UPSTAGING MRS FISHWICK

AS the unfortunate Mrs Fishwick made her final exit from Corrie at the hands of the hapless John Stape, two sodden, bedraggled but very relieved border terriers made a dramatic entry – through the dog flap in the back door. They clattered in at ten to eight, ending three days and nights of misery and anguish and totally upstaging the dying Joy. “We’re back!” they barked, as they raced round the living-room, oblivious of the on-screen drama, leaping on and off the settee in a frenzy of homecoming delirium, before nicking a bit of smoked haddock from Ian’s dinner plate and collapsing, exhausted, in front of the fire.

Earlier, through copious tears, I’d asked Ian at what point we should dispose of their bedding and bowls, throw out the toys and leads and rubber bones, cancel the raw meaty bones order from Nigel, our lovely butcher, and take down the £250 dog guard from the back of the car.

“Never!” he replied with the kind of defiant confidence that only men can muster in such desperate situations. “They’ll be back,” he insisted. “It may take some time but they will be back.” How could he be so sure they’d survive the rigours of a Dales winter – snow, sleet, gales, ice – which had blighted our seemingly endless searches of fields and copses and gullies and foxholes? “They’re border terriers, not chihuahuas. They’re tough little beggars,” was the best he could offer. But all I could see were two miserable bundles of fur at the bottom of pothole, crying piteously and wondering why they’d been deserted by their so-called protectors. We would never, ever see them again – of that I was convinced. We certainly didn’t deserve to see them again: losing them twice in a week takes some doing.

But suddenly, there they were. Having been heaven knows where, eating goodness knows what, they had stuck doggedly – now I know the real meaning of the word – together and decided, finally, it was time to put me out of my misery. I cannot for the life of me imagine how they managed to survive, or find their way home having ranged so far. And I never knew it was possible to be so elated at the sight of two pairs of bright, black mischievous eyes.

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