- Mr H passes Mrs H another piece
of toast. She’s just finished buttering it when she drops her knife with a
crash and slumps over to the right. Mr H calls the ambulance. When he opens the
door to us, a small, light brown poodle scampers out and runs around our legs,
barking. Whilst I attend to Mrs H, Rae says to Mr H: ‘Can you put your dog away
please?’ He seems affronted. The dog has stuffed its nose in my response bag;
he’s about to run off with my stethoscope like a string of sausages. ‘Can you
put your dog away please?’ ‘Oh. Sorry.’ He turns round, shuffles off to the
bedroom, goes in, quietly shuts the door. Even the dog seems temporarily
confused. Rae sighs, goes up to the bedroom, knocks on the door. Mr H opens it.
‘Not you. The dog.’
- Mr C lives with his
elderly mother in a dark and cluttered basement flat – just the two of them,
and six terriers. There’s no room for the humans, let alone the dogs, but they
do their best (the dogs, not the humans), jumping up on the table, the sofa,
fighting each other for top-dog spaces, only stopping to hurl themselves across
the room and up on to the window ledge to bark as loudly as they can whenever a
person or a car passes in the street. Which is all the time. ‘Sorry about the
dogs,’ says Mr C, scratching his porcine belly. ‘They said put them away but I
told them I didn’t have a room where the door shuts.’ Mrs C isn’t too bad; it
appears she’s had a few crews out before. We go through the motions, get the
information, make the referral. ‘Do you want to see my babies?’ says Mr C. Tired
of throwing dogs off my lap, and in an effort to get away from the heater Mrs C
has in front of her chair, I say yes, I would very much like to see his babies.
He leads me through the undergrowth of their living space to a room out back.
In contrast to the rest of the house, it’s pretty clear, with a workbench,
modelling tools, lamp – and a dozen or so beautifully detailed submarines
displayed on the walls or hanging from the ceiling. ‘That’s my favourite,’ he
says, stroking the conning tower of something German.
The dogs mass at the doorway, but they don’t come in.