Colin hung around the pine table in the kitchen; its legs had an elegant turn but were chunky and immovable. The chair legs, so easily shifted with a shove from his flanks whilst foraging for crumbs were also immovable when occupied by the diners and his path to the middle would be booby-trapped by the swinging feet of the children who became more fidgety as the meal progressed. In any case, the best scraps were to be had on the outer perimeter of the meal. He knew all about perimeters.
‘I don’t want this, it’s got a fatty bit on it’, the little boy complained.
‘Just leave it on the side of your plate then’ the mother sighed.
‘Can I give it to Colin?’
‘Because he’s not allowed to eat too much. Now come on, eat your dinner.’
They were the ones to talk. Look at them, midriffs hanging over their trousers under the tabletop. Quite ridiculous.
‘Look, I’m staring right at you with by best pleading expression. I’ve got saliva dripping from my chops and I’m sitting so nicely, shifting the weight between my front paws so that I look as if I could collapse with hunger at any moment.’
‘But mummy, he wants it.’
At this point, the visiting grandmother interjected: ‘You know, that dog doesn’t need to talk, does he? Just look at him, poor thing. Do you want to go out Colin?’
Not really thanks but I’d better keep her sweet; she’s the only one with the sense to give me anything decent.
Colin goes to the back door and rears up on his back legs excitedly and the grandmother lets him out with satisfaction. He runs enthusiastically out onto the patio to a distance of six feet and comes right back.
‘I thought you wanted to go out?’
What does she expect me to do? You can’t please some people.
In all the fuss, the scraping of chairs along the ceramic tiles, doors opening and shutting and the wind gusting into the kitchen and blowing some drawings off the windowsill and onto the floor, the children had become restless and wandered off.
‘Does he still do that thing where he runs around the edge of the garden at 9.30?’; it was the mother speaking but Colin was only half listening as he could now shove the chair legs aside and was licking the floor. He had vaguely heard however, and at the back of his mind, he wondered just how many times they could have the same conversation. Yawn, yawn, yawn.
‘I don’t think he could have been a hunting dog, do you? He’d have been no good if he was frightened of bangs.’
‘I reckon that he’s a failed police dog or something. ‘
‘You know, the way he tries to ‘arrest’ people if they chase one another. Or the fact that he doesn’t like the children playing with gun-shaped things.’
‘But he’s fitted in so well with the children, hasn’t he?’ (good old Granny)
‘I don’t suppose we’ll ever know...’
‘Do you remember the time he dragged Liam around the garden? It was so funny.’
I actually felt sorry for him afterwards but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I’ve got no idea why that boy kept coming around; did he not have any other friends? We never see him any more. Humans are fickle.
‘Oh, he’s a good dog, aren’t you?’ (the grandmother, obviously)
‘Yes’, I raise my eyebrows and almost nod.
‘Aahh’, she pats me lightly on the head. She’s happy.
The children are long gone, trying to squeeze in some more television. The parents are about to swoop down on them and demand that they go upstairs for their bath and are collecting toys scattered around the hallway. The grandmother is scraping the leftovers into Colin’s bowl as fast as she can, saying ‘Good boy, good boy’.
As if it was any trouble. What a result.