6 Jul 2013

Doggy Heaven

One year on – in loving memory of our noble Nev
Dedicated to Michael, the boy-child in this story &nbsp: From the moment she held out a handful of Schmackos and fondled my velvety-ears, I knew she was the one for me. With lashings of loving licks I mopped up her open palm - being her guide dog was going to be a real treat. We’re not all yapping Jack Russells, you know. Guess someone’s got to adore them, just not me. I’ve got a blind lady-love now and her boy-child to protect and obey, for better or for worse...


 I prance over to her bed and paw at the pillow. Come on, love…I know it’s still dark outside but I’m busting to go quick-quick.  “Nev. It’s too early,” she growls and rolls over to face the wall.  leaning closer to her button-nose, I pant a few beefy-breaths. Get up, p-l-e-a-s-e. My tail thumps wildly at the wall by her head, rapid beats bounce with a constant nagging.

“Stop licking my face. That’s gross.”
Hmm. You didn’t say that last night by the TV.

 I don’t mean to intrude in your personal space, but...

 “Get down!”
She pushes me off her bed muttering,
 “should buy you a kennel, naughty dog.”

Angry feet plonk down hard on to the shabby-chic rug. I bolt past her pink slipper…aahhh. 

 I’m coming straight back.


She moves with her hand gliding along the wall and goes to wake the boy-child. Yep, I’d complain too, buddy. Who wants to go to school in this disgusting weather? I’m going back to my dreams of sausage sizzles and barbecues in the park…hey kid, stop making so much noise. Then he comes into my room and pulls at my collar, inching me off my warm blanket as if I’m one of his toy cars. I play dead. He tugs harder. Jeez, kid, strong little thing, aren’t you?  “Darling?” she calls. The boy-child hesitates and glares at me. It’s not my fault you have to go to school. Some of us smarter breeds graduated when we were fifteen months old. How old are you, kid? Six? What a joke. He wanders off but I don’t trust that menacing twinkle in his eye.

9.15 am:

“Walkies, Nev?” The boy-child stands gleefully by the door rattling my leash, Little brat! I knew it. I spring off my bed and run around his scrawny legs while he tries to attach the leather leash to my collar. He fumbles with clumsy fingers unable to attach the clip. Hey kid, this is not rocket science – what do they teach you at school? I run around in wider circles. Hurry up. Don’t yell at me, buddy. You really think I’m going to sit down when nature is calling? JUST OPEN THE DOOR…

The ground is icy cold, freezing my paws. Can we make this a quick trip? I don’t mind taking you, love, but hey, where did it say in our contract, walk little Lord Fauntleroy to school in the rain? All the boy-child can do is fight with the sleeves of his raincoat and whine,

“Mum, I can’t find the handles.” She buttons up his coat with a patient laugh and turns to put on my harness. “OK. Now where are your handles, Nev?”   Every time the leather contraption slips over my head, something strange happens to me. I can’t explain it. My body stiffens as she straps me into position, my brain wired to her voice. Canine instincts suppressed by my role as her pilot on yet another mission.  

9.15 am:

OK, kid. Here’s your school. Goodbye. Love you too. Stop squeezing me so hard. “Let’s go.” Her fingers lace together the leash and harness and she gives a gentle tug. The girth strap pinches tight on my belly, and now I’m regretting having that doughnut the boy-child gave me yesterday from his lunch box. It’s his fault I’m putting on weight.

 “Good boy. Straight on.” She commands. Hesitating by our front gate, I pull gently left to indicate the way inside.

 Here we are, home-dry-home.
  “No,no. Straight on. Find the way.”

 This better be worth it. I guide her down the street, mind leap-frogging as we go, choosing the direction of the butchers. A meaty lamb shank wouldn’t go astray on a rainy day.

We traipse around in the rain, getting totally soaked as I knew we would. Why don’t we just get a taxi?

 I flick a quick glance upwards but she keeps striding onwards. “Good boy, find left.” Yes, sweetheart. I really know my left paw from my right which is more than the boy-child can say. We smarten the pace, footsteps and paws fox-trotting merrily together. 


“Find the door.” I skip leading the way into the shop. Blobs of dribble foam at the edges of my gums as I press my nose against the glass pane of the meat counter.

“Sit down.” Herhand firmly prods my rump. She’s got to be kidding? That’s like asking the kid not to unwrap his lollipop! It’s easy for humans to ignore raw meat – they haven’t got sixty million olfactory cells jumping like hot Mexican-beans in their puny snouts. It’s impossible to concentrate.

I lie flat on my belly, inching closer to a sliver of meat I am sure is just…over…here…
 “No food!” he yanks at my leash. Shucks. Missed that one.
 “That’s all today.” She smiles at Mr Meat. Sure?

What about my bones, darling? "Nev. Stop sniffing the bag.” I’ll ignore that daft comment.

Section C subsection 17 in the Guide Dog Manual

says I am allowed to turn a deaf ear to inappropriate commands. Mr Meat holds the door, smiling. As we pass by, I can’t help it:  my tongue leaps out of my mouth to clean up the spots of dried chilli sauce on his vinyl apron – don’t mention it, chum.

 Waiting by the kerb, her father pulls up in his ‘taxi’. I lead her towards the front door and jump in.
“Nev. Where are your manners? Out!” OK-OK. Keep your fur on, princess.
Settled now? I squeeze into the ridiculously small space by her feet. If only her daddio could have got something bigger than this Japanese pram, it would have made my life easier. I smell minties?

 “No food,” her father yaps. Will you guys stop saying that! Don’t you realise it hurts my feelings? I’m a Labrador for goodness sake – we LIVE for food.

Sometimes I hear them whisper, don’t say the f-word in front of Nev. Ha – as if I can’t spell.

Her father drops us off at the gate. She unclips all my pilot gear.

Now where’s that bone, sweetheart ? I sit firmly on her foot to remind her I am waiting. Pleeease?

 She takes the bone from the white plastic bag and smiles, “Well done, Nevie.”
Grabbing the bone from my bowl, I dart away to chew in peace.
 If anyone rings from the Guide Dog Centre tell them I’m busy, OK?“

Every day...we remember you and miss your loving presence, our dear Nevvie.

26-9-98   10-7-2012


Amy Bovaird said...

I LOVED this story told from Nevie's POV. You really captured his personality. Thank you for posting this story along with the photos. Beautiful! I feel for your loss!

Becky said...

Beautiful. I too can feel and relate to your loss. They are in our hearts forever. Much love

maribel steel said...

thanks Amy and Becky, your kind words are much appreciated, Nev was a real lad and still makes his presence felt around us at times - especially when we are cooking steaks! It's really nice for me to know you are out there reading my work - thanks! Maribel