For those of you who read my blog at the end of October, you will know that our family dog is not at all well. In spite of the medication his arthritis is getting worse, and we’re worried that he won’t be around much longer. When I see him lollop up the stairs or shuffle under my desk I can’t help but compare him now with how he used to be.
For those people who don’t already know, I live in Bali with my husband, daughter and our dog Polo, who is a Bali dog. We also have 2 cats, but that’s another story. It’s important to know that Polo is a Bali dog because they are very different to the dogs descended from pedigrees that populate most of the planet. Bali dogs are what I call ‘real’ dogs, meaning that as well as being intelligent, cunning and protective they are driven by their basic instincts because they are not the product of hundreds of years of selective breeding. They are dogs... not pets… and woe betide anyone who misses this distinction.
A few years ago, when Polo was the equivalent of middle-aged in human years, we had a big bar-b-que at our house. As usually happens, one of our friends called to say he’d just bumped into a friend he hadn’t seen for a while, and was it okay to bring him along. Of course we said it was no problem.
But there was a problem because when they arrived the friend, a Frenchman, had his dog with him - and it wasn’t any dog - it was a Rottweiler. My husband took Pierre to one side and told him that although he was welcome, his dog was not, because we have a Bali dog who is very protective and doesn’t like other dogs on his territory, so please could he either take his dog home or leave him in the pickup outside.
‘But my dog,’ said Pierre with a very French accent, ‘ee loves evereebodee.’
‘That’s not the point,’ my husband replied, ‘my dog doesn’t.’
‘Haw haw!’ sniffed Pierre. ‘My dog eez a Rottweiler. Ee eez very fierce! And look at your dog,’ he gestured with a Gallic shrug, ‘ee eez a white around heez snout… ee eez an old man compared to my young dog.’
‘Listen, mate,’ my husband said, ‘it’s your dog and it’s your decision. But I’m telling you, if he stays here my dog’ll have your dog - and it won’t be pleasant.’
I was chatting to friends at the time, but after sensing there was a problem I'd tuned into the conversation behind me. I squeezed up my eyes wishing I’d been the one to talk to Pierre. Now, it seemed, my husband had thrown down a gauntlet - and I could tell that Pierre was the kind of man who could not help but pick it up.
I turned to try and intervene, but I was too late. I saw Pierre smile a slow, curling Continental smile. ‘Eet eez okay,’ he said, nodding his head and patting my husband on the shoulder. ‘I know my dog. Your dog cannot ‘urt eem. Ee will stay.’
And stay he did until a few hours later when it was dark, my husband was cooking, and the smell of sausages, chicken, steaks and lamb chops wafted on the evening air. Everyone saw the black and tan dog prancing and dancing enticed by the meaty aroma coming from the bar-b-que. But nobody saw the black dog, huddled under the hedge like a shadow, edging closer and closer.
A piercing scream - a flurry of fur midair - and it was all over. The stunned crowd stared as Pierre scooped up his dog, whose testicles were miraculously still attached, and carried him out of the gate to his pickup.
‘I told him it wouldn’t be pleasant,’ murmured my husband, grabbing a piece of steak with the tongs and tossing it to Polo. ‘Some people never listen, do they boy.’
J M Leitch is author of The Zul Enigma, a factual futuristic thriller looking back at a cataclysmic event occurring on 21 December 2012, end of the Mayan calendar.