Outside, in the gutter, where it normally is
Ain’t my problem yu dropped it, yu go get it
GitOrrf!, the scruffy-bellied Border Terrier, sits on the camp bed, Halflegs curled up on it under a blanket. Revlegs approaches, giving GitOrrf! the hard eyeballs, before gently shaking Halfleg.
“mrStevens….mrStevens” Revlegs rouses him from his Bullmers Original sniffy sleep. “Itoldyoubefore,nodogsallowedinside” he points up at a big sign on the wall.
NO DOGS ALLOWED
Halfleg peeks from beneath the blanket.
Revlegs eyeballs GitOrrf! who gives his best invisible look.
“arethosechickenbones,there,onthefloor?” Revlegs scritches, pointing “dog-eaten,chickenbones?”
Only me brekkers, mate
“rightthen” and GitOrrf! finds all four paws lifting into the air as sniffy Revlegs grabs him by the scruff and carries him towards the front door of the hospice. Towards the unwelcome snowlick falling outside.
Hold on a tic Revlegs, but I’m with ’im
But Revlegs, who’s dressed in black clothfurs with a little white clothfur under his muzzle is scritching at all the hindlegs on their camp beds “everyone,pleasefollowtherules”
Door opens. GitOrrf! dumped outside. Door shuts.
Brrr, chilly enough to freeze off brass plums
Wot to do?
So easy peasy to sneak back inside the hospice and hide under Halfleg’s bed. The back window to Saint Michaels is always open ‘round back at the sniffy yellow end where all the packhomeless do their squirting. But today that sniffy Revlegs is all big and alert eyeballs. Best to stay out and abouts in the street for the mo and snout out some spare nosh.
And talking about nosh, wot muttwit does he know that’s got spare nosh?
That big brute’s got plenty. Franks loves shoveling nosh into Henry’s slobbering chops whether he wants it or not. ‘cept, he mostly wants it.
Gitorrf! trots out into the snowlick, leaving Saint Michaels hospice behind, ice particles frosting his earflaps. During the darker months, when the great hot ball is not so hot and don’t get thrown so high into the sky, GitOrrf! dens with Halfleg at Saint Michaels hospice for the homeless. ’cept, him and Halfleg ain’t homeless. Most times, they den peacefully inside the second doorway of the Pig & Ferret, the very best pub in Westley Piddle. Sometimes they den outside The Greyhound, the second very best pub. But that’s only when Halfleg upsets the peace and gets moved on by Thames Valley Police.
Snout down, GitOrrf! trots along, sniffing at the public bins. No nosh there, and full of snowlick. He checks the bins ‘round back of the Star of India. Same story. Gives up and trots off to find Henry. Snowlick is keeping thems lucky domestic fourlegs inside their housedens. Only the streetlegs are outside. He snifz Tuffy’s recent orange-yellow marker on the telephone exchange box on the corner of High Street and Nelson Avenue.
Hmm, where’d he nosh that! GitOrrf! licks at the squirt Chuckles
He trots on. A few growling roundlegs pass by – with less growling and more slishing coz of the snowlick covering the roads. Stops at his regular number three pooping spot outside Human Beans Café, turning a couple of tight circles before squatting and pooping, sniffy steam rising.
Corss, him and Henry are the best of snoutz mates. Henry, the young English Mastiff and strongest fourlegs in West Pid packs a big pair of squidgy plumb bobs, uncut!
An asset wot makes him dangerous to simply trot up to and say hello. A serious butt-chewing might be the only hello on offer.
Snifz yu, GitOrrf! a big bark from other side of the hedge.
Snifz yu, Henry GitOrrf! replies, cautiously approaching, but always ready to leg it.
Yessir, all for submitting
Sure? Henry sticks his head over the hedge looking down at the stick-legged, scruffy-bellied Border Terrier with his toilet brush tail.
‘undred percent submitting, mate
Both fourlegs wag tails.
Wot yu up to Henry? Got any nosh not yet noshed?
Plenty. Who wants it?
Henry’s deep-set brown eyes stare down balefully at the little streetlegs.
Henry, sometimes yor a muttwit
I am? his deep voice booms happily yu coming over or wot?
Happy to mate – if I was a few times bigger or this hedge was a few times smaller
Forget it. Yu got some chicken or wot?
Nah, but Franks is promising me the chop
Beef, pork, or lamb?
Sometimes even GitOrrf!’s good humoured patience starts wearing thin where’s it at?
At the vets. Franks taking me there to go get the chop, so he sez
Great stuff! Bring another one back for me
Henry nods his head gravely If’s there’s another, I’ll probably nosh that, too
“Henry,comeonmate,wegottago” Franks calls from the houseden.
Henry contemplates escaping to go off with GitOrrf! and snout ‘round and abouts with his streetlegs mates. But today there’s no chance of jumping over the hedge at the end of the garden. Franks is taking him to Westley Piddle Veterinarians for Livestock & Pets. On the other paw, who wants to snout ‘round and abouts with streetlegs when chops are on the menu?
“comeon,bigfella” Franks clips a lead to his heavy collar “it’sthesnipforyoutoday, mate”
Laters Henry booms, big head disappearing from over the hedge.
Laters GitOrrf! wonders where the vets is and if there’s any bins ‘round back. Who don’t lyk a chop? Be it beef, pork, or lamb.
As it happens, the same day Henry is due to have the chop at the vets, the surgery is packed to bursting with loads more fourlegs. Franks leads Henry into the surgery and before he can take one trot towards the reception all chaos breaks out.
SUBMIT! roars Henry SUBMIT!
Snifz yu Henry tweets Kibbles, a West Highland Terrier and I submit
Me, too, I suppose adds Champion, an elderly Golden Retriever.
SUBMIT ALL OF YU
I don’t do submitting, mammal answers Shadow, a magnificent black German Shepherd, sitting calmly on his haunches, all packed muscle and muzzled ferocity.
We’ll see about that – and before Henry can launch himself at the Thames Valley PD he is pulled up fast by Franks on his choker.
Yeah, be a good doggy Shadow growls from behind his muzzle.
“Hello,gotHenryinforhis– youknow,forhis–chop” Franks shakes his handpaw in a slicing motion at the receptionist.
“okay,nonsense,nonsense,chop,nonsense” the receptionist scritches back.
Henry is very attentive as chops appear to be the main topic of conversation. Beef chops, he hopes. They sit down and wait.
Hello down there Henry eyeballs the Westie.
How yu doing, laddie? Kibbles answers.
Yu here for the chop?
A wee rabies jab
Me too answers Champion, a Golden Retriever, lying on the floor and unable to raise his head. He snifz sort of purply and all the fourlegs are giving him a wide berth.
Remembering the wonderful day he’s had, beforenows, it gives Champion enough strength to lift his snoutz and spill the beans a very special day indeed. I got favorite brekkers with pork sausages. Got to squirtz and poop in Herdwicks pooping park. And my family hugging me all the time. And – and got a long drive in the back of the roundlegs, earflaps out the window all flapping ‘round abouts in the snowlick, lyk. Wot a day
The fourlegs all stare at him.
Erh, wot yu in for again, laddie? asks Kibbles.
The jab just lyk yu, I s’pose
The surgery door opens to a room full of sniffy gleaming tables and sharp objects.
“Champion?” the hindlegs vet scritches softly, bending down to stroke the old fourlegs’ snout and ruffle his earflaps. She looks up at his family of hindlegs “shallwe?”
The hindlegs family start tearlicking from their eyeholes again as Champion slowly gets up onto his paws and drags himself into the sniffy room. He turns his head at Kibbles, Henry, and Shadow.
The fours twitch their snoutz as the door shuts behind him.
Arrival of a grey scratch kitten carried in its cage. The hindlegs owner clutches the cage and eyeballs all the fourlegs “anyofthemdogsdangerous?”
Franks shakes his head. PC Smith, the packleader of Shadow, scritches “don’tworrylove,they’reallharmless”
Sure grunts Kibbles, allow me to demonstrate the wee art of all sorts of harmless
Lyk the sound of that approves Henry.
Besides, that scratch is nae bigger than a chop, Henry
A lamb chop maybe, Kibbles, not sure about a pork-
Stop being muttwits the pair of yuz growls Shadow, through his muzzle.
Henry and Shadow both rise to launch some submitting action at one another.
The scratch hisses at all of thems, retreating to the back of its cage.
“easyboy” Franks jerks at his lead.
“toheal,Shadow,toheal” PC Smith packleader scritches.
The surgery door opens again and in trots Mayumi followed by her suspiciously sniffy companions, DasiyZhang and JumaSabah.
Ayaa, hello mutt-weets she barks.
Snifz yuz Mayumi Henry forgets thinking submitting and starts thinking eightleggers as his favorite girl steps within sniffing range.
Sniff yu, too big Hen-ree she pants sweetly before turning and sniffing the others hi Kee-balls, hi fierce PeeDee dog-gee whose name I don’t know
That’s police business Shadow eyeballs woodenly into space.
“don’tlethernearthoseanimals” DaisyZhang scritches a warning to JumaSabah “remember,she’spurebred”
Mayumi leads the way to the waiting room seats fast filling up with fourlegs’ companions.
Yu boys in for toe-nail cleepings? asks Mayumi my packmate says veery bad karma to keep hearing scritchy scratching of nails on flooring, neh?
Ayaa, Pork. If only…
Out trots Champion’s hindlegs family from the room full of sniffy gleaming tables and sharp objects – without Champion. Tearlicks all over their hindlegs faces.
“rightthen,” scritches the receptionist “Henry,isit?”
“c’monfella” Franks heaves Henry up onto his paws, ‘cept Henry don’t need heaving. He’s already up, wagging his stumpy tail and slobbering lyk a good’n.
Chops he pants in anticipation pork chops, lamb chops, beef chops pulling Franks with gusto into the room full of sniffy gleaming tables and sharp objects.
Bon appétit chuckles Shadow.