Canis disgusticus

There is a critical moment, Dear Reader, when a puddle achieves maximum viscosity.

Were I a mathematician, I could devise a formula which pinpoints the exact proportion of water to mucus-like leafy matter necessary to ensure that any entrant into that puddle will walk away with most of it on them.

When one has four feet , and one is covered in fur, the situation can become fraught with slimed possibilities. Usually, malodorous green possibilities.

It was half term when Auntie Nicky came to visit with my lovely godson Jake and their blonde bombshell of a hound, the dewy-eyed Barley.

The puddles, up in the forest, had lost their liquid deluged look, and were approaching the magic formula with startling rapidity.

If Barley were a person, she would be a supermodel. So it only remains for me to ask what Claudia Schiffer would look like in her Prada after a mud wrestling session, and you will have some sense of Barley’s appearance as she pottered happily back to the house, as at home in the slime as a hippo in his pool.

The usually fountain-like fronds of that magnificent tail flopped cheerily back and forth. They must have been heavy but she seemed unperturbed.

As I watched our family dog beside her it did fleetingly occur to me that he could not be black and tan at all: but just a filthy white dog with whom the necessary archaeology has never been carried out.

Thee weeks forward: and Macaulay had already had his Big Run of the day with Phil.

The ten-mile trek through forest is his Saturday treat. He comes back almost docile and demands his breakfast before flopping down for a sizeable nap from which, if one dares to wake him, one can expect a baleful stare of reproach.

So a second walk through the woods to Granny’s in the afternoon is a doggy bonus ball.

We all set out through the forest, carefully avoiding bird nesting sites. He gamboled about: he loves it when the whole family is together and there was a real spring in his step.

His nose was continually litmus-testing the air, sifting it comprehensively for any signs of a little light decay: or indeed, of any forest inhabitants which needed a good chasing.

All was going to plan. We turned into a section of the forest which is a young plantation, interspersed with boggy heathland. We could almost hear the trees growing and seeds stirring themselves to meet another year. The decay of the year before always serves them well and it hung on the air, a thick, blatant reminder that this is the season for new life.

And then, right in the middle of a rather nice conversation with my husband, it occurred to me that I had not seen the dog for some time.

“Where’s the dog?” I inquired with some urgency.

Rarely has an answer arrived so promptly and solved so little. About half a mile away an outraged pheasant squawked as only pheasants know how, and flapped inefficiently up into the air.

(I always wonder that pheasants get anywhere at all. They are huge dowager-duchesses, able to function only with considerable effort and even greater theatre.)

So: it was clear the dog was far, far away. And subsequent squawks in geographical locations which coincided with a wide circle. He was ranging: hunting altogether ineffectually.

I called and called. But my small terrier was deaf to all but the call of Spring: he was on Planet Pheasant.

We held a hasty conference and decided Phil and the kids would proceed to Granny’s. I, however, must remain behind and traverse the burgeoning healthland with its hummocks and crannies, incidental gunge pools and adder’s nests.


For long minutes I hollered. I was getting cross. And a little bit worried: what if something had happen to him out here, in the nearest the South of England gets to a wilderness?

Frenetic barking exploded and I followed the sound, stepping gingerly so as not to disturb anything too terrifying.There he was: half a mile away, he had found a Very Interesting Pond and he was examining it with a professional focus. By now my voice had reached a pitch unbecoming in one of two score years and some. But the dog simply chose not to hear.

Finally I remembered all the lectures I give other people about motivation. What motivation did my dog have to return to me? Β I looked dangerous. It could be a dicey move.

My only hope was to attempt to compete. Kate Shrewsday Vs A Putrid Pond.

Like a presidential candidate, I turned on every inch of flattering stage charm I could muster. I was certain it would have no effect: my dog would see through such shallow fatuous tactics.

Reader, it retrieved him.

The dog looked up from Planet Pheasant. He forsook those dark festering waters. And he brought 75 per cent of them to me.

Viscosity can be a terrible thing. It got the dog banned from Granny’s house and shunned by those who are accustomed to fondle him.

Canis disgusticus.


18 thoughts on “Canis disgusticus

  1. This is why we are Cat People.

    Cats rarely muck about in the muck because they know that doing so will add to their workload the next time bathtime rolls around. πŸ˜€

    Glad Macauley had fun in canis disgusticus land.

    1. πŸ˜€ I am slightly less glad, Nancy. He is sleeping on the cushion on the corner and emitting the most unsettling smell. Cats are so together, aren’t they?

  2. what does a dog do when it has flushed and caught a dowager-duchess Pheasnt (as opposed to a peasnt who is NEVER a dowager-duchess)?

    Is there any empirical or experiental evidence regarding this event, real or hyphothetical?

    1. The research in the area is sketchy, Sidey. However whenever Mac ‘retrieves ‘ a treasure, he does no harm: he just clamps and won’t let go. This includes things which have been dead for a very long time so, as you can imagine, it can be stomach turning in the extreme.

      However he is never clever enough to catch anything, not even the most intellectually challenged pheasant.

  3. I know that smell very well, our Lulubelle carries it home with her and wears it as proudly as Chanel No 5.
    (What’s Sidey on about? Think she’s been at the cooking sherry …)

  4. “The ten-mile trek through forest is his Saturday treat. He comes back almost docile and demands his breakfast before flopping down for a sizeable nap from which, if one dares to wake him, one can expect a baleful stare of reproach.”—- did you mean Phil or Macaulay? πŸ™‚

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