Book · Miscellaneous


Me: I know you aren’t in the best of moods.

Nell: I am not.

Me: But I had to take you to see Alex yesterday.

Nell: Whatever.

Me: You needed your ear drops.

Nell: I didn’t need the shame of a public weigh in.

Me: The scales are in reception.

Nell: I didn’t need my weight discussed by all and sundry. Including a rather large Pyrenean Mountain Dog who had no business getting involved.

Me: I agree. The nurse thought you looked a little slimmer.

Nell: Do you know what it’s like to have David being Marvellous all the time and showered with treats and Harriet eating like a horse and staying slim and petite?

Me: I sort of do know, Nell, as my sisters could always eat what they liked and I never could.

Nell: I am who I am.

Me: I know and I wouldn’t change anything about you. We all love you, Nell. Would you like a pot of Earl Grey by the fire?

Nell: That would be kind. And a soft blanket, perhaps?

Me: Of course. I’ll ask Harriet to bring you the latest Good Housekeeping.

Nell: And just a few of Poppy’s shortbread biscuits?

Me: You are not supposed to have those.

Nell: I understand. Shortbread is reserved for the young and marvellous.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: At least Meghan sounded happy when she called from Australia. They gave her a kangaroo for the royal baby, you know.

Me: I’m not sure it will settle over here, Nell. Although we used to have wallabies on the Isle of Wight.

Nell: It’s a soft toy. Good grief.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous


Nell: I know today is a difficult day for you.

Me: Yes, it is.

Nell: A year ago today we lost your lovely mother.

Me: Yes, we did.

Nell: And I know you think about her every day and miss her very much.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So remember what I told you about the Guardians. When we lose the ones we love they have not really gone. They become our Guardians and they watch over us.

Me: Yes.

Nell: So when things happen to make you smile like the sun coming out on a cloudy day, or the smile of a stranger when you are feeling low then know she is there.

Me: Yes.

Nell: She and I talked about this after we lost little Monty. Just before she became ill.

Me: Yes, you did. He was a lovely dog.

Nell: Yes. And she agreed that becoming a Guardian was a wonderful thing. She said when her time came she would be honoured to watch over you all and that is exactly what she is doing.

Me: But we didn’t know we would lose her so soon, Nell.

Nell: I know. But sometimes it is better that way.

Me: You are right. Sorry.

Nell: No need to be sorry. Not today.

Book · Miscellaneous

Surf Chasing

Me: And they’re off! Surf Chasing.

Nell: Good grief!

Me: Surf Dude Dave is in the lead. Ears flapping and paws thundering as he charges through the sea.

Nell: Surf Dude Dave?

Me: Closely followed on his left by the amazing Surf Sister Harriet, swift of paw and built for speed.

Nell: Surf Sister Harriet? Have you been drinking?

Me: Bringing up the rear to his right and poised for the kill is Surf Queen Nell the salty sea dog.

Nell: I beg your pardon. Salty sea dog and bringing up the rear? There is no rear about this.

Me: Well, you are at the back.

Nell: Harriet and I are on a par. It’s the angle. Anyway, I got the ball.

Me: Yes. You are the Surf Queen.

Nell: My Retrieving Skills are unparalleled.

Me: Although, to be fair Dave ran right past the ball and kept going and Harriet usually lets you have it.

Nell: That’s rich coming from someone who has trouble throwing a ball.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous


Me: Now, I know you are annoyed but…

Nell: Take that thing off me right now.

Me: It would look so much better on you if you smiled.

Nell: I don’t do smiling.

Me: If you did that perky ear thing then.

Nell: What are you talking about?

Me: You know what I mean. The way your ears sort of go up and your face tilts.

Nell: It’s called listening. You should try it sometime.

Me: I thought it would suit you.

Nell: I told you.

Me: Yes, you did.

Nell: I am not that kind of dog. Leave the hippy stuff to the Afghans and fluffy animals like Poppy. Well, maybe not Poppy.

Me: Definitely not Poppy, although she would look sweet.

Nell: Don’t start.

Me: It was worth a try.

Nell: No, it was not worth a try. Annoying me and messing with my Sunday morning.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: If I am going to wear a hat it will be a Philip Treacy, or some other top designer.

Me: Yes.

Nell: It will be Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

Me: Goodness me.

Nell: Somebody get me a pot of Earl Grey. This has been a dreadful start to the day.

Me: Yes, sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous

The secret beach

Me: I don’t like Mondays. They get me down.

Nell: Just think of the secret beach.

Me: Yes. It’s a special place.

Nell: It is. Sometimes when the world is getting you down you just need to go there in your mind.

Me: Very true.

Nell: I like the fact that hardly anyone knows it is there.

Me: So do I.

Nell: Getting there isn’t easy.

Me: No, it isn’t.

Nell: But once you are there it is all worth while.

Me: Are we really talking about the secret beach, or is this some kind of metaphor?

Nell: Metaphor? It’s Monday, give me a break.

Me: I just wondered.

Nell: Have a cup of tea, look at the photos and think of happy times.

Me: Ok, sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous

Strategic Placement

Nell: What is it now?

Me: There is no need to snap at me.

Nell: Today is exceptionally busy as the puppies are sitting their mock exams later and we still have some revising to do.

Me: I just wanted to discuss getting in the way.

Nell: Getting in whose way?

Me: Getting in everyone’s way. Why do you have to do that?

Nell: Are you talking about Strategic Placement?

Me: I might be. You know the way you and the puppies always lie in difficult places, so we have to keep stepping over you, or walking round you?

Nell: Yes, clever isn’t it?

Me: No. It’s ever so annoying.

Nell: Strategic Placement is one of the first skills a young labrador learns. One stretches out to full length, keeping a close eye on all comings and goings. Correct Placement is, of course, essential. If food is being prepared the distance is reduced.

Me: But you are in the way.

Nell: No. We are involved. Whether you are cooking, or going to the bathroom we are placed strategically to offer maximum support.

Me: I don’t find it supportive. I keep telling you to get out of the way.

Nell: But, answer this. Do you miss us when we aren’t there?

Me: That’s not fair. You know I like to have you with me.

Nell: Give me an honest answer. Do you find yourself actually wishing we were there because it’s part of your daily life and even comforting?

Me: Well, yes. Sort of.

Nell: Ha! Now leave the examination room as we have a lot to get through.

Me: Ok. Sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous

Waiting for Tony

Me: Where is Dave?

Nell: Quiet. David is working.

Me: On what?

Nell: On his Waiting Skills.

Me: How is he doing that?

Nell: It has come to my attention that David can be a little impatient.

Me: True.

Nell: So, he is outside waiting for Tony. Under my supervision, of course.

Me: Do you mean Tony, our postman?

Nell: Of course, I do. You know how David goes wild whenever Tony arrives.

Me: He does love Tony and Tony loves him to be fair. They are best mates.

Nell: That’s as maybe, but David needs to try and learn to wait. A large part of a dog’s life is spent waiting and we, labradors, pride ourselves on our patience.

Me: I’m not sure that’s true, Nell. I’ve seen you get very impatient.

Nell: Everyone has a bad day. Stop dwelling on the negatives.

Me: He’s peering over the gate though, Nell, in quite an excited way.

Nell: Yes, I am aware. His task today is to try not to jump when Tony arrives. He may bark to alert us, but he has to try and remain calm.

Me: I’m not optimistic about this.

Nell: David may surprise us all.

Me: He’s definitely going to surprise Tony when he sees that great big face looking over the gate.

Nell: Have faith. This is an important step in David’s development.

Me: But what if he fails?

Nell: Then we will try again. A labrador wasn’t built in a day you know.

Me: Don’t you mean Rome?

Nell: I certainly do not. Now let’s all wait for Tony.

Me: Ok. Sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous


Me: What is going on?

Nell: We decided to have a game of Shenanigans with Kev and, as usual, David took it too far.

Me: What is Shenanigans? It looks fun.

Nell: It’s a labrador game. We all play it.

Me: How does it work?

Nell: You take it in turns. It involves a lot of movement and weaving in and out. Someone is It and then passes it on.

Me: You’ve never played it with me.

Nell: We play it with you all the time.

Me: I didn’t know.

Nell: Yes, that’s half the fun.

Me: Does Kev know?

Nell: Of course, he does. He is an excellent player.

Me: Why didn’t you tell me?

Nell: You are at your best when you don’t know. Less worried.

Me: Could we play now?

Nell: No, we are exhausted.

Me: Please, Nell. I want to play.

Nell: Patience is a virtue, we labs know this is true. Often found in dogs, but seldom found in you.

Me: Well, that’s not true.

Nell: You won’t mind waiting then.

Me: Yes. Sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous

Labrador begging

Me: I wondered if we could talk about labrador begging.

Nell: Begging! We don’t beg.

Me: Oh come on, Nell. Look at your face in that photo.

Nell: You mean my reassuring face.

Me: It’s a begging face.

Nell: It is not. You know we like to show appreciation?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Well, we also like to reassure you.

Me: About what?

Nell: We like you to know we are always there for you.

Me: Only when I’m eating.

Nell: You are at your most vulnerable then.

Me: I am not.

Nell: Notice my head on Kev’s knee and my loving eyes.

Me: I definitely notice David’s head on my knee.

Nell: David is learning fast. He has a kind heart and his reassurance skills are really quite excellent for a young dog.

Me: You are begging for food.

Nell: If you decide to share your food we are, indeed, happy for you to do so.

Me: I know.

Nell: A meal shared is a meal enjoyed. We all know that. Would you prefer to eat alone?

Me: No.

Nell: To silently scoff your food away from everyone.

Me: That’s a bit harsh.

Nell: Isn’t food shared with friends and family much more enjoyable?

Me: Yes.

Nell: I rest my case, now no more of this begging nonsense.

Me: Sorry.

Book · Miscellaneous


Me: I can’t believe it was Harriet.

Nell: Yes, an eye witness came forward placing her at the scene of the crime.

Me: And Dave?

Nell: David is completely innocent.

Me: That’s surprising to be honest.

Nell: Well, innocent of this particular crime anyway.

Me: What do you mean?

Nell: During his cross examination David confessed to eating four cushions and two chairs.

Me: Oh dear. Has the sentencing taken place?

Nell: It has. All privileges have been withdrawn.

Me: Both puppies?

Nell: No. David is on a warning as he confessed.

Me: My poor little Harriet.

Nell: Excuse me?

Me: What an ordeal. She needs a treat.

Nell: No treats.

Me: A cuddle then?

Nell: You are undermining the authority of the court.

Me: I know. But it’s ever so cold today, Nell, and she looks so sad.

Nell: Of course she does she is a labrador.

Me: Please.

Nell: You are making a mockery of the law.

Me: Sorry.

Nell: Go on then. A cuddle will help with her rehabilitation I suppose.