Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I am not having a good day.
Sure, my nails look lovely (Bourjois So Laque Ultra Shine nail varnish in shade #31, Bleu Violet, filched from the little sis) and the mob of starlings that have been hogging the bird feeders have shagged off out of the back garden for a while, so it's cute little finches and tits a go-go (insert own joke about fizzy orange and boobs here.)
But then I had to go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like bringing the dog for a walk.
I thought I had it all figured out: fake Ugg boots to keep the toes toasty, a wear-it-skiing fleece to take care of torso chills, a big cozy purple pashmina that only accidentally toned rather well with the nails to keep the neck and chest from siezing up, green leather gloves to stop my fingers from getting frostbitten and dropping off.
(What can I say, I really feel the cold.)
Sadly, I forgot that jeans are the most freezing effing things you can possibly wear, so my upper thighs and ass are now completely numb with cold.
It would have been ok - if chilly around the nethers - had the walking calamaties stopped at the purely sartorial. But no. Five minutes out the door, I spotted a great big Alsation pause, mid-pee, to stare down the road at us. He looked pretty disinterested, in fairness, only short of lazily picking his teeth with a peppermint flavoured toothpick to be really laconic, but this boy was out for a wander sans owner, Boris is not great with other dogs - especially large breeds - that are new to him, and my nails were way too pretty to be chipped by a hound trying to take lumps out of my fingers. So off we popped across the road, and the Alsation spat out the toothpick, lit a fag, and scratched himself. Grand job.
Then, about halfway around the block, I espied what looked like a mid-sized light brown elephant with a trunkless black face. Again, no sign of an owner. Feck's sake, I thought crossly. This dog looked decidedly more interested in us than his apathetic Alsation colleague had seemed, so I reeled Boris right in, made sure I had him on a tight lead, willed him to ignore the monster, and off we went across the road again.
My poor little heart sank right down into the fluffy soles of my Ugg-a-likes when this simply enormous animal started to lumber over the road towards us. I kept walking at a brisk ladies-who-walk-in-pairs-and-swing-their-arms-like-maniacs pace, trying to get around the monster before it actually crossed our path and far enough away for it to just lose interest. No joy - he planted himself square across the footpath, making it impossible to pass him witout stepping out onto the road and right into the school run traffic. I tried to project an aura of authority and calmness and in complete controlness, but in truth every fibre in my body was screaming "OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGodOHMYGODAAAAAAAARGH!" as he looked (thoughtfully and more than a little hungrily, I thought) from Boris to myself and back again.
Getting up close and personal with this thing, you see, had not done anything to set my mind at ease. It was stocky, but terrifyingly muscular, sort of like a canine Arnold Schwarzenegger circa the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition. It was really tall, easily coming up to my waist, and big, powerful looking jaws.
Trying to step around Arnie without getting squashed by oncoming traffic, I firmly told him to "Go home!" which works very well on the sort of scutty little mutts we might usually encounter off-lead on our rounds. This fella was having none of it.
I started to sweat inside my ski-fleece and wish to Christ that I was one of those people who carried big shillelagh type sticks on their rambles.
Although I think Arnie might have taken anything shy of an entire sequoia to be a delightful little chew toy.
I didn't want to turn my back completely on this lad so I turned sideways and tried to make like a crab back the way we'd come, all the while saying "Go home! Go home! GO HOME!" in my most gruff, authoritative voice, which probably sounds a little like Minnie Mouse on helium. No dice. He - not my furiously overactive imagnination - stalked after us, all the while looking from one to the other.
A couple of things flashed through my head as Arnie increased pace to catch up to us and he and Boris went nose-to-nose: the story of Himself's Westie, Casper, biting a (I think) Labrador's nose as a fairly weeny puppy. (I reckoned Arnie wouldn't take something like that lying down.) The story of a Collie that Himself had been acquainted with who had eaten Westie puppies without salt. (Eek! Poor Bor!) And the story of that woman in France who became the world's first recipient of a full face transplant, having been mutilated in a dog attack. (Not my idea of a nice relaxing facial, and I reckoned that it wouldn't take too much of a stretch for Arnie to get those jaws level with my schnozz and tear the face off me.)
As the dogs started to growl at each other and I started to get really and truly Freaked Out, something fantastic happened. Two cars pulled in just down the road. A woman hopped out of a navy Renault and a young fella hopped out of his red motor and they called the dog away from me. Initially, I thought that they must surely be its owners and that it had made a break for freedom and that they were out driving around looking for it, but no - they were just two really decent individuals who saw one girl and her Westie being confronted by a monstrously enormous dog and stopped to help. In the course of the conversation afterwards, they seemed to know the dog a bit so I said things like "Oh, I'm sure he's harmless but - well - the size of him!" and "I feel like an awful eejit" (although that was true). The woman offered me a lift home or a lift down the road a bit just to get past Arnie, but distracted enough not to bother with us anymore, Arnie trotted off across the road... and in the open front door of a house where his owner stood chatting to a woman who had just arrived to the gaff.
Now I'm reasonably sure, after a great deal of Googling, that Arnie is a Bull Mastiff. By law, as one of 10 breeds of dogs deemed dangerous in Ireland, Bull Mastiffs must be kept under strict control when in a public place. According to the Statute Book, that means (a) being muzzled and (b) being kept on a lead, on the other end of which must be a person over the age of 16 who is physically capable of controlling the dog.
Alsations, by the by, are also on The List.
And here I thought that not picking up after their hound was as irresponsible as a dog owner could get...