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Love Dogs Eileen West

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men … an’ dogs

Who was it who said “Life with dogs is certainly never boring?”  Oh, that’s right.  That would be me … along with a couple of million other dog lovers around the world.

I’ve often thought that Rabbie Burns must have accidentally set fire to the paper on which he wrote “To a Mouse”.  “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” surely must have had … “an’ dogs” after it originally.

“Gang aft a’gley” they certainly did last week, to quote the Bard further.

How a dog is introduced to me and my girls at the beginning of their ‘dog-liday’ at ‘Love dogs’ should be carefully orchestrated in order that they feel  safe and settled as quickly as possible.  But, of course, with everything else involving dogs things never quite go as planned.  And the arrival of Milo, my current guest, was no exception.

Milo, is a feisty little Chihuahua whom I’ve met on a couple of occasions for “introduction and orientation “ and he was finally coming to stay with me for twelve days while his Mum, Sheila, attended a family wedding in Malaysia.

Sheila arrived promptly as usual and I could see Milo in the passenger seat when she got out to greet me with a hug.  We were about to open the back doors to get his ‘luggage’ when we both heard an ominous “click”.  I could tell by Sheila’s face exactly what had happened.  Milo had stepped over the central console to settle himself on the driver’s seat and in doing so had toggled the lock button.  He was locked in the car – along with the keys which were still in the ignition, Sheila’s handbag with her house keys, phone and usual paraphernalia.

With a tight time schedule and a plane to catch Sheila was panic-stricken.  I immediately went into damage limitation mode and started firing off solutions: were there spare keys? could I drive her home? who has a key to the house? could we break into the house, etc. whilst also trying to entice Milo back to the passenger seat in the hope he might toggle the switch again and unlock the car.  He did step on it several times but not heavily enough to activate the mechanism.  How could he have been heavy enough 5 minutes earlier to lock it but not heavy enough now to unlock it?  As tiny as he is and with a metabolism that I’ve since discovered could power a small energy sub-station, he couldn’t possibly have lost weight in that short space of time.

With no way to access her house for the spare key the next step was to try to break a window in the car.  It always looked easy in The Sweeney and the windscreens of American cop cars in the James Bond movies appear to be made from the same substance as my liqueur glasses so how hard could it be?

Trying to look as if smashing car windows was a regular and rather tiresome pastime I donned my safety glasses, made a large (and very Christmassy I might say) star with duct tape on the back, passenger side window and aimed my hammer at it.  Striking it right bang in the middle of the star it made a lot of noise but bounced right off.  It did this three more times until I realised something heavier duty was required.  Telling Sheila I had a new plan I went back to my garage, re-emerging with my sledge hammer.  Her gasp of horror was almost as audible as the thwacking of my hammer on her car window.

Absent-mindedly wondering if all my years of weight training were in preparation for this very moment, I stepped back from the car, wielded the hammer over my shoulder and put everything I had into the swing.  The bang reverberated around the valley a couple of times, up and over the Hill o’ Fayre and returned to my drive with an awesome echo but the window held.  When they etch “TOUGHENED” on to the bottom of car windows they’re not kidding.

I wish that I could now report that between us we came up with an ingenious way to free Milo who, incidentally, seemed quite unperturbed by the proceedings, but alas we did not.  Breaking quietly and unobtrusively into cars will never be a handy sideline for us.

I had to resort to calling a local mechanic who arrived superhero-ish (but thankfully not wearing his underpants over his boiler suit) with a nifty piece of kit which miraculously separates the door from the roof allowing for a dexterous bit of fiddling around with a glorified coat hanger.  I would go into more detail, but then I’d have to kill you.

As they say, “All’s well that ends well … so let’s all go to the wedding.”  Oh, no, I’m already in panto mode.  Anyway, Milo was freed, he gave himself a bit of a shake, looked us up and down as if to say “Is my room ready and have my bags gone on ahead” and trotted into the house taking up residence like a canine RuPaul, his minions (us) scuttling behind him. And there, he has remained.

But far from being the archetypal, precious, male diva, Milo is prepared to get down and dirty with my boisterous girls.  He enjoys a two hour walk twice daily on muddy farm tracks and through dense woods, his little legs often a blur of movement, clearing fallen twigs with the poise and resoluteness of Red Rum over Beechers Brook.  In a word, Milo is a trooper.  In between walks, he follows me around wherever I go with no interest in a restorative power nap.  He’s a busy boy and what he lacks in stature more than makes up for in character.

I’m absolutely smitten with him and am feverishly tempted to get glammed up, put on my Jackie O shades, pop him into my ancient (48 seasons ago) Chanel bag and have a wander around town WAG-like.

Alas, despite his diminutive size and all my years of weight training, I fear I couldn’t carry him off!

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