"The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's." – Mark Twain, Letter to W D Howells, 4/2/1899

Something In The City.


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That was how my mistress described what her brother did for a living, he’s ‘something in the city’.

Like a lot of things that humans say I didn’t understand, but after talking to his dog Maisie I found out that he travels into the city and works in a tall building in a tiny office.

Maisie knows this because one day they had a ‘Bring your dog to work day.’ Maisie said it was a lot of fun, but they’re not going to do it anymore. When I asked her why not she said that a massive dogfight broke out when a Dachsund named Fritz tried to hump a German Shepherd named Daisy. She didn’t like the attention so she bit him on the bottom. Naturally Fritz was none too happy about being bitten on the bottom so he latched on to one of daisies legs and gave it a good shake.

It all went rapidly downhill from there.

Other dogs joined in the fight for no other reason than it looked like fun.

Maisie said they were all rather silly and she’d prefer not to have anything to do with them.

It took some time for the office workers to separate all the dogs and Maisie said that she got an extra treat for not being involved in the fight. Apparently the office manager threatened to resign if they ever had another ‘Bring your dog to work day’.

We only see Maisie and her master once a year at Christmas time.

He is way too busy to travel ‘all the way down to the seaside’ to visit us during the rest of the year. My mistress said he is a very important person. But I got the feeling that she was just making excuses for him. I know that she misses him and loves him very much, and she would like to spend more time with him.

They were great friends when they were children and my mistress said that this is most unusual for human children. Brothers and sisters don’t normally get along that well, but they did. He is a year or two older than her, which is not much in human years. They went everywhere together and had heaps of adventures. He would stick up for her if she got into trouble, and he got into the occasional fight when other boys were rude to her. He even took the blame a couple of times when things got broken during their adventures.

My mistress says that he is the best brother ever.

But she says it with a certain amount of sadness in her voice. I wish he wasn’t so busy all the time because I know my mistress would love to see him much more than she does.

I have an ulterior motive for wanting him to visit more.

I really enjoy spending time with Maisie.

She looks a lot like me only with white fur. She’s a little bit smaller and to hear her tell it, that’s okay.

My mistress had a painting made from a photograph that our stationmaster took last year. You can see me and Maisie right up the front, I’m carrying the newspaper in my mouth. We both have Scottish ribbons around our necks which everyone says looks cute. I’m not really into cute all that much, but one has to make concessions around Christmas time. You can see my mistress and her brother in the background. She had her hair dyed blond that year for some reason. She has let it go back to its natural colour now and I like it much better.

I actually barked at her a few times when she changed it to blonde because I thought she was someone else.

That was very embarrassing.

She laughed, but I felt bad.

It took me a couple of weeks to get used to it.

You can also see her brother carrying parcels and a warm rug. It’s a long journey by train and the heaters in the carriages don’t always work well. I know this from experience. I have travelled on trains with my mistress, although we usually drive everywhere. From time to time she likes to travel by train. I like trains and it is fun, but I’d much rather be in the car.

My mistress had the painting turned into a Christmas card and she sent one to each one of her friends. She has a lot of friends. She says that girls usually have lots of friends. I’m not sure what being a girl has to do with it, I’m a boy and I have lots of friends, admittedly, most of them are dogs, but there are a few humans mixed in.

Christmas is a very happy time and not just because we get to see my mistress’s brother and Maisie. Lots of other people come to visit and there is lots of laughter in the house. I love to hear humans laugh. Sometimes it sounds a little bit strange, but I know they are happy, and I’m a big fan of happiness.

One of my most important jobs is to make my mistress happy, and when she is, that makes me happy.

Humans give each other presents at Christmas time. It’s a bit like getting a really big treat if you are a dog. Last year Maisie and I got a bone wrapped up in Christmas paper. Even though they tried to disguise it with paper we knew what it was, we could smell it from the other side of the house. Humans really are silly sometimes. You cannot hide things from dogs, we will sniff them out eventually.

My mistress’s brother usually goes home two days after Christmas, but last year my mistress talked him into staying around until New Year’s Day. I’m not sure what New Year’s Day is, but I know that humans make a lot of noise in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping. Maisie and I don’t like those loud noises. I tried to be brave, but Maisie hid under the bed. It didn’t matter what I said to her she wouldn’t come out until the noise stopped.

The humans had a party at our house last year for what they called New Year’s Eve. There were a lot of people wedged into our small house, and some even spilled out onto the lawn. A couple of them went to sleep and no one seemed to be able to wake them up. I sniffed them all over just to make sure they weren’t dead. No one likes dead people cluttering up the yard. They weren’t dead and they made terrible snoring noises. One of them even threw up, which is okay, dogs do that all the time.

When the party was over there was a mess everywhere, but everyone went to bed and didn’t care about cleaning it up. Maisie and I were awake very early, as usual, and we had a lot of fun tearing up bits of paper, and sniffing everything just to try and work out what it all was.

My favourites were the paper hats.

They had little bits of stretchy string tied to them, I’m not sure what that was for, but it was a lot of fun to play with.

We found a few almost empty bottles and the liquid that was in them smelled very strange. Maisie licked a little bit of it and she got quite dizzy. Naturally, being a gentleman, I stayed with her until she started to feel better.

We both tried to wake up our owners the same way we do every morning, but on this day they just would not wake up. Maisie’s master even used some bad words while he was telling her to go away. She was a little bit shocked, but she knows that humans can be very strange, so she didn’t take it personally.

A lot of time went by and we were both wondering if we were ever going to get our breakfast. Fortunately, the people at the party had dropped some very tasty things on the floor, so we decided to hunt around and find as many of these tasty things as we could. That way, we would make it through till dinner time.

We hung around for a long time waiting for our owners to wake up, but eventually it became clear that they were going to sleep for a long time. We decided to go down to the beach and see if we could have one more adventure before Maisie had to go home.

That was a lovely Christmas and I remember it fondly.

My mistress says that Christmas is not too far away and I wonder what stories Maisie will have to tell when she gets here.

I’m going to tell her about all the new friends I have made this year.

I hope you will be invited to our house for Christmas because I would love to meet the people who are reading these stories.

Now, if you will excuse me, I will have to get back to my mistress.

I’m pretty sure she’s going to need me today.

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