A-Z story: Part H
Oh, those crazy dogs!
The dogs leap up when Claire appears, expecting play. The child clings to her.
‘It’s okay,’ she says, to the toddler and the throng of animals. The hems of the miniature jeans are soon wet from damp noses and tongues.
‘Not now; not now; come on, every one out in the pen!’
The child clings, though curiosity compels her from hiding. She peeks at the bouncing hounds, shrinks, repeats the process. In the pen the dogs fetch toys. Claire kicks a football.
‘Woof,’ she says, ‘see, little one- they are bonkers but they are fun, eh?’
The child observes.
‘Fetch!’ Claire commands. Brasso dutifully retrieves the ball, holds it up, importantly, pushes through the pack. Claire takes it. ‘Ready?’ She steadies the child. ‘One, two, three, THROW!’
The child gasps, eyes cartoon wide.
‘That’s Blunder, the clumsy one,’ she points; ‘Caribou, chunky; Dimsum, short; Brasso, bossy, Lady, intelligent; Wellington, hmm, lollopy; then there’s Flooper, the newest. Cries in his sleep. ’
Brasso brings back the ball.
The child gawps at her.
‘One, two, three, THROW!’
The little mouth drops open; one arm mimics the throw.
‘We’re playing with the dogs. Woof woof! Throw the ball!’ The dogs scramble.
‘Good boy, Caribou: drop.’
He relinquishes his hold. He is the colour of fine damp sand.
‘This is fun,’ Claire says, crouching down to pick the ball up, ‘but my arms need a rest. One more throw. Ready?’
The child bites its lip, nods.
‘One, two, three: THROW!’
The dogs sprint in pursuit, while Claire carries the child towards the house. The child fixes its eyes on the dogs.
‘Woff,’ it whispers.