13.12.2005 07:07 - Naughty Whippet
My father told me recently that there had been a display of greyhounds up for adoption. He nearly adopted one on the spot, because it looked just like Lassie, our former pet whippet/greyhound. We never really found out if she was a big whippet or a small greyhound, but she was a lovely dog. She was also extremely fast. Our old house, which had two apple trees at the bottom of the garden, also had a circular trough worn round one tree from her break-neck speed turns.
She was also, it must be said, one of the biggest canine thieves that have ever existed, and went by the nom-de-plumes of "scroungehound" and "Thieving Hound". We very quickly learned to use waste bins with lids on, because she would be in there like a shot once we'd left the house. More than once we came back to a kitchen full of scattered rubbish, thanks to one of her scrounging missions. Pedal bins were no good. She learned to operate them.
One summer she disappeared from our back garden - no matter how high a fence my father erected, she could jump it after three high-speed circuits of the lawn - and we went off searching the neighbourhood. Back we came, no sign of her to be seen. We began to fear the worst. The previous year, she had had a narrow escape, when she crossed the road right in front of a great big coach, narrowly avoiding being flattened. I had seen her just in time to witness the event, and to add a number of new words to my vocabulary, thanks to the irate coach driver.
Dad got ready to ring the police, as her roaming ways meant she was no stranger to the local constabulary, and had done a bit of bird. (She also killed the budgie, but that's not the bit of bird we're talking about.) Just then, she came walking jauntily round the corner, and up to our door. In her mouth was the proverbial chain of raw sausages, as seen in issues of the Beano, and on her face was an expression of immense self-satisfaction. Where she had stolen the sausages from, we never knew. All we knew is that the encriminating evidence was washed, cooked and eaten double-quick time - her share was raw, being the ones she'd held onto - and then she was ordered to her basket. Bad dog, naughty dog.
There is a picture of her, when she was older and a little bit deaf, caught sneakily going for the remainders of a pork chop left on someone's finished plate. I had a camera to hand, and photographed her, caught red-handed in the act. The look of astonishment and guilt on her face is something to see. This photo is revenge enough for the two times I took the rap for her thieving.
Once, during the school holidays, my father came home for lunch, and unwrapped a pork pie, which he took out of the fridge and put on the counter in the kitchen. He cut a slice, placed it on his plate and smeared it with mustard. I then cut a piece for my lunch, and went out of the kitchen, leaving the pork pie on the counter. Dad then turned round and saw that the entire pie was gone. The first thing I knew about it was when he screamed "STEVE!". I went into the kitchen to find out what had happened, only to be berated, somewhat unfairly, for pigging the rest of the pork pie. I insisted on my innocence, having had exactly the same as he had. He insisted I had taken it all, saying, if I hadn't, who else could have?
A sudden thought crossed both our minds, and we turned as one to glare at the extremely guilty-looking whippet sitting under the table, licking the crumbs of pork pie off her lips.
A similar event happened one Christmas. We had set up the christmas tree, and placed upon it a number of chocolate novelties, all hanging from the lower branches. (You can see where this is going, can't you?) Now, it must be said that Lassie was a chocolate fan. I know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and contains a substance that they cannot metabolise.
You try telling the average dog that.
Lassie operated on the theory that whatever was good enough for Mum to eat was good enough for her. This included coffee and tea. She wouldn't drink water. At the very least, it had to be milk. Our theory was that it was due to the hardness of the water in our area, as she'd drink it when we went on holiday in a soft water area. Anyway, she ate whatever Mum would eat, and that included chocolate. Never mind it poisoning dogs, she'd obviously built up some sort of immunity, because she lived to be fifteen, which is pretty good going for a whippet.
So, back to the story. Lassie was left home alone one Christmas night, whilst we went to a christmas party. Next day, my father ordered me into the lounge. I was berated for eating all the chocolate christmas novelties off the tree. An utter disgrace, my father said. Not only eating all the chocolate, but taking the piss by leaving the foil hanging off the tree. I protested my innocence. My innocence was questioned, as was my parentage. I maintained my innocence. Nuts to your innocence, said dear Dad, who else has been alone in this room in the last day or so apart from.. the... dogggggg.........
It was then we noticed that Lassie wasn't in the room. She'd gone into hiding. She was up in her basket, head peaking out from under the blanket, with a nervous look on her face - probably due to the subsequent headache from scoffing the chocolates, most of which were liqueurs.
Bad Dog. Naughty Dog. Thieving Hound.