Part 2. More dignity than life. But not much of that either.
As part of the Money and Dignity issue, Robert, the most stylish dog on the planet recalls more of his first meeting with the couple, Steve and Danny, who were to become his life. Yes, gay couples often have a dog in their lives. Yes, dogs have a concept of dignity too! And, yes, remarkably, this one can write!
Excerpt from “Robert. My life. By me.” Scheduled for publication 01.10.2013.
Part 2 of 3: About a pond. (Parts 1 and 3 in Related Stories)
“Welcome to your new home, Robert. Hope you like the view. It’s the Thames,” said Steve.
“Do you plan to chat to your pet, man to boy, on a continuous basis or is this just a temporary settling him in phase?” enquired Danny.
“Oh, don’t be such a pain. We’ll want him to understand our commands. So it can’t do any harm to engage him in our conversation, can it?”
Naturally, I was in complete agreement with Steve, even though he, of course, had no idea that I already understood his every word.
“Come on Robert, let’s show you the terrace. That’s going to play a big role in your life!”
I followed Steve down the longer leg of the vast L-shaped room, past the sitting area set in the bay window suspended directly over the river, around a table and ten chairs, presumably for dining, then up a step through double doors and into the great outdoors. Now this was yet another surprise. Before me, but high above the street we had left below, stretched a real garden. Well, it was real in the sense that there were trees around the perimeter, tubs containing a mixture of shrubs and conifers and other plants that looked like they had flowered months ago and faced a long wait before their next moment of glory. Where it failed in its pursuit of authenticity was the lack of grass.
The surface was stone, apart from a raised area of decking in the corner closest to the river, serving as the platform for a table and four armchairs. In the centre of the terrace, behind a statue of a naked man holding a bunch of grapes, a formation of low tubs surrounded a rectangular area in which tall fronds swayed in the breeze.
“Come and have a look at the pond, Robert,” Steve suggested. I padded over, put my front paws on the ledge of a tub and peered into the water.
“You won’t see the fish now. They are hibernating. But they’ll be around to amuse you in the spring.”
I had no idea what hibernating meant, and I had never seen a fish in my life. So not seeing one now did not seem a big deal. But the pond was an area of great interest; sharp smells drifting across the surface, the water rippling, and sparkling; diamonds of light bouncing across the surface. I leant forward and pushed up with my rear legs. Suddenly my front legs slid on the damp edge of the planter, I tumbled forwards and, with a resounding splash, fell into the cold, green water. I panicked. I had never been submerged in water in my life. The roots of the water plants wrapped themselves around my thrashing legs. I swallowed mouthfuls of the foul-tasting liquid and scrambled desperately to climb out. But the walls of the pond were slimy and slippery. I splashed back in again.
All at once I felt strong hands grab me and lift me from the water. Steve deposited me back on the ground. He was laughing.
“Silly boy. That will teach you! Curiosity is supposed to kill the cat, not drown the dog! Stay put and I’ll sort you out.”
I felt so humiliated, making a fool of myself in just the first hour with my new master. The acrid green smell clung to my fur. A strand of pondweed dangled before my eyes. I shook it off and stood alone on the terrace feeling very sorry for myself. Things were about to get worse. Steve reappeared with a towel, but reached instead for the hose hanging on the wall. With a gush, a jet of freezing water sprayed across my back, washed over my chest and, as Steve held me up by my front legs, splashed my underside. Steve turned off the water and stored the hose. I was shivering so hard I thought I might fall over.
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