Wednesday, 5 September 2012

My Doorstep

What is it about my door step?

I have mentioned that my dogs are feral by instinct.  Doggy disappeared into the bush to give birth and I only found her hidey-hole two days after she alerted me to her imminent part by disappearing. 

Number Three disappeared several days ago.  Surrounding my little patch of God’s earth are square kilometres of virgin bush, home to a variety of wildlife including all manner of bird, reptile and mammal, including two very noisy, but not noisome troops of monkeys.      If a dog wants to hide from prying eyes, it could not be in a better place.  Just from a military point of view, I could hide a battalion of infantry complete with artillery support in the forest behind my house.  Recognising that she was in labour, much to Marcia’s disquiet, I had made a bed up for her in our room.  First time the door was left ajar, however, she was off.

After three days of her absence, Dominic and I knew we had a job on finding her.  If things had gone according to plan, she would have found a secluded spot that suited her, dug a hole and given birth in it, then reappeared, skinny and wasted demanding food and would have then, nervously perhaps but with the trust the bond between man and dog creates, led us to her litter.

It was Dominic who found her dead in the feeble hollow she had tried to scrape.

‘Daddy, can’t you cut her open and save the puppies?’

Her eyes were glazed and her dry, lolling tongue was already home to teeming ants.

‘I don’t think so, Son’

‘But I can feel movement!’ he cried frantically pressing his hands to her abdomen.  I knew it was pointless but I followed his lead and gently felt her distended stomach.

We had spent hours beating around the bush so heartless as it may seem, I saw no reason to beat about further.

‘What you are feeling, son, are the gases of decomposition gurgling in her guts.  She’s been dead over 24 hours.  I am sorry, but there is nothing we can do.’

I could see that this was tearing his heart out.  ‘The puppies,’ he said, ‘the poor puppies’

‘They will just have gone to sleep like their mother did,’ was all I could think to say, ‘I can cut her open if you want but don’t you think it would be better if we left them all together?’

He agreed but he was busted up, I could see that by the way he was trying not to let me see him cry by averting his eyes from mine and staring deeper into the forest in which this lovely, ever so loyal and ultimately unfortunate dog, our Number Three, had suffered her lonely death.

There’s nothing like a bit of hard labour to avoid introspection.

‘I don’t want Alex to see this,’ I informed Dominic, ‘It is his birthday.  We should bury Number Three now.  Go and get a shovel and an enschada and we’ll do it together.

So we did, burying her were she fell in that lovely forest setting.  She was a wreck when I found her on my doorstep but at least she enjoyed nearly a year of TLC before, as it ultimately turned out, foolishly getting pregnant.  At least she had a good shagging in her short lifetime.  Nice Paul was at the party and after I told him what had happened, he sat with Dom and explained to him that sometimes it was better to let nature take its course.

The day after Alex’s birthday party, I said goodbye to Dominic as he headed back to school and with Marcia in town, I was suddenly acutely aware of the empty sofa from which Dominic regaled me with his stories and the suddenly enormous space under my desk formerly occupied by a dog so loyal it followed me everywhere and would groan with pleasure every time I stroked her.  But these dogs are wild.  Like the soldiers once under my command, they only followed me out of idle curiosity and only obeyed the orders they felt like obeying.  As far as the dogs were concerned, that single order was ‘OUT!’.  I made a special effort to teach them that one as I could understand my neighbour’s point of view that me sitting in his restaurant surrounded by wild dogs was putting his other more civilised clients off the food they were paying him for.

I don’t know what it is about my doorstep.  I do not wander around the neighbourhood handing out leaflets extolling the salvation to be found at the Church of Tom’s Doorstep but, bugger me if I didn’t stumble over something again at four in the morning when I was off to water one of the palm trees.

It’s always girls, I notice.  Is there something about me that leaves girls feeling safe?  There she was, remnants of her umbilical chord still hanging, collapsed on my step.  She could only have been a few hours old.  How did I know in pre dawn darkness that this was female?  Easy.  In this part of the world the only things you are going to find collapsed on a doorstep are drunk errant husbands so this still intoxicated but no longer errant husband automatically assumed that this example of one of God’s creatures looking nothing like a husband must be female and in distress.  I wasn’t wrong.

Having watered the foliage I picked her up and dumped her on the sofa.  An ambulant air breathing foetus makes a nice snack for some of the beasties around here so she was better off inside.  Marcia didn’t see it that way when she woke up and found it snuggled into the clothes she had carefully laid out the night before.  ‘This is a GOAT!’ she bawled.  ‘Is it?’ I said with all the astonishment my hangover allowed.

Those of you enjoying long and happy marriages don’t need advice from some git on his third time around but if there are those out there willing to learn from someone else’s mistakes, leave your joke book at home when your wife is pissed off with you.  The fairer species have a radar specially tuned to detect piss, especially when it is being taken out of them without authorisation, along with fists designed to home in at a frantic pace on the jaws of those breaking this simple rule.

‘Ok, it’s a goat’ I said wondering whether it was still worth trying to brush my teeth, ‘I found it last night’

‘You FOUND it!!!’

Go on then, clever clogs, answer that one before even having a half a whiff of the early morning, oh so necessary Cuppa T that is every decent chap’s right.

Of course I bloody found it.  It isn’t as if, charged by some ethereal flaming instruction delivered to me during a dream I went hunting naked through the bush at four O’clock in the morning and sought out a goatling for some obscure religious purpose.  I just fell over the damn thing like I do my boots or any of Alex’s toys when I am busting for a slash.  But merely to say ‘Yes’ at this juncture would appear flippant and with demolished teeth, I was quite keen to hang on to reasonably serviceable ribs. At least I´d still be able to laugh about it afterwards.  Let’s face it, I wasn’t even out of fucking bed yet so looming over me with God only knows what culinary device to hand, she had the advantage of me.

‘A goat?  Gosh!’ I lisped, hoping I looked as stupid as she thought I was.

Marcia pulled on a different outfit and stormed off to town.

Well, there I was in urgent need of a decent dentist and a less that 24 hour old kid on my hands which was now following my lead and bleating painfully.

Nice Paul came round for Elevenses (a shared big pot of strong tea).  ‘That’s what I hate about goats’ he said when he clocked the little tyke, ‘the mothers abandon so many of their kids.’ 


‘Survival,’ Paul continued, ‘They drop their kids and if they can’t keep up with the herd within an hour, they’re history ‘cos the Hyenas will have ‘em’

So I did what anyone would do under the circumstances.  ‘Alex!  Time you learnt how to drink out of a mug’.  Confiscating his bibirão (milk bottle or whatever these things with nipples on the end are called in English, seriously, I have forgotten) I prepared a mix for the goat.   Took me bloody ages.  The little bastard seemed determined to die.  As fast as I poured the milk down it, it vomited it all over my shirt and then flopped weakly into a corner.  Right, that’s it, I thought, I can’t be doing with this sort of wilful malingering.  ‘DRINK THIS OR CHOKE AND DIE. YOUR CHOICE YOU LITTLE SHIT!’

Amazingly, it was not only born speaking English, it responded to discipline.
Mum, you know you smoking is bad for me?
Not half as bad as when Marcia finds out you are drinking from Alex's bottle. 
So do us both a favour and glug it down as quickly as you can.
Now all I need to do is come up with a name.  And stop it climbing all over the furniture and jumping up on the coffee table.  Two days old.  Good grief.

Making friends with the other denizens of Fort Gowans


  1. this is EXACTLY how I started
    welcome to my world my friend x

  2. I am sorry about Number Three and that Dominic had to find her. Good thinking on your part to get him to help you bury her. Hard labour can help in those moments.

    My take is that animals seem to sense where a safe place is when they take refuge. Or the least scary. I also can't help thinking that there's some sort of communication they have where they tell one another the location of the safe houses. Word's out, Tom. If a place near Angelsy is too far for them to travel, your doorstep in Angola it is!


  3. If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
    Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

  4. Sad and happy all in one go. At least now you have to remain cool, calm and collected (because ... nothing can now be allowed to get your goat.

    Actually, why not call her "Goat"?

    Hope Alex made the transition to tankard without too much fuss.

  5. JG. Really? So this might just be the tip of the iceberg? The start of the slippery slope? 4 in the morning the little bleeder woke me up bleating at a volume to wake the dead (and me) demanding her bottle!

    Megan, send me your address, I'll post them to you...

    JohnD, very true. I also like Kipling's giving your heart to a dog so he can tear it apart.

    Sir Owl, young Master Alex was fine. Bout time he started pulling his own pints anyway. I need to get away from the tradition of calling things what they are. Used to upset my wives and the odd boss doing that. Lots of things get my goat but everyone accuses me of acting the goat. Perhaps why this little lady came to me in the first place...

  6. How do you house train a goat?

  7. Rusty, I think I will do a quick update post on that!


Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.