So near and yet so far

Me: Is Harriet sitting at the gate again?

Nell: Yes. Jim the Farm Dog is out with the sheep in the fields and she can see him from there. He likes to give her a wave.

Me: It’s hard for them to be apart. So near and yet so far.

Nell: It is just for now. Not for ever.

Me: It feels like forever.

Nell: They can chat on WoofsApp and there are always Zoomies.

Me: What use is running around madly with your tail between your legs?

Nell: What are you talking about? Zoomies are virtual get togethers for families and friends on a platform called Zoom. Everyone knows that. Do keep up.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: How do you think the Welsh corgi choir have been practising? Not to mention the Whippets Institute. Lavinia gave a fascinating talk on quilting last week.

Me: Do I know Lavinia?

Nell: Probably not. She’s an elderly Lurcher from Lymington who’s in self isolation. The Whippets have taken her under their wing.

Me: How kind of them. I suppose you can join in from anywhere?

Nell: Yes. In fact Mutley is in a Zoomie with some local farmers right now.

Me: Why?

Nell: He has had to close down MuttDonalds and Pizza Mutt.

Me: What’s that got to do with the farmers?

Nell: He’s keen to save jobs so he is suggesting that some of his former employees work on their land as pickers this year because the migrant workers can’t come over.

Me: That’s a great idea.

Nell: It was Joyce’s. She was ordering a veg box for Poppy and the supplier told her he was struggling without his usual helpers.

Me: Maybe I’ve got Joyce wrong.

Nell: Yes. Don’t judge a dog by its collar.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.


Oh dear

Nell: This is disgraceful. Look at Kev’s sun hat. It’s in tatters.

Me: I know, but it’s a bit funny, too, Nell.

Nell: It is not.

Me: Kev’s laughing.

Nell: Who is responsible for this outrage?

Me: It’s actually Kev’s fault. He left it lying around.

Nell: That does not mean it has to get eaten.

Me: True. I think it was just a simple mistake.

Nell: I have to say that all three of them look guilty.

Me: Yes, they do.

Nell: I am ruling out Poppy. She may have known about it but I doubt she was heavily involved.

Me: Probably not.

Nell: Harriet has a history of eating cushions.

Me: Yes, she does.

Nell: So she’s most certainly on the list of suspects and will be questioned later.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: The animal with the guiltiest face, however, is definitely David.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Guilt is written all over him.

Me: He looks very sorry but then he knows Kev loved that hat.

Nell: Quite.

Me: Isn’t there anyone else?

Nell: Don’t start blaming The Cat, please.

Me: No. That’s old hat. See what I did there?

Nell: Stop. I’m expecting David to make a full confession by the end of the day.

Me: Or the next few minutes.

Nell: There’s only one punishment for this.

Me: No bacon?

Nell: Yes, only cereal for breakfast for the next few days but that’s not enough.

Me: Don’t send him to jail.

Nell: What? No, he will make Kev another one. Bad behaviour comes from Boredom. We need a distraction for idle paws.

Me: How?

Nell: Both David and Harriet will join The Cat’s sewing class. It’s on YouChewed, so can be done anywhere. Jail? Honestly? He only ate a hat.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Pyjama Day

Nell: Why are you and Harriet still snuggling?

Me: Because we feel like it.

Nell: You are still wearing your pyjamas.

Me: I know and my cheerful stripey socks from Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: Are you having a Pyjama Day?

Me: I might be. I haven’t decided yet.

Nell: Today is actually Cleaning Day.

Me: Is it?

Nell: You know perfectly well it is. Wearing pyjamas is not going to get you out of it.

Me: Worth a try though.

Nell: Not happening.

Me: I was just feeling a bit down, Nell.

Nell: It is quite understandable in these current times. I think tea and a piece of cake might help.

Me: Cake in the morning?

Nell: Especially in the morning. An unexpected treat is extremely effective in lifting the mood. David, for instance, ate an unexpected third egg this morning.

Me: By mistake?

Nell: Yes, he is not sure how it happened but fortunately The Cat didn’t want one. Anyway it’s lifted his mood enormously.

Me: How is The Cat, by the way? Was it angry about the oven gloves accusations?

Nell: Not at all. The Cat couldn’t care less. In my experience, cats are rarely bothered by what people think. It’s far more concerned about the shortage of sequins.

Me: This doesn’t feel like a sequinny kind of time, though, does it?

Nell: No. But it will. You just need to get through this part. Sequinned days are ahead.

Me: So let’s just stay in our pyjamas all day and eat cake.

Nell: That’s not what I just said. Cake and cuddles and then clothes and cleaning.

Me: I really hate cleaning.

Nell: I know you do, but you love a clean house. Remember, you can’t cross a river without getting your paws wet.

Me: Yes. You’re right. Sorry.


We will get there together

Me: Wasn’t it lovely to see Tony again?

Nell: Yes, the puppies didn’t maintain social distancing of course. As soon as they heard his van they rushed to the gate.

Me: I know but they were so pleased to see him.

Nell: I noticed a Beefy but it didn’t appear to be carrying a camera.

Me: Good.

Nell: One can’t be too careful. Ouch. You just pinched me. Don’t do that.

Me: Pinch, punch first of the month. White rabbits and no returns.

Nell: I worry about you sometimes.

Me: It’s just an old custom. I think it means I’m going to be lucky.

Nell: Well, your book is being published at the end of this month so paws crossed.

Me: I had so many plans, Nell. I wanted to celebrate with people. We’ve been on this journey together and I so wanted to meet them and shake their hands.

Nell: You will. Just not now. Life is on hold at the moment. It is the only way to keep everyone safe.

Me: Yes, you are right.

Nell: Sometimes waiting can make things even better. As I explained to David at Morning Thoughts, the anticipation of bacon is almost as good as the taste.

Me: No, it isn’t.

Nell: He said there was only so much anticipating an animal could be expected to do and did I think he might have a second boiled egg because the first hardly touched the sides.

Me: One egg is never enough.

Nell: What I am trying to say is that the journey is turning out to be a little longer and slightly more complicated than we were expecting but we will still get there in the end.

Me: Yes, we will.

Nell: We are in this together. All of us.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Burglars never knock

Nell: Why is David wearing a false beard?

Me: He’s playing burglars with Kev and it’s actually the stuffing out of the dog bed.

Nell: Yes. I realise he hasn’t just grown one overnight. But why burglars?

Me: Well, you know you all sleep downstairs?

Nell: Yes. Apart from Poppy, of course, who has Sharing the Bed privileges.

Me: She is only small, Nell, and she works so hard.

Nell: When you’re away we all have Sharing the Bed privileges. I usually choose to sleep downstairs but at least I know I have options.

Me: Anyway, you three labs sleep in the living room and Mutley has his soft bed in the kitchen.

Nell: Yes, although David has taken to sharing the soft bed recently to keep Mutley warm.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy. So caring.

Nell: What does this have to do with burglars?

Me: When Kev went to bed last night he forgot to shut the stair gate.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: So, at 3:30am I was woken by the sound of it opening and then someone knocked sharply on the bedroom door.

Nell: Knocked?

Me: Yes. I was terrified. I thought it was a burglar.

Nell: A burglar? Why on earth would a burglar knock on the door? Do you think they normally ring on the bell and ask to come in?

Me: Probably not.

Nell: And we are five dogs. Wouldn’t we have noticed something and alerted you?

Me: Anyway, I hid under the covers and that was when I felt a wet cold nose nudging me.

Nell: I’m guessing it was David.

Me: Yes. Dave was the burglar. It was his tail wagging against the door that sounded like a knock.

Nell: You have far too much imagination.

Me: I know. Sorry.


Somebody ate the oven gloves

Me: Morning Thoughts are late today. Is it because the clocks have gone forward?

Nell: No. This has nothing to do with clocks and it is not Morning Thoughts.

Me: It looks rather serious.

Nell: It is. Somebody has eaten the oven gloves.

Me: Oh dear. You don’t think they could have just worn out over time?

Nell: There are signs of biting and tearing.

Me: Has anyone confessed yet?

Nell: Harriet is refusing to answer and David has put his head under the table.

Me: Maybe he is just tired.

Nell: He is hiding behind Kev’s legs.

Me: My darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: Normally I would blame Harriet as she is a serial chewer but in this case I am afraid evidence is pointing towards David.

Me: Why?

Nell: Poppy admitted that during the cooking of yesterday’s roast beef she may have inadvertently got beef juices on the oven gloves.

Me: Dave loves roast beef. It is right up there with bacon.

Nell: Yes, it is. Now, I am willing to accept that this may have started out as vigorous licking but it definitely proceeded to chewing.

Me: What are you going to do?

Nell: I’m afraid neither of the puppies will be having roast beef sandwiches for lunch.

Me: Oh no. You called them puppies, by the way.

Nell: A brief lapse. Where was I?

Me: No roast beef sandwiches.

Nell: Yes. Just plain cheese and no pickle.

Me: They don’t like pickle.

Nell: That’s not the point.

Me: What if one of them confesses?

Nell: Then the other one can have roast beef.

Me: Look, they are calling you. What did they say? Have they both confessed to save the other? Bless them.

Nell: No. They said it was The Cat.

Me: Oh dear. Sorry.


Sunday Morning Exercises

Me: What is going on?

Nell: David fell asleep during Sunday Morning Exercises.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He was doing really well on his Back Twirling, although I don’t think he needs to sing along, but then he turned over and went to sleep.

Me: I’m glad you’re all exercising though.

Nell: It’s important. Our walks have reduced so we need to keep fit and healthy.

Me: Who is running the exercise class?

Nell: It’s online. Our Penguin did the filming with Gladys and her team and the Welsh Corgi choir are providing the backing music.

Me: I wouldn’t have thought of the Welsh Corgi choir as fitness experts.

Nell: They aren’t, but they can belt out a tune when needed. You should hear their version of ‘Stayin Alive’.

Me: Very appropriate. Who else is on Gladys’s team?

Nell: She has covered all shapes and sizes.

Me: Good.

Nell: We have Alejandro the alpaca and Monty the moose representing the larger animals and Mutley the seniors.

Me: Excellent.

Nell: Malcolm the flamingo and Ginger the Canada goose are covering the larger birds. Timothy refused.

Me: He’s quite a reclusive turkey.

Nell: Yes, and he has his art classes. Owl Pacino and Tawny Tim are encouraging the smaller birds and Susan is bravely representing the seagulls as we live by the sea.

Me: Even the Beefies?

Nell: After much discussion we decided that we are all in this together and if there are any Beefies self isolating at the moment then they should be included.

Me: That’s admirable.

Nell: The Cat is covering the felines and Henry and Horst the insects.

Me: I wouldn’t have thought woodlice could do a lot of moves.

Nell: Then you would be wrong. Henry in particular is astonishingly flexible.

Me: Gosh. Sorry.


Dave is exhausted

Nell: David fell asleep during Morning Thoughts again. Harriet and I were in the middle of a deep discussion and he started snoring.

Me: He’s probably exhausted trying to Keep Us All Safe.

Nell: He’s exhausted after staying up late with Gladys watching Petflix.

Me: It doesn’t matter, Nell. Let them have their fun.

Nell: You know they made bacon sandwiches at midnight?

Me: I thought I could smell bacon.

Nell: Mutley joined them. He thought it was the morning.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Joyce was not amused.

Me: Did you find out what she and Myfanwy were fighting about?

Nell: Yes. Myfanwy wants to join Knitwear Wolf on his rounds but she is not a key worker and should be staying home.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: Joyce told her she was irresponsible but she says she can’t bear to be without him.

Me: Well, I have to say I am on Joyce’s side. We are all struggling with not seeing loved ones at the moment but we have no choice.

Nell: Yes. She is putting herself and others in danger. Knitwear Wolf has told her to stay home so hopefully she will listen.

Me: How is Dave coping without Sally?

Nell: He misses her dreadfully but she is needed in London. And there’s always bacon.

Me: When did Joyce move in, by the way?

Nell: A while ago. Mutley needs a lot of care now he is getting frailer so she offered to help.

Me: Maybe Myfanwy needs to move in with Knitwear Wolf.

Nell: Stop meddling.

Me: It’s very hard not to be with the ones you love, Nell.

Nell: We have the technology to keep in touch. Use it to let people know you are there for them. We are in this together.

Me: You’re right. Sorry.


Taking Selfies in the Sunshine

Nell: What on earth have you and David been up to?

Me: We were taking a few selfies in the sunshine but they kept on going wrong.

Nell: I can see that.

Me: Dave was trying to get my glasses because I couldn’t see, so I had to close one eye.

Nell: Where were your glasses?

Me: On my head which made us laugh. Then Dave stuck his tongue out.

Nell: Which made you laugh again?

Me: Yes, and then Dave had to close one eye.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: When I found my glasses Dave had gone, so Harriet gave me a kiss instead.

Nell: Well, don’t disturb David again, please. He has important work to do.

Me: More llamas in pyjamas?

Nell: Worse.

Me: Surely not.

Nell: Our Penguin filmed a very heated argument.

Me: Not the larger beasts? Only Monty and Olive are finding Alejandro’s singing a little tiring. Moose and reindeer aren’t really used to alpacas.

Nell: No. Monty did mention on our WoofsApp group that there are only so many times one can listen to ‘Guantanamera’ but it wasn’t them.

Me: Not Henry and Horst? They are such peaceful woodlice.

Nell: No. They are a little concerned about their cousin Horace who was seen out when he shouldn’t have been, but they are fine otherwise.

Me: Who was it then?

Nell: Joyce and Myfanwy. Shouting at each other. Knitwear Wolf had to intervene.

Me: Yes, because if you count Our Penguin filming that makes three and you’re only allowed two. In fact if you count Knitwear Wolf it makes four.

Nell: They were keeping to the two metre rule. The question is, what were they shouting about?

Me: Don’t ask me.

Nell: I’m not asking you. It was a rhetorical question.

Me: Of course. Sorry.


Keeping us Safe

Me: How is my Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: He is outside on his lounger Keeping us Safe.

Me: That’s quite a lot for a pup to do.

Nell: Firstly, David is not a pup. He will be 3 in June. Secondly, he is in need of Distraction.

Me: Aren’t we all?

Nell: Exactly. If there isn’t enough Distraction people tend to Dwell. And not on the good things.

Me: True.

Nell: David has been tasked with Watching and Waiting.

Me: That’s ever so hard, Nell. He finds it really difficult to wait for anything.

Nell: Harriet goes out to see him regularly with her notebook and they record what he has seen.

Me: Anything interesting yet?

Nell: Three Beefies wearing sombreros flouted the social distancing rules but dispersed after a warning bark.

Me: Seagulls in sombreros? An interesting choice of hat. Maybe because it’s sunny.

Nell: Just showing off I suspect. You know what they’re like.

Me: At least they weren’t throwing mackerel. Anything else?

Nell: A couple of llamas in pyjamas as usual.

Me: A lot of people can’t be bothered to get dressed at the moment.

Nell: Well, they should. They’ll feel much better if they do.

Me: Everyone needs a pyjama day now and again.

Nell: But not every day. Those llamas are becoming lazy. I may have to have a word.

Me: You’re not allowed, Nell. No groups of more than two except from the same family.

Nell: I have a carrying voice. If needed I shall call to them from the garden.

Me: What are you going to say? ‘Take those pyjamas off, you lazy llamas.’ What if they do? We can’t have naked llamas wandering around.

Nell: Naked llamas? Don’t be ridiculous. All llamas have coats. Do keep up.

Me: Oh yes. Sorry.