August [1996]

Devout hypochondriac that I am, I took my indigestion to the doctor last week, so that he could furnish the medication necessary for my continued excesses at the table. Instead he is sending me for something called a ghastlyscope or gastrocope or something. Regular sufferers of this column will recall how much we all laughed at Des Manton's medical adventures last year, but I know that Des is too much of a gentleman to reciprocate, and will treat my condition with the tact and respect it merits. They may also recall my mentioning that I was once inspected, to my intense surprise, from the other end. "They look at me from both sides now".....wasn't that a song title when you and I were young?

Anyhow, as the great day draws nearer, and I lapse further into gibbering terror, here comes Madame Editor, demanding funny with menaces, so to speak. The compassionate among you will understand any shortcomings in the humor department. The rest of you can bugger off.

And anyhow as well, there is nothing funny about dognosticism. We are the unsung heroes of Dogdom, the uncomplaining (well.....) footsoldiers who live out our lives in a martyrdom of heats, poopscoops, Dettol, vetbeds and the ever-present danger of stepping in something evil and sticky in the dark hours of the night.

I don't know what it's like in your house (and frankly I don't care), but ours is infested with two breeds - Papillons (small lap-dogs), and Tervuerens (sort of E-Type German Shepherds). We have three of the latter and countless millions of the former. As the Papillons are lap-dogs and the Terves are big hairy outdoor types, it follows, with the deadly logic of dog-freaks, that the Terves live in the house and the Paps outside in the runs. And at night, the Paps sleep in a tower-block of cages in the outhouse, and the Terves sleep in the house. In the bedroom, actually.

The phrase "Nights of Scented Passion" has, therefore, a special meaning in our bedroom, as I flail about in a malodorous snarl of dogs and duvets, clearing the bed of the great hairy bitches who sneak onto it when I go to sleep, while taking care not to wake the slumbering Dragon beside me.

It's affection, she insists brightly, as I grumble over the morning coffee. And they're good guard dogs.

They are indeed. We are the only house in our road not have been robbed in recent years. They keep the robbers away. They also keep everybody else away, due to Topsy's new habit of welcoming visitors with a joyous bark and a brisk nip on the buttock. This, creatively described by the Fat Controller as Snagging Her Tooth In Your Leg, is merely an expression of good-humored excitement on Topsy's part, but has engendered a good deal of thoughtful comment on the part of our guests.

So that's the story. In a few weeks I shall be travelling to Strylia on special assignment, commissioned by Madame Editor at your expense, to investigate Dognosticism among our separated brethren in the Antipodes. If the shaaks and the krebs and the spoydes and the snikes don't get me, I'll tell you all about it next time.