An interesting thing”, says the teacher “man is the only animal who stutters. Yes, Johnny?”. “That’s not true, Miss. Yesterday I was playing with my cat when next door’s Rottweiler came round the corner, and the cat went ‘Fffff! Fffff!’ But before she could say ‘fuck’ the Rottweiler ate her”.

Hello, fellow dognostics, and welcome once again to our little corner of sanity. The Dragon Lady is away judging in Cork and has left me in charge of the poop factory here. A glass of wine to my right, a plastic aeroplane to my left, Bonnie Raitt on the stereo, what more could a man ask? Answer – someone else to man the poop scoop, I’m sick of it. Here I am, sixty-three years old, chasing little rolly ones out of corners, scraping runny ones, winkling sticky ones out of the pebbles. Is this what I died for? Later on I will get to replenish the food bowls with expensive brown granules which will be passed through several live dogs to provide another batch tomorrow. What a load of shit!

Although I must admit the Dragon’s habit of taking me with her on foreign gigs provides some unique experiences – last April, for example, on the way to judge in La Roche sur Yonne, she drove me around a Parisian roundabout at rush hour THE WRONG WAY! From my position on the floor, where I was taking cover, I could see her giggling hysterically and flapping her hands prettily and saying “Go away, go away” to the opposing drivers. What they were saying back is perhaps better imagined than translated.

It was the very next day that we had apricot jam on our rolls for breakfast. We always do, but this time, instead of the little glass jars we’re used to, we got our jam in a floppy plastic tube. You tear the end off this and then sort of excrete the contents on to your roll. Sadly, this morning, I failed to notice that my roll was too short for the jam, and that the surplus was decorating my crotch. The other diners noticed, though, as we left the restaurant, but it wasn’t till we were back on the motorway that I looked down and realised what they had been tut-tutting about.

All across the front of my trousers was a glistening patch of yellow icky goo. I panicked. A bottle of chilled Perrier emptied on the area only increased the misery, and, as we were only away for a few days, I had only the one pair of pants. Calm down, she said, I can fix it , with which she turned into a lay-by and ordered me from the car. Thus it was that assorted HGV drivers were entertained by the sight, at ten in the morning, of an elderly gentleman having the front of his trousers mopped by a kneeling woman with a Kleenex. And the result? The yellow sticky stain was now tastefully garnished with a cloud of white tissue dust. It was a grim and silent drive to the nearest hypermarket where, clutching a sweater to my midriff, I bought a clean pair of jeans.

It was her first judging appointment in France, and I have to say it was almost enjoyable.

Firstly, they judge according to a timetable, so people know when to come, and leave with their dogs when they’ve finished. This provides at any given time the joyous spectacle of a dog show with hardly any dogs at it. Secondly, at random intervals, there was a fanfare of hunting horns from a group of traditionally dressed musicians. I have never actually heard eight elephants farting in harmony, but I think I know now what it sounds like. Thirdly, of course, the food. Nuff said.

One of the few things I like about the dog thing is the way it encourages communication between people in different countries. The internet helps too.

The following is an email received from France.

Hello!! it is very nice with you to have answered! If you want to send to me the photographs of Dago Red and Claire the Loon I want well; They will be used for the genealogical abre of a friend; Damage I live far from the Rock on Yon, if not I would be to come to say small to you hello; But, I do not speak English; :-[ there, I am useful myself of a translator!! :-P it is well new technology!! ;-) Good day And can be with one of these days!! :-) In a friendly way

Here’s to international understanding.

I can’t leave you, given the season that’s in it, without sharing a World Cup joke with you.

Brazil are slated to play England, and the players aren’t happy.

“Waste of time”, they say “we’ll slaughter them.

Doesn’t take eleven of us to beat England”.

Eventually it’s agreed, ten of them will go to the pub and Ronaldinho will play the match. At half time, one of the drinkers checks the TV.

Sure enough:

“Brazil 1,(Ronaldinho, 10) England 0 ”.

Full time.

They check again.

“Brazil 1 ( Ronaldinho, 10) England 1 ( Beckham 77) .

Okay, they say, not a bad result considering.

In comes Ronaldinho, utterly cheesed off.

“What’s wrorg?” they say

“that was a great performance, one man against eleven”.

“Yeah”, says Ronaldinho

“But I was sent off ten minutes before half-time”.