Another dog-inspired memory today from J. A. Clement! Find out how a sneaky little canine with a love for swiping things made for a very memorable holiday. Read on!
The Clement household is always awash with animals but in winter, we’re usually down to Clements, Clements-in-law and a variety of dogs, for the most part.
That particular year we had just acquired two puppies – a mismatched set of black cuties, one a deerhound and the other some kind of collie-lab cross according to the previous owner. By Christmas they were just four months old and as cute as buttons. We were still trying to get them house-trained; they knew to aim for the newspaper so every time the dogs wandered into the hall where the paper was, there was a general dash to get the back door open in time.
However, there was many a false alarm. Donkey the deerhound (real name Zulu) had developed a real fascination with the drier by the door, and kept going back to have a look. Lyra, the collie-cross and baby-faced evil mastermind, took a liking to various articles of dirty laundry.
So the pups would head for the door. The family would leap off the sofa and dash into the hall. Zulu would be found looking deep and dizzily into the bowels of the drier as it spun - while Lyra would reappear, jauntily smug and dragging a pair of trousers behind her. Trousers were not the extent of her deliveries, however; pants, socks, bras, you name it, it found its way to the dog-basket in the corner. With the house full of Christmas guests, eventually we had to put the laundry basket up on the side and out of her way.
Lyra was disgusted. What spoilsports! However, being a dog of no small sneakiness, she soon found something new and interesting. She reappeared in the kitchen, clearly having a lot of fun with – something. She was throwing it up in the air and catching it, batting it with her paw so it skittered across the floor.
What could it be? We couldn’t tell, but it was tiny and green and evidently rounded enough to skitter properly.
A bit baffled, we went to take it off her but she darted across the kitchen and ensconced herself in a new den, the lower shelf of the rounded wicker table. As it stood between the sofa and the wall, we couldn't get to her or her mystery item.
Eventually it disappeared and she emerged, leaving behind only some shredded foliage; a plant of some kind. This was a bit of a puzzle- there was more in the way of mud and puddles than greenery in the garden, in mid- December. We were slightly concerned but as it didn't appear to have disagreed with her too badly, we thought no more of it… until about an hour later when Lyra reappeared with another one. This time we managed to head her off at the pass and retrieve from her sharp little puppy teeth - a sprout! Where she was getting them from we didn’t know, but she was very taken with it and chewing away as if she hadn’t been fed for a week.
We took the second sprout from her and put it out of reach on the side but at this point Donkey retrieved it - and a battle royale kicked off! Donkey flicked her sprout up into the air. Lyra bounced up and snatched it away. Even Robbie the lazy labrador heaved himself up and gallumphed after it…but up leapt pack-leader Kinkajou, the fussiest lurcher known to mankind, and confiscated said small brassica, swallowing it whole. That told them!!
She stared them down sternly before returning to her bed in some disgust....and then Lyra appeared with another sprout. Donkey snatched it and swallowed it down, so Lyra disappeared back into the garage again. I followed in time to see her climb on the potato sack, scale the heights of the vegetable rack and retrieve a small bucket which contained the packet of sprouts which she had tucked it neatly in an obscure corner. Sneaky!
I confiscated the bucket but even so, we spent the rest of the evening finding stray sprouts buried down the back of the sofa or tucked into your slipper or partially chewed on the bench. It was a strangely sproutilicious Christmas; and my birthday following on in January, a tiny, beautifully-wrapped box arrived through the post I leafed open the carefully folded tissue paper and possibly should not have been surprised to find inside, each tied in a bow with festive ribbon, a matched pair of Brussels sprouts, finely serrated with sharp puppy teethmarks, and a card bearing the legend “Happy Birthday from Lyra and Donkey”.
JAClement hated Christmas for many years due to being a singer (non-stop carols from September, arrrgh!). Now that she has no time to sing she has rediscovered her love of tinsel, bauble, the scents of pine and cinnamon and all sorts of festive details. She is part of a large and chaotic family with a veritable pack of dogs, cats, poultry and this week’s waifs and strays, and though currently living at the wrong end of the country, gets back to the moors and the family whenever possible.
She is author of the “On Dark Shores” fantasy series of which the next book, “The Other Nereia” will be released in early 2012 and in the meantime recommends you check out the “Christmas Lites” anthology from Creative Reviews, to which she contributed and can tell you that the other stories are utterly excellent!
Freebie short – prequel to On Dark Shores series
Parallels: The Black-Eyed Susan