It has been fairly quiet on the Frodo front recently. He continues to guard me against all dangers when we’re walking. ‘All dangers’ to Frodo means any unknown human or dog that approaches within 20 feet. Actually, many of the people he barks at he has
been seeing off known for many years. Most of the time we have never known their names so they are referred to generically by the breed of dog they own or by the dog’s name. So, sometimes we see the Wolfhounds – magnificent and very friendly dogs, whose owner also has Norfolk terriers. On other occasions we meet the Pyrenean Mountain dog, (Great Pyrenees in the States) a quiet well-behaved bitch, the collies, Grania the Irish Setter or Spike the Lurcher who was left at our veterinary surgery and was adopted by Phil-the-Vet. Frodo wouldn’t say boo to a goose when he’s examined by any of the vets but has a good old bark when we meet Phil-the-Vet in the forest.
Frodo was very distressed when his old pal Buddy died at home a couple of weeks ago. He had regarded Buddy with awe and great respect and was gentle in his dealings with him, washing his face and nose. He continued to do that until Buddy’s body was removed but in a sense it was a satisfactory conclusion for him and he didn’t keep searching for him as he has done for others who have travelled on.
Today we had a dampish walk in the forest and while the Labradors tirelessly retrieved the ball or the Kong, Frodo was happily retrieving biscuits from the pond. He always goes in for a bathe but today he had to swim, which refreshed him even more than his customary leisurely paddle. Unfortunately, he got water in his ears, which he really hated. He shook himself so hard that his collar unbuckled itself and fell off.
We always make our dogs rest after meals and after exercise. Well, our intentions are good though it’s difficult to see how two or three dogs playing tug of war with a toy can be called resting. When we arrived home the habitual complaints began about empty tummies and starvation. No matter how many times I tell Frodo he must wait for an hour after his walk before he is allowed any food he continues to moan and whine, standing as close to me as possible and shivering with tension. (Is that phrase an oxymoron? Wouldn’t tension obviate shivering?)
Jenna was also hungry and asking for food but her method was subtly different. She sat at my feet, next to the cacophonous Frodo and looked steadfastly and pleadingly at me. Gus, still a callow youth and unsure of the correct protocol, lay on the settee, ears pricked, eyes wide, waiting.
At last, I tripped out to the kitchen. I use that verb advisedly, as I was closely accompanied by the three dogs and Winston, who was now yowling that he too was ravenous. A few minutes later, all animals happily sated, peace returned to the happy home and I decided to go for a swim. Barry, Frodo and Gus came with me and saw me safely into the pool room then went back to the house.
It’s not unusual (I feel a Tom Jones song coming on) to find one or two dogs outside when I’ve finished my swim and Frodo was waiting for me as I stepped onto the path. I patted his head and told him he was a good boy but as I slid open the patio door Barry said, ‘Don’t let him in.’ Frodo looked crestfallen (actually, Dalmatians don’t have crests, unlike the Chinese Crested Dog. This breed has two forms – the hairless and the hairy. The hairless version has soft skin like a human and very little fur on its body apart from tufts known as socks on its paws, and a plume on its tail. The ‘crest’ on its head is not like a bird’s crest but consists of long, flowing locks. The hairy version is known as a Powderpuff)
I thought that perhaps Frodo had been eating something he shouldn’t – he’s partial to the morsels of fat cake that the birds and squirrels so carelessly drop on the ground as well as the mixed seed that they kick off the bird table. It transpired that he had indeed partaken of something forbidden and when I went into the kitchen I saw what he had done.
A few months ago I bought a slow cooker and have been using it recently. On Tuesday I cooked a rather succulent beef casserole – the remains were safely stored in the fridge. Last night some chicken portions provided a satisfying meal. Intending to curry the leftovers I had failed to put them out of reach and Frodo had simply helped himself. The shattered remains of the very heavy crock pot that fits inside the slow cooker body now covered the floor. I understand now – too late – that I should have photographed the interesting contrast of black pottery and creamy chicken and vegetables. So Frodo’s allowance will now go towards a new crock pot – I’m joking, he doesn’t receive an allowance apart from that which enables him to get away with minor misdemeanours.
Barry said he was very quick in stealing the chicken. I realise now that the raw chicken he had for his supper – Frodo, that is, not Barry! – and which he thoroughly enjoyed, was not sufficient or perhaps he was telling me that he’d prefer his food cooked in future. It was amusing when we eventually let him back indoors and followed his rather nervous trek into the kitchen. I’m sure I heard him say, ‘Well, you could knock me down with a feather. I could have sworn I’d left some tasty titbits here.’
Fooled you, Frodo, you naughty boy!