Thursday, June 28, 2012


Mrs Carter is lying on the floor exactly where she landed after sliding out of bed in the early hours. Unable to reach up with her bad shoulder to pull the duvet over her, and with her alerter bracelet where she left it on the far sideboard next to her teeth and jewellery, she resigned herself to a few hours on the floor. She stole the sheep fleece from her dog Poppy’s basket, covered herself with that, and with the added warmth of Poppy herself, waited for her neighbour Derek to come round on his morning visit. Derek did eventually appear, letting himself in with the key from the key safe. When he found Mrs Carter on the floor he made her a little more comfortable with a duvet and pillow, locked Poppy away in the front room as instructed by the call taker on the phone, then waited with Mrs Carter for the ambulance.
She didn’t hurt herself. Although Mrs Carter’s falls are increasingly a problem, and it’s definitely something that needs looking at, for now, she just wants to be put back to bed and have breakfast.
‘So you used the dog blanket to keep warm?’ I say, whilst I transcribe basic information from a previous ambulance sheet.
‘She didn’t mind. She’s a darling. She usually cuddles up on the bed anyway. She’s hardly ever in her basket. It’s just for show, really.’
‘Where is Poppy now? She’s very quiet.’
‘In the lounge. Shall I let her through?’
‘Yeah, go on. I like dogs.’
‘Let her through, Derek. She loves to be where the action is.’
 He goes out.
‘Poppy’s very well behaved,’ I say to her, putting the clipboard down and getting out the thermometer. ‘My dogs would be barking like crazy.’
‘She’s no bother.’
For some reason I’m expecting something small to come round the corner, maybe a Jack Russell or a Shi-Tzu. But there’s a thunderous rumbling along the hallway, and a huge, Apricot-coloured standard poodle crashes into the room. It’s a mad-looking thing, with a wig of frizzy hair, pom-poms on the end of its legs like boudoir slippers and a tail like a frayed piece of rope. The dog launches itself across the carpet, plants two paws in the middle of my chest, presses its nose against mine, and stares at me in extreme close-up, its raisin eyes crossing over with excitement.
‘Down Poppy!’ says Mrs Carter. ‘Get down!’
‘The dog drops back, but then sees my bag and immediately thrusts its snout deep inside. It looks up from time to time with its tongue hanging out as if it can’t wait to hand me a piece of kit.
‘Sorry about Poppy,’ says Mrs Carter.
‘Don’t worry,’ I tell her. ‘It’s just like having a trainee.’


tpals said...

:) Now I'll always have the visual of your trainees waiting for instruction with their tongues hanging out...and likely their tails wagging too.

Alexia said...

Funny! I once owned an apricot standard poodle called Monty - rather, he owned me. I can totally relate to this story. I hope he continues to look after Mrs Carter :)

jacksofbuxton said...

Poppy was only doing her security thing.Dogs do tend to know what's going on.I bring my dog to work every day,quiet as you like.If I bring the girls to work with me he's a different dog.

Mind you,it could have been worse.Could have been the lethal "Oxford Poodle"

Spence said...

Tpals - I just couldn't resist that last line about trainees. God knows I was one once, though - big paws, tongue hanging out, the whole bit.

Alexia - That's the first Apricot standard I've seen. Amazing colouring, absolutely beautiful. I think between Poppy and Derek Mrs Carter was pretty well attended to.

Jacks - And there was me thinking an Oxford Poodle was a haircut.

I wish I could bring (one) of our dogs to work (the old one has breath that would fell a rhino, so probably not a good idea). Lola, the whippet-terrier x is veeerry bright indeed. I could pretty well hand over all responsibility to her, apart from driving. If she saw a rabbit that'd be it, we'd be off-road.


Isla said...

What a lovable image and a great story as usual! This one put a smile on my face this morning!

Rose said...

I always love your stories and many move me but this one is my favorite. I too was expecting something small until the description came along. Canines are my favorite companions and usually the larger breeds. :)

Spence said...

Thanks v much, Isla & Rose! I just had to write something about Poppy - she pretty much demanded it! A dog like that should have its own show, really.