Dogs of Distinction

July 30, 2016

I’ve been pondering of late, why celebrate the Olympic games when you could simply celebrate . . . the poodle? I’ve been privately and publicly praising the poodle since I was a punk and the lifelong party of celebration continues now in the presence of Sir Itchy and Sir Scratchy (they’ve been knighted since the last blog). These two animals rule my world and I live to serve them throughout their reign (of terror). They are more anarchy than monarchy, perhaps even more bad than good but, whatever, they are my boys, my little princes in fluffy black armour, the true guardians of my heart and soul.

At the pom pom tail of 2011, some said I should have packed them off to the Blue Cross after the debacle which was their appearance on Autumnwatch – when ‘Dog Fighting Live’ replaced what should have been some sort of Britain’s Got Talent opportunity for dogs. They were supposed to sing to the programme’s theme tune but no, they were at first mute before starting to savage each other like a couple of rabid chavs. What shame, what humiliation, what disappointment I should have felt but, quite frankly, I just loved them all the more and they got a double Denta for dinner. I like their non-conformity and corrupted spirits. I don’t want predictable poodles pandering to an adoring audience, I want rebels with or without a cause, that’s my Itch and Scratch.

Christmas with the poods was relatively uneventful, there were the usual stockings and crackers and stuff like that and they both dressed up… as turkeys. I subjected them to the traditional festive viewing of Dawn of the Dead. Such a good film. They’d fallen asleep by the time I’d faffed about loading the disc and came to just in time to steal another mince pie while I was loving the final apocalyptic scenes.

… they did themselves proud

What else . . . During my theatre tour in January the boys were beamed onto the big (projector) screen in several of the country’s finest auditoria as I bored my visitors to a near death experience night after night . The closing sequence of my talk featured ‘The Five Most Important  things you Need to Know about Poodles’. After many sleepless nights of deeply reflective questioning on my chosen subject matter I just about managed five. Then all I had to do was to bribe (more Denta’s) my muses to provide photographic evidence of the brilliance of the breed. And they did themselves proud. To mention just three out of the five; poodles on the bed (with mud effect), poodles vomiting (and eating it), poodles vs T-Rex (not a good look) and the grand finale was the poodles poo-writing ‘The End’. Genius but not for the faint-hearted.

Then we went  to France. It was typically freezing in the house and rain added to our misery, well, mine. The creamy white sandy coloured furniture hardly saw the light of day under threat of soggy filthy paws. Still, I loved them. We went to the dunes and did some sand surfing without boards. I pretended to love our dune time but really I hated every minute of getting sand in my shoes as it’s not good for the OCD. Just as we were packing up to face the seven hour drive back to Caen the gods cast their fury upon me and delivered unto me two poodles, reincarnated as . . . badgers. They stank. They really stank and they should have been left behind for baptizing themselves in badger poo but I knew everyone would be asking where they were and I had half a thought I might miss them so I decided on an express poodle shampoo and blow dry then hit the road (they still reeked of badger with a hint Herbal Essence which is not a good scent).

More recently we suffered a pack scare when Mr Scratchy was diagnosed with ‘a lump’. Following his regular hair cut a Malteser sized lump was discovered on his mouth. Not even the 6pm Denta ritual could disguise his depressed state of mind as he dealt with the stress of being the centre of attention. At one point he even feigned a slipped disc in a vain attempt to shift the focal point of everyone’s interest to the other end of his body. In the Packham household the word ‘lumpy’ was banned, custard was ‘bobbly’ and pillows were ‘bumpy’, such was poor Scratchy’s sensitivity to his lump.

That lump became my number one enemy for weeks while tests were carried out in far away labs. Even with the slight facial deformity (I’m not a great lover of imperfection) I loved him. And then the news came . . . it was not a nasty lump it was a friendly lump! We all three rejoiced with a Double – Denta and a glass of champagne. Phew. What a nightmare, literally I had bad dream after bad dream about that lump and it was just nothing. Still, better neurotic than . . . not.

Even more recently I was having a curry with friends (well, inherited friends) when the opportunity was handed to me to recount the story of how the Itch and Scratch dined on a human corpse, which they did in the New Forest about  5 years ago. I’m going to think carefully about sharing this event with you . . .