Where the bee sucks there suck I:
This page is for my dog, Ariel, so let me hand over to him.
Yes, hello everyone, I'm Ariel. To be honest I was more than a little uncertain about doing this myself. After all, there have been so many frauds, people writing as if it was their pets' work that I didn't wish to become embroiled in any unseemly business. Worse, on those rare occasions when humans allowed their pets to write for themselves you get twee little things without a brain cell between their whiskers adopting what they think are endearing foibles. For example, (I am not cattist - some of my best friends have been cats - nothing against them as long as they keep their claws to themselves) take that unmentionable cat who had the audacity to write everything in lower case "because I can't reach the shift key". How ridiculous can you get? If you can use a keyboard or typewriter, you must be able to use the shift key. That's cats for you though.
What actually happened was that when the guv'nor suggested I try my paw at this autobiography lark, I originally thought it must have had something to do with a ride in a car, so of course I jumped at the chance and said yes without thinking. When he started explaining how the "auto" bit was me writing about myself there was no way I would show myself up, so I went along with it anyway. As a consequence, I do believe that this may well be the world's first autobidography.
Learning keyboard skills was a mere trifle, I pride myself that I can turn my paw to anything, especially if there might be food involved. I was particularly impressed with the design of the computer, I really hadn't expected to find a "paws" key available. I hope you enjoy the story of my life. Do write to me if you will, the guv'nor - no, I'm going to have to stop calling him guv'nor for this book, looks too obsequious - H (short for He who holds the can opener) has arranged for me to have my own email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter One - Born in a manger
I started my life on a farm, in a stable, along with lots of my brothers and sisters. I come from a long line of dogs. My father was a dog, and his father before him. I can't say that I care too much about these things, but H says that my family are Border Collies - my mum and dad earned their living running around sheep a lot.
Dogs don't remember too much about puppyhood, on account of our eyes being closed. I do think that is an advantage, though, for those of us of a philosophical bent - it gives us a chance to develop our higher senses, but more of that later. The one thing I do remember is when H turned up. All the rest of the crowd were scared and huddled in a corner, but I was curious as to the purpose of this visitation (which might, after all, turn out to be a source of food - see how philosophy helps the average dog?) and went over to investigate. H still tells people that I chose him, and I hate to disabuse him of his little fantasies. Well, I didn't get much say in the matter and pretty soon we were off and away. I can't say it's turned out too bad.
Chapter Two - The first car ride!
Car. What a word. Have you noticed that it has the same number of letters as dog? That just can't be a coincidence, a dog notices these things. There are all sorts of things that you can do in a car - get in it, get out, look out the window, hang your head out the window, bark at policemen - but the one thing that really does it for me is that it takes you to interesting places and if there's one thing that interests me more than anything else it is interesting smells in interesting places. That first car ride had me hooked and I've been an addict ever since.
Chapter Three - Finding out about life
My assets in life have always been a keen eye and nose, an inquiring mind, a sturdy constitution, a wet tongue and adorable looks (although I did have to grow into my tail). I moved home and quickly fitted into what was going on. Here's a picture of me posing for the camera .
The way I find out things is by listening carefully to what is being said. That way, with time and patience I find out most things; for example I found out that, before I arrived, H was an accountant and nothing to do with food at all. When he started up a home made ice cream venture, the local paper headlined their article "Local Accountants Frozen Assets" I enjoyed my role as taster in chief - there is nothing like fresh fruit, cream and eggs for a dog's coat and nose. He did some impressive gateaux as well - mind you, I had a good laugh when H was asked to sponsor a prize for a runner-up in a local beauty contest, after enough of that ice cream she wouldn't be a runner-up so much as a waddle-up.
After a while, H had a visit from the local council. It seems that although the ice cream was made from pasteurised ingredients, regulations said that "ice cream must be pasteurised". As a pasteuriser would cost 15,000DFC (3 DFC, or Dog Food Cans = 1 Pound Sterling) H stopped doing that and started selling sandwiches. If anything, this was better that the Ice Cream what with all the left overs and so. Long days mind you, first walk was about 4 in the morning. Later on, he went back to being an accountant, but more of that later.
Throughout my early years, I had the company of my good and noble friend, Owen . He was a little older than me and a very generous and considerate mentor although not what one would call exactly intellectual. Actually, he was as thick as three short planks but so well meaning and beautiful no one minded - classic Setter syndrome of "lights on but nobody home". He did used to get himself into all sorts of scrapes with other dogs and it was left up to me to charge to the rescue. I found that my technique of running headlong into any other dog without stopping mostly sorted them out, from Rottweiler to Alsatian. Here's a photo of the two of us together . He went to the great kennel in the sky when he was only eight, and I miss him still.
Chapter Four - The good things in life
One of the best things about living with H in those early days was his love of walking and camping. Walking is what we dogs are best at, after running, and after eating. We used to reckon on walking about thirty miles a day - excluding rabbit chasing. Backpacking was even more fun because I got to eat in lots of different places. It was also good to see H adopting my own cautious approach to washing for a while. Have you noticed how it is that every single tyrant and despot in the twentieth century has had a bathroom in his house? A dog notices these things. Here's a picture of me inthe Lake district. and this is one of me in Wales.
I love the area where H and I live, although only half an hour from the centre of London, we have wonderful walking and squirrel chasing through park and forest; I have never grown tired of its natural beauty. It also features almost innumerable other dogs and bitches, one or two of which have from time to time.....but let me draw a tactful veil over that. Here's a drawing H made of me after a particularly exhausting walk.
Chapter Five - A media superstar
I liked the job H got for himself, as Finance Director of one of the new UK satellite TV channels. I didn't manage to go with him all the time, but when I did I found myself (quite properly) the centre of attention. I thought long and hard about a career in front of camera, and went for the screen test, but finally decided against it. A dog must have his standards. We two were there for about eight years in all, it seems like only yesterday.
Chapter Six - Life continues
When the company he was working for got taken over and he was made redundant, I offered to put aside my distaste for bloodsports and go and bite those nasty people, I am glad H refused. Have you noticed how biting humans never seems to increase a dog's popularity? A dog notices these things. I can't see why, myself; after all humans regularly seem to do much worse things to each other. Although, as I say, I have never been one of those "quick bite and forget" type of dog, I can see and appreciate their logic.
Chapter Seven - Being a dog
Being a dog is a full time occupation, and the one for which I feel best suited. The single critical feature about dogdom is a sense of proportion. Above all else, a dog must always remember where the dog bowl is. Memory for a dog is essential for two things and two things only. One, you have to remember where the bones are buried, and two, you have to remember where the vet's surgery is. For the rest of it, a basic politeness of manner and wistfulness of expression will get you through. I also recommend a placid demeanor and a readiness for anything. Another axiom of mine is, "why walk when you can run?" and also, "why stop?". I've also found that I'm no good at all at poker, every time I get a good paw, my tail wags.
Chapter Eight - My mission in life
My mission in life is quite straightforward - to help fulfil the existence of every individual I meet. Have you ever noticed how it is that the human hand in repose is exactly at dog nose and head height? A dog notices these things. Overall, I would say that I have succeeded.
Chapter Nine - Anno Doggini
I've just had my fourteenth birthday, and I have to say, things aren't quite what they used to be. My legs don't always run when I want them to, in fact they tend to collapse at the most embarassing times. I also seem to get tired very quickly these days, all this writing is wearing me out. I think I'll go for a snooze. Thanks for reading, and don't forget to write. Bye!