Back when I still lived at my parents place, the festive season would come with that buzz you only seem to get with kids around. I speak, of course, of my little brother Andrew and the air of excitement which would grow as the doors on his advent calendar grew fewer.
Shortly before Christmas 1998 came along, the family had gained a young puppy we’d named Disney. Apparently she looked like the kind of dog you’d expect to see in a Disney cartoon, and I just kind of went along with it in absence of a suitable alternative. After all, we didn’t want a repeat of the Snowy-gate scandal from a couple of decades previously. I’m pretty sure it was three full weeks before Snowy had a proper name, going through Star, Snoopy, Pluto, and various other try-outs before his was finally settled upon. You wouldn’t have figured that a reasonably balanced family would;
a) take several weeks to decide on a name for their cute yellow dog
b) decide on a name usually given to white dogs, not yellow ones.
Regardless of any lack of wisdom shown during the selection process, Snowy seemed to warm to his name extremely well once it had been arrived at, not fazed in the slightest by the weeks of doubt and uncertanty. Although Disney would escape that identity crisis, I often wonder if we would have come up with something better if we’d given it a bit more time. It now seems hard to picture her with any other name, though, and Disney seems as just as happy with the way things turned out as Snowy did back in his day.
It being Disney’s first xmas, and given that she’s a Springer Spaniel – a breed of dog not noted for being under-excited, all things to do with the preperations for the festive season seemed to fascinate her no end. Although she has slowed down a little with age, back when she was fresh out of the box, Disney would be lapping the walls at the slightest sign of anything exciting going on.
If Christmas in the company of children is magical, then Christmas in the company of children and puppies is even more so. But, as tends to be the way with the latter, house training accidents will happen.
One particular night, the parent people had gone out, leaving Andrew down in the living room in charge of the dog and watching telly. Two tasks that Andrew was reasonably qualified to do, even at the age of eight. I was up in the converted loft in my own little world, as detatched from the down stairs situation as could be until I hear Andrew calling me in a bit of a panic.
Leaping gazzelle-like down the ladders I see Andrew in the living room doorway. “Robert! Robert! Disney is doing the toilet on the carpet!” He blurts. Mum has him well trained. If it’s winter and you leave the living room, no matter how briefly, you have to close the door behind you.
Having closed the living room door behind him, Andrew could only back into the corner of the small hallway as I bounded down the stairs, thrust open the living room door and scanned the room for the offending dog. Disney was to be found grimacing through a bit of a knee trembler in the space between the chairs, just in front of the Christmas tree and its sea of presents.
“DISNEY!” I boomed at the top of my lungs. If Disney had been having trouble “going” up until this point, it was no longer a problem. Instantly, she performed a mid-turd evasive manoeuvre at near light–speed, spreading crap like a revved up muck-spreader.
“NOOOOO!” I howled, as the blur of action unfolded infront of me and freshly wrapped presents were introduced to freshly squeazed dog-squirts before my horror–filled eyes. After barrelling through the presents and rounding the xmas tree at break–neck speed, Disney took refuge behind the sofa, now free of her constipation problem but cowering in fear for her efforts.
“Ewww” Andrew offered.
“Fu—cking dog!!” I whined, the stench already filling the room.
No matter how tempting it was for me to bribe Andrew to come up the loft with me and pretend we had witnessed nothing, donning the rubber gloves and scraping up dog shit was the right thing to do. It was the awful thing to do, yes, but it was also the right thing to do.
With the parents arriving back home only minutes later, it wasn’t long before all hands were on deck in order to get the presents and the carpet cleaned. Even so, if you got a present from us one year, and it smelled slightly suspect… well, we did our best.
And I’m sorry I shouted at the dog.