The whole time we’re in the bedroom treating Rita’s hypo, Spangles the morbidly obese Chihuahua wheezes around our ankles, checking us out. He’s an unprepossessing creature, Peter Lorre’s head grafted onto the body of a pig and then shrink-rayed to the size of a cat.
‘Don’t pay him no attention,’ says Rita, thickly.
‘Good! You’re a bit more with us now,’ says Rae, checking her pulse. ‘Keep eating the sandwiches.’
Rita shudders down a bolus of bread, takes a sip of lemonade, pulls a lemon face, then asks me if I’ve got dogs.
‘Two. A lurcher and a terrier.’
‘He can smell ‘em on you,’ says Rita, pointing a crust at me and nodding sagely. ‘He’s got a good nose on ‘im.’
‘A real cutie,’ I say, glancing down at Spangles, who immediately bares his teeth and then click-clacks away across the parquet floor to stare at me from the dresser.
‘I expect he’s after scraps,’ I say.
‘Well he’s not allowed,’ says Rita. ‘The Vet keeps telling us off about it. When we took him off our neighbour he didn’t weigh no more’n a rat. It’s difficult not to feed ‘em up when they look like that. Especially when they’re so quick if you drop anything.’
Spangles has ventured back out again. I can feel him sniffing around my boots.
‘Guess what his favourite snack is’ says Rita.
‘I don’t know. Salami?’
‘He crawls around under the furniture eating dust.’
‘Dust? How can you like eating dust?’
Rita picks up another sandwich and studies the top and bottom of it without enthusiasm.
‘I don’t know. I think he just likes all the crumbs you get in it.’