Tuesday, 21 December 2010

“What about selling them on e-bay?” suggested Lesley. I bet we’d get a mint!”

“God strewth,” said Archie. “We’ve reached the lowest of the low. They’ll be downloading us dogs next!”

“I don’t care what Nathan thinks,” declared Lesley. We share a battlefield daily, Julia. You should see our bedroom. Nathan’s on the front line, what with all his shoes assembled in the corner. The flotsam and jetsam of a disintegrating marriage.”

Mistress took a handkerchief from her sleeve and wiped away a tear.

“Don’t say that, Lesley. You’re my best friends ..!”

“You never would have thought so,” I said to Archie. “Mistress tells some terrible tales about the two of them.”

Archie gave me a cuff about the ears with his front right paw. You keep mum, son, d’you hear me? No good comes of repeating what’s told you in the basket.”

I nodded. But I was miserable. What good was I if I couldn’t be a confidante to Mistress?

Meanwhile, both Mistress and Lesley were peering out of the window where a green hedge seemed to be on the move.

“Look out there!” cried Lesley. I’ve never seen that hedge before.” She tried to wave her empty glass towards the window but the glass came back and hit her on the nose.

A couple of ice blocks fell beside Archie. “Here,” he said. “One for each of us. We deserve a treat for listening to this rubbish ..!”

Archie and I sucked on our ice blocks and as we did, the hedge stood up.

It was the dreaded Inspector, Mr Greig.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

What is said over gin and tonic

Well the crisps did start flying.

Mistress and Lesley had their first gin and tonic before my mid morning snack.

Then they had another.

Archie and I were in for the long haul. Once the drink took over, there was trouble for us dogs. I couldn’t stand the smell of the stuff myself. A combination of lemon and fizz that got spilt over the floor and tasted disgusting!

Archie was not in a good mood either. His head slithered over my left ear and we lay nose to nose.

“These women are losing all sense of decorum,” he said.

I knew better than to ask Archie the meaning of ‘decorum’ right now. He might bite me.

But our owners were already beginning to act strangely. Lesley had taken hold of one of Mistress’s hands and was holding it close to her. As if the hand had magic powers.

“You’re going to travel next year, Julia,” Lesley stated and gave a hiccup. “Very long distance, possibly to Africa.”

Mistress sat on the arm of Lesley’s chair. “I’ll be running away from my mountains of debt, that’s for sure,” she replied. “God knows where I might be.”

Lesley held her glass up to the window and narrowed her eyes. “I think it’s time the two of us took a trip somewhere warm,” she said. “I wonder if I could sell Nathan’s great-grandfather’s medals ...”

“Morons!” Archie said to me. “Disrespect to the dead, I call it.”

”Didn’t Nathan’s great-grandfather fight in the Boer War?” Mistress asked.

“He did,” replied Lesley. “Under Lt. General Lord Methuen at the Battle of Modder River. Nathan’s got a couple of medals that could be worth a mint. He keeps them in a drawer somewhere and I’m sure they’re turning to rust. What’s the point of hiding them, I ask you ..?”

Lesley’s eyes were shining.

What was she up to, that’s what we dogs wanted to know?

All will be revealed in the wag of a pug’s tail.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What was coming next, I wondered?

“We own a pair of lovely pugs between us,” Lesley said thoughtfully. “Why don’t we try some aptitude tests? May be we could show the dogs somewhere …”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Lesley,” Julia replied. “These two boys are only good for following their noses.”

Archie gave one of his snorts. “If I didn’t have the nasal skills I was born with, there’d be no food at all in my house,” he growled at me.

I put a paw across Archie’s back.

“Well that’s where Marek comes in,” I said quickly.

“Now, don’t start on the breakfast menus, son. My blood pressure is already rising with these comediennes.”

Lesley stood up. She was wearing a purple track suit and a bandana round her head. For reasons I couldn’t understand, Lesley swung from one hip to the other as if she heard music that nobody else could.

“What with your financial problems, Julia, and my dead weight of a husband, we’re in a bad way,” she announced, dropping into an armchair and folding her left leg across her right knee. “I tell you, Julia. Nathan’s a lost cause. He’s begun wearing pyjamas with stars and stripes on them. It’s not a good omen.”

“Really!” said Mistress. “Marek doesn’t wear any at all.”

Lesley’s half smile seemed to stick to her teeth. “What about a gin and tonic, Julia?” she asked, looking at her watch. “It’s 11am.”

“A brilliant idea,” Mistress said. “I think a drink is the answer.”

Archie’s head flopped over mine.

“Let’s dozy do until the crisps start flying,” he whispered.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The conversations at home were becoming all too familiar. I had taken to shutting one eye through such repetitive talk. We always seemed to be on the same subject and I was praying for the arrival of my benefactor, Marek, to create a diversion.

Mistress was off again.

“Nobody, but nobody is buying my pictures,” she said to Lesley. “I’ve got paintings wall to wall and some of them are so old, they’re beginning to crack.”

Mistress was restless. Archie and I watched her shoes aiming left and right from underneath a table. Frankly, I was dizzy from the sight of my mistress’s travels.

Lesley and Archie had come round together after a distressed phone call.

“You’ll be ill if you don’t calm yourself, Julia,” Lesley announced, her mouth full of crisps. “Everybody in the Arts is making cuts. Nathan says it’s going to get much worse and that we should leave for Portugal and start a retreat.”

Lesley wiped her mouth with two varnished nails.

“Come to think of it, Nathan is already on retreat” she pondered. “He fell off the map months ago.”

Mistress stopped in her tracks.

“Comments like those aren’t helpful, Lesley,” she snapped. “Portugal is looking as unstable as Ireland. Nathan’s got it wrong. At least Marek is out there having a go.”

“Yes, but having a go at what?” asked Lesley. “I think you’ve got to watch Marek, my sweet. Charming he may be, but Nathan thinks your man from Warsaw is definitely playing in the danger zone.”

I gave a small woof.

“For once, I’ve got to agree with Lesley,” Archie said to me. “Your master has too much ready cash for an artist, and a Polish one at that.”

I shut my mouth. I didn’t want to have another argument with Archie.

Suddenly, Lesley’s bandanna came waving towards us dogs like a giant handkerchief. She crouched beside us underneath the table, rocking on her plimsolls.

Moves like that always worried Archie and me. She had odd ideas, our Lesley. My ears pricked up.

Listen in, folks. We’re tuned to the action.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

There was no doubt in my mind. I had to keep Archie on my side and that meant persuading him to like Marek. Mistress would be in an even worse state without her man.

“No money changed hands at the auction house,” I said to Archie, after a short interval.

“Humbug!” he replied.

I felt desperate. Whatever Marek was up to, he always had plenty of cash in his shabby leather pockets. Somehow I had to protect him.

“He looks after Mistress and stops her doing stupid things, like selling the family portraits,” I said.

Archie had a way of looking at me when times were rough. Now his nose came level with mine and I gave a sniff of appreciation. He did not reciprocate.

“There is more to life than a bacon sarni,” he stated.

Well, that was rich coming from Archie. That pug could eat for England. I wondered in that instant if Archie had gone off me.

“I have a new admirer,” I said rather hastily. “An alsation who asked me to call him ‘Hen’. I met him on our walk in the country the other day. He gave my left ear quite a tickle.”

The only sound in the kitchen was of the clock ticking. I felt Archie’s stomach move away from me slow over the tiles.

“I hope you’ve no sentiments in that direction, son,” he growled. I would never share a basket with a ‘homo’.”

“Never, Archie!” I cried. “I had no trouble in turning him down. Anyway, he lives in Esher.”

Archie gave a jaw chomp and there was silence again.

Outside the kitchen window, late autumn leaves were falling across the glass in a series of orange ribbons. A rush of wind brought them slamming towards us.

I shivered.

“I bet that fox is somewhere close and looking in. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t looking straight at you, kid,” said Archie.

He gave me a thump with his right paw. “From now on, we stick closer together, right?”

I gave Archie a thump straight back.

He couldn’t hear my hidden sigh. We were friends again and that was all that mattered.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Pugs' Predicament

Archie and 1 were chomping on ‘Rodeo’ bars in the kitchen, with the afternoon play on the radio. Normally, we would both be listening, but right now, my friend had a serious glint in his eye.

“We have problems in this house, son,” he said. “And in yours.”

There was silence while I contemplated this statement. Archie had a wisdom beyond his years. He stood as a barometer for the weather in the Fuller household and we were, without doubt, facing storms ahead.

“Lesley and Nathan are fighting like bantam cocks,” announced Archie. “We have Mr Fox as a new neighbour: your mistress is heavily in debt and Marek is playing with counterfeit money.”

“What does counterfeit mean?” I asked.

Archie rolled his eyes. “Where did you get your schooling, son?” he said.

I kept my mouth shut and swallowed the last of my Rodeo bar.

“Whenever I have a problem with a word,” Archie went on, “I consult my ‘Dogmatis’”.

“Oh,” I replied, feeling small in my own lack of knowledge.

“To be found on the shelf above where Nathan keeps his toenail clippers,” Archie declared.

His pink tongue lay on his lower lip. My friend, Archie, was thinking hard.

“They got the painting back, you know,” I said. “Mistress’s ancestor. Now she has no money at all.”

Archie gave a grunt. He couldn’t disagree.

What to do next, I wondered? Archie and I were going to have to come up with something fast.

Before the bacon sandwiches ran out.

We dogs will keep you posted.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

That same afternoon, I found myself in a long queue between Marek and Mistress. We were in a posh building with lots of smells around to keep me busy. I got a whiff of Estee Lauder from the woman ahead of us and a strong stench of varnish, which made me feel dizzy. I think it might have been Marek’s bacon sandwiches that added to the impression.

Finally I sat squat on my haunches and had to be dragged to the front of the desk when it was our turn.

“I need to refer you to the room at the end of the corridor,” said the girl behind the counter, when she heard the story about the picture from Mistress.

There was a lot of travelling in this place, I thought and I had a sudden desire for home. But I followed Mistress and Marek down the passage like a dutiful dog. I had every intention of behaving like the aristocrat I knew myself to be.

“What can I do for you?” asked a man with little glasses and a fringe. He leant over his desk and made a clucking sound. “We don’t allow dogs in the auction house,” he said.

Marek didn’t hesitate. He scooped me up and there I was, at the same level as all of them! I bared my teeth at the man.

“This only take a minute,” replied Marek. “We have come to withdraw Lot 85, which is for sale tomorrow.”

“The Victorian Picture Sale at 2pm,” Mistress said. “I am so sorry to ask at this late stage, but there are personal reasons.”

The man with the fringe stared at his computer for a long time. I watched the clock on the wall above him and the black arrow that made circles around it. I yawned. The heat didn’t suit me and my stomach kept grumbling. I would have to get some air soon.

“This is very unfortunate,” muttered the man. “The ‘Sibthorpe’ is a fine surviving example from the 1830’s. I am afraid there will be a withdrawal charge.”

“How much?” asked Marek. He was delving into his pocket and fingering some of those money notes I had seen earlier. “Whatever the price, I pay. We have to have our picture back.”

“That will be £945.52p,” the man replied smoothly. “But you will need to go to another floor for invoicing, I’m afraid and then to the ground for collection.”

I began to bark then. Marek had to put me down as all these notes came out of his pocket. I saw only stars. A large bubble wrapped package lay up against a corner of the man’s desk. I was intent on getting close.

The warning never came. Suddenly, I was sick all over the bubble wrap and it took a while to realise that a woman stood with her legs apart directly above me.

“Get that bloody dog out of here!” she shouted.

Marek was beside me, as I drew back, panting.

“Who is this woman with big bottom?” he asked, to no-one in particular.

The woman had a loud voice. “I am the director here!” she said.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Desperate Measures

“What is this big space on the wall?” demanded Marek the morning after he came home.

I lay at his feet where the sun fell in stripes over the drawing room carpet. My stomach was full. Marek and I had already eaten two bacon sandwiches for breakfast to celebrate his return.

“Julia,” Marek said again. “Where is your Uncle Sidthop?”

“He is not my uncle,” replied Mistress. “He is an ancestor and his name is Colonel Waldo Sibthorpe.”

“You no answer my question,” Marek went on.

I gave a sigh. Marek had been away for a whole week and though Mistress had shed a few tears in his absence, they were now bickering. How could she be so stupid? Marek was a special person. He understood the pug fraternity like nobody else in our street.

“Look, Marek,” Mistress said. “I’m running an art gallery in a difficult climate and I need funds. The recession has hit us big-time.”

She wouldn’t look either Marek or me in the eye. “I’ve put the painting up for auction,” Mistress whispered. “I had to do it.”

Marek flung his arms in the air. He was full of drama. Archie had told me some time ago that Marek’s parents had come through an iron curtain. They must have been very strong people, I thought.

“You sell your family down the river, Julia!” Marek snorted. “It is disgusting. What happens to your pride …?”

Mistress sat down with a bump on the sofa. “Please, Marek, don’t make my situation worse. I have no choice.”

Marek began walking up and down as if he had a fever. “We do something, Julia, if it is not too late. We do something to save your Uncle Sibthop. When is this auction?”

Mistress looked straight ahead. “Tomorrow,” she said, but I’m not retracting.”

Marek took a wad of cash out of his pocket and threw it down on the table.

“One hundred pound notes!” Mistress cried. “Where the hell did that money come from.”

Marek put a finger to his lips.

Well, I was wondering too, from my pitch on the carpet. Marek had come into cash from somewhere. The question was, where?

Follow my trail again and let’s find out!

Friday, 15 October 2010

I didn’t have time to ponder my future. There were more sounds coming from the thicket of trees as a woman in jodhpurs came running towards us. I noticed that she had a purple mouth and that it was squawking.

“Hey!” Mistress cried, dropping her mobile into her coat pocket.

The bassets’ owner was a real lady. She wore long riding boots and a cropped jacket.

“I’m so sorry,” she said to Mistress and her purple mouth gaped open wide.
“My boys are usually so well behaved … now come along, you two …”
“Danny, here,” she coaxed. “Mitch!”

But the boys were not listening. My instincts told me they were only interested in serious combat. The bassets barged at me a second time. I looked up and saw the trees with their big beckoning arms. The world was coming closer.

Then came a loud bark and a sudden explosion of air. A long-nosed beast leapt into our midst.

“Will yer take yer filthy paws off the wee dog, you bastads! I’ll no be having fights in the forest with the likes of you.”

I could barely understand the dog’s words, but he was big enough and fierce enough to mean business. And apparently he was on my side.

“Oh my God!” yelled the woman in jodhpurs. “He’ll kill my boys!”

The dog had landed and was whipping his tail in a frenzy as he went round and round in circles. I lay flat. It was the best place to be. The bassets drew back, cowering into the bark of a fallen tree.

This chap was some kind of alsation. He had a chest I might have been proud of. “My master’s on remand,” he said to the bassets, “and he’ll have the tae of you for breakfast if you don’t stop right now!”

Danny and Mitch sat bolt upright like a pair of stone statues.

“I think they’re just having a scrap,” Mistress said hopefully.

There was a pause. I moved slowly towards the dog with the long nose.

“I’m very grateful for your help,” I yelped. “A lot of animals seem to think I have the qualities of a chocolate bar and it’s not funny.”

The dog licked his lips.

“Well, I can see what they mean,” he replied. “But I’m here to protect the weak, son.”

I put a paw on his rump. What else was a pug supposed to do?

He stood to his full height and gave the bassets a withering stare.

“Yer clear off, you two pieces of shite, do you hear me?!”

The dogs slunk away. I noticed that the light was fading.

The alsation crumpled and lay down beside me. He gave me a lop-sided grin and pressed his left ear against mine.

“Call me ‘Hen’ darlin’. And that’s for starters.”

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Wrong Persuasions

I am glad to be able to broadcast that my Kennel Cough has finally gone. And no one is more relieved than Mistress, who has never been much of a nurse.

“Come on, Tommy,” she said to me the following week, by way of celebration. “We’re off to the country.”

Mistress meant it. She was already packing a canvas bag with goodies. We were out of that house and into the car faster than I can wag my tail. I lay clamped in a seat belt at the back and closed my eyes. When I woke up, we were in the middle of the country.

We were also in the middle of hundreds of trees. There were tall waving branches way up above me and on the high ground, more short prickly ones. I trotted across old tracks of mud. Then the ground became sandy and soft. It was hard to see ahead, so I followed Mistress with my nose almost to her heel. What a pity, I thought, that she had to talk on her mobile everywhere we went. She missed what was going on and any moment now, we would be in the pitch black.

We were not alone for long. There were dogs around. I could hear them. Two basset hounds came out of the woods heading in our direction.

”Alright, baby face?” said the fattest, as he passed us with his owner.

I followed his tail, but it was a murky area.

“Enough of that baby face,” I growled. “Your stomach’s hitting the earth, you’ve got so much rubbish in it.”

The basset’s ears flapped in annoyance. His brother leered towards me.

“Who’s this piece of low life?” he asked.

I showed my teeth.

“You’re a pair of stinking sausages,” I said.

The two bassets drew parallel with me and barged at each side of my ribcage.

I gave a shudder. My paws were giving way under me. I was in big trouble and I needed provisions.

Was there a rescue dog somewhere close ...?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

I felt Archie tremble. We got up. We waited, looking back at the intruder.

“It’s that damn fox,” hissed Lesley, from the depths of her lounger. She put a hand to her mouth.

Nathan’s panama hat slid to the ground and stayed there.

“We have vermin in the garden, Nathan. Do something!”

But before Nathan could pick up his hat, the fox had leapt out of the pool and was bounding straight towards the party. With a snap, two chocolate biscuits disappeared from Nathan’s plate. We caught a glimpse of a bushy tail. Then the fox took off again over the water feature, showering us dogs, and disappeared into thickets of ivy.

“Well I’ll be damned,” said Archie.

Only a faint flutter through the undergrowth bore witness to the fox’s exit.

“We have a predator in our midst, son,” Archie went on.

He gave a low growl. We were both shaken.

Lesley brought her red legs over the edge of her lounger. “What are you going to do about this, Nathan?” she bellowed. “We have a resident fox in the bushes tame enough to steal your biscuits. He’ll be in the house next!”

“Give us a break, Lesley,” Nathan said, his voice muffled. He covered his face again with his hat. “Urban foxes need a bite to eat.”

Lesley thumped her lounger.
“URBAN FOXES NEED A BITE TO EAT!” she shouted. “I’m sick of it, Julia … I really am ..!”

Archie came closer to me. His teeth were big in the sun as he spoke.

“No good relying on this pantomime couple,” he said to me. It’s war from now on between this piece of wild life and myself” he said.

I lay weakly on my side. I was still recovering.

“Count me in,” I panted.

“I already have,” replied Archie.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


“Don’t you splutter all over me, son,” Archie said to me the next afternoon. “That cough sounds as if your death is imminent. And you’re spreading it round the entire Fuller household.”

“Sorry, Archie,” I replied.

The two of us pugs lay flat out a few feet apart on the Fuller’s new patio. Although the stones were warm under my fur, I had begun to shiver.

Mistress knelt down beside me. Her hair tickled my back.

“Tommy is not well,” she announced and at that point, I found it hard to breathe.

The sun was high. Nathan and Lesley lay side by side in loungers. Nathan wore his old khaki shorts and had put a panama hat over his face. A plate of chocolate biscuits melted on a wicker table beside him. Lesley glistened in a silver bikini. A sickly smell came off the couple like over-ripe cucumbers.

“I hope you’ve remembered your sun block, Nathan,” remarked Lesley, with her eyes closed.

Nathan didn’t answer. He was beginning to snore through his hat.

“Listen to him, Julia,” Lesley said to Mistress. “Nathan sleeps all day if he has the chance. He’s a complete nightmare in retirement. You’d think he’d give me a hand in the house when I’ve got so much to do.”

Archie clamped a front paw on top of one of mine.

“It’s Woman’s Hour,” he said, “and I can’t take it. Start coughing, son.”

Well I did start coughing and then I couldn’t stop. Shudders went through me for several minutes until I saw stars in the universe. What I needed was a booster. One of Marek’s bacon sandwiches would do the trick, I was sure, and he was out for the day.

I lapped some water from Archie’s bowl instead.

“Body heat, that’s what you need,” Archie growled. “You’d better lie close to me and we’ll hope that I don’t get infected.”

We lay together in the sun and started to doze. Suddenly, Mistress sat bolt upright on her lounger. She gave one of her sighs that indicated the daily confession.

“I’ve got problems, Lesley,” she said over to her. I’ve put the portrait of one of my ancestors, Waldo Sibthorpe, up for sale. I have to pay the bills. I owe £1,200 to the vet. And that’s apart from everything else.”

Lesley scratched her sunburnt nose.

“Wish I could help, Julia,” she replied, “but we’ve just spent a lot of money on the garden.”

Archie nudged me in the ribs. Lesley was right. The paving stones we lay on were made in Italy, wherever that was. There were lilies waving above us grown from a rare and expensive seed. The new water feature had cost half of Nathan’s redundancy and spouted water from a three pronged silver fork into what Archie called the paddling pool.

“Anyway, Julia, your small picture shows never make any money,” Lesley went on. “You’ve always said that.”

There was silence, apart from Nathan’s snores and my heavy breathing. Then I happened to look up. Archie’s head was up too. The stench had come at us both. A mixture of woodland, the odd mammal and the innards of green bins.

It was the fox! There he was standing in the middle of the pool as if he owned the water rights.

And he was staring directly at Archie and me.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Rachel sat unmoved in front of her computer. My eyesight was never good, but the vet’s Receptionist had nails like talons. She tapped them over the desk in a series of scales as she thought this offer over.

“Only if they use ‘Crème de la Mer’ for our massage,” she said.

“They do!” replied Mistress. “And that’s a promise.”

As we left the surgery, my tail dropped between my legs. I knew the picture Mistress was referring to. Waldo Sibthorpe had been an important man and a politician. He went all the way back to Queen Victoria. The painting of him in the sitting room was a family heirloom. Selling it was bad news.

As we walked down the path, a familiar sight came through the gate to meet us. It was the bitch from hell: the terrior who fell somewhere between a dachsy and a poodle.

Although the owner pulled her back, she threw herself at me in lunatic fashion.

“Get off!” I snarled. “Your claws need a good clipping.”

“And your tail got knotted when you were born, monkey face!” the terrior

Mistress could see that I was not in the mood to go quietly. She lifted me without warning and from the safety of her arms, I gave my second giant sneeze of the day, aiming it at the bitch beneath.

“He sounds rather unwell,” said her owner.

“Nothing serious,” Mistress replied.

The terrior slunk away from us. She bared her teeth. I gave one of my devil may care grins. I would eat my whiskers if she didn’t have a good dose of Kennel cough by the next morning.

Thursday, 26 August 2010


I woke up yesterday morning with a hacking cough.

Mistress took me straight to the vet. I don’t mind him. He’s friendly and always gives me a snack after diagnosis.

“Kennel cough, I’m afraid,” the vet said, holding me on his slippery high table. “Keep Tommy away from other dogs during his course of anti-biotics because he’ll be infectious.”

“That might be difficult,” Mistress replied.

I yawned. Mistress would have to come to terms with me being a sick dog. Not that I felt too bad. When we went out into Reception, there was a cat far worse off than me. She sat shivering inside her cage and her orange eyes settled on me like a pair of moons.

I gave a spluttery sneeze which covered the far wall and a big Dalmation print.

“That will be eighty-five pounds, Miss Taylor,” said the Receptionist.

Mistress dropped her head until all you could see was her long mane of hair.

“Haven’t got it this week, Rachel,” she whispered. “But I do have a 19th century painting of one of my ancestors going to auction any day. “The commission will buy us both a day at the Health Club. How about it? I can settle up after that.”

Mistress’s debts were mounting fast. I was going to have to talk to Archie about this. She had entered the world of bribery and corruption.

What the hell was Mistress going to say next? My ears were pricking.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Suddenly, Larry came out onto the front porch and began to sway dangerously from one thin leg to another. A lone paintbrush shot from his pocket and into the Euphorbia.

“Who’s this tall bastard, then?” he shouted. “Are we being invaded by the Secret Police?!”

Mistress put a restraining hand on Larry’s arm.

“Shhhh,” she murmured. “Everything’s alright. Go inside and I’ll join you in a moment.”

I sidled round to Larry’s left trouser leg. Being born with such an acute sense of smell was not always an advantage. Some time during last night, Larry’s trouser leg had been in direct contact with a chamber pot. But I had to show whose side I was on. I gave several loud barks and performed my pirouette routine to create a light hearted interval.

“Get that damn dog away from me!” cried Larry. He’s a dreadful example of a canine and ugly to boot.”

Well I nipped the artist under his trouser leg then. There’s no call for rudeness and I happen to know how valuable I really am. Unlike Larry, my mama made me learn Respect and a whole list of manners.

Larry fell forward, clutching at his ankle. “Ouch!” he screamed.

Then he lost his footing and went headlong into the flower bed.

I looked at Mistress and she looked back at me. She was smiling.

Larry lifted his head.

“Who are you?” he asked Mr Greig, who stood just downwind of him.
“Give me a hand up, will you?”

Larry put out his frail arms. “And get me a bloody drink, you poor sod. You look like you need one, too. After all, it’s not every day you meet a real painter. Take off that revolting coat and come and join me!”

Monday, 26 July 2010


The stink was awful, but I was an obstinate pug and determined to stick it out. However long Mr Grieg kept his head down in the green bin, my chances for the odd snack were increasing.

“You have a box of soup cartons in here, Miss Taylor,” Mr Greig said in a muffled voice. “And a load of old film reels. They look foreign to me. I trust your Polish suitor is not up to his pornographic tricks again.”

“Absolutely not” called Julia.

“Shit,” she mouthed at me, but I pretended not to notice.

There were bigger worries at stake and all I could think of at that moment was Marek’s involvement. He was already in big trouble about his visa and he had a habit of tossing things away without even looking.

Mr Greig’s head emerged from the bin. His hair stood on end. His black coat was covered in the leaves of a stale cabbage.

“I will need to do a colour coding of this operation,” he said.

“What’s that?” asked Julia.

“Exactly what I say,” replied Mr Grieg. “You will be added to our ‘Shame List’ at headquarters. It’s a Council initiative aimed at householders who are not following our regulations on waste, etcetera. We will need to talk again, Miss Taylor.”

Was my Mistress in trouble yet again? Will I have to try a pug tackle on the man and rescue her? The saga continues.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Larry has what he calls a ‘gammy’ leg. He drags himself in like Long John Silver, but without the attraction of a parrot.

“Taxi waiting,” he wheezes. “No cash ‘til Monday, I’m afraid, Julia. Be a love and lend me £20 quid. Then the driver will help me in with the pictures.”

Mistress takes two ten pound notes out of the Italian vase on the hall table. This vase is meant to take in the loans that she is constantly dealing out. It is often empty. The light catches the vase from the high window and reminds me of Pierre Bonnard and his colourful interiors. He is one of Mistress’s favourite artists. Together we like to look at illustrations of his nude wife in the bath, of which there are several.

Larry would like to paint Mistress in the bath. Instead, he has to make do with her in a tight black bodice sitting on her bed with the curtains closed.

It’s some operation, I can tell you! Larry and his gammy leg mounting the stairs, rucksack on his back and wittering on about his arthritis.

“Go on, Julia, give us a bit more flesh, will you? You weren’t born in a convent,” he says as he pulls his brushes out of his pocket. A palette follows from the depths of a dirty canvas bag. “Any chance of a small drink?” he asks.

His eyes squint towards Mistress.

“It’s 11am, Larry,” she responds. “I’ll make you a coffee in half an hour.”

Long ago, I decided that Larry is the sort of artist who will never be interested in Dogs or Nature.

“Can we get rid of your animal?” he asks, and now he is staring at me in a way that makes me feel like an intruder in my own house. Who would believe it?

I bare my teeth.

“That dog’s got halitosis, you know”, Larry says.

I want to warn Mistress that the zip on her long skirt is undone.

“Tommy’s breath is far sweeter than yours, believe you me,” Mistress retorts. She bounces around on two velvet cushions. “How long is this session going to take? I have a lot to do today.”

The artist lifts a paintbrush and points it in her direction. He looks queasy. Archie calls his complexion a bad case of Francis Bacon. I agree. Larry’s other hand feels for the counterpane. I can see that he has the ‘shakes’ and start to wonder if he will make it home when the time comes.

Larry wipes his forehead with a paint smeared handkerchief.

“We can’t hurry this,” he croaks. “Not a work for the National Society of Portrait Painters.”

“You haven’t had a picture shown with them for eight years,” Mistress answers. “And you don’t seem to have moved from my chin for the last five sessions!”

Larry is now wiping his eyes with the same handkerchief. They are turning crimson in front of us. If I could cover my ears, I would, because this kind of conversation distresses me. But their talk is broken up by the peal of the bell for the second time today.

Mistress pulls her shirt on and is off that bed in a matter of seconds. The two of us fly down the stairs, happy for the interruption.

Mistress opens the front door in bare feet.

It’s the tall man in the black coat again.

“Good morning, Miss Taylor,” says Mr Grieg.

“This is an official visit to check the quota of rubbish in your bins.”

Monday, 5 July 2010

'In the Flesh'

I feel sorry for Mistress. She has always had ideas about being an artist, but failed her Art ‘O’ level at boarding school. There are not too many people who know this fact either. Well, I do, because she whispers confidential information to me that I wouldn’t even tell Archie. Sometimes, I watch Mistress from my pitch under her desk doodling matchstick men in private. It’s pathetic really. They wouldn’t stand up at primary level.

As a matter of fact, I think she is better off being a gallery owner. Working with artists is a juggling act, let me tell you. Some of them are quite mad. Take Larry, who is due to deliver his latest works this morning.

When the bell rings with two clarion peals, I am busy with a juicy bone between my paws. Mistress groans.

“Oh, God,” she sighs. “Tommy, don’t leave me, there’s a good dog.”

Frankly, both Mistress and I are looking forward to a quieter life, the days when we will no longer be interrupted by artists.

But we’ve got one of the worst types arriving now. Larry Fielding, the well known portrait painter and he’s not only bringing some new pictures, but has come here to paint Mistress. Larry is not the fastest out of the pen. Let’s see if we can get started!

Follow my paws as I gallop upstairs and wait for the bark.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Nathans were preparing for warfare.

“Well, we can all go back to our grand-parents for a mixed heritage,” said Lesley stiffly. “What do you think, Nathan?”

“I dunno, I dunno,” he said. Nathan pointed an unsteady finger at his wife. “Julia’s always had a complicated love life and she’s not getting any younger.”

Mistress suddenly turned red. The same colour as her hair.

“Well, I think that’s bloody nasty, Nathan!” she shouted. “Your relationship with Lesley is nothing to write home about. The dog and I can hear the pair of you shouting through two gardens in the summer.”

I looked at Archie across Nathan’s shoe. It was tapping. Nathan had a funny sense of tempo: a habit of conducting the many rows he tried to stay out of with his feet.

“Why does she bring me into it?” I whispered to Archie.

“You’re all she’s got,” he replied, with a down-turn to his mouth. That worried me. I have enough problems just living in an art gallery. An art gallery with debts, and dust that is always in my throat. Whereas Marek had become a friend. He understood me and my liking for bacon, and to be honest, he kept Mistress happy for most of the time.

Lesley finished her glass of wine.

“Before I slap you,” she said to Julia rather under her breath, “let’s turn the TV on. I want to watch that programme with the Dog Whisperer.”

Archie gave a sigh. “We are so on the wrong planet,” he said.

Lesley took hold of the remote control which was under her bottom.

“The last one we watched was very interesting,” she went on. “It was about how domestic animals can bring your heart beat down. You remember, Nathan? It’s the first time I’ve ever seen you carry Archie upstairs. Then you lay on the bed gasping. We nearly had to call the doctor.”

I looked at Archie then. His teeth were on edge.

“We will not be repeating that experience,” Archie said to me.

The TV clicked into ‘The Culture Show’. Us dogs sat up. We knew good art when we saw it. On screen was a huge sculpture of a woman and child, tucked one into the other. I don’t have deep thoughts, so Archie tells me, but I did think of my mother then and how I began.

Archie gave a bark of appreciation. “That’s Henry Moore,” he said.

Then, in a lower voice:

“Let’s go for the nuts.”

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Later, we went over to the Fullers.

Mistress and her friends dug into the nuts and were soon on their second bottle of wine. Archie and I sat each side of Nathan’s leather chair. He had a habit of throwing pistachio shells over his left shoulder. We knew the score, which was to wait a while until the adults were ‘under the influence’ - Archie’s phrase, and then we could have a good crunch behind the sofa.

Archie put a restraining paw on my nose. We had to wait.

“Marek’s an illegal immigrant, I swear it,” said Mistress. “He told me he was here for nine months on a visitor’s visa and that everything was above board.”

Lesley swung her legs sideways as if she was about to get up.

“You got carried away, Julia, that’s what happened. He’s just a Polish artist desperate to get his work shown in a London gallery. Marek decided on a major flirting incentive and you fell for it!”

Julia flung her hair back.

“I beg your pardon,” she said. “I think that’s a rotten thing for you to say. We have a lot in common as it happens, and don’t forget that my great-grand father was Polish.”

Archie yawned. “This conversation is bound to last three or four rounds,” he said. “How are the nuts collecting behind you, son?”

I turned. I could smell the salt and the powder coming off them. All the ingredients that pugs are not allowed. “We’ve got a small mountain of them,” I replied and gave my best smile.

Archie and I put our heads down again. We both understood the virtue of patience.

Will we get our snacks before the fight begins? Follow our trail until next time and find out.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Lovers' Tiff

After Mr Grieg’s visit, there was a row between Mistress and Marek in the front garden.

“How could you get tied up in something so smutty?” she asked and began to coil her hair amongst the stems of her Virginia creeper, a sure sign of stress. “I can’t believe you would source pornography on my computer. Now I find you don’t even have a legitimate visa to be here!”

I wagged my tail at Marek. He needed my support. I wasn’t going to lose my bacon sandwich titbits without a fight.

“That is rubbish,” Marek replied, “I am here with my very important work, which I thought you understood. You of all people.

“I understand,” said Mistress. “Only too well.”

From my position close to the wall, I felt that I knew Marek better than Mistress. She would never find another man like him. When he pulled the gate open and walked out, I gave a wolf’s howl. Frankly, I didn’t know I had it in me.

“COME BACK!” Mistress cried.

But Marek kept on walking.

Friday, 28 May 2010

“I must get a drink of water”, she muttered.

“How long have you been in the Art business?” Mr Greig asked.

“Far too long,” said Mistress.

“Would you mind giving me a proper answer, Miss Taylor,” Mr Greig snapped.

He had interrogation skills. He reminded me of the trainer on Hampstead Heath whose verbal commands were so fierce, half his dogs ran away.

“Twelve years,” said Mistress.

“I see,” Mr Greig replied.

“No you don’t!” cried Mistress. “The Nude has been depicted since the beginning of time. What about the Greeks and the Kama Sutra? What about Picasso?”

At this point, I wanted to help her. After all, she had brought me up to be the pug I am.

I barked and I barked again.

“I am not talking about the celebrated Nude or Picasso,” said Mr Greig. “Our enquiries lead us to believe that there are indecent images connected with your working practice. I am in charge of the investigation.”

Mr Grieg pulled at the collar of his big, black coat.

Mistress began to cry. I was going to have to prop her up later.

At this point, I heard the key turn in the door. It was Marek. As usual, he was whistling in his good humoured way and he came up the stairs two at a time. Never have I been so pleased to see a human in my life.

“What is this?” he asked, spreading his hands wide. He took in Mistress’s sobs and the man who stood with his arms folded. Mr Grieg made her office seem very small. The Gestapo in the office.

“What is going on, Julia?” “Why are you crying?” Marek asked.

“I’ve been accused of parading pornography on the internet. Can you believe it?” Mistress’s voice had fallen to a whisper.

Marek took a step back. “I see,” he said slowly. “May be I explain.”

I sat down on my bottom and felt my curly tail tremble. Something was in the offing.

“I have been working with pornographic photographs taken direct from the Internet. I am helping a friend from Warsaw, a Professor, whose subject is Surrealism. He has this project, a very important project.”

Marek gave a shrug. “Everyone does it, you know,” he said.

“I see,” replied Mr Greig.

He took one of his large hands out of his pocket and with it, a notebook and a pen.

Mistress had her mouth open. She couldn’t utter a word.

“And your name is?” Mr Greig asked.

I swear Marek’s eyes turned the colour of coal.

“My name is Marek Czcibor,” he said.

Most dogs know the look that can kill. Marek had it now. I gave what I thought was a fierce growl, but nobody paid me any attention.

Mr Greig wrote something down on his note pad.

“And how long have you been in this country, Mr Czcibor?”

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


“I do receive dozens of images every day,” said Mistress. “You have no idea what comes through. Looking at nudes is quite normal in this business, to be honest.”

She gave a hollow laugh. We were upstairs in the office. I was still tingling from the way Mistress had towelled the two of us down in just a few seconds.

“Hmmm …” replied Mr Greig.

He stood taking up all our work space. His arms were akimbo and I noted the mop of dark hair. Wild and shaggy, like the wrong type of canine.

It was hard to know whether Mistress was putting it on, but she was certainly acting the part of a helpless Pre-Raphaelite damsel. As a puppy, I had lain across her huge volume of Victorian Art and got to know a thing or two. I had always been partial to Arthur Hughes, as a matter of fact.

What the hell was he going to say next, I wondered? I didn’t even have a bone with me to create a diversion. Somehow I knew that Mr Grieg was not a dog lover and that might just be more of a problem.

Stay with me, folks, and find out how we deal with this alien species.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

We walked on to the Cemetery, which is close to our house and I had a good scamper between the graves. Mistress is always peering at the marble slabs and composing the sort of eulogy that she would like to read in remembrance of herself.

Having just bent down to look at some lines dedicated to the short life of Florence Madden, disaster struck. My right leg went through a patch of ice and for a few moments, I was paralysed .

“Oh my God!” shouted Mistress. “Hello! Is anybody there?”

A hard pelting rain had begun to fall. I was turning into an ice pack.

“Hello,” Mistress called again. She was now on her hands and knees for the second time this afternoon and trying to poke the ice around my leg. There was a snap. Her left arm went straight into the water beneath.

“Yikes!” she cried.

Well there wasn’t anybody there. After a long tussle, Mistress managed to retrieve me and I had to go into my pirouette routine to feel the blood flowing. It was a very close shave, I can tell you.

“Stop it, you foul dog!” Mistress yelled. “You’re making me even wetter.”

I was.

We made our miserable way out of the Cemetery and across the road. The rain was giving me pins and needles. I sniffed my way down the parade of shops as I usually do, but my heart wasn’t in it.

When we got to the front door, with both of us in the most pathetic state, there was a tall man standing in the porch, about to ring the bill. He wore a full length black coat and long black boots. I thought he smelt of musty interiors and light industry. The computer kind.

“Miss Taylor?” the man enquired.

“Yes,” said Mistress.

She pointed to her dripping clothes and at me, her dripping dog.

“Sorry about this, but we had a bit of trouble in the Cemetery and …”

She stopped.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

The man wiped his mouth with a handkerchief. He took a card from his top pocket.

My name is Mr Grieg.” he said. “Are you Julia Taylor?”

“Yes,” said Mistress.

The man had very large hands.

“Miss Taylor” he said, “I am here to talk to you about some inappropriate computer files that you are known to have been using.”

Friday, 30 April 2010

Danger Zones

We had to walk with care this morning. The whole street lay under what looked like the topping of a white cake. Archie had told me to beware of frost and that we were in for bad weather yet again. Mistress had already put on her vest and long johns.

I was raring to go. As soon as we were outside, I was pulling her along, but she kept holding me back. That’s what I call mean. I can run fast and I can jump alongside any small pony. Mistress is a liability at the best of times, being somewhat unsteady on her feet. She was hopeless today. She fell twice and had to be helped up by a man with a terrior. Our leads got entwined and we spun in a dance together.

“Are you alright?” the man asked Mistress.

“I’ll manage, thanks,” she replied, with one of her thin smile.

The terrier had no manners at all. That damn dog barged into me from all sides, but I fended her off.

You shouldn’t be out on the roads,” I hissed.

“Bugger off,” she said.

The terrier edged back into the wall behind us, trying to bait me. I’m a pretty cool pug on the whole. I would just ignore her. It was a pity Mistress couldn’t follow my example. She was too busy putting out a friendly hand towards the terrier.

“What a sweet dog,” Mistress said, cooing at her.

(What an idiot bitch, I thought, meaning the dog, of course).

“A cross between a dachsy and a poodle,” said the man. “Very intelligent.”

“Is that right?” Mistress went on. “Pugs are pretty clever too, you know.”

“Not really my type,” the man remarked, “but I suppose they have a sort of jolie laide.”

“Absolutely,” Mistress agreed. “It’s these flattened-in faces, I guess, though I’m glad to hear they’re putting a stop to over-breeding.”

“Quite right, too,” said the man.

I bared my teeth at him and the bitch.

The terrier was coming up close again and this time, I snapped.

“Temper, temper,” she whispered. “I’m afraid you have a long way to go, Mr Pug.” The bitch lifted her tail and turned her back on me.

Not far into the future, it was going to be pay-back day.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

From Foreign Parts

Mistress receives many e-mails from artists. She’s had images that range from the ‘Still Life’, to raunchy nudes. I can tell how these are being received from my pitch under her desk and I am used to God’s name being taken in vain. Occasionally I hear a giggle, which means she is looking at something rude.

Sometimes, Mistress finds herself in difficult situations that she can’t get out of.

One afternoon, we had a young man who came into the gallery after leaving dozens of messages. Mistress finally relented and made an appointment. On his arrival, he smelt of heavy leather and nicotine.

The man was called Marek and he was hardly inside the door when he laid out several sheets of paper. He liked boats, I could see that. The man had painted boats at sunset, boats against a strike of lightening and a series of canoes diving into bright green waves.

“Right,” said Mistress. She put her hands on her hips as a sign of authority. But it was a dead give-away to me. She had no idea what to say.

I sat on my haunches and put my head to one side to show that I was giving the painter serious consideration.

“Can you help me?”

The man had an accent, but Geography is not my strong point. I think he said he came from Warjaw.

We have artists from everywhere, but Warjaw sounded interesting. I had an inkling that this man had a kind heart. He might be kind to Mistress. So would she take him on, or not?

Follow the trails of paint to find out and catch up with me later!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Family Affairs Part Two

(Scroll down for Part One…)Archie has been known to knock Lesley’s hat box out of the cupboard and put on her latest floral design for Ascot. We both keep warm with her woolly slippers. When Lesley is out of course. Archie has opinions which I listen to. He dislikes Gordon Brown. He barks at the mention of his name, one of his habits which gains instant respect from his owners.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of strife in the household of Lesley and Nathan. Very often Archie is stuck between the two of them and the arguments, which can start with where to go for a vegetarian curry, really get him down.

We talk about these incidents a lot, and one evening when we were invited to the Fullers for dinner last week, I could understand exactly what Archie meant.
There we all were waiting for the meal. Nathan with his can of Stella Artois, lying on his big leather chair: the women sharing a bottle of wine on the sofa: Archie and me curled up in Archie’s basket in the corner.

“I dunno,” said Nathan, twitching his left foot.

(Archie thinks he spends too long in that chair).

“I’ve been with Draycotts for nine years,” Nathan went on, “and I’m being offered a redundancy package that won’t pay for a new lawn mower, let alone Lesley’s hair bills.”

“Ha ha,” replied Lesley.

Nathan put his can of lager down on a ‘pug’ mat.

“You’ll be the first to complain,” he said.

Mistress looked at the two of them. I could tell she was dithering.

“In this current climate,” she announced, “I think you have to be ready to accept a redundancy package of any description. You may find yourself two years down the line with nothing at all.”

Nathan’s face was resembling a worried St Bernard’s.

“I dunno. I dunno,” he said. “Alex got a much better offer for opening an Ipswich branch that’s still losing money. Everybody knows that. And his office is bigger than mine.”

“I’m in a bloody cubicle with Jim and getting resipiratory problems.”

Nathan coughed.

“He’s always getting respiratory problems,” said Lesley to Mistress. “He had them on our first night together.”

Nathan coughed again. He took a long draught of his beer. Archie grunted against my back. Our paws were crossed. It could have been quite a domestic scene.

“I dunno, I dunno” Nathan went on.

He stood up.

“Well ask Archie,” Lesley said. “He’s a damn sight smarter than you are.”

“Thank you very much,” replied Nathan. “I will.”

“What d’you think Archie?” he asked, bending towards us pugs and giving each of us a pat.

He took an imaginary golf swing towards his wife.

“Is she worth it, that’s what I want to know?”

“Worth what?” asked Lesley.

“Worth discussing this important issue with,” said Nathan. “And do I want to be retired at my age and being told continually what to do by wife?”

Archie gave a grunt.

“She may kill him and something’s burning in the kitchen,” he said to me.

The pair of us dogs stood up. We shook ourselves and Archie’s tail wagged like a flag of honour.

“I reckon the firm want you off their premises” Lesley said. “They’ve had enough of your pontificating …”

She got up too.

“Something’s burning in the kitchen,” she announced. “Excuse me for a moment, Julia.”

We had gone before her, a staccato of paws over two sets of wooden floors and past the aga. We put our noses to the window. It was as cold as ice.

“It’s snowing,” said Archie.

White flakes were floating towards us, touching the glass and making star patterns. The sky was dark. The trees were white. They looked like scarecrows with disembodied arms.

“Is this what snow is?” I asked Archie. “Is this really it?”

Archie sat on his haunches.

“This is it, boy,” he said. “The real thing.”

Just as I was getting used to the whiteness and the thrill of it, two large amber eyes peered in at us, unblinking and wild.

I barked. What else does a dog do?

“The fox!” I said to Archie.

“I tell you, It’s the same fox from our garden.”

We climbed on our hind legs and drummed with our front paws against the window.

“Come on dogs,” said Lesley right behind us. “It’s only snow.”

But the eyes were staring in at us and they never moved. Well it was alright for humans. But for us canines, I had a premonition we were in for the Wild West.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Family Affairs

My best mate is called ‘Archie’. He’s almost a replica of me, only bigger. He belongs to Julia’s best friend, Lesley, and her husband, Nathan Fuller. Unlike me, Archie has no claim to an aristocratic lineage, but he is very clever. He knows things that I don’t. He knows things that I will never even think of.

The Nathans are aware that they own a superior dog. Archie sits glued to Mastermind and tends to bark at the right answers. He is also a connoisseur of art. We watch The Culture Show together sometimes and different programmes on what’s selling. Archie could tell Mistress a lot about the tricks of the trade and has suggested that we take one of her abstracts and tread our paw marks in.

“We’d make a fortune,” he says. “Frankly, a lot of the time, your mistress is barking up the wrong tree.”

I look at him.

“Well, go on, then,” smirks Archie. “Let’s have a smile. That’s meant to be a joke.”

My fellow pug has a huge appetite. I’m surprised it hasn’t been his downfall. Only Archie could survive a whole Jane Asher birthday cake (which he ate out of the box), and a batch of Lesley’s HRT pills. They had no effect on him whatsoever.

Archie plays a big part in our story. Listen for the patter of our next post and I will tell you more.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Ancestral Heights – Part 2

(Part Two of Ancestral Heights… scroll down for Part One) There are various artists dropping in, with ambitions to hang in the gallery. We don’t have any room, I want to tell them, and they are the ones who behave the worst. During the first show I attended ‘At Home’, one of those aspiring painters got so drunk, he had to be carried out. Then we had the artist who brought her entire family of twelve members, including the baby, who screamed like a banshee.

Another lady with a Modigliani neck and a black fringe shall remain nameless. Having painted a series of unappealing cabbages, she had them placed in mock Dutch 17th century frames. (Frankly, a poor nod to Surrealism from a pug’s point of view). And the woman was a nasty piece of work. She had an aura that made furniture freeze. But the pictures all sold! The lady then rang the next day at a ridiculous hour, waking both Mistress and myself, to complain about her CV.

People are devious. Take that old couple arriving in a taxi last month. The man wore a hat and carried a walking stick. They had seen our ad in a magazine. They were interested in viewing the gallery.

“We’re only open ‘By Appointment’ said Mistress. (And quite right, too, with the state of the place in the mornings).

“We’ve come a long way,” said the man. “In fact we’ve come from the airport.”

Mistress looked at me. I gave a yawn and buried myself in her legs. It was her problem.

“Alright then,” Mistress said.

Well she made coffee, brought out the biscuits and showed the couple round the two floors.

They admired the paintings, the wonderful sense of colour and the high level of draughtsmanship. An hour later, the woman produced a card with long red talons for nails.

“Would you look at our work, please? We are artists and we have our biographies and our statements, our beliefs in Art as we see it in the 21st Century.”

The woman smelt of scent that was just turning.

“I’ve got artists’ statements from here to Eternity in this house,” Mistress said.

She saw them out finally and tore up their business card.

Just before they left, I peed on the man’s left shoe. He hopped all the way to his waiting taxi.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Ancestral Heights

I was christened ‘Anatolia Teddy’ and I am descended from many illustrious names, including ‘CH Claybridge Revenge’, ‘Georgia Always On My Mind’ and ‘Hattella See Jad’. One of my aunties was ‘Latour Miss Molly’. She was a silver pug and a terrible flirt.

I’m told ‘Latour Miss Molly’ had a way of fluttering her eyes that was most unseemly. She made a beeline for any man and I’m talking about the human variety. Her sister had no chance. She used to sit in her basket looking sulky, but that’s no good when you want to get on in the world. That’s what my mama told me.

"Get out there and wag your tail,” Mama said. “With any luck a nice owner will take you on.”

Mama Pug knew me for what I was. A high jumping pug with ambitions. I’m an instinctive animal and the day I was picked up by Mistress, who had nothing more than a cardboard box to carry me to her car, I knew that her need was greater than mine. It was her friend, Lesley, who ran out and bought my puppy food and it was Lesley who held me all the way to my new home. Well, the moment I walked through the front door, the smells nearly knocked me out. The paint, the dust, the canvases … I couldn’t stop sniffing.

Mistress’s bedroom is full of her own pictures and even one of herself looking a lot younger. She has a huge number of creams on her dressing table. My favourite perfume is her Chanel No. 5.

Outside, I scramble all over the patio. I’ve a penchant for little green apples off the tree and I like the scent of the roses. I should mention here that these smells are vital to me. I can sniff out photo-synthesis, you know. I can also tell the distance of the nearest earthworm.

I have strange premonitions. When a storm is on the horizon, I don’t see the sky. My eyesight is terrible. But I can feel the earth trembling and half an hour before a storm begins, my nostrils quiver like mad.

Mistress walks me like any other dog on various routes through Kilburn. We’ve given up on the park off the high street. I was only four months old when an alsation tried to attack me. Mistress gave a scream and picked me up just in time. She then fell flat on her face in the grass.

“You effing toff..!’ the alsation’s owner snarled. “Don’t you shout at my dog..!”

I wasn’t too bad after the skirmish, but poor Mistress was in a terrible state. She had to have a large brandy when she got home. Then she went to bed. I lay on a cushion next to her.

“You look like a Belgian chocolate, that’s the trouble,” she said. “You’re the right kind of after-dinner treat for many dogs. What are we going to do?”

With that comment, we both fell fast asleep.

And that is not the end of the story. Give a 'whoof' for the next instalment.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Blue Hands

Now where was I? (Scroll down for how we started). Let's look at her art consignment this evening. A load of oils brought in by a tall guy with a beard. He whisks my mistress in his arms and she starts to giggle. There’s a lot of drinking in this house, so it is no surprise when a few minutes later, the wine comes out. Then the beer. I lie beside the kitchen table in the hope of a few crisps and after the two of them have had a couple of glasses, sure enough the crisps begin to fall.

I crackle away. I know this painter of old. His pictures stink. Mistress says that if he waited for them to dry off, he’d never get to town. And the colours! So bright, they make my eyes water.

As it is, we’re snowed in. Mistress puts me out and I gallop through an icy river round our little garden. In front of me, I catch sight of the yellow eyes of a fox and her cub, who are curled up with an old sack on the patio. One thing I’m known for is my loud bark and I don’t waste time barking now. They could be hungry for a dog.

Mistress opens the back door.

“Shut up,” she hisses.

I could trip her up if I wanted, because she’s very unsteady. She spills some of her wine, a bad habit of hers, and I have a quick lick. Pinot Grigio. Not bad at all.

The guy with the beard gets a towel and begins to dry me. Let me tell you now, we are not going to bond. I can smell the linseed oil on him.

It’s a long night. The romance moves into the drawing room. They talk about his artistic aspirations, her Debt, the new controversy over who cut off Van Gogh’s ear, etc. I go back into the kitchen for any remaining spillage.

Little do they know. The fox and her cub have crept up to the back door window. Their eyes are like amber traffic lights and they keep blinking. I am very unhappy. When I return to the drawing room to get my Mistress’s attention, I find her slumped over the painter on the sofa. This is a bad situation becoming worse. There is no room for me.

I spend the night outside the main bedroom. This is when I wish my hearing wasn’t so acute. My mistress pants more than me sometimes on a hot day. But I do manage to sleep. The next morning, I wake early and shake myself crazy. This is her sign to come and say hello. She doesn’t. I give a woof out of sheer desperation. An hour later, my mistress staggers out and nearly falls over my basket.

The first thing I notice is her blue hands.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Welcome to my World

Everyone thinks I’m just a fawn coloured pug called Tommy and that I live with my mistress in a semi-detached house off Kilburn High Road. They think I behave like the majority of dogs around here, which is to sniff out trash of any kind and to mix as closely as possible with other mammals.

Well I reckon I’m not just a dog, but a pedigree with a difference. I have my own mind and a wealth of knowledge that stems from centuries ago. Who could have guessed that I belong to a breed existing in China since the time of Confucius? We had some status then. In fact, we were celebrated in grand fashion by Emperor Ling To in 190 AD. He was a wise ruler. He gave the bitches the same rank as his wife’s.

Not that I’m married of course, though I am tied to my Mistress. This is a mixed blessing however you look at it. She runs an art gallery and lives in the shop, as it were. We both do. The two of us are surrounded by pictures and I couldn’t count how many there are on the walls.

Occasionally, there is a sale, but I have to say more paintings come in than go out. Sometimes a whole lot of them arrive together and fill up the passage. My only compensation on these occasions is to go for the bubble wrap. It’s amazing how long this stuff takes to chew. Last night I got through the wrap and began on a canvas, nibbling away for at least an hour. I had a slap from my mistress for that. She can’t stand it when I’m belittling her Art, though what she sees in most of it, I really couldn’t say.

(Come back for more soon… in the meantime, throw me a bone by clicking HERE