Dorothy Cannell: My life for the past week has gone to the dogs. An exaggeration in the
sense that it’s factually a case of one visiting dog, but it feels as though there has been an invasion by a pack. My husband, Julian, says he never dreamed he’d end up in a madhouse. Never a bark free moment.
Harvey is one of those small dogs with hair falling over their eyes. When he was delivered to us by his doting parents his ‘bangs’ were contained in topknot giving him a demure look. In seeming confirmation of a sweetness and light disposition was the sizeable toy monkey that accompanied him.
“He can’t take being parted from it,” said his mother in a fatuous tone I admit to using when talking about our cavalier King Charles Spaniel Teddy and our two cats.
“Loving little guy,” added Harvey’s father proudly. “Only trouble you may have with him is that he’s a picky eater. Won’t have get up early to put him out; he always sleeps in until well past nine. The rest of the time you won’t know he’s here.”
They departed on the pleasing sight of Harvey nosing up to Teddy in friendly fashion. That bonhomie ended with closing of the door. He growled menacingly at the monkey, grabbed it by the throat shook it till it blurred, and then shoved it under the sofa. That mission accomplished he lost all favor with Julian, by chasing the apple of his eye – our Siamese – around the room while barking at the top of his lungs. Vicky, our other cat, had vanished on the whiff of strange dog entering the house
“Dorothy,” said Julian plaintively, “we can’t just let him take over!”
“No, of course not,” I agreed. “What he needs is to feel wanted. I’ll give him and Teddy a doggy treat.” Picker eater, indeed! Harvey not only snatched at the biscuit, he’d have swallowed my hand if I hadn’t retrieved it fast enough.
Another supposed attribute, the one about Harvey never rousing until well after nine, was dismissed at six-thirty the following morning. Every dog in a five mile radius could have been barking at the bedroom door. In some ways, however, his behavior did improve. He gave up cat chasing and released the monkey from imprisonment under the couch.
“There are people like that,” I said, “talk, talk about nothing as though they can’t cope with a moment of silence.” Here was the personality trait I’d needed to define one of the characters in current book – Peril in the Parish. A hint at a troubled past … guilt, fear, shame, to be kept at bay during the daytime if impossible during the night.
‘Dear Harvey!’ I thought on awakening to dog-pack barking at six this morning. Julian really had been too hard on him. I was almost tempted to give him one of my hands to eat as rewarding treat. But I really do need two for typing.