David is looking Concerned

Me: What’s wrong with Dave’s leg?

Nell: Nothing at all. Why are you asking?

Me: It’s stretched right out and he’s looking concerned.

Nell: Is he?

Me: I think he might have done something to himself. Not that you look bothered.

Nell: I’m not bothered because David is just doing his Limbering Up exercises.

Me: Are you sure?

Nell: Yes, and he looks concerned because of that awful weather yesterday. He thinks it might come back again.

Me: It was dreadful, wasn’t it? Thunder and lightning and torrential rain.

Nell: Most inconvenient. Gladys and the llamas had to move to The Barn and there’s no space there to Glide properly.

Me: The larger animals have to go somewhere. It’s their home.

Nell: Gladys needs to keep fitness levels high.

Me: It’s lucky we live up high. Tony said down in Kingsbridge it was flooded in places and some shops had to shut.

Nell: It was even worse in Salcombe. My friend Dorothy was caught up in it all.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: She had to swim to safety.

Me: Gosh. How worrying.

Nell: Water doesn’t bother Dorothy. She’s a Salcombe Setter. They live to sail.

Me: Our house seems full of insects, by the way.

Nell: Henry and Horst ordered a mass evacuation. They knew you wouldn’t mind.

Me: Are they all leaving soon?

Nell: Yes, as soon as they’ve registered.

Me: Registered? For what?

Nell: All animals and insects have to register.

Me: Why?

Nell: How else can they vote?

Me: Are we having another General Election?

Nell: Don’t be silly.

Me: Or a Local Election?

Nell: No. It’s got nothing to do with elections.

Me: Why are they voting then?

Nell: Because Strictly Come Prancing will be starting soon. Every vote counts.

Me: Of course it does. Sorry.


Changing your Mindset

Nell: Would you kindly stop photographing our training session?

Me: You’re not training. You’re sitting in a field catching biscuits.

Nell: Haven’t you noticed all the Agility Apparatus surrounding us?

Me: You never use it, Nell. You just walk around it.

Nell: That’s still using it.

Me: Not really.

Nell: It’s just a question of changing your mindset.

Me: Is it?

Nell: Of course. Now, everyone needs to increase their fitness levels.

Me: I can’t argue with that.

Nell: The last few months have been a little too sluggish, especially for some.

Me: I had Covid, Nell.

Nell: Yes, I’m aware of that, but now the time has come to put Sluggishness aside.

Me: Oh dear.

Nell: And embrace Exuberance.

Me: Exuberance? I don’t think I can manage that yet. Can’t I just be mildly enthusiastic?

Nell: No. You have to Seize the Day.

Me: Have you been drinking espressos with The Cat?

Nell: No, I might have had a cappuccino with Babycakes Gillespie, but it was decaf.

Me: Well, Chloe is going to be very impressed with you when she sees you later.

Nell: Yes. A light massage, a little lasering and some hydrotherapy is exactly what I need.

Me: Don’t just float, Nell. Because I know that’s what you do when you get tired.

Nell: I do not. I merely lift my paws briefly and meditate.

Me: If that’s what you want to call it.

Nell: So, how about a few laps around the field?

Me: You’re not expecting me to run, are you?

Nell: No, a brisk walk will do.

Me: Are you going to join me? Or are your laps going to be out of the water bowl? See what I did there?

Nell: Just start walking and remember to swing your arms.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A News Day

Me: What’s the matter with you?

Nell: Don’t ask.

Me: Did you get out of bed on the wrong side?

Nell: My bed is on the sofa. There is only one side.

Me: It’s just a saying. Did someone burn your toast?

Nell: No. I didn’t have toast this morning. Manuel made me pancakes with maple syrup and a little bacon on the side.

Me: How very North American of him.

Nell: Yes. He’s a huge fan of Rhubarb.

Me: With pancakes?

Nell: No. Rhubarb the Bernese Mountain Dog. She is joining Strictly as one of the professional dancers.

Me: I still don’t see where pancakes fit in.

Nell: Rhubarb is from Canada. Do keep up.

Me: Talking of Canada I have some wonderful news. Chris and Shannon are flying over for Christmas.

Nell: Finally some truly excellent news and something to look forward to.

Me: Yes, Chris wants a proper English Christmas.

Nell: Then that’s exactly what he will have.

Me: So, what’s wrong with you?

Nell: Anton just called me about the third judge.

Me: Who is it?

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: It’s Princess.

Me: Princess? But she’s a seal.

Nell: Don’t be so sealist.

Me: No. You’re right.

Nell: I’m not right but that’s what Anton said to me when I expressed my misgivings.

Me: I have to say Princess isn’t my first thought when it comes to dancing.

Nell: Apparently Princess has ‘just the right amount of enthusiasm and warmth needed to counteract Nell’s censorious style.’ I quote.

Me: A head judge has to be a bit censorious.

Nell: All Princess does is clap.

Me: It’s a seal thing.

Nell: You do realise we are going to be subjected to weeks and weeks of this.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Joking with Dave

Me: Dave is never going to win Cheeky Animals.

Nell: David has an honest open nature.

Me: He can’t resist sticking his tongue out even though he knows I’m watching.

Nell: I think he enjoys you winning more than he minds losing.

Me: Yes. Darling Big Brave Beautiful Boy.

Nell: He walked straight past his bowl to come and upstairs and greet you this morning.

Me: He did?

Nell: It was his second breakfast, but still quite impressive.

Me: A full bowl means everything to a Labrador.

Nell: It does.

Me: I have a joke for you.

Nell: Oh dear.

Me: A Labrador bumps into a Genie.

Nell: Was it David?

Me: It might have been.

Nell: David often bumps into people.

Me: So Dave bumps into a Genie and the Genie gives him three wishes.

Nell: I’m surprised he didn’t get a telling off. Genies can be rather tetchy.

Me: Anyway, the Genie asks Dave for his first wish and after a little bit of thought…

Nell: David doesn’t like to linger.

Me: Dave says he would like a bowl of food that keeps on refilling once it was empty.

Nell: That’s an excellent idea. Well done, David.

Me: Yes. The Genie agrees and the bowl appears. Dave starts eating and sure enough the bowl refills every time.

Nell: Extraordinary.

Me: So the Genie asks Dave for his other two wishes.

Nell: I can’t wait to hear this.

Me: And Dave says, ‘I’ll have another couple of those bowls, please.’

Nell: What?

Me: Isn’t that hilarious?

Nell: He’s wasted his wishes.

Me: I know.

Nell: I need a word with him right now.

Me: But it didn’t really happen, Nell. It was only a joke.

Nell: Oh yes. It just sounded like something David would do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Harriet must Fight Back

Me: You’re a bunch of slugabeds this morning?

Nell: It’s Sunday. Everyone is entitled to a lie in.

Me: I suppose so. Did you have breakfast?

Nell: Of course we did. Sunday is bacon sandwiches day. Why do you think we’re so tired?

Me: Silly me.

Nell: You shouldn’t take photos when we’re asleep.

Me: You weren’t asleep.

Nell: The others were.

Me: Poppy hasn’t allowed Dave much of the dog bed.

Nell: She got there first so David can only sleep up to the green toy.

Me: That’s a bit mean, Nell.

Nell: Poppy likes her space. Now, I was talking to Harriet at Morning Thoughts.

Me: What about?

Nell: Jim the Farm Dog

Me: That’s an awfully delicate subject, Nell.

Nell: Rumour has it that Jim the Farm Dog has been approached to appear on Strictly as a celebrity contestant.

Me: Who is Rumour? The Cat?

Nell: No. My friend Dorothy, if you must know. She heard it from a Beagle.

Me: Why should we believe him?

Nell: He’s a lead reporter at the Daily Growl.

Me: Fair enough. How is Jim a celebrity?

Nell: His performance in ‘West Side Story’ was much acclaimed.

Me: Oh yes. He played Tony and Harriet was Maria.

Nell: There is a problem, however.

Me: Oh no.

Nell: Jim was approached by Juanita.

Me: Again?

Nell: She wants to be his professional partner.

Me: I hope he said no.

Nell: It’s not up to him.

Me: What can we do?

Nell: Harriet must fight back.

Me: How?

Nell: Beauregard is going to approach her later.

Me: Why?

Nell: He is going to be Harriet’s professional partner.

Me: But she isn’t a contestant and it’s not her decision.

Nell: Just watch this space. Nobody is putting Harriet in a corner.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


A Substantial Toy

Me: Look at my Big Brave Beautiful Boy with his favourite toy.

Nell: Don’t get me started on that dreadful toy. Do you know how heavy it is?

Me: He needs a Substantial Toy, Nell. He’s a growing lad.

Nell: Nobody needs a Substantial Toy. And when did you start saying ‘lad’?

Me: Those tiny little toys are no good for him. He hardly notices they are there.

Nell: You’ll notice it’s there when he drops it on your foot. Believe me.

Me: Yes. Kev complained about that a few days ago.

Nell: And it squeaks in a dreadfully needy way.

Me: But he loves carrying it around.

Nell: Alejandro loves carrying Gladys around but he doesn’t drop her on people.

Me: Alejandro is an alpaca from Ecuador and Gladys is a Pomeranian. They are different.

Nell: You’re telling me. At least all that performing with the llamas has paid off.

Me: Yes, I’m delighted Gladys is one of the professional dancers this year.

Nell: I’m talking about Alejandro. He has been invited to join Strictly.

Me: As a professional dancer?

Nell: No. Don’t be silly. As a celebrity contestant.

Me: Alejandro isn’t a celebrity.

Nell: Of course he is. People will travel miles to hear a singing alpaca you know.

Me: But it’s a dancing show.

Nell: Alejandro is more than willing to learn.

Me: Let’s hope he gets Gladys as a partner then.

Nell: I’m not sure that will be allowed.

Me: No. You’re right. Otherwise Dave would get Sally.

Nell: Sally?

Me: Yes.

Nell: Sally is the head of the Secret Service. She doesn’t have time for dancing competitions.

Me: Stephen Seagull is the head of the Beefies and he’s entering.

Nell: I beg your pardon?

Me: Look. It says it here in the Daily Growl. Sorry.


Toby is a Good Boy

Me: Isn’t Toby just the sweetest little puppy?

Nell: Yes, I’m looking forward to meeting him.

Me: He already knows how to play Cheeky Animals. Look at his little face.

Nell: Clever pup.

Me: He went for his first walk yesterday and Sue says he was a really good boy.

Nell: Of course he was. He’s David’s nephew.

Me: I still can’t get over the fact that my Big Brave Beautiful Boy is an uncle.

Nell: Well, he is. Have you heard the latest?

Me: Oh dear. Now, I know we were supposed to have croissants for breakfast but hot buttered toast is still tasty. Especially when it’s covered in Poppy’s home made marmalade.

Nell: What on earth are you talking about?

Me: Dave meant to share but they were fresh out of the oven and crumbly in the mouth and once he’d eaten one the rest just followed.

Nell: Good grief.

Me: It was an easy mistake to make and he is ever so sorry and he is going to try awfully hard not to do it again.

Nell: And pugs might fly.

Me: Don’t you mean pigs?

Nell: No. Anyway, it isn’t about croissants.

Me: That’s a relief.

Nell: It’s about dancing. Have you seen the leaflets the Beefies are handing out?

Me: No. Although strictly speaking, Beefies don’t actually have hands.

Nell: Strictly is the word.

Me: Why? The Beefies aren’t entering the competition, are they?

Nell: I hope not. But according to the posters advertising the dancing school, Juanita is one of the professional dancers.

Me: How exciting. Is the Portuguese Podenco involved too?

Nell: He might be. And we don’t know he is Portuguese.

Me: I feel like he is.

Nell: I feel like a croissant but that’s not happening, is it?

Me: No. Sorry.


You know that Podenco from Paignton?

Nell: You’re not going to believe this.

Me: I just might.

Nell: You know that Podenco from Paignton?

Me: The Portuguese one?

Nell: We don’t know what nationality he is and that isn’t the point.

Me: Do you mean the one who is a friend of Juanita’s?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Juanita the Spanish Water Dog with luscious curls and flashing eyes?

Nell: Yes, although luscious is a little excessive for this time of the morning.

Me: Juanita the Spanish Water Dog who danced with Jim the Farm Dog?

Nell: Yes.

Me: Who upset Harriet and made her Wallow?

Nell: Yes.

Me: That Podenco?

Nell: Yes.

Me: What about him?

Nell: He and Juanita are opening a dance school in Kingsbridge.

Me: But that’s just down the road.

Nell: I know.

Me: Literally on our doorstep.

Nell: Gladys isn’t best pleased.

Me: Why?

Nell: She thinks people won’t want to Glide with Gladys.

Me: Surely there’s room for both. Glide in the mornings and tango in the afternoons.

Nell: That’s what Rupert said.

Me: Did he now?

Nell: Why are you smiling like that?

Me: Is Mistress Nelly going to be spending her afternoons tangoing in Kingsbridge with Knitwear Wolf?

Nell: Certainly not. I’m far too busy for that.

Me: What a shame. I can just imagine you and Rupert swirling about the floor. He would be wearing a smart black knitted suit and you would have a rose in your teeth.

Nell: You have far too vivid an imagination for your own good. No right minded animal is ever going to chew on a rose. They have thorns.

Me: Just like you.

Nell: I beg your pardon.

Me: Beautiful, but spiky.

Nell: Spiky? I merely speak my mind which is exactly what a head judge should do.

Me: Yes. Sorry.


Counting Birds

Nell: Stop lurking behind me. I know you’re there.

Me: What are you doing out here?

Nell: Counting Birds. It helps to pass the time.

Me: We count sheep.

Nell: That’s far too easy. Birds are more unpredictable and require greater focus.

Me: Not all birds. Flamingos aren’t unpredictable and neither are penguins.

Nell: How do you know? Have you ever counted them?

Me: No.

Nell: Well then.

Me: Have you come to a decision about Strictly? Are you going to be head judge?

Nell: We discussed it at Morning Thoughts and the general consensus was that I would be the perfect animal for the job.

Me: I agree.

Nell: Everyone seems confident that I will be fair and honest with my judging and not swayed by emotional attachments.

Me: Are you talking about Beauregard?

Nell: Certainly not. I was referring to David. My nephew.

Me: Of course.

Nell: And Poppy is like a sister to me.

Me: Poppy?

Nell: Poppy is a professional dancer. Her Paso Doble is renowned all over the world.

Me: Is that the dance with the bullfighter and the cape?

Nell: Yes. Traditionally the man is the bullfighter and the woman is the cape.

Me: I see.

Nell: But that’s not the way Poppy does it.

Me: I’m guessing she’s the bullfighter.

Nell: Correct.

Me: Isn’t she rather small to be a bullfighter?

Nell: There is nothing small about Poppy.

Me: Except for her size.

Nell: Size is relative. Marvin’s friend Rhubarb is an excellent dancer and she’s a Bernese Mountain Dog.

Me: Will she be performing?

Nell: Possibly. Restrictions permitting, as she will have to fly here from Canada.

Me: I wouldn’t have to fly in from anywhere.

Nell: You are not a professional dancer.

Me: Not yet.

Nell: Not ever.

Me: No. Sorry.


Nell has some Exciting News

Me: Look at you all cheerful and smiley like the cat who got the cream.

Nell: The Cat doesn’t like cream. It’s watching its figure.

Me: You know exactly what I mean. What’s going on?

Nell: If you must know I’ve had some rather exciting news.

Me: Do tell.

Nell: Strictly have asked me to be their head judge.

Me: You? Are you serious?

Nell: Of course I am. I’m awfully experienced you know. Anton just called me on the iBone.

Me: Anton did?

Nell: Yes, Anton Du Bark, the lithe whippet. My old dancing partner. You must remember him.

Me: Oh, that Anton.

Nell: Yes. He’s one of the judges too this year.

Me: Are we still talking about Strictly?

Nell: Yes. Strictly Come Prancing. What’s the matter with you?

Me: Oh, I thought you meant Dancing.

Nell: I do. It’s a dancing competition held every year. Gladys is one of the regular professionals and they’re trying to persuade Beauregard to join them.

Me: You should definitely do it, Nell. You would be marvellous.

Nell: That’s what The Cat said. It’s in charge of costumes again.

Me: How exciting.

Nell: But do I have the time, or the inclination? I’m a senior Labrador now. Should I be slowing down?

Me: You would be absolutely perfect, Nell. Your no nonsense attitude is just what they need.

Nell: I will need to maintain complete impartiality throughout, however, which is going to be very hard.

Me: Why?

Nell: David is one of the professionals.

Me: My Big Brave Beautiful Boy?

Nell: Yes. He is extremely popular with the general public, of course.

Me: I can just see him in his top hat and tails.

Nell: Just the one, thank you. Dancing with a tail is difficult enough, believe me.

Me: Yes. Sorry.