When I was a boy of 12-13, the family bought a pet. That pet was a Jack Russell Terrier, a creature of immense stamina, courage and personality, but unfortunately also aggression and a unshakeable ‘I do what I want’ mind set. This infamous ‘Postman’s nemesis’ and thorn in the side of the English Kennel club, will always be dear to my heart. The following is a homage to my particular Jack, my boyhood companion, and is a series of brief reminiscences.
She was a beautiful little dog, cute as can be, it was love at first sight. It was such a shame that mum named her not ‘Bonny’ but ‘Scampi’ . While neither are names a 12 year old boy wants to shout in the street, and I give thanks we weren’t naming a Rottweiler, I have to admit I never got over her being named ‘Scampi’! I could’ve coped with ‘Scamp’, at least it has a comic book/ Famous Five kind of cache about it but add the ‘i’, and oh dear………….
“ I think she’s deaf mum”.
“Don’t be daft, you’re whispering, shout ‘Scaaaaaaaaammpiiiii’ as loud as you can son”.
“ Err I’ll leave her be, she’ll come back soon enough, seems happy”.
From now on I’ll refer to her as ‘Dog’ or ‘the Dog’. Which leads me to the following.
One of our first trips out was to the playing fields near by. Summer holidays, grass cut before end of term, warm, balmy day, perfect.
Except for the group of yobs smoking, spitting and swearing that we would have to pass.
You know the type, smirks and slang. The type that swing their entire body, not just their arms, when they walk, their legs placed strangely as if they’re trying not to let a pebble wedged between their arse cheeks fall out, the head is usually tilted back, jaw jutting at the sky.
Without thinking I called Dog by her name to give them a wide berth. Ah the folly of youth ! The leader was sat on the ground, legs wide apart in some sort of alpha male imagined stance. On hearing the name Scampi he wet himself laughing, no doubt thanking the bully gods for this gift. As I stood listening to his suspiciously good female voice impersonation, Dog went up to him. At about a foot away he suddenly spat at Dog hitting her square on the snout ! I was crushed, as I mentally debated whether honour warranted me getting a kicking from this pond-life, and he fell onto his back in hysterics, Dog took the matter in hand.
She suddenly lunged at his groin, and bit down on his bits ! Not finished and working on instinct she then gave her head a quick shake, as if it were a rabbit she’d just caught and not a bully’s bollocks. Mercifully she just made the one snap, and retired gracefully while the ‘gang’ winced and made faces like they’d just drunk vinegar, and mocking their leader now writhing around.
Amidst the commotion I retired gracefully listening to the fallen moan that ‘it could’ve bitten it in half’ to which a leader in waiting replied “nah, it’s no bigger than a walnut to start with”. Family honour restored.
Every now and again, Dog would have a phantom pregnancy. She would, for reasons unknown, decide that the plastic squeaky pork chop was her offspring. Her choice of this object for her maternal feelings was strange indeed because she had several more canine looking options available. But the squeaky chop was her puppy and that was it. She would carry it one day to her sleeping basket, and then make a kind of nest out of the blankets for her and squeaky chop. And she would mother the damn thing. Woe betide any fool who tried to touch or move squeaky chop, such reckless intention would turn ‘weird Dog mum’ into snapping, snarling ‘weird Dog mum’.
On the subject of reproduction, phantom or otherwise, she also had other bizarre behavioural quirks. Very often, immediately after being fed, she would leap onto the rocking chair and start to frantically ‘hump’ the cushion !
Yes dear reader, you read that correctly. To physically try and stop this disturbing scene was to court danger, the risk being not dissimilar to removing squeaky chop puppies. We could have had a water pistol to ……….. Look the reality was nothing feasible worked ! Over time we just came to accept and ignore it. Not a luxury enjoyed by a casual dinner guest however, who to add insult to injury, not only had to cope with a wild eyed Jack Russell humping a cushion on a squealing, moving, rocking chair, but also a family who didn’t seem to notice, let alone care !
Bramble lived at No 9. Bramble was ginger and the size of a pit-pony. Dog didn’t like Bramble and I strongly suspect Bramble didn’t like Dog.
Dog, every now and again would get bored. She would do what follows. Just infrequently enough for you to forget. She would go to the door, we’d let her out assuming she wanted to answer a call of nature or stretch her legs. She would then nose about, sniffing here and there, maybe chew on a stick ?
Then suddenly you’d realise she was no longer there ! A quick dash upstairs would confirm fears. There she would be, having found yet another escape route, nonchalantly strolling towards No 9. We knew the opponents were separated by a gate, but it was still a scene of vicious biting, snapping yelping that would be over before we got there.
After a few minutes there would be a scratch on the door and in would walk Dog, ginger fur sticking out of both sides of her mouth, looking for all the world like a Wing Commander’s handlebar moustache, looking like butter wouldn’t melt and eyes that seemed to be saying “ WHAT ?, he started it”.
There are many more anecdotes such as the weird bin emptying ritual, Dog versus the Greyhound and Angus, the only love of her life. but you get the picture.