Chapter Nine

Dexter: The need to feed. And on being a personal trainer

Food. Obviously, I need food. Everybody needs food. Even Her Fatness needs to eat, though probably no more than once or twice a year, really, given that she sleeps about 22 out of every 24 hours. Talk about slow metabolism? She's the bitch who put the slug in sluggishness. And the sum total of her exercise, the only energy she uses up, goes on a couple of short walks on the lead (in the evening; I try and liven things up a little with a bit of bird-chasing and jowl-nibbling, but to little avail)  and any rumbustious play I can persuade her into. and more and more, she is persuadable for, oh, five or six minutes a day, before she collapses in a mound of blubber and a cloud of airborne moult.  I'm her personal trainer, sparring partner, eye and nose licker. I am fairly partial to her drool, too, in small but flavoursome quantities. I am a slobber connoisseur. It's brilliant! Like marrowbone jelly. Only without the marrow. Or the bone. It's not quite jelly, either. More slime. But I like slime. Slime is brilliant!

But a dog cannot live on slobber alone. Or crusty eyelashes. Obviously, I  insist on toast each morning, buttered, no margarine. Do I look like a vegetarian? I require animal fat! (this is from one of the humans; operating the toaster is completely beyond Rug). Now, the texture of toast is important, like the feel of small bones cracking in the mouth without the hassle of lawsuits or retaliation. An acquaintance once received a nasty bite from a rabbit. Result? A spaniel with only half an ear and some explaining to do. He used to say it was a tussle with a Doberman, but the true story had alreayd gone round the kennels and rehoming facilities. And when a rabbit takes a chunk out of a dog, even something as gratuitously decorative as a spaniel (King Edward, I think. Or possibly a Queen Camilla) embarrassment is inevitable. Who knew that rabbits were partial to dog lug, as they say in Caledonia, or were so dangerous to dangling lobes? Not that spaniels have lobes. Their ears are all lobe. They're overlobed. Fortunately, a passing Jack Rousseaux made short work of the lolloping lettuce eating beast. Never trust a rabbit, especially if you have vulnerable ears. Snap its neck, savour its liver. Unless it's got myxomotisis, which dogs can't get, but frankly, who wants to take the risk? 

Apart from my morning toast, there is the industrial dog food situation. My current owners had been feeding The Mobile Sofa on cheap dried sheepdog food from the local shop, which comes in hundredweight bags, or the continental equivalent in kilogrammes. It's called Muttley's Working Fun Chunks. Now, this stuff is full of chemicals aimed at making sheepdogs lively, hardly any protein and loads of carbohydrate. Being partly sheepdog myself I can feel it working on my innards in an uncomfortable and sometimes fast moving way. Sheepdogs work, I do not. Sheepdogs need not exercise bodily control. I must, or I risk expulsion into the cold and wet, and annoying bellowing due to carpet soiling.

Naturally I refused to eat this processed woodchip and chemical cocktail. My worried custodian began experimenting with other bought in foods, such as Gandalf's Mix Magic Meaty Protein Slivers with Herbal Organic Rabbit, Salmon and Sage. And cranberry. I think I detected cranberry. Plus of course, scraps from the table. I have heard humans say a dog should never be fed scraps. But what, in that case, are dogs for? How did our vulpine ancestors become domesticated unless by humans flicking unwanted sausage rolls and burgers towards those glowing eyes on the edge of the campfire?  And so both Her Enormousness and myself crouch uncomplainingly under the dinner table and wait for whatever comes our way. Brussels sprouts, chips, grisly lumps of meat, chicken skin...we will happily devour such detritus. I will even demean myself and perform tricks if necessary. I can beg. I can roll over. I can perform a tap dance on the Rugster's largely hollow head. All she does to impress is slobber and look mournful. If she tries to roll over she upsets table and everything on it, which is never pleasant. I'm much faster than her so often I'm able to steal food literally from out of her mouth. Which provides me with extra drool as a bonus. A kind of St Bernard Swiss sauce. Delicious! More slime please!

As a former street canine I have learned not to be too discriminating and will gladly swallow an apple core or scoop a bowl of mandarin oranges. Dried fruit I have learned to avoid, and dark chocolate. A neighbouring Labrador died after eating two bowls of Christmas pudding mix, and while I have seen The Fat Bitch eat an entire bar of Green and Blacks Venzuelan 85 per cent cocoa chocolate without ill effects, I would not attempt such a feat myself. In truth, my teeth are not sweet. Death by chocolate is not on my menu. Nor is death. Life, after all, is brilliant!

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