Sunday, 31 October 2010

Trick or (Dog) Treat

It's Halloween. The night when children turn into beggars, demanding sweets or money in return for a joke or a song or some other equally pathetic entertainment. I would imagine paedophiles up and down the country are rubbing themselves in anticipated glee. "Come into my home, little one, I've got a treat for you."

If they were especially devious, they might borrow someone else's house, decorate it to the max in horrible Halloween paraphernalia, disguise themselves in costume to prevent identification, then let the party begin. They'd have their own joke.

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Paedo."
"Paedo who?"
"Paedo Phil, the kiddy fiddler." (Phil not being his real name obviously.)

Scary thought.

Still, seeing all those kids wandering the street with bulging carrier bags full of treats got me thinking. Why couldn't I do the same thing? I can be a scary monster without a costume. Imagine the surprise of the householder when their bell goes and they open the door to see me sitting there, doggy bag in mouth, demanding food. They'd think what a fantastic costume, so life-like, and such a convincing doggy voice. They'd give me lots of sweets because if they didn't I'd poop in their garden as a trick.

Isn't that the true spirit of Halloween?

Friday, 22 October 2010

(Unusually) I Don't Want to Play a Game

Bad news: no more night time snacks for me at Barshaw. My master did get a torch for his birthday. It's a very good one apparently - 700 lumens. He says it's so strong he could make the moon full every night if he wanted.

"Why would you want to do that?" I asked.

"So it wouldn't be so dark."

"Then you wouldn't need the torch!" He didn't have a response to that. Circular logic makes him dizzy.

He's been on holiday this week, which is great for him and me. He gets to laze around and watch movies, like the 'Saw' series, without the mistress grumping at him. They're a wholly gruesome series of movies, with blood and gore and limbs being lost. Too horrible for me. I hid behind him on the couch. However he did make up for all that torture by taking me on some extra long walks in the afternoons. We've been to Mugdock country park, Loch Lomond, even up to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park near Aberfoyle. It's been a blast.

I should really have shown more appreciation for all the extra attention I got but misbehaving, well, it's in my blood. I was a bad dog this week. Firstly, I chased a mountain biker - three times. I couldn't help it. When I see those woolly socks spinning on the pedal it's compelling. I must stop them. Then I chased a cat in the street. My master was upset but everyone else was very nice about it, stopping their cars to watch. And finally I let the world know that there was a hedgehog in the garden next door. It was big news. It needed sharing. I wanted Autumnwatch and David Attenborough to know. Did my master make the call? No. He made a dash for me, still in his slippers and dressing gown, in an attempt to shut me up and get me back into the house, just because it was 6.30am. Silly man! If he thought I was going to stay silent when a woodland creature was a plank-width away from my garden he was sadly mistaken. 

There is always a price to pay when you've been bad. And this is where I question the influence of Hollywood over impressionable dog owners. My master introduced me to a new lead and collar. Not just a normal one. No, this was a 'Dog Whisperer' lead and collar. And to me it looked like one of the traps made by Jigsaw, the twisted anti-hero of the 'Saw' series.


At first it just felt odd, tight straps at the top and bottom linked to a cord lead looped around my neck. However, once adjusted, it was surprisingly comfortable. Then he took me for a walk. I noticed the cord getting tighter as I pulled but it wasn't until we met that growly Shih Tzu on the main road and I jumped towards it that I felt its full, choking effect. It's difficult sounding tough when your wind pipe's been throttled and all you can do is cough. The master just smiled. I played his walk-nicely game from then on, praying my head didn't explode or get sliced off.

Justice was served. I learned and survived. I'll behave from now on. I don't want to play another game. Next time it might be an exploding muzzle or I might wake up chained in a dirty room with a full food bowl just out of reach, requiring me to chew through my own leg to get dinner. I don't want that. I promise I'll be good.

Of course that's not the end of the story. The 'Saw' films always finish on a twist. I wrote to Cesar Milan, of 'Dog Whisperer' fame, explaining my position and he wrote back. He explained in almost all cases there is nothing wrong with the dog. It's the owners that need training. Cesar has promised to teach my master a lesson. I can't wait to see the contraption he locks him in to mend his ways. Cesar is the new Jigsaw. You heard it here first folks.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Humans Never Listen

I've been getting evening walks in the dark at Barshaw Park this week. There are pros and cons to this. Cons: I don't get a ball as often because my master goes nuts when I forget where I left it and he can't find it with his torch. Pros: I'm off lead and find a lot more scraps of food because he doesn't notice them till it's too late. Yum! I really hope he doesn't get a better torch for his birthday.

The other night I was approached by a beagle, who was in a right mood. His owner had wandered off. He told me he'd expressly told his master to wait while he chased the fox but when he returned there was no sign of him. "Humans never do as they're told. They should be the ones going to obedience classes."

I said I'd heard someone whistling near the pond but that was a while ago. He thanked me and hurried off, sniffing insistently for a hint of a trail of his master. I wished him luck. He was going to need it. In the dark his master was probably terrified, running blindly all over the place. Silly man! Even with a beagle's nose he would be leaving a difficult path to track. In his haste I forgot to ask the beagle what his owner's name was in case we came across him. We didn't anyway so it didn't matter. I hope the two have been reunited. It's never nice having to go to the dog pound to wait for your master to show up.

He was right though: humans never listen. Take the case of the Staffy who shook the cat to death at Morar. He gave ample warnings to the cat's owner. But did she listen? No. Now he's up in court for not being under control. Where's the logic there? These humans and their stupid rules.

I'm forever telling the woman over the back to keep her cat inside, especially when he's up at my fence. It's for his own protection. Maybe she doesn't hear me at 7am because of her double glazing. I shout as loud as I can but still she allows the cat to roam. It won't be my fault if it comes to harm. She was well warned. Not every dog is as considerate as me. I thought I was getting somewhere when the intruder light came on but it turned out it was just a burglar. I scared him off. With no thanks, I may add. My master gets annoyed at me when I share my early morning thoughts like this. He's only thinking of himself. I don't know what he's worried about. An ASBO is a badge of honour in some parts of Paisley.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Mad Cat and Glory.

I finally found out what happened the other night when Percy was terrorising me from outside my door. It seems he hasn't been telling everyone the entire truth about himself and that rather annoyed Niro, the psycho cat that lives down the street.

Now I've known Niro all his life and he's more than a little nuts. It seems he was allowed to watch too many 18 rated films as a kitten and it twisted his mind. For example, the first time I met him I barked at him, because he was a cat and that's what dogs do, and his response was not to run away but to rush towards me, claws raised, hissing, "You talkin' to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? Huh?" Not the reaction I was expecting. My master dragged me away by the lead as the wild-eyed cat followed. He was scared I'd get my eyes clawed out. I was too. I was in shock for days. That was not supposed to happen.

I wasn't alone in being on the receiving end of a Niro tirade. Mitchell the collie once asked him a question and got the reply, "What am I doing? I'm talking to an empty street. 'Cause there is a dead dog at the other end of this f***in' garden." Mitchell had a breakdown after that and was in counselling for months. We all agreed it was best to leave Niro alone. He was to be allowed special privileges. 

The crazy thing is Niro lives with a dog and they get on fine. Granted, little Glory is younger and a bit dopey and doesn't realise the natural order between cats and dogs because she's not known anything else. As far as she's concerned it's normal for a cat to jump on your back and demand to be carried around the room. She just laughs. She thinks it's fun. Luckily she's got a really thick coat so Niro's claws don't break her skin. Niro has always been top cat in the household, and the street, if truth be told, and I guess that was what prompted the attack on Percy.

Percy had been telling lies when he said he was Cat Intelligence Agency. There is no Cat Intelligence Agency. He was just bigging himself up as the new boy, asserting his authority in his new surroundings, which was fine until he took it too far - he tried it on with Niro. The night he was terrorising me just happened to be the night that Niro caught up with him. 

Glory got the actual post fight report directly from Niro and passed the gossip on to me. She told me the fight was short; that Percy wasn't used to such cat aggression and was in tears even before the first claw struck his face. After failing to outrun Niro, he lasted just one scratch before making a dash for his cat flap and hasn't come out again since. She said Niro's actual words were, "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse. I told him, 'Mo-mo, if you make one more move on me, you motherf***er, I'll f***in' cut your f***in' balls off and shove 'em up your f***'n' ass. I'll f***in' bury you!". Percy has elected to become a house cat for the foreseeable future, while he reassesses his position. 

I'm glad it's all over, even if I didn't stand up to the bully myself. But that's the thing with bullies. They always get their comeuppance. There's always a bigger one around the corner. If it ever happens again I'll take Niro's advice:

"Better to be a king for a night than a schmuck for a lifetime."

Sunday, 3 October 2010

4 A.M. Thursday : Fight Night

I'm awake in my bed in the kitchen and my mistress and master are upstairs asleep. They've got work in the morning and don't like to be disturbed. I'm a bit cold and hungry. Outside it's dark and quiet. I haven't seen or heard anything from Percy since Monday when he menaced me in song.

Then I hear a noise. There's something at the back door. I sit up and listen, ears raised in anticipation. There it is again: a scratching at the foot of the door. I rise and pad quietly across to listen more closely, head tilted for maximum hearing capacity.

Nothing.

I sniff the edges of the door. No smell. Not through the door.

I wait.

Still nothing.

Then there's a whisper.

"I can hear you, figbane," followed by another claw at the door. I erupt in a fit of barking. This is it. It's Percy. He's making his play. I alert my owners with a repeating ruff.

I pause as Percy continues, "Tee hee, I'm coming to get you." He seems quite pleased with himself, like the cat who got the cream.

I'm worried and scared and angry and why haven't my masters woken up yet. I bark louder and more frequently. They're probably deciding who's turn it is to get up. I hope it's my master. He'll let me out on the extending lead. Then I can have this out with Percy once and for all.

I'm not in luck. The kitchen door opens and dressed in her pink pyjamas and slippers is my half-asleep mistress. I run over to her in excitement then back to the door again. I scratch the door to remind her I want out. She puts on the light and looks blearily around for signs of distress (poo, sick or pee) but failing to find any, asks sternly, "What's wrong, figbane?". 

I explain that if she loves me she should open the door so I can face this cat interloper and put an end one way or another to his threats. She doesn't understand me. She's not amused.

"Get to your bed. NOW!"

I attempt to persuade her to change her mind by scurrying around her and bouncing up before skipping back towards the door. I give her my cutest look with the whites of my eyes showing like crescent moons. She's not having it.

"BED!"

I slope back to the bed, sniffing at my food bowl as I pass (just in case) then slump down, huffing, but with ears still alert to the likelihood of further outside conversation. 

"And shush!" The light goes off and she closes the door behind her. It opens again and is slammed a little harder shut. I hear a soft push at the door as she satisfies herself that she's shut it properly and she returns upstairs. 

"Chic-ken!" Percy is still outside the door. The glee in his voice is overflowing.

"You'll get what's coming to you next time, don't you worry. Next time!"

Then something strange happens. I hear a squeal and a commotion and a wheelie bin gets knocked as two consecutive objects bounce off it. I can hear 'two' cats fighting. The sound grows fainter. I rush to the door to listen and I can hear them still going at it. From the echoes it sounds like they've moved onto the street at the front of the house. I hope Percy is losing. 

I hear someone moving upstairs. My master has probably gone to the bedroom window to see what's going on. I wish I was able to watch for myself. No picture, no commentary: it's worse than the Radio Clyde Superscoreboard. At least they've got Davie Johnston making quips between goal announcements. Here, I'm totally in the dark about the result. I'll need to wait till walkies to sniff out what went on.

The Cat is Out of the Bag

After reading my last blog entry, some of you may have noticed the major flaw in my plan to eliminate the cat from next door. And by this I don't mean the impossible methods by which I intended to proceed. No, the major problem was in posting my plan to the world, including Percy, before I had even begun. 

I found Percy the following morning sitting atop a post on our dividing fence, looking smug.

"Found any suicidal canaries for me to swallow?" he smirked. The smile faded as his back rose. "Did they teach you nothing at dog school? There's an old cat saying, 'Forewarned is four clawed'. You'll be getting better acquainted with this" he hissed, presenting his front paw, claws extended. The sinister smile returned as he began to sing out of tune his own version of 'Santa Claws is Coming to Town':

"You'd better watch out,
You'd better be-ware,
Percy the cat is out of his lair,
Pers-e-us is com-ing for you".

Then he leapt back down to his side of the fence and over to the cat flap. "Better watch out for the guillotine, hadn't I?" he giggled as he slipped through the opening into his house.

"Your singing still sucks" I retorted from the safety of my kitchen. "And technically you've just gone back into your lair so the song is factually inaccurate."  

I slumped over to my bed and let out a long sigh. What was I to do? I'd lost the element of surprise. It would take a miracle to pull this one off now. I closed my eyes and worried about my imminent nightmare.