When I was at school I always remember my stepfather and me having a major personality clash. He did abuse the whole family though. I just seemed to receive more than my fair share of his nasty intentions, from the point of view of a growing teenager.
As a consequence of this, my brother and I would look for opportunities to get out of the house as often as possible and frequently took the family Basset Hound, Pokey, out for a walk. These dogs do look rather comical to say the least, my brother and I measured his ears at ten and a half inches one night much to our hilarity, but I have to stress that they are just like any other dog and can run exceptionally fast! Much, much faster than a human anyway, this despite the fact that they are low to the ground, almost waddle when they walk, on short stumpy legs and generally only do what they want to do as a rule. It is also particularly funny how they trip over their own ears when they are having a sniff. My brother and I would often have small wagers with school friends (and win!) to race him, as they often took the mickey out of such a funny looking dog. Saying things like, “Look at the sausage dog!” or “Do you put that in the frying pan?!” We always gave these unbelievers at least a fifty metre head start, measured out on a running track at the local playing fields, our school chums not realising at all (kids do not think of the consequences) that just like any dog they love to chase!
So, upon arriving home for lunch one day from school, imagine my surprise to see Pokey stood in the middle of the front garden, before I had even had a chance to open the front door! I still had my front door key in my hand when he looked directly at me and I swear that if he could have spoken then he would have said “Ah, time for fun. Think I’ll run this poor sap ragged!” His ears were up, as much as ten and a half inch ears can raise anyway, he had a mischievous grin on his chops and then he was off and away under the fence like a bullet! I then set about with an attempt to catch him, try being the operative word here! For the next hour, as promised by Pokey’s canine utterance, he ran me ragged around the estate, chasing him inanely as I had no hope of keeping up. After using up my lunch-hour with this excessive amount of energy being expelled for any teen, I then met my brother on his way home for lunch. I recounted exactly what was amiss with Pokey and left him to try and catch the way ward family pet, as I had to get back for the afternoon shift of school. After his lunch hour was spent in exactly the same way as mine had been (although I believe he saw a few different streets!), it was down to our mother, who had to be dragged out of her job by my brother, in order to try to succeed where we had failed. It took her another two hours to catch him and that was only because he had had enough at this point and promptly decided to sit in the middle of the main road, holding up all the traffic coming into the estate! A local butcher gave her a piece of string to use as a makeshift lead so that she could remove him and drag him back home. It was a drag too, as Pokey was tired now and decided to try and keep on lying down for a rest.
When I arrived home from school, the rest of the family were lined up, looking somewhat like the Spanish Inquisition. I was first asked why I had let Pokey out. I was actually quite dismayed by this, why did they not believe that I had not been in the house and had missed my lunch? So I then spent the next ten minutes trying to stress, very profusely, that I had in no way let the dog out, as I had not even opened the front door when I found him in the front garden. Surprisingly, it was my mother that called me stupid, how could he have gotten out on his own? I then remarked that I had noticed their (my parents) bedroom window was somewhat askew, perhaps he had jumped! After several moments of being told how utterly ridiculous that suggestion was (childhood memory of screaming parent – “for a supposedly intelligent and bright lad that is bloody ridiculous!”), you can imagine my surprise when it was my bullying stepfather that came to my rescue! This suspect saviour then remarked that as Pokey was such a big dog, at approximately eight stones, if he had jumped out of the window there would be paw prints that should be visible in the lawn where he would have landed.
“What great thinking,” I thought to myself, as usually teens are not so great with excuses or things to say. I seem to recall that my brother and I overused the word ‘nothing’ whenever asked what we had been up to! Funnily enough, my own son does it to me now, that’s synchronicity for you! So, the whole family trouped out of the house to see this phenomenon. I still remember the looks of utter amazement upon their faces to this day when we found three well defined paw prints in the middle of the lawn with one of the back ones making a skid mark where the landing obviously splayed a leg out! Even better for me as I was not in trouble for a change and it has given me an hilarious story to tell for years, that of the Basset Hound who thought he was a bird!