Archie (our dog) is not terribly good at entertaining himself. ‘Go and play with the cats!’ I say, but we both know that as playmates, they are worse than useless. He leaps around in front of them: ‘Come and play girls! We can roll around in a slobbery ball!’ They stand stock still ‘Who is this idiot?’ and if he goes too close, they shoot off and he goes crashing after them: ‘I think we’re playing catch!’ but they flash effortlessly through the cat flap and he comes to a skidding stop at the garden door. They stare at the poor galloping fool through the glass: ‘You can’t even get through on your own – you need Mummy to open the door for you – big baby!’ When I let him out, as fast as he can career after them, they are up on the fence ‘Ha ha stupid dog. Can’t catch us.’
So he comes back to me: ‘Woof’
‘Archie you’ve just had breakfast, soon it’ll be lunch, so stop woofing for food.’
‘I said stop it’.
He nods. ‘WOOF’
‘STOP IT. STOP WOOFING’
‘OK, let’s play tug tug again’ I give in. ‘Tug-tug’ is a pretty challenging game of tugging a rope – you wouldn’t get it. Growling and panting optional. Then there’s ‘Fetch It’ where you throw a ball and he watches it receding into the distance: ‘Jesus that’s twenty gallops are you kidding? You think just because I’m a dog you can give me the run around. Think again, sister.’ Or ‘Football’, where you kick a ball for him to retrieve, and he chews your shoelaces and won’t let go.
If he’s feeling a bit sexy, it’s ‘Tickle Tummy’. He’s on his back before you can say Jack Robinson, nose to the sky, eyes squeezed shut and hind legs spread for all the world to admire his naughty bits. ‘Tickle my tummy, please’. And you do.
But he does get ignored so I can play grown-up games like work and moving mess from one room to another. I get the disapproving eye: ‘Jesus, when I booked into this hotel, I was told my every need would be catered for. Well I’m bored, and you look like you’re going to start another round of washing up, for crying out loud. I’m going to pretend to be asleep – but you can forget about leaving this room because I will LEAP up and walk right in front of your feet if you do...that’ll teach you...grumble grumble..’
Or he chews the kitchen (but not the chew toys). Or the washing! A big gusset man, Archie; if he hits gold and gets some pants out the dirty washing before I’ve noticed, he’s off to his favourite corner: ‘Don’t even think about getting these off me, I’m not listening’. But I try, for yay, I have pulled strips of pants from his bottom. He’s had eight gussets so far.
He found his voice around ten weeks old, growling fiercely at the Forsythia. ‘He’s turning into a man!’ I thought, so proud, and I was right for next it was the humping – anything - male, female, but for preference the green bath towel, which he gathers up with his front paws into a lump, pushes between his legs and vigorously humps. That is why I now run hell for leather up the stairs when I want a shower – to lock him out.
If he beats me to the shower, things can become a bit hairy; emerging from the steamy cubicle, twenty kilograms of dog throws itself at my dripping self, hanging on with front paws to the towel I’m yanking around my shivering form, but which he’s intent on humping. I’ve tried holding the towel above my head, but that was just a crazily good jumping game and didn’t do anything for getting me dry. My best bet is a two towel job - Archie humps my towel-clad right hip while I dry the left, then it’s a quick swap-sides, him humping left-wise and me drying the right. It’s quite scratchy, so mostly I’m just plain mean and throw two or three towels right over him, to confuse and knot him up for a whole thirty seconds, which if I work fast, is long enough for me to dry, put on pyjamas, and of course cleanse, tone and moisturise. Phew!