Dan's dog Digger has come to stay. He's rather a charming old boy, with white chops and white rings around his eyes. If Digger were a man, he'd be about 6 ft 5, slightly stooped, a bit arthriticky around the knees, with a shaggy-eyebrowed Patrick Moore quality about him. As it is, he's a dog. He goes straight over to the carpet, buries his nose deep into the shagpile to get a good whiff of what must be the beguiling equivalent of Chanel No 5 (eau de Cinder, Hugo and Jemima's sleek young labrador), squats unmanfully over it and wees.
'Oh God!' says Dan. 'Digger! OUT! Sorry, Lize,' he shrugs helplessly. 'I can safely say he's never done that before.' They always say that, of course, like the owners of all those Staffies that used to attack Dusty in London. 'Never done that before!' they'd say.
Dan clearly doesn't trust me. He's bagged up the food in four individual daily pouches. Poor Digger is absolutely starving. His ribs protrude from his worn old coat. He only gets fed once a day, hence the instruction to give him his breakfast in two halves, lest he scoff it so quickly that he's sick. I dutifully follow orders. Digger inhales the first half in about 3 seconds flat, gagging as he goes. I wait a few minutes for him to compose himself, then give him his seconds, which he hoovers up in one. I send him out and, as predicted by Dan, a poo immediately pops out. Then he paces up and down groaning, throws up half his food, studies it for a moment and then eats it up.
Digger comes with an instruction manual and glossary. Dan was clearly traumatised as a young boy when we let him believe that the bath plug was called a 'plugout'. I think he was about 12 before he realised the truth. Now he's meting out his revenge on his poor dog.
Bastard! - basket!
Paid for! - you may now eat
Piddle! - self-evident
Dump! - self-evident
Bark! - self-evident
Safe! - stop barking
Goodnight - to be said several times in different intonations when retiring for the night
See you later - to be said cheerily when you go out and leave him
'What about when you want to stop him eating poo?' I ask, since poo-eating (not his own, but cow's, horse's, fox's, that kind of thing) is apparently one of his foibles.
'Kick him,' says Dan.
'Can I give him any treats?'
Dan frowns. 'He's doesn't have human food, if that's what you mean.'
'He can have one at bedtime.'
'Can he have a chew?'
Dan inspects my bag of panatella-sized hide chews and hesitates for a moment before conceding. 'He can have a chew.'
Poor Digger. This will be a loving respite home for him.