We’ve had two moments of unbridled terror this last fortnight.
The first was prompted – rather surprisingly – by a Kleeneze catalogue. In case you’ve never heard of “Kleeneze” before, I’ll explain a bit about it. As I understand it, Kleeneze entices gullible souls to pay up front to be door-to-door salesmen for unremarkable cleaning products. They buy catalogues, shove them through your letterbox in a ziplock bag, then come back to collect them a few days later hoping that you’ve either:
a) elected to buy something from which they can earn commission (unlikely in the extreme), OR
b) kept the catalogue safe from your Beagles and resisted dumping it in the bin along with all the other junk that’s landed on the doormat including:
- 37 charity bin bags you’re supposed to fill with old clothes
- the latest phone directory (seriously does anybody still use them?)
- some appalling waste of paper and ink from local politicians
- bank statements that have been arriving twice-weekly ever since you signed up to their paperless scheme
- a voucher for £1 off your first deep-fried tandoori-and-Mars-bar-flavored pizza from Bob & Jim’s Delhi-Belly TakeAway.
The Kleeneze model dates right back to the 1920’s and frankly it’s astonishing that it’s still going, but unfortunately it is, and we got one of its damned catalogues. I didn’t have the heart to bin it outright, and Beanie would have ripped it to shreds if she’d got her paws on it, so I just dumped it outside the house to be collected at some point in the future, hopefully without any ringing of the doorbell.
As it turned out, collection time came some days later while I was washing the Beaglemobile. A little kid ran up our driveway and intercepted me just as I was opening our front door to go back inside for a coffee.
“I’ve come for the Kleeneze catalogue” he announced.
“OK” I replied, “It’s just down there.. or.. it was.”
I pointed to the spot by the door where I’d left it, but it was already gone. Presumably a recent storm had grabbed it and whisked it away. The kid started to say something to me, but was drowned out by the sound of Biggles huffing and puffing. He’d been fast asleep on the sofa, but the sound of our voices had stirred him to leap to his feet, cast off his favorite orange blankie and sprint right through the open door. I immediately commanded him to stop (well, it’s always worth a try, right?) and reached down to grab his collar as backup.
The command failed, and so did the grab, but it didn’t matter because the kid’s reaction brought Biggles to an abrupt halt. I don’t know whether the kid was just plain afraid of dogs (even ones with big comedy ears and tufty white bottoms) or had misinterpreted my rush to secure The Bigglet as a sign of danger, but regardless, he screamed and raised up his arms as if performing an old-school upright row with an invisible barbell. Then after a slight pause for dramatic effect, and with his arms still raised in that curious and infamously shoulder-unfriendly position, he turned and ran off down the street.
I was left kind of stunned by this, and so was Biggles. Fortunately I came to my senses before he did, so I was able to hook his collar with my fingers and lead him back inside, closing the door firmly behind us. We haven’t had any more Kleeneze catalogues through our letterbox since.
Our second terror-filled encounter came during the offlead section of an otherwise pleasant beach outing. Needing a day off running, I walked Beanie and Biggles far enough up the beach to avoid unwanted encounters with other dogs and under-age Kleeneze representatives, then unclipped their leads. I had my camera with me – hoping to get some shots of them playing – but as Sods Law dictates, they sprinted away without even looking back; by the time I’d got the lens cap off they were just dots on the horizon. Happily those dots didn’t shrink further and disappear; instead they kept to-ing and fro-ing over the same patch of beach as Beanie chased after birds, and Biggles chased after Beanie.
It took a while, but eventually they tired themselves out so much that they were happy to hang out near me and get regular servings of chicken. I strolled with them further up the beach for a while, until something ahead caught Beanie’s eye and she and Biggles went to investigate. At first it looked to me like a strange lump of seaweed in a puddle, but as I drew closer I recognised it as a dead fish, beached by the receding tide. Beanie was first to arrive at the fish, and Biggles drew up alongside her, sniffing the corpse tentatively to assess whether it had any potential as food. Within a second Biggles concluded that he wanted no part it; he trotted on past, casting Beanie a backward glance that said “trust me Beanie, no good can come from that, whatever it is.”
Beanie should have trusted him. He is after all the world’s least fussy eater; if anything is remotely edible, he’ll have a piece of it. He’ll even chow down on his worming tablet without me having to coat it in yoghurt, hide it in a treat, or just plain thrust it down his throat like I have to do with her royal haughtiness. So, when Biggles told her to leave it alone, that’s exactly what she should have done. But she didn’t. She inched closer and closer to it, until she could nudge it with her nose. The instant her sniffer made contact, the “dead” fish renanimated and flipped itself over in the puddle.
The movement of the zombie fish was shockingly fast and abrupt, coming without any prior warning. The movement of the Beanster was even faster. Without flexing her legs she instantly leaped back nearly a full yard. On landing she composed herself then trotted back to me deperately trying – but failing – to appear unshaken. Biggles turned to come back to me too, and gave his sister a robust but unhelpful “I told you so!” woofing.
A mutual “let’s put this behind us” shake followed, after which I got them both back on lead and back to the car.
Since that unfortunate experience The Pupplet has been spending even more time in our bed than usual. Maybe she believes that zombie fish know and respect that age-old rule: nothing scary can get you if you keep the covers over your head.