I have just been propositioned on Peckham Rye Common. In broad daylight. By the One O’Clock club that I went to as a child. Well. To be strictly honest, Junior Dog was propositioned in broad daylight by the One O’Clock Club but, as his chosen representative in the, er, attempted transaction I need a shower, a slice of Ayres carrot cake and a strong cup of coffee.
The dogs and I had just dropped Mac off at nursery and all three canines were champing at the bit to get onto a big bit of greenery. Well, Senior Dog could take it or leave it but the other two were sweeping him away with their enthusiasm so it was a merry band of dogs that ran around like lunatics for half an hour. After they’d investigated every sniff, chased every crow and watered every tree on the common I headed towards the One O’Clock Club side of the common so that I could walk them off, cool them down and generally get the mud off of their paws on concrete.
As we approached the path, a lady dressed in a Country Casuals wax jacket and raspberry coloured cords was attempting to control a gorgeous chocolate Labrador by screaming “Flora, come here at once!” at her departing figure. Flora looked to be a woman on a mission, charging up to a surprised looking Jack Russell, flinging herself on her back and displaying her nether regions. The bitch (and I mean that in a caring way) was obviously on heat.
This set all three of my boys off. Senior Dog, tired but always up for a romp or two, started bouncing up and down, Middle Dog yowled in what he thought was a “come and get it lady!” tone of bark and Junior Dog turned into the Tazmanian Devil. Flora was dragged unceremoniously back to the path whereby she decided to flaunt herself in front of her mirror image, Junior Dog.
All three of my boys are handsome in their own right: Senior Dog is a regal looking King Charles Spaniel with an aura of “oh I can’t be bothered” about him. Middle Dog is a collie/cairn terrier cross and looks like a grizzly bear but decidedly smaller. Junior Dog is a fine specimen of black Labrador, glossy and sinewy. And well up for what Flora was offering on a plate.
“Oh, he’s beautiful” said Country Casuals as she attempted to hold onto Flora, put her on a lead, prevent her from ramming her rump into Senior Dogs face and stroke Junior Dog at the same time. “Yes, he is” I agreed, preparing to take my leave of the strumpet and her owner. “Is he, you know, intact?” Country Casuals panted as she held Flora in an armlock and peered sideways at Junior’s Crown Jewels. I agreed that he was and attempted to drag all three dogs away from their very own lap dancer. Country Casuals peered at me over the top of her bifocals “I say, you wouldn’t be interested in breeding him would you?”
This is a topic that has divided both David and I in the past: to castrate or to breed. I have heard too many tales of dogs that have been “done” and it changes their merry nature. A friend had a spaniel who was so off his head (he used to run round walls like a Wall of Death rider) she was advised to give him the unkindest cut of all. It made not a jot of difference to his Wall of Death skills but he now did it while snarling and snapping and savaging anything that didn’t move. Friend Andy had a scatty Rottweiler (he cried every time the door bell rang and was scared of the dark) but, once he’d been allowed to do his stuff with a lady Rotty called Jezebel, he felt more at home in his skin. By this I mean, he barked the house down every time the doorbell rang but was not averse to Sunday morning cuddles under the duvet and tummy tickles.
I would have loved all my boys to become fathers, sure it would be the making of them. David was more worried that, when I was offered either the pick of the litter or payment as per the price of the puppies (which is my right as the stud fee), I’d come home with a puppy. So it never happened.
Country Casuals was still talking “Flora’s been hip scored and she’s a pure breed, only just turned one and, as you can see, is absolutely beautiful. Just like your dog there, he’s so handsome, they’d have lovely puppies” I was sold on it. And I could tell Junior Dog was gagging for it. Literally. He was choking as he strained to get to “his” woman.
I nodded quickly, banishing David’s fears to the back of my mind. I’d take the price of the puppy and put it in Mac’s bank account. I asked her where she lived and said that I’d get the contracts drawn up (again, have heard horror stories where the owners of the stud have been paid “the price we’re charging for the puppies, £150” and have then enquired anonymously a few days later only to be told “pure bred mate, the others have gone for £500 and there’s only one left”). It’s a mercenary business you know. Country Casuals was staring at me as if I’d gone mad. “I can come over later this afternoon, about five? I’ll bring his papers and if I could see hers that would be lovely.” I prompted, thinking that I’d have time to check the contract and anything else I should know out with the vet before I got her to sign anything. Junior Dog cost us £450 so Mac was in for a small windfall.
“What do you mean: contracts?” Country Casuals asked, now helping Flora to flaunt her rear at Junior Dog (who was foaming at the mouth at this point) and keeping her away from Senior and Middle Dog who were sulking and trying to get the attention of the One O’Clock Club lady who was sweeping the play area. “Well, I want it done properly, contracts, stud payment to be taken as the price of what you are going to sell the puppies for. I’d like to see her family line too, I’ve got his for you to see.” I pointed out, quite chuffed at my business acumen.
“Well, can’t we do it right here, right now?” Country Casuals said, rolling up her sleeves and looking around her. Kids played further along by the café, people were enjoying the weak sunshine while they drank their tea and a group of workmen were doing something by the lamppost with a pneumatic drill.
I was affronted and found myself swelling up with righteous indignation. “He’s a pure breed!” I said, jabbing a finger at Junior Dog who was lying down, exhausted with his longing for the wanton temptress Flora who was giving all three of my boys a “come hither” look. “So is she!” Country Casuals said as she bent down to her tarty animal. “Then you should want more for her than a quick bunk up behind the One O’Clock Club!” said I as I wrapped the three leads tightly around my hand. “Oh come on, it’ll only take half an hour” Country Casuals wheedled as she started talking to Flora in a baby voice “Now dawling, de naughty doggie is going to jump onto your booful liddle backie wackie and give oo booful bubbas!”
A half an hour bunk up behind the One O’Clock Club while we two look on and Senior and Middle Dog get a quick thrill. Is that all my boys, erm, stuff is worth?
“I don’t think so” I hissed between clenched teeth. “If you are serious about this then you need to do it properly but don’t even think about asking me again. You should have more respect for yourself and for Flora!” My dander was seriously up – I was outraged. As I stalked off (dragging Junior Dog behind me) and got into the car I had to sit for a while to calm myself down. Junior Dog, the poor thing, was looking seriously peed off on the back seat, especially as the other two appeared to be mocking him.
As we drove out of the park, Country Casuals and Flora were talking to a rugged looking man with a shaggy Golden Labrador. Flora was doing the Dance of the Seven Veils and Country Casuals was laughing at something Rugged Looking Man was saying. I wound down the window and yelled “TART!”.
Come to think of it, I’m now not quite sure if I meant Country Casuals or her hound.