Bandit is in love.
Having relentlessly pursued Stuttering Bernard’s pretty Cocker Spaniel bitch, Cassie, for almost a year (and impregnated her after a brief liason in the Church yard – the pious old dears who were hurrying up the path to Evensong had to avert their eyes and circumnavigate the rampant pair who were fornicating with lusty abandon in the middle of the footpath), he has recently transferred his affections to a rescued mongrel bitch of dubious origins, who recently moved into The Old Rectory with Lord and Lady Fairfax-Rawlings.
Bandit and I rode past Cassie’s house yesterday; she has evidently taken a very dim view of the fact that he hasn’t visited for over a fortnight, as she refused to let him sniff her bottom, rebuffing his advances with a furious growl and an impressive display of teeth. Bandit rammed his tale between his legs and slunk back out onto the lane on his belly, looking hurt. I reminded him that hell hath no fury than a woman scorned, and that he had bought it on himself, shirking his responsibilities as a Father, and playing fast and loose with every bitch within a five mile radius. He mooched along at the horses feet, looking glum, until a pheasant shot out in front of him, whereupon all thoughts of rejection vanished in an instant, as he took off after it, barking joyously. Perfidious little beast.
His track record is impressive by any standards. His numerous conquests encompass a diverse selection of breeds and sizes, both pedigrees and commoners. He seems to have a particular predilection for exotic breeds, even managing to squire a blue blooded miniature Yorkshire Terrier named Gloria, whose lady owner, Marjorie, had come to enjoy a few days rest and relaxation at our Bed and Breakfast, having just won Best Of Breed at Crufts. They arrived on a cold and rainy afternoon, basking in the warm glow of success, and after a brief walk in the field to allow Gloria to relieve herself after the long journey, the dog was wrapped in a baby pink cashmere blanket and placed lovingly in her Custom made sheepskin and leather dog bed on the back seat of the car.
“She needs to rest. She’s had an exhausting few weeks haven’t you my darling. I’ll leave the window half down so you’ve got plenty of air.” Simpered Marjorie, closing the car door.
Gloria stared up at us, eyes baleful beneath the exquisitely tied pink satin ribbon that adorned her top knot. She gave a resigned sigh and went to sleep. Marjorie placed the base unit of the baby monitor, I kid you not, on the front seat of the car, clipped the portable on to her belt, and followed me inside for afternoon tea and cake.
Twenty minutes later I was sitting on the sofa trying not to let my eyes glaze over as she breathlessly extolled the virtues of her cherished pooch.
“She’s my best friend. She’s been my saviour since Alfred passed away.” She said tremulously, her eyes brimming with tears. I nodded sympathetically and topped up her tea.
“ We eat together at the table, she has her own place setting! …blah blah blah….her pedigree is outstanding, I mean - she’s practically Royalty! Blah blah blah…I’ve been inundated with people offering their stud dogs, but I’ve turned them all down. Don’t get me wrong, we’re talking about the finest pedigrees in the country, if not the world! It’s just that I don’t feel she’s ready for pups yet. She’s got the world at her paws!” she tinkled with laughter at her own joke.
I chuckled obediently.
Marjorie was regaling me with an anecdote about Gloria’s first show, when we heard a noise on the monitor. A strange scraping sound, followed by an excited whimper and a low growl. Then a brief scuffle, and the sound of claws scrabbling against leather. Another whimper, a triumphant grunt, and a steady rhythmic “grr grr grr grr”.
Marjorie leapt up as though she had been electrocuted.
“Gloria!” she screamed in anguish, dropping her tea on the floor and waddling to the window as fast as her fat legs would carry her. I rushed after her. Bandit stared back at us through the back window of the car, a Machiavellian grin on his lugubrious face as he pumped away as though his life depended on it. Gloria’s pointy little face peered out from beneath his shaggy chest hair, her eyes bulging slightly from his pounding weight. Her pink tongue had slipped sideways and was dangling deliriously from her mouth in a paroxysm of erotic pleasure.
“OH NO!!! GLORIA!” sobbed Marjorie, as she rushed to her rescue.
The coupling necessitated a fraught trip to the vet , who promptly administered the canine equivalent of the morning after pill and kindly assured a snivelling Marjorie that no harm had been done, and that “these things happen”.
Marjorie thought otherwise. She checked out immediately and launched a vociferous complaint with the Tourist Board, urging them to warn other potential guests about our “Wild, over-sexed Spaniel.”
Bandit’s other noteable conquests include Mabel, (the Vicar’s Pug), Lulu, (our next door neighbour’s Bichon Frise), Trixy, (the Jack Russell belonging to the elderly lady who delivers the Parish Mag,) and Dido, my Mother- In- Law’s brown Labrador, with whom he enjoyed an illicit encounter in the fruit cage last summer.
Mother In Law stumbled across them whilst picking redcurrants one morning. Her cries of horror and frantic attempts to pull them off each other were in vain - they were already “knotted together” by that stage. We had no choice but to wait until they had separated. For 20 minutes we watched them beadily through the foliage of strawberry plants as they stood bottom to bottom, panting. Finally, Bandit swaggered off without so much as a backward glance at Dido, who was swiftly bundled into the car looking rather ashamed. There ensued yet another mad dash to the Vet, who promptly administered the Canine equivalent of the morning after pill and a stern lecture about safe sex
However, I digress. I began by telling you about Bandit’s new love interest…..
I first met her one Sunday whilst I was cooking Lunch. I had just taken the lamb out of the oven and was starting to make the gravy when I heard a scuffle in the bushes outside the back door. Two bantams shot out of the hedge squawking in dismay and flapped off around the side of the house. I crept forward and peered into the undergrowth, when out popped the head of what was arguably the ugliest dog I have ever seen.
Rheumy eyes peered out of a battle scarred face and one torn ear stuck out at right angles. Broken yellow teeth protruded from the under shot jaw in all directions like old grave stones. A wide flat nose gave it the appearance of the ugly bull dog in the Tom & Jerry cartoon. It looked as though it had been whacked in the face with a cast iron frying pan. It’s overall appearance was one of astonishing deformity – it’s nostrils were virtually aligned to the rest of its face, which prevented it from breathing without an accompanying virtuoso of grunts and snuffles.
The dog gazed up at me, apparently unabashed by my expression of unflattering disbelief; the peppering of grey around the mis shapen muzzle suggested old age. It was probably immune to peoples negative responses to its physical appearance, I thought, as it wriggled free of the bush and hopped towards me.
It was then I noticed for the first time that it only had three legs.
Overcome with pity, I bent down to stroke it. Two fangs of slimy drool dribbled to the floor as it licked my hand and I reeled at the fetid stench of its breath. Poor thing I thought to myself, and went off to find a dog biscuit. My sympathy dissipated quicker than a fart in a hurricane, when I returned to the kitchen to find it pushing out an improbably enormous turd on my newly polished oak floorboards. I stopped short and stared in disbelief. The dog looked me straight in the eye with a dead pan expression as it thrust slowly, puffing its cheeks with the effort of divesting itself of the last drips of poo.
The smell hit me and I fought the urge to retch. I have a famously weak stomach. I cannot even wipe away a cat’s eye bogey without urging, so this steaming matterhorn of smelly faeces was a grim predicament to be faced with. A noxious mixture of rotting meat and putrefying badger. The dog sighed, turned and wandered casually back out into the garden while I put my hand over my mouth and whimpered.
Lily wandered in trailing Peppa Pig.
“Poo!” she said brightly, pointing at the stinking mound.
I nodded, unable to speak.
“Poo!” she said again, and started to scream with laughter.
There was a sudden commotion outside, and the cat shot in with its fur standing on end wearing an expression of abject terror, closely pursued by the dog who was clearly out for blood. The cat made a mad leap for the safety of the kitchen island but misjudged the distance and dangled for a moment scrabbling wildly whilst its assailant closed in.
Realising that death was imminent, the cat dropped to the floor and made a dash for the open kitchen window. It made good its escape this time, disappearing with a yowl into the flower bed. The dog made a final lunge as it leapt to safety, knocking into Lily. She teetered precariously for a second, before sitting down with a resounding splat in the pile of shit. She stopped laughing immediately and gazed up at me while her face registered shock, horror and disgust before bursting into tears.
The animal sauntered out, stopping briefly to squat in front of the AGA. After a concerted effort, it managed to produce a small puddle of pee.
I picked Lily up and rushed towards the door with her, holding her at arms length whilst dollops of dog poo dropped from her broderie anglaise dress on to the floor. The smell was indescribable. I was still bending over the flower border when the In-laws appeared round the corner in their Sunday best, holding wine and flowers. Their greetings were drowned out by Lily’s lusty bellows of rage, and my helpless retching precluded any pleasantries on my behalf.
I attempted to smile and nod. Mother In Law stopped in her tracks as she caught sight of Lily’s poo smeared lower half.
“Is that dog mess?” she cried , clutching her pearls in horror.
I nodded, choking, and gestured to the dog which was trotting down the drive way looking pleased with itself.
“Oh! That's Lord and Lady Fairfax-Rawlings' new dog. They got it from Battersea. It’s called Bonny.”
Bonny. I shook my head. What an incredible misnomer.
It transpired that Bonny had paid several visits to other houses in the village, although had not defecated in any of them. She had, however, killed a pair of Indian Runner Ducks at Church Cottage, and stolen a string of pork sausages and 4 lamb burgers intended for the Major’s Post Bridge night Barbecue. Evidently the spicy Piri Piri Marinade was not to her taste. She went home and promptly regurgitated the pilfered items with great gusto, onto Lord and Lady F-R's treasured Chesterfield sofa.
“Pete doesn’t like the dog very much. He says it’s not what he expected.” Said Jill as she helped Lily out of her turd covered frock.
“Really? Gosh.” I replied wiping my eyes.
The phone rang. It was Lady Fairfax-Rawlings, sounding anxious.
“Have you seen our dog? She went missing about twenty minutes ago. We're frightfully worried!”
“Don’t panic! She just popped over to take a dump in our kitchen! She’s on her way back now. Little Tyke!”
“Ah yes, I’ve just seen her in the garden. I think she’s en route to you now.” I replied.
“Oh, thank Goodness! She didn’t make a nuisance of herself did she?”
“Not at all.” I said, with a hollow laugh, as I sloshed bleach into a mop bucket of boiling water.
The next time she appeared in the garden, Bandit was sunning himself on the lawn. I thought he’d take one look and run for the hills, so I was astonished when he fell instantly, and irrevocably in love with her. He was virtually cross eyed with lust as he fussed round her, licking her ears and sniffing the greasy tufts of fur around her bottom. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I thought, as he tried to mount her. The sight produced cognitive dissonance. It was like watching a hunky young buck trying to seduce a female Jeremy Kyle contestant.
He has pursued her relentlessly ever since, bolting down the lane to gaze through the French windows at her, his longing handsome face framed by wisteria, like the front cover of a Barbara Cartland novel.
Thus far, his efforts have been in vain. Bonny remains unmoved by his rapt attentions. Her disinterest seems only to have fuelled his desire to have her. He spends hours skulking round the borders of The Rectory, jumping up at the windows to catch a glimpse of her pugnacious, snaggle toothed face.
When at home, he lies in his bed, sighing and trembling, or he howls as though his heart is about to break.
It would appear that he has met his match in Bonny.
Watch this space….