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Saturday, February 22, 2020

When House-Sitters Steal

The Poop Troupe

While we were overseas recently, we left our aged dogs and cat at home and my parents moved in to look after (read: spoil) them. 

My other three dogs (the Poop Troupe), were booked into a luxury suite at an elite boarding kennel (complete with a swimming pool, four poster beds, verandah, air-conditioning, a television, wall art and twice-daily nature walks). 

I must admit that the ‘nature walks’ were merely ‘walks in nature’ and didn’t appear to be anything particularly special.

If only my dogs could talk.

“Call this a nature walk?” Celine, the mini-foxy would have snorted. “What a fricken rort! I hate my owners for booking us into this piece of shite.”

“The air-con and beds are pretty good though, don’t you think?” Pablo the Chihuahua would have yawned.

“Food! Me want food!” Polly the sausage dog would have said.

The private suite

As part of the three and a half thousand dollar package (not even kidding), the carers at the kennels hired a professional photographer who managed to take the most beautiful Christmas portrait of the Poop Troupe I’ve ever seen. 

They emailed it to us while we were away and presented us with a hard copy when we picked them up.

What a lovely touch, huh?

I treasured the photograph and made great plans to frame it in gold and put it up somewhere prominent, like, above our bed. After all, it kind of cost us three and a half thousand dollars.

But strangely the photograph inexplicably disappeared.

In calm desperation, I searched everywhere. Behind the shelf in case the cat had spitefully knocked it down, inside the cat’s hidey hole, in case he’d nicked it so he could fire darts at it in his leisure time, and even in the cat’s litter box in case he’d eaten it and pooped it out.

No longer able to blame the cat, I blamed Scotto.

“What did you do with the Christmas photo of the dogs?” I demanded.

“Nothing,” he shrugged. “Don’t worry. It’ll turn up.”

Ah, I thought. He’s taken it to be framed in luxuriously ornate ivory with a velvet backdrop or something as a surprise for me. God, I love that man.

So, imagine my shock when I called in to visit my parents after work one day and spotted the photograph stuck to their stainless steel fridge with a couple of magnets.

“What’s my photograph doing on your bloody fridge?” I shrieked spilling my cup of tea all over my work shirt.

“You gave it to me,” answered my mother. “When we were sitting on your couch last Sunday.”

“I gave it to you to have a look at… not to keep,” I shrilled, wondering how on Earth she’d managed to secrete it out of the house without me noticing.

“Well, everyone who’s been here has loved it,” she continued, looking over at the photograph lovingly. “Even the plumber who came on Tuesday liked it. I tell everyone that it’s a photograph of my grandchildren.”

I looked around the room noticing there were no photos of her ACTUAL eight grandchildren anywhere to be seen.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for it, Mum.”

“Oh well,” she said, archly. “Consider it a present to me for looking after the other animals.”

"But, we gave you a present," I spluttered. "That lovely birdhouse was your present. It cost me a lot of money."

"Hmmm," she furrowed her brow and gazed again at the photo of MY dogs on her fridge. "I like that better."
Anyway, now she won’t give it back.

Scotto reckons if we try to print a copy from the photo sent by email, it will turn out all grainy because of the resolution, so now I have to figure out a way to break into my parent’s house and steal my photo back.

Is that even a crime if they’re your actual parents?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Reptile House

Reptile House, London Zoo a la Harry Potter!

“I don’t want to alarm you,” said Scotto standing in the bedroom doorway at ten o’clock last Wednesday night, “but there’s a snake in the house.”

If he’d said, “I don't want to alarm you, but there’s a snake in my pants,” I would have laughed. 

But he said, ‘in the house’ so I knew he wasn’t joking or making a silly euphemism.

“You mean, a proper snake?” I gasped, pulling the chihuahua up around my neck as a sort of shield.

“Yes Pinky,” he said, “A proper snake. I just saw its tail slither under some newspaper in the hallway. You stay here and I’ll deal with it.”

“What are you waiting for? Go, go, go,” I shouted, “And bring the cat in here to sit with me and the dogs.”

God forbid any of our animals be attacked by a vicious snake, even though Celine is a fox terrier and is allegedly bred to catch snakes, the only thing she catches on a regular basis is gastro-enteritis.

My animals are peace-makers, not assassins.

As I perched on the bed, television muted, I listened to the sounds emanating from the hallway. 

The same hallway I’d tottered down minutes before after cleaning my teeth. 

The same hallway my baby sausage dog had chased a ball a few seconds prior. 

The same hallway I’d previously felt safe to enter without turning on a light when nicking down to the loo.

I listened closely and kept my peeled eyes on the space under the door lest the snake decided to make a run for it.

The sounds of a heavy, thudding wooden flute, playing hypnotic music, wafted into the bedroom. 

Good. It seemed that Scotto had located the serpent and was placing it into a trance. Soon he would mesmerise the reptilian creature and compel it to perform the chicken dance or something and hopefully persuade it to vacate the premises.

After twenty minutes of spectacular flute playing, the bang of the front door slamming a few times, and ejaculations of some swear words I’ve never heard him use before, 
Scotto appeared at the door

“Is the snake gone?” I asked, eyes bulging like saucers.

He nodded, cool and collected except for the sweat dripping from his ear lobes.

“What sort of snake was it?”

“Brown,” he replied, his bottom lip quivering.

“Brown-brown or brownish-brown?” I queried.


“Brown tree snake brown, or brown murderous killy-killy, bitey snake brown?” I asked tremulously.

“It wasn't a tree snake,” he replied, still panting and eyelids blinking rapidly.

My mind instantly sought out someone to blame for this near-fatal invasion. How did the vicious viper get in the house in the first place? Who left a door open?

The frightening reality is that we still don’t know.

There could be an entire nest of King Browns curled up in my linen cupboard pretending to be the vacuum cleaner hose. 

I’ll never vacuum or change the sheets again.

And how long had it been living in the house? Did it come out for a little wander every night after lights out for a forage?

My feet have barely touched the floor for three days. Every time a piece of fluff touches my foot I leap in the air and scream blue murder.

I can’t wait for winter when the snakes all go off and sleep under logs in the outdoors where they belong.

In the meantime… our house is for sale. Fully stocked linen closet included.