Since the infamous ‘frog/dog/blog’ incident a couple of months ago, which left Archie with bright red gums and a need to vomit – twice – I have seen Mr Paterson, our backyard frog only once. I guess the one thing that would guarantee his disappearance from our lives would be me building him a micro pond to enjoy. Still, the dogs have enjoyed their daily drink from their new exotic water bowl, complete with earth flavourings of rock, bark and leaf.
Yesterday started out dry and quite sunny, but with clouds scattered around that looked as though they might be capable of clumping together and dishing out some business if they felt like it. We had gone shopping and among other things that meant that the dogs had received a treat of a pig’s ear each, and that I was now running really late as my normal routine of getting the shopping out of the way so I could get on with baking over lunch had been thrown out by my husband enjoying his own Sunday routine, which was to stay in his pyjamas way too long reading the news. Lucy was chewing on her pig’s ear after I had taken it from the serial thief, Archie, who had somehow ended up with both of them outside on the chair.
I was busying myself in the kitchen when the rain came. I had a batch of biscuits in the oven and was about to start melting butter in a pan for a loaf, when I heard the unmistakeable sound of rain hitting the patio pavings.
‘Washing, Lucy!’ I cried, heading for the patio door, and like the faithful hound she is, she leapt off the couch and joined me while I ran into the garden. Archie, seeing us coming, leapt off his chair and grabbed his pig’s ear from the ground where he had dropped it, to protect it from the descending hoardes that were approaching.
‘At ease, Archie,’ I told him, ‘Your pig’s ear is safe.’ I ripped the clean laundry off the line and into a basket. Lucy sat at my feet while I completed the job, then followed me back inside. We had been under a minute.
But Archie is not a dog who likes to waste an opportunity. Archie was in the middle of the living room floor, chewing furiously. In the sixty seconds that Lucy had been outside with me, he had not only defended his own pig’s ear, but snuck in, found Lucy’s, grabbed it off the sofa and demolished half of it.
He didn’t even look up as we came in. He was not going to make the mistake of making eye contact with anyone, no sir. To make eye contact would be a sign of weakness, plus it would lose him valuable chew time. He knew the likelihood was that I was going to take his prize from him again and he was trying as fast as he could to dispose of the evidence, in the best way he knew how.
But I did not do that. Instead, I went outside and found his untouched treat and gave that to Lucy instead. She did not seem to understand that she was getting a better deal. A whole pig’s ear as opposed to a soggy half finished one. It took some time for her to be convinced. I had to hide it and get her to find it a couple of times before she really felt it was worth keeping.
Meanwhile, Archie had finished Lucy’s ear and was now looking for his. He was not pleased to find he, too had been robbed.
After the downpour I threw the dogs in the car and we walked around the park. It was just getting dark and the air had the fresh smell of the recent rain, so instead of plugging my earphones in and listening to a podcast, I used to the time to enjoy the moment with my dogs, who were padding through the wet grass exploring all the new smells and doing so to the chorus of frogs chirping in selective bursts as we completed our circuit. As we walked along a bank of roses at the foot of a gentle slope, the chorus would halt abruptly as we approached, then start up again and we moved through, as if we were passing through swing doors of sound.
I sat down to write my blog as the dogs amused themselves in the yard. My husband arrived home and went outside to join them briefly. Then I heard him say, ‘Hello mate. No Archie, you stay away.’
Mr Paterson was back.
We got the dogs inside. By the way Archie was shaking his head and coughing, he may have already got his mouth too close to the frog. I checked his gums. They were OK but I rinsed his mouth just in case. My husband, meanwhile decided to find a place for Mr P where he could be safe and put him in a large planter box we have in the garden. He settled himself in a corner of the box, tucked under the shade cloth fabric we had used to line it.
I am not sure how long he was there – I kept the dogs in for the rest of the evening, but this morning Mr P was once again gone. No doubt off to find a place to sing his song in his never ending search for a Mrs P to let her know that he has found a great place, with just a perfect micro pond that he knows she is going to love.