Hello everyone, I am taking the day off to hand over to Lily for a very special interview. Having seen his picture on a recent visit, she has become quite enamoured of Dougal. Now, Lils, have you learned to use the spell-checker? I don’t want the kind of nonsense you did on my blog when we were away and you nicked my computer?
Off you go, Mum cos my pal Dougal is coming to visit and Uncle Cam left special food for us. I think it’s sausages.
Hello, Mum’s friends. Today my guest is Dougal Stephenson who is a very special dog indeed because he just wrote a book, like what Mum and her other pals do. Welcome, Dougal. Leave your Mum to chat to mine and we’ll go into the kitchen where we can share my bowl.
Hello, bonjour Lily. Comment ca va? Oh, of course, you speak English. Shame, was hoping to sharpen up on my French. Mind, I love your accent. Is there a sofa? I usually sit on a sofa. I’m absolutely done in, pooped. No, I didn’t sleep on the way – had to keep my eye on the route. My Boss is hopeless when it comes to direction. So, if I start snoring, wake me up… Whoops was that a cat? Love chasing cats – oh for the feel of a bit of fluff in one’s mouth.
My name is Piston and I run this kennel. I’m here to help Lily by taking short-paw. Touch me and you die, hearth-rug!
Oh he’s your cat, sorry. By the way, Lily I love your hair.
Thank you, Copied Mum. Now, come-on Dougal, concentrate – a sausage would help. One or maybe, three.
Oooh, thanks. May I say it’s an honour to be invited to your house, in France, my favourite country. Sadly we drove, was hoping for a Virgin flight. The boss muttered something about price. She’s a right skinflint. A few more sausages might help keep me awake. Mmmmm. Delicious!
Welcome. Uncle Cameron used to make them before he went off to live in own kennel with Frankie. Don’t understand why you didn’t use carpet -Mum sends magic carpet to bring friends here. Maybe your mum didn’t fancy? Come on, tell me. Book – How did you do it?
Now, Lily, that’s the question I continually ask myself. Trial, error and hard graft. Sorry, need to give my beard a quick rub, bit of sausage stuck. Oh, not on your sofa, sure, fair enough!
Feel free – furniture is for living on, Piston sharpens claws and I wipe beard too. What made you think of writing a book?
Lily I had to. Life was getting me down. Writing my diary kept me sane. Then, her indoors found it and the rest, as one might say, is history. God I hate clichés.
What is it about?
Well, it’s about me; my hopes, fears and dreams. Living with a hopeless owner, coping with London life, making friends and finding at the end of the day, I’m totally obsessed with balls, mad on mud, long to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic and am a complete hypochondriac.
Can you type? I find it very difficult with paws. Do you use the spell checker?
Do I type? What do you think these nails are for? Luckily I’ve never had them clipped and do very little pavement walking, so they’re perfect for keyboard use. A spell-checker, yes, but all those American spellings! How’s a dog meant to know the difference? I searched the shelves of Smiths for a self-help book; spelling for canine dummies, only to find I was in Smyths, and the shelves were full of Barbie dolls and roller skates.
Got any cat food? Went to this party with loads of cats. Wasn’t sure which I preferred, chasing cats or eating their food.
Of course, but I’ll ask Piston first. He is my best pal and I don’t knick his grub. Did your mum help? My mum is awful (sorry author…oops!) Does your mum write other books?
Well, she did contact a publisher on my behalf, suggesting my book could be worth reading.I’m not entirely sure what she writes. I keep hearing her talk about some thriller, cozy crime, I believe it’s called. Frankly I’m not convinced she’ll ever get round to it, she never sticks to anything.
Where is your home kennel? Who else lives with you?
I sleep on the bed. Yes, the bed. It took two year of serious canine cunning to achieve this. And when I finally got up there, I was dammed if I was going to lose my spot. I now share it with the boss and a small rescue dog. Well people call her a dog but she looks like a rat. I’ve had to do a lot of looking after. My name should be Nana, like the dog in Peter Pan.
Ah we all sleep on same bed too. Bit of a squeeze with Dad being bit big. Are you a forever dog, like me?
No, I’m not. I was born spoilt, not exactly royalty spoilt, no butlers, footmen or stately home banquets. And no silver spoon in my mouth, which wouldn’t taste nice, particularly if cleaned with Brasso.
What is your favourite game? My best one is going riding in the travel kennel. We have to take Piston-cat with us but that is OK cos I have someone to play with.
Favourite game? Cocking my leg is a skill. One frequently commented upon – the height to which I can lift my leg. The beauty of my arabesque. Even your cat, Piston, licking his privates – forget it. No, Darcey Bussell, has nothing on me.
Balls are my thing. I am obsessed. She’s about to seek a counsellor. It’s fun for me, but a pain for those I give it to, especially when I drop it into a baby’s pram. I’m only trying to develop a new fan base and encourage sport. But the parents aren’t keen. By the way, did you get the message? I thought she called you at the last pee stop to say all balls must be hidden.
I love swimming, are you a water dog? Next to balls, I’m water mad. Yes, and car mad; sitting in the passenger seat, window open, ears waving in the breeze.
OMG the cat’s coming into the room, I must not chase, I absolutely must not… Oh hello? Goodness, I’ve just realised, I don’t know how to talk to a cat.
One thing I will say Piston, is I wish I could purr. Cats always top the pet popularity pole. It must be to do with purring and well, cleanliness and cuteness. Puppies are cute but do bad things. By the time we’re older and do good things, we’ve lost our cuteness. Life is unfair.
There is no need to speak cat, I am fluent in several tongues including telepathy which I do with mum because she is Shaman. You may speak to me in canine, I have copied Lily’s speech patterns. I assure you that your fascination with balls is no more disgusting to the humans than my gifts of nearly-dead mice. Life, dear Dougal, is as fair as one can make it. So said the great Bastet.
Tell us anything else and please dig in – I have nicked some of Piston’s special biscuits which are much nicer than mine. Have a sausage – made specially and the people aren’t allowed them. You can take a doggy bag home if we don’t eat them all.
Cat biscuits, sausages and a doggy bag to take home! What a feast. May I read you an excerpt from my book – need my glasses. It was my first Nativity play with my mate Jacob. I thought I could read it to both you and Piston.
Oh yes, please do…
We stood dutifully before her: twelve kings, ten shepherds (nine plus Jacob), eight Angel Gabriels, six inn- keepers, five Josephs, three Marys, one baby Jesus and a sheep, me. I was the whole flock. Had I been fatter, I might have been cast as the donkey and had a leading role taking Mary to …
I’ll have to give up. It’s obviously far too boring. They’ve gone to sleep. Maybe I’ll join them.
Snoozing on a sofa in France, with a forever dog called Lily and a cat called Piston. So many firsts. As soon as I’m home, I’ll write it in my diary.
Has he chosen his owner well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No 1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.
He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and either become a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.
Behaviour classes were never on his wish-list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.