musings

Biggles

By July 22, 2008One Comment

He arrived when I was thirteen. I have a pen portrait of him in a journal marked November 1995. We picked him from a litter, a litter of eight. My siblings and I lined each puppy up and then retreated to the opposite end of the room, patting our thighs and beckoning them toward us. We were going to pick the first one that bounded over, at least that was the intention. The whole back wobbled over except Biggles. He sat forlon, his eyes downcast, morose and in a puddle of his own piss. He was named after the fictional world- war pilot but courageous he was not, so the name while sweet was a tad ironic.
He was the runt- an awkward little thing, trembling on the spot like an epileptic autumn leaf. Perhaps he was aware, that by not even attempting the puppy race, that by cutting his losses early on, this might endear him toward us. It did and we subsequently chose him over the others.
He never liked other dogs, in the same sense his parents were not overly fond of humans. They attacked an estate agent shortly after we had adopted him, caused such a mess that chances are plastic surgeons are still trying to re sculpt her original likeness.
After this incident Biggles was related to a pack of serial killers, in possession of their blood, mingling and perhaps tainting his innocence. Hard to believe when you looked at him.
Occasionally he proved himself worthy of such a reputation, whenever coming in contact with other members of the canine kind (a doganthropist if ever there was). He often made life for Jess our Labrador- cross god knows what, a misery, as he did for the two boxers next door, who stopped peeping their heads through the wire- fence once they had discovered what a rat- trap of tenacious little jaws awaited them on the other side.
After a terrible savage fight with Jess, Biggles was resigned to death row at the local vet.
“Once they have tasted blood” The man had said “there is no going back.”
The deadly syringe it would be. I raced over on hearing the news, pleaded for the buggers life. Salvaged him whimpering from a concrete cage and in the following weeks saw him through his rehabilitation/ penitentiary at the Fields Hill Kennels. This went on untill Jess had passed on and a reformed Biggles could return (maybe he found god up on that hill-who knows) –the top dog of his domain.
He towed the line. We bonded , for despite his occasional blood lust he was a softie to core, insecure and generally quite tentative of the world. He loved car rides in the back seat, appreciated the sprawl beyond the picket fence, at least from a safe and comfortable confines of a vehicle.
There would be no more dogs on the property– he wished to be left alone. To be first in line for scraps and bones and errant tennis balls knocked over by the neighbours, the fronds fallen from wilting palms.
He enjoyed my Gran’s company especially in the winter, her peanut butter jam toast crusts and floor heater. Our loss it seems was quite tangibly his.
Then the strange thing about living with an animal- their age surpassing our own. Dog years so much swifter. He greyed on the nose, inherited a gnarly spine and battled to get out of bed on cold mornings. He grew lumps and particularly odd grouping of prune like nipples.
Such a sight once led a child from the Eden Benson Children’s home to once remark-How can he be a boy when he’s got so many tits!
Some say these were a result of the hormones in the egg yolks I used to feed him, while others speculated that it came from the chlorine in the pool water which he drank to ”˜take the ”˜edge off suburbia’. Whatever it was, he was stoic to the ridicule. He mastered charm, doe eyed modes of manipulation. Began frequently exercising a weird set of whining vocalisations (made into his dog bowl) that led me to believe he was trying to either master the English language or mimic the human voice.
Sometimes I was certain he was a reincarnated ancestor, who had returned to earth with the purpose to deliver a message – his canine mould providing little deterrent for his frequent attempts at cross-species communication. Often I saw an old little man in his eyes, someone who was serving penance, not necessarily for something awful they had done in a past- life but simply because they weren’t quite ready to move onto the next.
Recently he had got all misty eyed and hard of hearing , no longer heard the hadea dahs who lined up across the garden while he was asleep.
Theirs was a covert and brilliantly organised operation to rob him of his dog-biscuits. They succeeded brilliantly. I quite expected to one day wake up in a suburb where headea dhas had begun to bark from fence posts and telephone poles but sadly this never happened. It seems only the mockery of vervet monkey’s were worthy of mustering growls similar to the ones he employed in his younger more sprightly years.
He was content little being and seemed so when I found him on Saturday night. Still I miss his orchestrations of grunts, the polite tip tapping of paws on slasto tiles. Sounds now replaced by the ghostly wash of traffic on the nearby free-way.
A hole was dug in the lawn under the full moon (narrowly missing water and electricity pipes) by my grandmothers room and we buried him in the blankets he so loved to snooze upon. Now the hadea dahs are at a loss. Still they come, dressed in their mourning plumage, shuffling in solemn funeral line and still I fill his bowl each day.
Though I fear they will soon loose interest, it’s gotten far too easy now–their game is missing a player.

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