I took Our Harry to the vet’s last week. Booster injection due.
He’s not fussed, but I like going. As a child one of my heroes was that TV vet John Baxter... I wanted to be his Marilyn Webb.
Plus the surgery in Rotherham was once my grandpa’s house. He was a dentist; my mother grew up in the rooms above.
When she and my dad got married, they lived there until they could afford a place of their own.
I like to sit among the quivering cat baskets and the kids with cardboard boxes on their knees and try to picture what went on in that house, long before I was born.
I was imagining my gran, knocking timidly on the surgery door to ask for her housekeeping, when I realised Our Harry had given the waiting room a comedy moment.
He had managed to cross the recently mopped lino to get to a big yellow plastic triangle, warning: ‘Wet Floor’ and obediently pee all over it.
Once in the surgery the vet, an affable chap, ran his hands over Harry, who responded in kind by running his tongue right the way round the vet’s face and plunging it into his ears.
I presume vets go home, chops lacquered with layers of dried dog saliva, to a wife who refuses to kiss them hello until they’ve been hosed down with Dettox.
The injection was administered without incident, but then came bad news. Harry’s dog-breath was down to plaque on his teeth. We have tried to brush them, honest. But he won’t have a toothbrush in his mouth; not even one beefed up with a smear of Marmite.
For you or I, a scale and polish is nothing more taxing than 15 minutes with your gob open while someone my grandpa probably trained hacks away with what feels like a crochet hook. But dogs, I was told, require an entire day in doggy outpatients, a general anaesthetic and a bill for £200.
I tried to convince the vet that our dog wouldn’t hurt a soul, not even one armed with a crochet hook. To no avail, though; the dog is to have his day in surgery and I feel bad about the fact that I’d much rather spend the money on a mini-break.
Worse was to come, though. Our 10-year-old mongrel who has never had a single ailment? There might be a problem with his doo-dahs. One is looking danglier than the other. If it gets any bigger, he may have to have it taken off. Presumably at the cost of a whole week in France.
When we got him aged six he was tackle-intactus and we didn’t like to mess. Particularly as he’s only ever tried to hump a randy Dalmatian when both got locked in a car boot together. Too much of a temptation even from the most gentlemanly hound, Bloke says.
But castration doesn’t only prevent unwanted pups; responsible dog-owners (which clearly we are not) know it prevents testicular cancer. Well, it would.
We have been instructed to keep an eye on the ball, as it were, and a morbid fascination for our dog’s nether regions is developing. Let me tell you, though, dogs do not like being rolled over. It’s fine when they want their belly tickling, not so fine when you want to gawp at their privates.
Harry clamps his legs and arms to the floor; you try to push him over and he manages to right himself every time like a kid’s toy.
I am wondering; might a smear of Marmite help?