“He’s scarpered again,” I yell up the stairs, my voice sliding back down over the varnished anaglypta.
I get a grunt in reply so I have no choice. I take off down the towpath in my red tartan carpet slippers and dressing gown, a pink spider-webby hairnet pulled tightly over my hedgehog rollers. “Boogie,” I yell, up and down the canal. I haven’t had my cornflakes yet and it probably shows in my voice. “Boogie,” I try to sing out before trudging back to the cottage through last night’s towpath litter decorating the canal bank: a couple of condoms, something akin to a bank statement, and a purple lace brassiere. I push at that with my toe and consider its worth. Picking it up with one strap I find it is a 42DD and ram it into my dressing gown pocket.
Boogie’s a good dog really, it’s just this early morning lapse when I open the door to bring in the milk; he darts between my legs like Ballabriggs out of the gate at the Grand National. Of course he’s nothing like a race horse with his shaggy black coat and white ruff. His plumpness is not his fault either, but that of His Nibs Indoors who insists on sharing everything from bacon and eggs, to fish and chips with the little blighter.
We love the bugger to bits and wouldn’t be without him. At nights he sits between us on the settee watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, licking His Nibs’s Bounty Bar, growling at the music and wagging his tail at the applause.
I eat my Kellogg's and wonder where he’s got to, he should be home by now. Nibsey comes down the stairs sniffing the air; his way of saying ‘where’s the bacon sarnies then?’ But he must know there’s something up because I just sit there, turning the milk bottle round and around on the Formica table. “Not come back then?” he says.
“No,” I say. It’s pretty obvious, but Nibsey is good at asking questions like that. “We should go and find him together.”
I pull on the green tracksuit I got in Oxfam last week and we go back to the canal. In three hours we talk to just a couple of people who say they haven’t seen any dogs. We shout and yell until we are hoarse. I try not to cry. Nibsey has a look that I haven’t seen since our old tomcat, Trevor, got run over and that was twenty years ago.
We go home. I boil the milk for elevenses. Nibsey still hasn’t had his breakfast, I feel so sorry for him I throw a couple of streaky rashers under the grill. I pour the milk over the Nescaff and push the mug in front of him.
“He can’t be lost, he just can’t. Not a clever dog like that. He’ll come back, won’t he?” says Nibsey.
For the first time in twenty years, we hold hands.
© S. B. Borgersen July 2011