April 12, 2013



Some things may be looking up.  No, no, nothing about ARCs and books scheduled for publication in September*.  Both hellhounds ate lunch today for the first time in weeks.  Of course then we had an unexpected meltdown about dinner, arrrgh.  However, eating was eventually accomplished at dinner as well . . . and then they got all cranky about Pav getting bits of chicken for afters too.  Guys.  Your neurosis is showing.

But I was thinking despairingly today . . . I may not only be starting to hope strenuously that Pav doesn’t get too big to pick up**, I may spend my declining years specialising in dogs that are small enough to pick up.***  It is the simple truth that Other People’s Dogs are starting to undermine my delight in my own dogs.  Yes.  It’s that bad.

I think it was two days ago I was giving Pav a last quick sprint around the centre of town.  It was after dark and New Arcadia is not known for its heady night life.  There were only a few people on the street.  Two of them were standing talking to each other outside the Troll and Nightingale.  Between them was a lying-down dog.

I am paranoid, but like the old joke goes, even paranoids have real enemies.  This dog was just lying there but I knew I didn’t like the look of it, and I had taken note that it was not wearing a lead.  I think we’ll not worry about it, I said to Pav, and picked her up.  I then strolled out into the street, so we would be passing Ominous Dog at a little distance instead of possibly invading its private space by passing it on the, you know, public pavement.

We hadn’t even come level with it when it LEAPED to its feet and came barrelling straight at us, barking and snarling with all its hair up.  OH GREAT.  THIS IS GREAT.  I REALLY GOT UP THIS MORNING SAYING PERHAPS TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE.  I yelled, which is what I usually do in these situations, bellowing is less embarrassing than shrieking and if by any chance the human involved is going to do anything this is a SUGGESTION THAT THEY DO IT NOW.

They never do, of course.  In this case as I yelled I swung around, on the theory that fewer dogs will attack a human than will go for the hellterror in the human’s arms, and Toxic Purulence Dog swerved off at the last minute, circled around us and came up behind me again.  I don’t suppose I did feel its hot breath on the back of my neck but I felt as if I was feeling its hot breath on the back of my neck.  Not a small dog.  Just by the way.

Its human said, Awwwwwww, he just wants to say helloooooooo.

Words failed me, which is just as well.  You can neither argue nor reason with these troglodytes—and in this case I guess there is more going on than mere denial.  This guy’s getting off on his evil dog, in some weird passive-aggressive way.  Toxic Purulence Dog eventually peeled away and left us alone, and I, even more eventually, put Pav back on her own feet.†

I was out with Pav after dark again tonight†† but we were at the other end of town.  We were walking past one of the sports grounds which was all lit up because they were playing one of those men-in-shorts-kicking-balls games.  I therefore couldn’t see much into the dark beyond, but I was pretty sure I was seeing . . . an off lead dog and a human.  I picked Pav up.  As we got closer . . . IT WAS TOXIC PURULENCE DOG AGAIN.  How did we get so lucky?  And it ran straight at us††† while its human said, Awwwwww, now, Uncle Wiggly‡ . . .

It swerved off again, a little sooner this time.  Small favours.  I tracked it going down the other side of the football field and thought, we’ll just take an extra loop around the hedgerow so we don’t all arrive back at the car park at the same time.

I was nonetheless looking around like Ripley in Aliens as we got close to the car park and . . . saw a large familiar-looking dog just jumping into a car. ‡ We lingered a little longer before venturing to cross the tarmac and . . . violent, hysterical barking broke out from the car we’d seen.  I risked looking over my shoulder and . . . yup.  Toxic Purulence Dog.  Slightly muffled by being behind a closed window.

Here’s the really incredible bit.  The troglodyte lowered the window so Toxic Purulence Dog could jam its head and shoulders through the opening and scream at us.  I wondered in a cool detached way if TPD was actually going to get out and come after us again. . . .

What is the matter with people?

* * *

* SHADOWS’ official pub date is the 26th of September, if you want to draw a big red circle on your calendar.  I Remember the Good Old Days when authors got their first copies weeks before the rest of the world did.  Now it’s the other way around.  With pre-orders and things readers who are not merely enthusiastic but organised may have your book in their hot little hands weeks before your publisher’s warehouse sends it to you.

** I can’t think of Pav as ‘small’ however.  She’s just . . . low slung.  She’s so frelling solid.^  When I think of a small dog, I think of the sort of critter that you’re afraid of breaking if you pick it up wrong or hold it too tightly.  It’s not merely a question of weight:  Pekinese are solid little beggars.  Bichon Frises, in my admittedly limited experience, are not, although they may weigh half again to twice what a Peke weighs.  While I’m not going to try dribbling Pav like a basketball^^, I’m quite sure she’d bounce and come up smiling.^^^

^ Even if she’s too thin.+

+ . . . mutters:  she is not too thin.


^^^ Love the bullie grin.  Just saying.

*** My second to last dog will be a Yorkshire terrier.  Then I’ll get one of those mobility scooter things and have an extra-large basket put on the front in which can ride a mini-bullie and a small whippet.^

^ Hazel, at nineteen pounds, all of which was leg and spine, curled up on your lap beautifully.  Pav, at twenty-seven pounds, doesn’t fit in your lap at all, partly because she’s a rectangular solid and doesn’t bend very well.

† Pav was all, Okay, that was fun and exciting!  What’s next?  I was shivering with adrenaline and had to sit down for a minute.  No, no, no, said Pav.  Sitting down is not fun and exciting.  Perhaps if I eat your shoelaces you will be aroused to take an interest.

††  I spent most of the afternoon IN THE GARDEN.  Which I will probably tell you about tomorrow.  (*&^%$£”!!!!!, etc.

††† And Pav sat up Very Straight and said, Ooooh, this is fun and exciting!  —She’s been freaked out a couple of times by big dogs rushing up to her, even big friendly dogs.  I would love to know what she’s thinking when we’re having an encounter while I’m carrying her.  As I’ve said many times, she’s very, very good about being carried, because of all that holding when she was a baby;  picking her up is, in fact, a good way of telling her to calm down;  nine times out of ten she collapses instantly.^  But what she is thinking while Armageddon is racing toward us?  ‘I’m taller than he is’?  ‘Nobody goes up against the hellgoddess and lives’?  ‘Wheeeee’?

^ The tenth time, of course, there is major blood loss, and you feel as if you’re holding onto a small exploding galaxy.

‡ Not Its Real Name

‡‡ I hope I’m imagining it that the troglodyte waved at me.


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