CSI Dogville by Colin Cotterill

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I’m constantly being asked by fans whether all the crime investigation research I … All right, I was asked several times…twice…by the same person, whether all the crime investigation research I do for my books makes me a better crime fighter myself. Well, I can honestly say, unequivocally, I’m not sure. Take last Friday for example. I was working in the garden laying sheets of plastic under the gravel path so the weeds wouldn’t keep poking up through it. (Word of warning here, if you use transparent plastic it acts like a sort of super undergravel greenhouse and creates a strain of malignant uberweeds with lead tips that are able to pierce even three layers of plastic and are unpullupable. But I divest.) It was a sunny day and the birds were singing and throwing each other out of the nests as they do a lot around here, when there was a loud scream. I looked around with what’s left of my heart palpitating ugroriously. All I could see were the dogs looking around to find out what had happened. All seemed normal there except…one of the dogs, Nong Beer, was standing on three legs. Her rear left leg was held aloft and was gushing blood. Now use of the word ‘gush’ here is not a Cotterillism. It was a Monty Python severed jugular gush that left a spreading pond of blood around her.

I abandoned my hoe and rushed to her side to find that she had a deep wound at the back of her ankle, which, I suppose technically, if you adhere to the ‘dogs’ legs could just as well be called arms’ theory, might be her wrist. And we all know what happens when we slash our wrists. The blood was clearly pumping out of an artery. As I didn’t have a cork handy I squeezed my hand around the leak and called for Jess to bring the accident supplies. She arrived with the entire cabinet and we cleaned Nong Beer up and wrapped her in bandage and threw her in the truck and headed off to the vet. The vet is a new addition to our nearest town which used to have just the one livestock specialist with a clinic after five PM. This vet is available 24 hours and has real veterinarian equipment like darling little scalpels and reflex hammers and their vaccination needles are not twenty-eight inches long.

The young fella confirmed for us the fact that if we hadn’t been home and acted as swiftly as we did, Nong Beer would have drained out like a truck in a sump pit. We would have returned to find her calcified remains standing there on the driveway on three legs (arms) dead as a garden ornament. We saved her life but we don’t want to dwell on it. Nong Beer was not one of those dogs blessed by the Lord Dog at birth. She has carried a potent cocktail of mange mites around with her since she was rescued and has to have monthly shots so they don’t take over her body. And then there was the time that Jess drove the truck over her. Google wasn’t able to tell me how many lives, dogs have but she’s clearly used up three. The doc sewed her artery back together and plugged the gap and we took her home.

Now, here we come to the CSI bit. I wanted to find out what had caused the wound. I expected to uncover a broken bottle or length of wire in the dirt where she’d been digging but there were none. Plus, she digs with her front paws (hands). Plus, she’d been sleeping under the gazebo on concrete until a few seconds before. When I first saw her run out from under the platform I’d assumed she’d been bitten by a snake, which isn’t uncommon around here. She looked back with that, ‘look what that snake did to me,’ expression. But the wound was a clean slice, not a snake fang or rat bite. I counted out suicide as she seems like a healthy, well-adjusted dog. The only logical hypothesis we’re left with is stigmata. I wish I’d installed those CCTV cameras around the yard when they were on special at Tesco Lotus. Because, I tell you, criminal research or no, I’m flummoxed. Real life is really not nearly as satisfying as fiction. I want to turn over the page and get the dénouement right now.

Nong Beer is still alive and hobbling around on three legs (arms) and seems indifferent to the fact that she almost drained to death. And, if she knows what happened to her, she ain’t saying nothing.

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