The heath is yours when upturned eyes implore. Outside it’s suddenly
your element. Grimly a weekday professional clutches his five-string
bouquet of hybrid athletes, as if vacuuming the land. Off the leash there
are hazards. You slink under a bush to lick your wounds, unwilling to face
the world till you’re whole again. Then you’re called before you’re ready.
1st – The Rain Dog
Our German forefathers, clipping close for swimming, left certain organs
and joints their insulation muffs. A continental clip has shaven hindquarters;
an English saddle clip has three pom poms down each flank and
hind leg. Rain dogs love to play in a sprinkler, on the lawns of the free.
2nd – The Dog Absolved from Blame
Hound of the dynasty of darkness: its two glowing eyes are fog lights of
bloodthirsty ambition for a fashionable West End address. A phosphorus
bath – indeed, the whole Gothic delusion – is the pathology of the
metropolitan enlightenment. ‘Elemental, my dear Watson, elemental!’
3rd – The Agile Dog
She clears an ascending triple-bar spread jump, then shows perfection
at the weave poles, the closed and open tunnels, the pause table, the
see-saw, the hanging tyre. But her handler used an umbrella on the walkthrough!
The challenge is dismissed: all points awarded are allowed to stand.
4th – The Half Lap Dog
She calls him Fortinbras, her ‘half lap dog’. A Great Dane’s half-
hundredweight rear end on the tartan shelf of a pair of human thighs,
forelegs like tree trunks on the brewhouse café cobbles. Byron’s début
Christmas dinner at Newstead would have been a fleeting snack to him.
5th – The Dog in Space
Catch a Moscow street mutt, used to extremes of cold and hunger
– a female (easier to manage the waste). Train her by progressively
reducing the cage size. Before the launch, bring her home to a hero’s fuss
from your family, heart-warming prelude to the cold confines of space.
6th – The Attack Dog
Ennobling the sequoia avenue, a limestone monument of wolves tearing a
hind apart, savaged by time. A perpetrator hurtles towards you – slavering
asteroid, released from the vanishing point. The owner’s reassurances of
play are as comforting as an offer of cocoa seconds before the blade falls.
All six – The Rescue Dog
It’s quicksand’s turn again but nobody has remembered the rope. They
weigh the options. Our heroine adopting a raccoon? Helping a farmer fill
in his tax return? In the end they plump for the fallen satellite. However,
the footage is mothballed – radiation has become an all-American phobia.