Dogs and Mad Englishmen, Part 1

By Tony Moorby July 06, 2018

The dog saga continues and is probably now of Icelandic proportions. Regular readers know only too well that I harbor absolutely no predilection for dogs; the converse for what most people assume is the societal norm for an Englishman.

Perhaps I should explain the genesis of my aversion to accepting any kind of canine camaraderie. My twin brother and I were brought up in West London, England, in a typical street full of Victorian and Edwardian row houses.

People lived cheek-by-jowl and knew everyone else’s business. We lived in a small block of six modern apartments – a structure that replaced two large houses that had suffered the bombing consequences of the War.

About fifty yards north was a public house, The Carpenter’s Arms. Like our flats, it was built after the war, replacing a previous structure on the corner of a short road leading to the posh St. Peter’s Square. It was designed in the typical ’50s style, with no vernacular reach back to history. Plain brickwork was occasionally interrupted by windows that were placed too high for the average passer-by to peer in and observe the occupants (some of whom preferred not to be seen).

In any case, they were opaque except for the writing that outlined the various wares available inside – ales, stout, whiskey and so on. While the landlord was a nice enough fellow – you know, cardigan and long sleeved shirts – he stood in contrast to his blousy wife who wore enough jewelry to pass as workout equipment when sported for a full day and reaching for the beer pumps around her ample bosom.

The place was guarded. Not by an alarm system but by Rex, an Alsatian German Shepherd, whose black markings over olive drab fur underlined a viciousness that would have sent the Hound of the Baskervilles packing. Rex would rather sink his bared fangs, lips curled back, raised hair on its neck, crunching into your arm than have anything to do with gently guarding sheep.

Although a gate separated Rex and the pub’s living quarters from victims of the outside world, his rush forward created immediate paralysis, halted breath and a tingling sensation down both arms. Sheer jaw-dropping terror followed in the full and certain belief of his ability to charge straight through the gate. His saliva splattered in all directions, depicting his appetite for living flesh.

A beer garden at the rear of the pub, closed when the pub was, provided Rex with a zoo-like enclosure, which he defended with equal vigor to the building itself. Judging by the amount of dog effluent left behind, Rex was well fed!

Rex was fierce. Rex was a dog, so therefore all dogs were fierce. A totally natural conclusion to any six-year-old promoting a life-long fear that haunted like Marley’s Ghost.

Even now, the baying creature across the street makes a cautionary exercise of any chores to be carried out in front of the house – “Do they have invisible fencing? Does it work? Does it take any notice?” One of our previous dogs took a masochistic affection to running through the electric boundaries. We would have had to crank it up to “FRY” before Sophie would have changed her compunction to run free. Burnt dog does not smell like barbecue!


To be continued…

Last modified on Saturday, 07 July 2018 14:39

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