On Wednesday evening I came home from work, washed my hands, sat down at the table and ate my own body weight in new potatoes. It had been a rough enough day at the coal face (when is it not?) and the new season carbs with real butter and spring onions felt less like a meal and more like a spiritual replenishment.
“We’re going for a walk, dad,” one of the little humans informed me. “Do you want to come?”
I glanced out the window: The evening seemed bright and warm and plus, following my hearty ‘replenishment’, I considered that a bit of a waddle wouldn’t do me any harm.
“Sure why not,” I replied. “It’ll help me de-stress after work.”
Roughly an hour later I was white-knuckled with suppressed fury, the back of my neck stiff with tension and murderous thunderclaps detonating in my mind.
My earlier declaration, “Sure why not. It’ll help me de-stress after work,” should have included the caveat, “but only if we leave that H of a dog at home – the whiny B that he is.”
I know I am prone to exaggeration at times (hyperbole is the perfect fuel for artistic licence) but as God is my witness, the dog whined from the moment we climbed into the car until we returned home. He whined as we drove to the walk of choice, he whined when we encountered other creatures (humans, dogs, birds, insects etc) on our walk and he whined when we didn’t encounter other creatures on our walk. In summation, he whined and he better whined.
If you’re a regular reader of this garbled mess, you’ll probably remember me mentioning Waffle’s proclivity for whining in the past. Think of the sound a rusty gate makes blowing in the wind, add the mournful anxiety of a wolf’s lament and then layer out the sound spectrum with bird squeaks and monkey hoots. Now multiply all of that by ten and add a hairy face – that’s Waffle.
Being able to thole the whining is no easy task. First I am resigned to the fact that he is whining. Then, as the pitch and intensity changes, I try to be understanding. “Good boy, wee Waffle – there’s nothing to be worked up about,” I say. Then, as that intensity and pattern increases yet more, I find I go from empathetic to enraged. “Good boy, wee Waffle,” turns into a threatening exclamation through gritted teeth: “Shut. Your. Fuppen. Mouth. Dog.”
And so the cycle continues. Waffle whines. I endeavour to cater for these needs (timidity, anxiety, excitement or a combination of all three). The whining continues. And then I am eventually driven crazy.
“We are never taking that dog with us when we go anywhere ever again and that’s it,” I announced. “So don’t even ask.”
I was adamant. My decision was final. It brooked no argument. And then everything changes.
The very next day after Whining Wednesday, I was working away and those same little humans who had invited me on a walk, decided they wanted to picnic in the field beside the house. You may remember that Thursday past was a fine day with large pillow-y clouds and a deceptively warm sunshine and so I ratified the picnic, throwing a cookie treat into the picnic bag for good measure.
“Can we take Waffle?” one of them asked.
“Of course,” I replied, without hesitation. Silently, I was thinking, “I wouldn’t take that whiny effer if I was you. He’ll lose his ship and whine everybody to death if he so much as spots a butterfly.” Understandably, I kept these negative musings to myself.
Sandwiches and cookies and tubs of juice packed, off they went into the field in their wellies. Waffle was on the lead and I wished them a “good luck.” And I meant it. Had they forgotten the previous night’s yowling and whinging? Didn’t they remember that his needy vocalisation is worse than nails down a blackboard.
“Good luck,” I repeated and off I went to eat my own lunchables (turkey sandwich with cheese, lettuce and a mustard mayo).
No sooner had I finished my epic sandwich that I realised that I had no idea where the little humans had gone. The “field beside the house” could mean one of four and I knew not which. Also, the place is covered in trees and so despite a hasty look outside, I was without visuals.
Suddenly, I had the fear.
Dumping the dishes into the sink, I grabbed my phoned and headed outside. Glancing around, I could see a good distance away to the south and south-west but all other points of the compass were crowded out by trees. Visions sprang up unbidden of dodgy white vans stopping to pick up the innocent little girls and their little, toy dog. Striding out of the gate and down the road, I took a chance and clambered up onto the verge to listen. There was nothing but the hum of distance traffic and the motorway-like zoom of bees past my head.
Jumping into the field I went from a stride into a trot. A line of bushes dominated the horizon with a large Hawthorn in the centre. There looked to be a gap by the Hawthorn so I struck out for that. My trot turned unto a jog. By the time I made it to the tree line I stopped to listen again. Nothing but nothing. There was hardly a breath of air. Wait! Was that a cry of anguish? More visions spring up unbidden and I took another chance and started running towards the direction of the cry in the corner of the field. Thumping along I heard another sound but I wasn’t sure what. I increased my speed to a flat out sprint but before I made it as far as the shade of the trees, a fierce snarling erupted into a staccato barking, rapid and enraged. Momentarily, I was startled until I perceived the source of the crazed barking: One Waffle H Devlin, who came bounding out of the trees, fangs bared and hair standing on end. He looked the very picture of ferocity, but I knew better.
“It’s me, ya fuppen clown,” I barked back.
“What’s wrong?” one of the little humans asked from her position on the picnic blanket on the ground.
Suddenly, I had the stupid.
“Oh, nothing. Just checking where yous were. Enjoy your picnic,” I said, backing away. “And don’t let that clown eat those cookies.”
Strolling back to the house in the sunshine, sweat on my brow cooling in the breeze, I had to smile to myself. He is the whiniest, most annoying, needy clown that ever existed. And yet the girls love him and he loves them. Also, it appears that he would defend them.
It remains to be seen if men in dodgy white vans would be savaged into surrender by the gallant defender.
However, if the vicious barking didn’t put them off, the whining almost certainly would
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