I slip in while Boggel takes out the empties. Currently the unusually short days and extremely cold nights have forced me to find new and innovative ways to get to get to the warm and cosy cushion below the counter. In the old days, Boggel didn’t mind so much – but after I chased that rabbit in the veld, things changed.
The itch – way behind my left shoulder – was irritating, to say the least. It was also in an unscratchable place – neither of my hind legs quite got to the spot. Then, within days, my body seemed to breed a myriad of new, itchy places. All over. Even behind my ears and … well, down there, you know?
That’s when Boggel started scratching, too. The one the call Vetfaan, laughed when Boggel spoke about the funny little red spots he had been discovering, and pointed at me. I didn’t quite understand what they said; but it was such an obvious accusation, that I obliged by dropping my ears, turning my head a little sideways, and tucking my tail between my legs. Just for a second, though – I had to sit down quickly to scratch at that shoulder-area again. Vetfaan laughed even more.
Well, that’s how it started, anyway. The next thing I knew, The-Woman-Who-Knows-Everything carried out a huge plastic container and the men helped her to fill it up. I still shudder when I think of that bath. It’s not that I am dirty dog, at all: but one gets used to one’s own routine, understand? A few licks in the most important places, a roll on the rug, and Bob’s your uncle. The bath was a shock and an embarrassment. Afterwards, I ran to Oudoom’s house to seek refuge, but even the pastor got upset when I climbed onto the couch. Used terrible language, he did… Somehow they think it’s okay to wash a dog, but do not want the said dog to romp around in their houses. What harm, after all, can a few muddy feet do? People can be so oversensitive…
Despite the bath, the Sunlight soap and several scoldings from various people, it didn’t help. The itch simply got worse. The round, fat man suggested they take me to Upington.
Now, I am no stranger to vets. While I served in the police force as their best sniffer dog, I got used to these men with the friendly voices and the sharp needles. The moment I heard the soothing voice, I knew. And I didn’t really mean to bite the man, either. It just happened. The fat, round man had to lock me in the bakkie while they repaired the damage. How is a dog to know what the display cabinet with all the little vials in, costs? The vet and the round guy had quite an argument about that.
When the round man returned, he forced the tablets down my throat, and dusted me with some stinky powder. I didn’t like that at all, so the round guy had to go back to the vet for some bandages. I remember every word the round man said on the way home.
“Bad dog! You’re a bad dog. Bad, bad, dog!” Over and over, while he never even tried to look at me. Us dogs are sensitive about these things. Tell us once, we get the message. But all the way from Upington to Grootdrink? All I heard was bad, bad dog. It got a bit much. The round guy stopped at Grootdrink to get some pain tablets for his hand and that’s where I hopped off. I’d rather walk home than be shouted at all the way to Rolbos.
The round man eventually gave up, got into his pickup, and drove off. Me? I waited a while to see if he wasn’t playing possum with me, then I started my long walk home. Initially it was quite pleasant, but I soon realised I was hungry and thirsty. That’s when my nose saved me.
The farmhouse next to the road – that’s where I smelt it. Fresh…what? Pie? Chicken pie! My favourite! Well, a dog has to do what a dog has to do…so I walked up to the kitchen, put on my begging face and made whimpering sounds. Even in dog terms, I must admit the woman behind the stove was unattractive. Old, with a wrinkly face. Stooped. She smelt funny: spicy, with a whiff of the stuff Precilla sometimes uses.
“Oh, you poor doggy! You hungry?” Now, ugly or not, this is the type of woman I like. She gave me a whole bowl of milk, several pieces of chicken, and rounded the perfect meal off with a rather large bone.
Then she surprised me.
“You seem to be a good doggy. I like that. But I’d hate it if you started a fight, see? Bella must have her lunch, too, so I’m going to call her. No growling, understand.”
Wow. A pin-up-dog waltzed into that kitchen and bowled me over. The spicy smell wasn’t the old lady – it was this heavenly creature called Bella. I put down my head on my paws and tried to look intelligent. She glanced at me, looked at the old woman, and started eating her lunch. Delicate little bites, without messing on the floor, slowly…. What manners! What a dream come true…
That’s why I have to sneak up to Boggels cushion these days. When the lorry from Kalahari Vervoer delivers Sammie’s order, I hop into the back before the man closes the door. I get off when he stops at the café in Grootdrink, where he always unloads a few cases of cooldrinks. Then…
Of course it’s a long way back to Rolbos. I usually make it in time for some lunch, and then I need my sleep. Oh, boy: do I need to rest after these little visits!
Well, I shouldn’t tell you this. Really shouldn’t. But on the way back, just before I reached town, there was this rabbit again. And now there is this teeny, slight, irritation behind my shoulder. Right there where I can’t reach. If you can reach down, I’d really appreciate you just giving me a scratch.
Ahh…you’ve hit the spot.
Now please – pleeeeaaaase – don’t tell Boggel?