Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Adventures of Frodo the Faller (7)

It is difficult to move out of a room without the Velcro Dog being aware of it – I could be persuaded quite easily that I have a dog-shaped shadow. Many times I have spun round quickly and fallen over Frodo who then looks sheepishly at me and vigorously wags his tail. If the tail, which is very solid, should beat against a hard surface the tip of it splits and before we know it every available surface within a square metre is splashed and striped and smeared with blood. Carnage!

Our vet suggested constructing a cardboard tube to encase and protect the tail tip to allow it to mend. I carefully rolled thin card into a cylinder and tried to fit it over Frodo's tail. He was rather suspicious about me fiddling with his tail so was not very cooperative and kept wriggling away just at the moment I was about to achieve lock-on. Eventually I managed to slide it on and secured it with sticking plaster, which actually doesn't adhere very easily to dog fur. Frodo looked at me rather quizzically, wagged his tail and the cardboard flew off. I left the naked tail to heal by itself.

Out for walks Frodo is always the first dog to return when called. He never goes very far from us and is constantly verifying our whereabouts. We play hide and seek with all our dogs but Frodo is the one who is most alert and consequently the one most difficult to hide from. The day early one October that he disappeared in the forest was very worrying.

At that time Barry was still running regularly and had taken the dogs out in the late afternoon. He was returning to the dog car – a disreputable-looking vehicle which is used solely to transport our dogs to the forest – as dusk was falling. Jenna-the –Labrador was just growing out of her habit of following fresh deer tracks and he was anxious to avoid any opportunity she might take to revisit her hobby so he was hurrying. Suddenly he realised that Frodo was missing. He assumed that Frodo must be deeply involved in a tantalising sniff and called, expecting him to materialise immediately in his customary manner. Nothing! He called and whistled and whistled and called and the familiar white face with the piratical patch over the left eye remained obstinately absent.

He called me on his mobile and I drove the respectable car to the forest to collect the remaining dogs and bring them home, leaving Barry there to hunt for Frodo. The dogs and I, feeling the absence of the Velcro dog, were somewhat subdued. It was now full dark and there was no clue to Frodo's disappearance. Neither Barry nor I thought that Frodo would go off with someone he didn't know but we couldn't be sure that he wouldn't do so if he had got lost and frightened. He needs human companionship and reassurance as much as he needs canine and feline friends. Our imaginations were running riot and we felt completely helpless. Barry took time out from searching for Frodo to call the police but had no joy – no spotted dogs had been turned in or reported seen wandering. He prepared to spend the night in the forest and I prepared to wait up all night in case Frodo somehow found his own way home as once, years ago, our little Jack Russell Daisy had done. Both these determinations proved not to be necessary however, of which more anon.

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