph Gabrielle)
Blushing in response, Pippin replied ‘Well because we had ours removed when we were younger. Some dogs have them and some dogs don’t’.
‘But do you miss having testicles because Shelby’s are enormous and Dash told August who told Rocco who told me that he has been seen bouncing down the road on them like spacehoppers’ said Brutus.
Pippin was now going red as he was not used to talking about such things. Not knowing what to say, he merely muttered something about ‘Testicles just get in the way of stuff’.
‘But wouldn’t you want to have a set like Shelby’s?’ Brutus asked Pippin who had buried his head in a ‘Dogs Today’ magazine.
Pretending that he didn’t care about Shelby’s testicles, Pippin sighed and taking a swig of bone broth, he replied simply ‘No, I don’t do heavy weights as I have a bad back’.
Brutus looked thoughtful ‘Mine were never heavy, they were like two frozen peas in a handkerchief when they were removed’.
Brutus has testicle envy of Shelby (Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Looking up in embarrassment Pippin said firmly ‘Please can we talk about something else’.
‘Just going to the toilet’ Brutus said as he jumped up to go to the loo.
Ten minutes later and Brutus hadn’t returned.
‘Goodness me, where is he?’ Pippin said impatiently. That dog could get lost in anyones house as he wasn’t the brightest dog on the block. Pippin had been told that the other night Brutus had used his head to push open the sliding patio security door and had literally popped the entire sliding security door out of its frame causing his Mum (me) to get up and catch it before it fell on the car (yes really).
The guy that came to fix it yesterday just stared at Brutus and said ‘Yes, well……’ as Brutus blushed at the fact that his hammer-head was capable of such destruction – but that is another (expensive) story and I shall leave that to my husband to tell.
Anyway, Pippin was wondering where Brutus had got to and just as he was about to get up, he heard snorting and laughing as ‘Pigaloo’ (Brutus’s nickname) came staggering out of Denise Pringle’s bedroom walking like a cowboy.
‘Hey Pippin, do I look as good as Shelby?’ Brutus grinned at Pippin who had his mouth open so wide that he could have caught flies in it.
‘Oh my god…..’ Pippin spluttered as bone broth shot out of his nostrils.
Pippin says ‘Oh my god’ (Photograph by Samantha Rose)
There stood Brutus with a silken handkerchief tied around the base of his tail with two scented round (large) candles stuffed inside. Barely able to walk, Brutus walked like a constipated cowboy with a poo fighting to get out of his bum.
‘Let’s phone Shelby and tell him I have balls as big as he does’ Brutus said proudly while struggling to look in the mirror and admire his new ‘man-shape’.
Brutus checks himself out in the mirror (Photograph by Samantha Rose)
‘Aren’t you going to say anything?’ Brutus asked Pippin while trying to organise his ‘balls’.
‘Oh my god…’ Pippin repeated and then mopped his brow and took a swig of bone broth before replying ‘They don’t suit you Brutus, they make you look fat’.
Brutus who has a thing for his figure and likes to remain svelte and musclebound, blushed ‘Do you really think so? Do you think I look better without them?
Swallowing his bone broth, Pippin wiped his snout and replied firmly ‘Absolutely’.
‘Oh well, if you insist’ Brutus sighed and then swaggered back to Denise’s bedroom to remove the handkerchief and scented candles from between his legs.
(Sounds of Bronte coming in the door)
‘We have had a marvellous evening but I am so glad to be home, I am totally exhausted’ Bronte said dramatically as she fanned her pretty snout with a copy of ‘Who is who at Dogs West’.
Spotting Brutus, Bronte grinned and said ‘Hi Brutus, how’s it going?’
Brutus got up to greet her and gave her face a little clean to say hello.
Raising her snout to the air, Bronte asked ‘Can anyone smell vanilla?’
‘Don’t ask Bronte, just don’t ask’ Pippin stepped in quickly before the whole story could leak out.
‘Would you like me to fetch you some bone broth?’ Brutus asked Bronte in a bid to impress her.
‘Yes please Brutus, that is kind of you’ Bronte said gratefully.
‘So Pippin, what’s been happening, did you teach Brutus how to be a clever boy?’ Bronte smiled at her brother.
Pippin and Bronte discuss polishing the turd that is Brutus (Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Glancing round to Brutus who was in the kitchen pouring Bronte some of Denise Pringle’s famous bone broth, Pippin sighted some candle staining down Brutus’s legs and a waft of vanilla each time he wagged his tail.
Brutus smells of vanilla (Photograph by Samantha Rose)
Taking a deep breath Pippin replied firmly ‘I think he has a while to go before he is a clever boy, but he sure knows what to do with candles’.
And with that explanation – Bronte had to be content.
Today Brutus, Pippin Pringle and several of their friends attended the birthday party of their good friend ‘Chewy’ which was held at their regular favourite haunt called the ‘Furbaby Cafe’ in Perth in the VID (very important dog) area.
Cake was eaten, dogs were humped by each other from head to toe – literally. Bottoms were sniffed, hot chips were eaten and croissants were stolen and shoved into tiny pointy snouts so quickly that one questioned if they were ever on the table in the first place.
(The croissant thief has not been confirmed but Dash the Iggy was found with croissant crumbs around his snout, he is refusing to say anything until his lawyer is present)
Legs were cocked against walls, games of ‘angry carrots’ took place as the Italian greyhounds use their legs like angry carrots to box one another and Brutus as usual, was used as the regulation step ladder for the smaller dogs to climb over.
A couple of dogs broke into the kitchen after Dash (an experienced breaker-in of kitchens) taught them how to pretend to be invisible and sneak in with stealth like movement. Fletch the Iggy could not quite manage ‘stealth’ but did a very good job of hovering by the kitchen door making Furbaby staff feel guilty.
Anyway, here are some of the photographs of the day – hope you enjoy them.
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright
Chewy gets his birthday cake!
Brutus and his friend Dash discuss party tricks
Brutus and Lupo do some wrestling
Happy birthday Chewy! – Love Brutus
Brutus and his partner in crime Pippin Pringle say ‘wake me up when we get there’
Brutus is embarrassed when Chewy asks if he will sing ‘Happy birthday’ for him
Brutus, Dash and Lupo plan some party games
Zara feels better in her Mum’s arms – she can keep an eye on stuff
Brutus, Apollo and Dash dare each other to sneak into the kitchen
Pippin Pringle has his cake and eats it!
Brutus enjoyed his cake
Pippin Pringle and Brutus on their way to the party
Brutus and Dash have a ‘bromance’ thing going on
Nice cake Mum!
Brutus and Pippin on their way to the party
That cake was nice, can we have some more!
All photographs by Samantha Rose (C) Copyright October 2015
Urgent News By Walkie-talkie (just like they did in the war)
Pippin Pringle had called an important meeting of all dogs that attend lure coursing. He wasn’t sure what it was about but knew it was urgent as Dee Cole had asked for it to happen and Pippin had to in turn, relay the message.
‘But why do I have to leave my nice warm bed for this meeting?’ Millie the border collie said impatiently. She had a DVD put aside for that night about sheep herding and the modern-day bitch and had no plans to leave the house.
‘Not sure, but if Pippin has asked for it then that is what we need to do’ Brutus replied and then added ‘Come on Vader, stop dragging your jowls’ to Vader who looked as though he had lost his bottom lip the way his head was near to the floor.
Vader I should add, was feeling very sorry for himself as he had stolen Lexies’ marshmallows and had scoffed an entire packet and was now feeling sick.
Zara, Olive, Nica, Gigi, Rocco, Cino, Pino, Fat Harry, Apollo, Starbuck, Poppy, Woody, Fletch, Soobi, Bronte to name but a few had now gathered in Pippin’s living room to see what was going to be announced.
Even Bundy the Samoyed (AKA The Town Crier) was there just to announce everything and anything that might need announcing as he was rather good at that.
‘Z’ the cop dog was there in full uniform, just to give the boys a thrill as some dogs like a female dog in uniform and Z wore it so well.
Eugene the Angry Afghan was there fighting with himself while Bentley was trying to interrupt with Eugene’s invisible friend and tell him to piss off.
Mouse Norris looked thoroughly bored by the wait and was now admiring her nails and talking about the raw food diet with Barbie.
Basically it was a full house and the dogs were impatient at what news was going to be relayed to them.
Millie the border collie
(Photograph by Belinda)
‘I am tired, I want my bed’ Brutus cried to Vader who nodded his head in agreement. Having the attention spans of goldfish, the boys couldn’t stay interested in anything for long.
Brutus – wants his bed
(Photograph by Sam Rose)
Millie who has never been known for her patience and has even sat up all night waiting for lure coursing, had decided to go over to where the tiny walkie-talkie was placed on the mantlepiece.
Picking it up and turning it on, she could just hear the ‘hissing’ of a badly tuned radio, feeling frustrated she tried to shake it.
‘Millie, what are you doing?’ Pippin demanded impatiently and snatched it from her and tuned it in.
‘Are we there yet?’ Brutus demanded to Rocco who calmly told him to ‘Shit off’ and then went back to washing himself.
‘I believe that we could be at war!’ Bundy the Samoyed announced to nobody in particular and when they ignored him, he shouted ‘Long live the Queen’ and when only Gigi responded, he decided to give up. There was no point in being the Town Crier if nobody listened to you.
‘Shhh, I can hear something!’ Millie hissed to everyone and waved her slender black and white paws to shut everyone up.
Aside from Rocco, Bentley and Eugene having fights with their invisible friends, everyone else was quiet – except for Soobi and Olive who were tickling each other and chewing on each others snouts in a game of ‘bitey face’.
‘Hello, this is Mac – Dee Coles Ridgeback, can you all hear me out there?’ A loud deep booming voice of a Rhodesian Ridgeback filled the air.
‘Since when did he get such a sexy voice?’ Bronte giggled to Gigi, Hershey, Nica and Starbuck.
‘Will you be quiet you lot, I am trying to listen’ Pippin growled and then pressed the button to speak.
You see – walkie-talkies are used for urgent announcements as they are far more dramatic than phones and stuff.
‘Mac, we can hear you – please go ahead with the announcement’ Pippin said in his ‘BBC English’ accent (think of a posh voice from the olden days announcing ‘Britain is at War’ and you will get the drift).
‘Good evening everyone, we regret to announce that due to bad weather predictions, lure coursing is now cancelled for this Saturday and Sunday.
‘As we still have memories of dogs floating off down the polo grounds at last years storm and cages sailing away and being found in other countries, we thought it safer to cancel’ Mac barked in his powerful voice.
‘Oh my god, I think I am going to die right here and now!’ Millie shouted dramatically and then behaved like any border collie who has had her sheep removed from her, and promptly threw herself on the floor and sobbed.
Taking a deep breath, Pippin replied ‘Thank you Mac and goodnight from us’ and then quickly turned the radio off and faced the group of dogs that were in his living room.
Met with a canine wall of silence, this was Pippin’s worst nightmare. There was nothing quite like a group of dogs (and good friends) that had been looking forward to lure coursing, to have Mother Nature literally piss on their parade and cancel it due to bad weather.
‘Did you say cancelled?’ Brutus asked as his bottom lip quivered.
‘Cancelled?’ Vader added.
One by one it was echoed around the room ‘Lure coursing cancelled?’
‘But how shall we spend our weekend now?’ Madam Gigi demanded.
‘I could organise a day of vomiting but that would only take an hour’ Nica said out loud.
‘I might just have to die’ Eugene the Angry Afghan growled and then accused his invisible friend of orchestrating it all and started to swear at him.
As the other dogs all shouted their protest, Starbuck and Poppy sat under the table and cried, Chewy hid behind his fur while Mako and Apollo were already on the phone to a dog psychologist to book a counselling session.
Bundy the Town Crier had decided that he had kept quiet for long enough and was no barking ‘Everybody, save yourselves and your family before they get eaten. We are now at war and lure coursing has been cancelled because the weather is going to be crap – may your souls be saved!’
Pippin takes control
Pippin was not amused and had taken a few moments to stand outside to get away from the upset dogs protesting in his living room. Several had now started arguing with invisible friends and were barking at fresh air and accusing it of severe weather control and ruining their lives. Mouse Norris was now threatening to go on a hunger strike and Barbie was threatening to join her.
Normally a kind, placid and gentle dog, Pippin was upset that their doggy plans had been ruined. However he knew that safety had to come first and the lure coursing would not have been called off if it was at all avoidable.
After taking a few minutes away from the group, Pippin took a deep breath and marched back inside.
He didn’t need to say much, they all stopped fighting, arguing and in Nica’s case – vomiting, and stared at him, silently pleading with him for direction and answers.
‘Right you bunch of girls, lure coursing is cancelled for our own safety, it has been put off for a week and thank god it has too because none of us want to be injured slipping on wet grass’. Pippin said to the group.
‘Save your mothers, fathers and save your dog chow!’ Bundy barked in his Samoyed voice.
‘Bundy please be quiet’ Pippin growled at Bundy who blushed and stopped shouting his announcements.
‘Who wants to be on the course anyway in thunder and lightning, not me that’s for sure and everyone knows dogs like us melt in the rain!’ Brutus said loudly.
Several dogs nodded their head in agreement as the Iggies also remembered that they actually do melt in the rain, well Brutus melts in the rain himself so I guess he knows what he is on about.
‘Apollo told me that thunder is the dogs over at Rainbow Bridge having a party over our heads and having fun’ Starbuck said to Poppy who said that she had heard the same thing.
‘Right, you lot can find your own entertainment for the weekend and you can all work on your techniques for the Fastest Dog in Australia second heats in a weeks time’ Pippin nodded to the group.
‘Fancy coming to mine to watch some naughty videos on dog training?’ Brutus asked Millie who grinned back at him.
‘Yes, sounds good – will you be there Vader?’ Millie barked in Vader’s direction.
‘Yep, count me in!’ Vader agreed and then asked Brutus to pull his paw so that he could fart. A very childish habit that the boys developed from a young age where they simply would not fart unless the other dog pulled their paw and made it more dramatic.
Finally the dogs left Pippin’s house to go back to their own homes. You could all hear them discussing the nights events as there was seldom anything bigger than lure coursing being cancelled, aside from the Fastest Dog Comp.
‘Glad that is over and done with’ Pippin said to Bronte and went to close the curtain. As he did so, he could hear Bundy’s unmistakable bark doing his ‘Town Crier’ bit.
‘Don’t worry everyone, it is a war effort and we all need a cup of tea, tea solves everything’ Bundy shouted. Pippin smiled at Bundy who was shouting stuff about cups of tea – Bundy is such a funny dog.
As Pippin watched his friends disappear out of sight, the last thing he saw was Bundy taking a piss up someones car.
Closing the curtains, Pippin thought to himself ‘Tea? Yes I think I could do with a mug of tea after the night I have had’
‘Cup of tea Bronte?’ Pippin asked his sister.
‘Don’t mind if I do’ Bronte replied and followed him to the kitchen to help him make it.
‘They were quite well-behaved really, all things considering’ Bronte said to Pippin as she pulled out two bone China cups from the cupboard and found a China teapot and stuffed a few teabags in it for good measure.
‘Yes, very well-behaved really’ Pippin smiled, ‘All things considered of course’.
But what Pippin didn’t see was Brutus, Vader, Bentley, Rocco and Fat Harry pressing their bottoms and leaving ‘marks of bum’ on the neighbours cars and Eugene the Angry Afghan doing a monster turd in someones garden and getting a large lump of poo stuck to his pantaloons much to the admiration of Chewy who tried to shit his own pants so he could copy him.
But other than that, yes – they were very good dogs indeed.
Lure Coursing for Guildford Polo Grounds Cancelled this Weekend Due to Predicted Severe Weather Conditions.
Sadly this is true and for safety reasons lure coursing has been cancelled for this weekend which is fair enough as the dogs safety is paramount.
There is talk of the Fastest Dog heats taking place the weekend after but this is yet to be confirmed – details will follow.
Pippin Pringle had called a meeting at his house, all the Iggies, Chewy, Starbuck and Poppy, Brutus and Vader were invited.
It was a serious meeting and most of the dogs realised it except for the special ones – Brutus and Vader.
‘What on earth could be wrong? I haven’t dug the garden in ages and the hole in Mum’s bra was done by Gordon’ Brutus said fretfully.
‘Not sure but we better go, you know how cross Pippin will get if we don’t’ Vader growled back with a mouthful of tongue.
Team Pringle’s House
On arrival at Pippin’s house, the boys were greeted by Bronte who was looking strangely naked and just wearing a smart collar.
‘Hi guys, just go through’ Bronte said cheerfully.
In the lounge was Zara, Nica, Olive, Bambi, Gigi, Rocco, Cino, Pino, Bentley, Fat Harry, Poppy, Starbuck, Dash, Apollo, Soobi, Lupo, Dobby, Mako, Woody, Chewy, Fletcher, Lilly and of course Pippin and Bronte.
‘Hi everyone, what’s occurring?’ Brutus said in his deep voice.
Normally there would be squealing when Brutus and Vader arrived as the girl dogs enjoyed having bigger dogs to flirt with and they saw Brutus as an Iggy anyway as he tried to make himself as small as them.
But tonight it was a case of sensible and respectable ‘Hello boys’ and that was that.
Wanting to make a joke or fart or something, Brutus’s instinct told him not to and he kept quiet, as did Vader.
Placing his spectacles over his long snout, Pippin checked some papers and then leaned over to his laptop and saw an email from Amex in QLD giving him some long awaited info.
Taking a deep breath, Pippin announced in his ‘BBC English’ accent ‘Right everyone, most of you know why we are here except for Brutus as he was too young to come last year, we are here to pay our respects to the Anzacs and the dogs of war’
‘Dogs of war?’ Brutus whispered to Vader, ‘I didn’t know there were dogs of war’.
Vader nodded solemnly ‘Yes there were, but not too many think or remember them’.
‘As you all know there were many great dogs that served in both wars, doing brave things and serving their masters – both man and dog sacrificing their lives so that we could have our freedom’ Pippin said firmly.
Brutus who normally has the attention span of a goldfish, found himself listening to Pippin’s authoritative voice. The other Iggies sat silently and listened to what Pippin had to say.
‘These dogs were also used as moral boosters, can you imagine being away from your family and everything you love, not knowing if you were going to make it home.
‘Being in the trenches, cold, hungry and thirsty, not being able to trust anyone other than your fellow soldier, where every sound was a potential threat?’ Pippin said.
Brutus briefly thought about it, he couldn’t imagine any dog being in a war, after all he hated being outside for more than 5 minutes, let alone sleeping outside with soldiers.
‘Brutus – do you have any ideas as to how great your name is?’ Pippin barked at him.
Brutus blushed and hung his head, he had no idea he just knew it was his name (along with ‘naughty boy’)
‘I shall tell you – Pte Chad Sherrin had a dog called Brutus, he was in the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8 RAR) and Brutus was his first dog. Chad began as a tracking dog handler and was promoted to Sergeant while serving in the 8 RAR’. Pippin added.
‘I am named after a war dog?’ Brutus stuttered, feeling suddenly very proud indeed.
Bronte looked at the big brown gentle giant and briefly thought how unsuitable Brutus would have been as a war dog. But at the same time he looked so proud to share the same name as Brutus the war dog, that he really looked as though his chest might have expanded with pride.
‘There was also a dog called Horrie the wonder dog who was an Egyptian Terrier that made friends with Australian Soldier Pte Jim Moody in Egypt’.
‘Horrie was used as a guard dog and was really good at warning the soldiers about the enemy. Horrie survived when the troop carrier ‘Costa Rica was sunk’ while being evacuated from Grease.
‘He was also hurt by a bomb splinter in Crete. In 1942 Pte Moody was sent back to Australia where he really wanted to take Horrie with him.
This was stopped due to the quarantine laws which as you know are strict’ Pippin said to the group as they hung on to his every word.
‘Moody loved Horrie so much that he smuggled him into Australia in a canvas bag that had wooden slats in it so Horrie could breathe otherwise he would have surely suffocated.
‘He smuggled him in, really?’ Olive gasped as Zara gripped Olives paw while listening in awe.
‘In 1945 Moody found out about smuggling Horrie when they realised that Horrie had been smuggled in illegally and they told Moody that Horrie had to be put to sleep’ Pippin growled.
‘But he was a wonder dog, why did they want to destroy him?’ Brutus stuttered, clearly getting upset about Horrie the wonder dog.
‘Because he should have gone through quarantine’ Pippin said firmly.
‘But you can’t shoot a war hero?’ Vader barked and the other Iggies agreed with him.
‘After being told that Horrie had to be put to sleep, Moody found another dog and gave it to the authorities instead, tricking them into thinking it was Horrie, except it wasn’t and the other dog was shot instead of Horrie’ Pippin barked.
‘What happened then?’ Zara cried, she was easily upset at these stories and Nica was now patting her shoulder.
‘Horrie the wonder dog lived the rest of his life in some rural part of Victoria’ Pippin finished.
‘Dogs have been involved in wars and battles all over the world, they are the unsung heroes of the animal kingdom, and let us not forget the military horses as well.
‘I can’t go into every war dog but those are just two examples of canine bravery. Dogs that kept their masters safe, gave company and affection in times of dangerous conflict when everything around them was hostile’ Pippin sighed.
‘And for Pte Moody to risk everything to smuggle Horrie the wonder dog back into Australia shows how much love and respect he had for Horrie’ Pippin said as he removed his spectacles, puffed on them and cleaned the lenses.
The other Iggies were silent, none of them knew what to say but suddenly they felt very grateful for the likes of war dogs Brutus and Horrie the wonder dog.
‘Here is a poem that was written by Horrie the wonder dog, it is jolly nice if I admit’
Horrie the Wog-Dog by Ion L. Idriess Written from the diary of Private VX13091 J. B. Moody, A.I.F. in 1945
“The Wog-dog blossomed into a war-dog as if by magic, despite the fact that we long since had ceased to wonder at his instinct and intelligence and adaptability.
He knew the whistle of bullets, the whine of shells, the scream of a bomb, he knew exactly what to do. In a moment he could act at some sudden alarm; he knew at any time what was doing and was intelligently ready to take his place at the right time and in the right way.
The Wog-dog grew very dear to all of us”
Madam Gigi, Nica and Bronte were now crying. The other Iggies were trying not to cry and Brutus who had never experienced such emotional pain purely from a story, did not know what to do, what to think or how to react.
He did however, know that he was hurting inside but it was completely alien to him.
‘So you see everyone, whilst our humans honour our brave Anzacs, we shall also honour the dogs of war and if you would like to take a minute to pay your respects, I shall get Rocco to do the honours – Rocco, if you don’t mind?’ Pippin said.
‘Good on you lad’ Fat Harry whispered to Rocco as he walked up to Pippin.
Madam Gigi had no idea as to what Rocco was going to do, she could only hope that he would be sensible.
Without saying another word, Rocco took the microphone that Pippin had given him and in a calm, well spoken and deep voice, he started to speak and without any effort, commanded the silence and the respect of every dog in the room.
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them – Lest we forget’
(Ode by English poet and writer Laurence Binyon)
One by one each and every dog repeated ‘Lest we forget’.
‘That – is MY brother!’ Madam Gigi nodded her head so vigorously as she wiped the tears that fell down her pointy snout. ‘My brother, he is MY brother’.
Brutus who had kept his giant head down through the whole thing had realised that he couldn’t be funny, he couldnt make jokes because he felt too upset, grateful, heart bursting with pride to be an Australian dog.
He might not be a pedigree dog or the smartest dog on the block, but if pride could make him a pedigree – then at that precise moment he would be purebred.
‘Are you OK Brutus?’ Gigi asked him kindly while still wiping her eyes.
Brutus didn’t answer, he turned his head away and replied quietly ‘Yes, yes Gigi, I am fine – thank you for asking’.
But if you looked ever so closely at his face, you would have seen tears pouring down his face as the big dog fought and failed to not cry.
‘Leave him to me’ Pippin said to Gigi.
Pippin had taken Brutus aside to see if he was OK. There was nothing like a dogs first Anzac memorial and Brutus had not been to last years one.
‘Are you OK Brutus?’ Pippin asked him.
‘Yes, I am just so upset at the dogs of war and how brave Brutus and Horrie the wonder dog were and all the other war dogs’ Brutus sobbed to Pippin.
Not used to seeing the big dog show so much emotion, Pippin hugged him.
‘Pippin?’ Brutus sniffed and then noisily blew his nose on Pippins handkerchief that he had handed him.
‘Yes Brutus’ Pippin replied, making a mental note to throw the handkerchief away.
‘We won’t forget the dogs of war will we?’ Brutus asked him.
‘No Brutus, while just one of us remembers, then they will be remembered’ Pippin nodded firmly to him.
‘Lest we forget?’ Brutus asked Pippin.
‘Yes Brutus, Lest we forget’ Pippin said quietly.
To every soldier, to every war dog that served this great country and sacrificed their lives so that we could have our freedom – we thank you.
Lest we forget
Samantha, Brutus, Rocky and Gordon
Source for the War dog story – I have taken and adapted the text taken from the link below and all credit goes to the original author. Please take a moment to go on to the link as it is an incredible read.