When, as a boy, I read the Jack London novel ‘Call of the Wild’ closely followed by ‘White Fang’ I became obsessed about owning a dog. My first was Corrie a Border Collie and ever since I have owned dogs; a roller coaster of mutual intense love, affection and loyalty and, inevitably, intense grief. There was one dog, however, that fail to arouse such emotions. Winston.
This story was first published on my daughter Laura’s blog, www.arewenearlythereyetmummy.co.uk a number of years ago.
Winston is a dog I remember all too well. Laura’s mother Ann, on a whim, bought a dog to replace Winnie our first dog who had died of a brain tumor. This was a big mistake. Bitches, in my opinion, are much more biddable, whereas dogs spell trouble, big trouble. But for some reason, long forgotten, I was not consulted and arrived home to meet the new male canine member of our family. The puppy stage was fine but when, in time, Winston reached puberty my worst fears were realised. In this period of his short life almost all his waking hours were devoted to devising inventive ways to escape from the garden with the intention, presumably, to ravish the local bitches. Keeping him indoors was not the solution as Winston employed his conscious hours causing expensive mayhem. Winston was a dog I could not bond with; would not be my best friend.
Inevitably, due to his total lack of road sense, Winston, on one of his romantic assignations met his end. As I drove home one Friday night I came across the scene of the collision. Feigning the distraught dog owner, I accepted the condolences of the traumatised driver and helped gather the scattered pieces of his front bumper before loading the inert body of Winston into the rear of my Astra estate car. Concealing my relief, bordering on joy, behind a doleful mask I broke the news to Ann and told her I would respectfully dispose of the body at the local RSPCA on the way to my office the next morning.
On arriving at the RSPCA depot I was surprised to find Winston was as stiff as a board. Rigor mortise had set in. This turned out to be useful as it was easier to carry a stiff dog under my arm than the floppy body that I had heaved into the car the previous night. I walked down the steps to the entrance door only to find the depot was closed for the weekend. My first thought was to simply leave Winston leaning, propped against the door hoping someone would deal with him when the reception opened on the following Monday; I could report back to Ann, with a thin smear of truth, that the RSPCA were respectfully arranging disposal of Winston. But, as I turned to leave I found myself under the surveillance of a little old lady with a shopping trolley, a sour expression and an old man. Under their withering and distasteful stares I decided leaving Winston propped up against the RSPCA reception door was not one of my better ideas. Putting Winston under my arm I walked back up the steps to the car, lifted the tailgate and laid the body back in the temporary hearse. Slamming the door shut I wished my startled elderly audience “good morning” and set off to the office with a new plan.
In the compound, outside the joinery workshop at the back of the office, there were a couple of skips used to dispose of the workshop waste materials. So, during the quiet of the Saturday morning this was where I eventually, disrespectfully, disposed of Winston with the result that I had to tell a complete untruth when I returned home.
On the following Monday I was talking to my boss in his first floor office, and watched mortified, as the skip lorry, having collected the full skip, rumbled slowly passed the window. Winston stood proudly at the front of the skip enacting a canine version of the film Titanic, his ears gently flapping in the breeze. It was a constant problem to the company; local people disposing of their unwanted household goods and appliances in the skips. My boss looked incredulously at the passing skip with its figurehead and muttered “f***ing hell, I thought I’d seen everything but this takes the biscuit!” “A Bonio?” I suggested.