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I’m worried about Gill. I think she’s gone over the deep end. When we were last chatting, she mentioned in passing that she had taken her Little Dog with her to London last weekend .

“Oh?” I queried. “Since when do you have a dog? And why wasn’t I informed? Am I responsible for more vet bills I don’t know about? Is there something you need to tell me?” (It wouldn’t be the first –or last– time my adult children stuck me with a pet and its bills.)

“Whoa, Nellie! It’s just a little plastic toy dog about one inch high, Ma.” And she showed it to me via Skype. It was black and white polka dotted, not unlike a Dalmation.

“It’s cute but I’m missing something here. Why do you have it, where did you get it, and why is it now your traveling companion? Are you that hard up for new friends?”

“I took it from a child I know slightly.”

“You took it from a child? Have you turned into a monster?”

“Calm down, Ma. Actually the child’s mother saw me admiring it and gave it to me.”

“I see. Does the child know its property is gone? Is there a warrant out for your arrest?”

“Ma, give me some credit! I just like the little dog and it goes everywhere with me…to work, when I go to London to visit friends, to the pub, for walks…”

“I see…well, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. After all, you DID have an imaginary friend as a child and you are the one who loved making dioramas with your Christmas foil-wrapped Santas and putting them in the scenes. And then there was your more recent Piñata phase…Wouldn’t it just be easier to volunteer at an animal shelter or walk a friend’s dog? You really miss Newton, don’t you?”

Newton was Gill’s Bourke’s parakeet and he did travel everywhere with her in Toronto — to art galleries, on her bike, to the park (where he had the misfortune to pick up a dose of The Clap), on the ferry to the island. He was a well-travelled parakeet and was, it has to be said, an excellent traveling companion. There are those who suspect Newton (or the huge blow-up photo of him that went with her to her thesis defense) was the deciding factor in the granting of her degree. One could do worse…he was a smart chap.

As the icing on the cake, Gill added that, when she’s having a rough day at work (banging her head on the desk and rocking in a fetal position), her colleague (the mother of the previous owner of Little Dog) allows her to cuddle the ‘mother’ of Little Dog… Did anyone understand that?

This plastic dog has taken on the persona of that Gnome on television, the one shilling for a travel website. I suspect Little Dog is feeling a little worse for wear since he travelled to London with Gill this past weekend, went to the same pubs she did, and had too many late nights filled with debauchery — well, booze– which leads me to wonder about Gill’s credentials to be a responsible pet owner.

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