It’s a Dog’s Life!

The Mistress says the above expression’s a cliché. I disagree. It’s a title, doing what a title is meant to do!

I’m Scotland’s most southerly Guide Dog, one of only two in Wigtownshire. In fact, my predecessor, Hovis, was the first in Newton Stewart. However, there are another four dogs who are regular visitors to the town. I wonder what they think of the place? Its steep streets with their narrow pavements, Never mind all the wee lanes which don’t have any pavements at all. Once, the Mistress and one of her friends took a man called Mr. Ferguson all through the town centre, explaining how hard I have to work when we’re out. He was extremely interested and now, I often hear him on the news. He works in Edinburgh, in a building called that Awfie Monstrosity where he has to make sure the politicians behave themselves. I suppose he must sit Alex, Annabel and the rest of them down, tap them on the nose and say, “No!” in a firm voice. That’s what the Mistress did to me yesterday because I’d snaffled a snack off the pavement. Very embarrassing when she does that, so I make sure she doesn’t have to do it very often.

But back to my surroundings. I live a fair hike up an extremely steep hill; when it’s frosty, the Mistress and I travel down into the main town by taxi. She says she has no wish to land on her bahoochie. One of her favourite words that. I think it means something rude. For a dog like me, raised in Aberdeenshire, the way folk talk down here can be most confusing. The mistress often tells me I must be fair forfauchen, usually if we’ve had a day in Carlisle, and she’s always complaining about the weather being dreich smirr. And now Christmas is over, she’ll soon be having a red oot of cupboards. Silly woman! She was doing that when she broke her arm.

Behind our house there’s the most fascinating lane, all grass and bushes and then the Town Wood. On clear, frosty mornings, I love a dauner in there, sniffing along the fox trails. And not just foxes, squirrels. Red ones which scamper along the path before disappearing up into the trees. I tell the Mistress where they’ve gone by pointing my nose in the right direction. I was introduced to hedgehogs up there, one evening during my first summer here. The cats told me to sniff a small creature which had snuffled out of the nettles and onto the path. Big mistake! It was very jaggy and I have a sensitive nose. That’s cats for you! An extremely odd sense of humour!

Two cats share this house with me. Gus, who insists he’s the Heid Bummer and Captain of the Mouse Patrol, and the Wee Sphinx, who’s always reminding me she’s descended from Ancient Egyptian royalty, somebody she calls Queen Cleocatra. I’m not sure what exactly is their line of work; they say it’s defence of house and garden against mice, toads and other potentially ferocious beasties. That’s why they’re allowed to lie on the furniture, sleep under duvets and have their own entrance. When I first came to live here, they were constantly scooting through this and I’d shove my snout down the tiny corridor lest into the wall. Only to see them vanish through a toty, wee, flapping door! I’m certain they did this mainly to annoy me. Soon, however, they realised I did the same job as Hovis had done and we all settled into our routine. Both of them often give me a dunt with their nose whenever they return from an expedition.

Of course, I have doggy pals too. There’s Frisbee, skinny with a tail like a whip. She’s the only dog I know who can run faster than me and, if I’m in her way, she just leaps right over me! None of my other pals are as fast, certainly not wee deaf Dougal who has an arthritic leg. Hardly any of them has a job, although Frisbee used to be a professional athlete. She’s a rescued greyhound. All the others are canines of leisure, even the Labradors. Except for Clyde, at the bottom of our street, who’s a Gun Dog. His Master takes him out in the jeep, shoots at pheasants, then Clyde has to find them. What a cafuffle! When the Mistress wants any pheasants, I walk her down town and find the fish van for her.

I’ve a really busy week lined up. Out every evening; meetings, then the pictures on Thursday. All that on top of the normal stuff. We’re off to the Post Office later. Don’t understand why, we were there yesterday. And the Mistress says we’re starting swimming again so that’ll snooker my Saturday free run; I’ll have to make do with the Sunday one. Now I’ve got the measure of this computer, I think I’ll send an e-mail to David Blunkett. Now, what’s his dog called?

This is a picture of Major, my Guide Dog, who wrote this for a recent edition of the magazine of the Scottish Association of Guide Dog Owners!

Major, my guide dog

© Charlotte Bennie 2009