Illustration by Jenny Lamont
In which DD realises that, despite her age, she can still run.
The day started with a little more fur kid activity than usual. The girls, Sheba and Sammy, happily brought their balls to me at 06h30 sharp, as usual. They leap onto the bed and prompt me to get up by either dropping a ball on my head (Sheba) or tossing a ball at me (Sammy). When I started this EMBG (Early Morning Ball Game), I didn’t consider what happens in winter… When it’s pitch dark, cold and usually wet! Eep. Anyway, they got me up and out we went… and, yes, it was pitch dark, cold and wet and I was forced to remove my still warm but, by then, damp socks.
On the very first throw for Sheba, the ball landed in the swimming pool. Drat! Leaning precariously over a swimming pool in the dark is NOT my idea of fun, so, of course, I called for help from The Dad. He kindly came out in his PJs to fish the ball out. Then Aaron came to join the rest of the crazies outside.
As they were busy, Brother Lewie hopped over the wall and came running at me with speed, with something large hanging out of his mouth! In true girlie fashion, I dropped Sammy’s ball, turned and, with arms flailing in the air, doing my Mr Bean run and screaming quietly (it was early in the morning), I hightailed it back inside – leaving everyone else outside totally mystified by my actions as they hadn’t seen Lewie.
On my way, I managed to yell over my shoulder, “Lewie’s got something in his mouth!” (My aim was to reach the cottage safely and shut the door before Lewie could get in! Giggle.) From the safety of the lounge, I watched as James tried to corner him, but, alas, at that time of the morning AND in the dark, he was quicker than James and fled back over the wall with his catch. He was promptly joined by brother Arty and the neighbour’s cat.
The (human) boys couldn’t believe that I’d fled the scene – like a bad captain abandoning ship, leaving them innocently outside in the cold – but all I could think of was if it was poor Mr Squirrel that brother Lewie had caught. Our neighbours were still sound asleep so I couldn’t send anyone to find the cats or even shine torches over the wall.
So everyone came inside… Three steps in, and turning on the light, James let out a growl; it seems that, with bare feet, he’d trodden in a fresh doggie do… How he didn’t feel a big turd squished between his big toe and the next one I don’t know. He claims his foot was frozen and had lost all feeling! He was not amused as he hopped back outside to rinse his foot with the hosepipe (more cold, more frozen foot) and I immediately Whatsapped my kind neighbour to gently break the news that we suspected Lewie had caught Mr Squirrel – and that all the cats were in their garden. (This was done in the hope that she would wake up and send her husband out to help.)
Later on, The Twins sauntered back in. Sheba was very interested in Lewie, practically frisking him and trying to smell his breath, making me worry even more that Mr Squirrel was no more. But, less than an hour later, we saw Mr Squirrel strolling casually across the garden, munching on a nut, none the wiser of how heartbroken I had been. I couldn’t tell who was more excited: me or Sheba (I suspect, though, for different reasons!). Just then, the neighbour replied to my Whatsapp message to say that she’d saved a fat rat from The Twins and her kitty, and released him safely into a bushy neighbouring property. Sjoe! The fact that the rest of the day passed by quite uneventfully was truly a blessing. And, all’s well that ends well – for Mr Squirrel and the fat rat, anyway.