Raining Dogs and Dogs by Colin Cotterill

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This week, I’d planned to write a blog about making fun of people who can’t spell but a totally different topic dropped on my village along with the tropical rainstorms lashing us at present. It arrived in the form of Tin Tin. Not the annoying Belgian man-child Tin Tin but the almost Golden Retriever variety. (I’ll pause a few seconds for those of you who are cat people or not bestial at all to switch off and go make a rare steak sandwich)

Okay, that leaves just us. Tin Tin is a two-year-old Thai version of a Golden Retriever. That means he doesn’t have a pedigree and his legs are a bit short but, when he was a pup, he looked good enough to fool his hi-so, would-be owners.

“I give you special price for genuine Western show dog just like in movie.”

When he was still a little ball of energy he was allowed to frolic in the up-market furniture store to entertain the wealthy customers. They might have even turned a blind eye to him doing wee wee on the Afghan carpet. But, Tin Tin grew up, as these things do, and he was consigned to a back room. And, there he stayed…for two years, allowed into the alleyway to do his business as far as the chain would let him, then dragged back inside like a landed marlin. No runs. No other dogs. No discipline. Imprisoned. The Nelson Mandela of the canine set. His world was an eight-foot circle with occasional petting visitations.

Then his hi-so owners decided to move and the burden of looking after their status dog (I suppose boiling rice and supplementing water could be classified as a burden when it drags you away from the more important business of making money) was too much for them. My wife, Jess had met Tin Tin’s ‘mummy’ on a flight from Chiang Mai and heard about the dogs circumferential end-of-a-chain existence. She came home and asked me if we could take on another animal. We already have four very troubled beasts; plucked from the roadside, rescued from a doomed litter, or, like Psycho, scared and menacing who just wandered in out of the monsoons one day and decided to stay. We were too scared of him to say no. For a caring well-adjusted community pack, I thought Tin Tin could do better. But any of you who have entered into the tender state of marriage will already know that what I think means absolutely nothing. Nobody else wanted Tin Tin so we were lumbered with him. We went to pick him up on Saturday. He weighs more than me. I took him for a walk. As he didn’t know what ‘a walk’ was he thought we were escaping together and dragged me, belly down, along the gravel alleyway to freedom.

An hour later, after attempting to mate myself and Jess and the spare tyre, he was in a crate on the back of our truck. Five hours after that we were home and the crate was matchsticks. And, nobody will be surprised to hear this but our dogs can do without him. Psycho has twice tried to rip his throat out. The bitches scream and giggle and flee in panic even though the big guy is chain-tied to a post. See what we’ve done? We’ve taken him out of a caring but wimpy environment where shop girls gave him sweets and taught him to shake hands for whatever god-forsaken reason I know not, and plonked him down in the jungle with wild animals, and he’s still on a chain. He’s already mated the washing machine and the back fence and we daren’t let him off the chain because our elderly next door neighbour is a very slow mover. I walk Tin Tin on the beach three times a day to try to curb his passion and wear out some of those two years of inactivity. He’s obviously stunned by how much there is beyond the furniture store back room. We have to restrain our gang because I can’t do my ‘pack leader’ thing and hold back a Golden with the leash skills of a Pamploma bull. It’s all too much for him. He has to learn it all from scratch. I’m supposed to teach him how to be a dog and I haven’t even perfected being a man. And it’s all too much for my writing. I’m buggered. I’m supposed to have a book finished by next month but, well, what would you choose? A best-selling novel on the New York Times list grossing you a cool million, or a happy, integrated pack of nut-case dogs?

(Those of you providing the correct answer to that question will receive a chewed, totally illegible copy of my book and a real, live barely-used Golden Retriever.)

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