Friday, 23 February 2018

FFF: Talitha's Tail/Tale

Today I, Bertie, am entering YAM-Aunty's Final Friday Fiction challenge.

The source text is P.G. Wodehouse's 'The Code of the Woosters', and the phrases (from p87) to be used in the story are:

Line 8:  I noted that he was looking at me oddly

Line 12: filling in till...

Line 16: ...had better go and inform...

I have to confess that in my enthusiasm I have by some margin exceeded the recommended 500 word limit, but I am confident you will want to read on through to the story's dramatic denouement.

Talitha’s Tail/Tale

I, wire-haired fox terrier Talitha, could tell from the minute I was able to open my eyes that my litter-mate Lucy-fur was a piece of work.

Granted, she was a pretty thing. As wee pups, she and I were judged by our breeder to hold great promise as future show dogs, both being true to our breed type and with perfectly set WFT tails, so we were not put up for sale. But somehow it was obvious to all that I was the one with that special quality, and destined to be a star in the show ring.

Of course it didn’t take long for Lucy-fur to twig that folk tended to favour me. “Oh look, isn’t that Talitha just such a character, she really is such a adorable, sparky wire-haired fox terrier”. Such comments directed towards me were common, and not one bit appreciated by my sister.

One day when we were a few months old, Lucy-fur and I were playing outside in the nearby field, and Lucy-fur dared me to jump over a deep muddy ditch. “Bet you can’t do it Talitha, you’re just a wimp!” she taunted me. I was a tad reckless in those days and overestimated the strength of my rapidly growing, pipe cleaner legs. I took a running jump and failed to clear the water.

You will never convince me that Lucy-fur was unaware of the rusty old lawn mower hidden at the bottom of the ditch.

Oh the pain when my tail got caught in the mower blade!  I squealed and squealed as I tried and failed to free myself. Lucy-fur looked on with an ill-concealed smirk and said “Oh Talitha, what a shame, I had better go and inform our breeder of your predicament”. The upshot was that my perfect WFT tail was so badly damaged that it had to be docked to an inch long stump. I was then no longer eligible for the show ring, so the breeder decided to sell me after all, and I went to live with a nice man called Frank.

To be honest, I was not sorry to be shot of Lucy-fur, but oh how I did regret missing out on the glamour of life as a show dog. I would have so loved all the attention and excitement…

By the time I was three years old, my owner Frank and I had developed the sort of telepathic bond not uncommon between human and pup. So that year, when I spotted Lucy-fur on TV, prancing around the show ring in the terrier group at Crufts, and I started to bark and howl with a passion, Frank understood the cause of my distress, that all I wanted in life was to be a show dog, and that I would not easily accept my fate as a mere pet with a docked tail.

Oh what it is to have a resourceful and creative owner! You will never guess what Frank did next.

On eBay he purchased one of those fox terrier wheelie dogs (at great expense, I understand). He cut off the tail and stuck it on my poor old stump. It took a bit of practice with glue and some concealed supports, but after a few attempts, I was proud possessor of a perfectly formed and eminently waggable WFT tail, and ready to enter the show ring. It has to be said that in private, the false tail was always carefully removed. In truth it was not so very comfortable to wear.

Well you will not be surprised at all to learn that I aced the qualifying shows and made it to Crufts the following year. I was four years old and in my prime. And who should I meet an hour before the fox terrier class was due in the ring? Why Lucy-fur of course! My tail had just been glued on and I was standing around taking in the atmosphere, filling in time till the glue set. I noted that she was looking at me oddly, but thought nothing more of it.

It is hard to decide whether it was winning the WFT class or simply coming ahead of my arch enemy Lucy-fur which gave me more pleasure. To gain victory in the next round, competing against all the other breeds of terrier, was to my mind a formality. And so it proved.

I was in the Final, with a shot at Best in Show!

So proud and thrilled was I to have come this far, that I didn’t spot Lucy-fur, who had slipped her collar, lurking in the shadows as I waited patiently to be called into the arena one last time.

Suddenly Lucy-fur pounced, and growling with satanic venom, she dug her teeth into my false tail, and wrenched it away from the stump. She then ran off and disappeared out of the building while everyone was staring at me in horror. The skin on my stump was badly torn in the attack, and was bleeding profusely, and so no-one in the crowd of anxious onlookers suspected that the missing tail had not been real.

Of course, I was unable to continue in the competition. But friends, do not imagine for one minute that I was disappointed by the way my show career ended so abruptly. I was more than satisfied with my brief moment in the limelight. And what became of Lucy-fur? After a few weeks she was recognised rummaging in some municipal rubbish dump on the periphery of Birmingham. She was disowned by her breeders, and, on the basis of ‘unreliable temperament’, disqualified from ever again taking part in a dog show.

A most satisfactory outcome all round, and I lived quietly and happily ever after as a much loved and tail-free pet.


Click here for links to the other Final Friday Fiction pieces. 

Monday, 19 February 2018

I am eight!

It is my misfortune to live with a human who is in general totally useless at birthday celebrations.

So yesterday I reached the grand age of eight years old and all I got was a rawhide bone, pigs ears and Dentastix (like a toothcare product counts as a present?) plus a quiet domestic night in Nottingham with Gail, her lovely friend Janet and Janet's lovely young friend Helen.

In fairness, Gail was tired after all the running around after Human Granny, Helen was tired 'cos she's at that stressful stage of writing up her Physics PhD thesis, Janet was tired after her recent influx of visitors, and I was a bit below par 'cos my paw problem has flared up again.

Well I must say I found Janet's piano playing most beautifully mellifluous and soothing. And now I understand why Gail is so modest about her own lack of talent in this area.

And then there were wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen where Helen was relaxing by cooking a delicious (although from my perspective disappointingly vegetarian) sweet potato chilli supper for the humans.

The highlight of the evening came just before bedtime, when Janet introduced me to a blissfully yummy new treat - sliced pear.

More please!

All in all not such a bad way to celebrate one's birthday, I suppose.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Watch it. Woof it. Work it.

So Gail and I are back in Nottingham again to check up on how Human Granny is settling back into her care home after her time in hospital. The good news is she's doing perhaps better than expected and when we saw her last night she even thought to ask after my paws!

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day for the long train ride down the East Coast line.
While Gail was enjoying the window view of the winter scenery, I was conducting important sentry duty in the aisle.

After all, these days one is instructed to keep an eye out and report if anything amiss on the train.

The slogan is:
See it. Say it. Sort it.

Although I think my version is better:
Watch it. Woof it. Work it.

 A man towing a most enormous suitcase got on at Kirkcaldy (the name of the town has the usual unnecessary number of letters in its Gaelic version) and he apologised profusely to me for disturbing me as he passed down the carriage.

You do meet the nicest people on the train.