Over the stable door: Double trouble of dog tales

Pingu and Baffle keep Jo Foster busy whenever they are together. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Pingu and Baffle keep Jo Foster busy whenever they are together. Picture by Tony Johnson.
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Pingu the Jack Russell has come to stay with us whilst my parents are away on holiday. Whenever the little bitch comes to visit Baffle (my Patterdale) gets incredibly excited. She loves to lead Pingu astray, which doesn’t take much. Once the kitchen door opens they are both through it and away.

I call after them. Pingu, the most likely to listen, stands unsure in the garden for a moment weighing up her options. A little ahead, Baffle has stopped disappointed, she knows it’s no fun on her own. Her black face stares for a fleeting second at the Jack Russell then sniffs the air as if hinting at the fun and freedom awaiting them. That’s all it takes. The two tear off – a black dot scurrying across the fields followed by a skewbald figure trotting cautiously behind. Neither will be seen for hours. By nightfall they will eventually return, exhausted, happy and covered in fox poo.

That’s why it is easier when they live apart. Individually they are a pleasure. Eighteen months ago, Pingu went to stay at my parents when their old terrier died and has just remained there. My parents love having a dog around, more than they care to admit and, rather like grandchildren, dogs always get spoiled.

Yesterday my son Felix was eating his dinner when there was a knock at the door. He ran to answer it and while he was gone I turned to clear his plate away, which looked amazingly clean for a change, and continued washing up. When Felix returned he sat at the table and asked for his dinner.

“You’d finished it Felix,” I replied.

“No,” he said. “I still had my potatoes and half my steak pie left.”

We stared at each other and then down at the porky Jack Russell trying to look innocent under the table. She wouldn’t meet our gaze. “The greedy little…” I began. “I forgot we had a master thief staying.”

Whilst no one was watching Pingu had devoured the dinner in a second.

One day when Baffle’s chipolata tail was waving faster than a plastic windmill in a gale I made a bet with my son she could beat Pingu in the Waggiest Tail Class at Askwith Show. As Pingu has won the coveted title twice already it was a bold suggestion on my part to which Felix readily agreed.

Last Saturday was show day. I even had bacon chunks in my pocket to ensure added chipolata speed. Felix needed no help and Pingu didn’t let him down, maintaining a constant wag throughout the class to retain her title among 12 competing canines. My son waved his red rosette in my face as I tied the blue second place to Baffle’s collar. “Haha! We won the bet,” he chanted, giving his dinner-thieving dog a big pat and her first prize bone to chew on.