My Father's Garden: Mad Dog

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Mad Dog is a chapter from R J Dent's novel-in-progress, My Father's Garden.

My Father’s Garden: Mad Dog

by R J Dent



– There’s a dog in the garden, my mother said. It’s acting very strangely.

My father looked out of the window. So did my brother, my sister and I.

Sure enough, at the bottom of the garden there was an Afghan hound. It was a red-gold colour, although its coat was dirty and scruffy-looking. Also, its legs were spindly – more so than is usual for an afghan.

Something was clearly wrong with it; its mouth was dripping yellow foam and it was growling, whining and barking at nothing. Its eyes were constantly rolling, showing the whites.

– Don’t go outside, our father said. It’s mad. It’ll attack anyone who goes out there.

– What’ll we do? my mother asked.

– For now, my father said, we’ll just keep an eye on it.

– What’s it doing? my sister asked.

– It’s staring at the pond, growling.

– I wonder why, my mother said.

– It’s probably just seen its reflection for the first time and has discovered that it’s ginger, my brother said. That’d certainly be enough to drive me mad.

– My best friend’s a strawberry blonde, my sister said.

– And?

– Well, you shouldn’t be ginger-ist.

– And where exactly does it say that in The Mammoth Book of Ginger Insults?

– In the what?

– Never mind that, my mother said. I don’t want it in the garden.

– I don’t think there is a book of insults in the garden, my brother said.

– I’ll deal with it, my father said.

– Are you going to shoot it? my sister asked.

– I don’t have a rifle, my father said.

– You’ve got a gun in the cupboard under the stairs.

My father chuckled.

– That’s an air rifle. It’s not the right sort of rifle to shoot a dog with. It’d probably just antagonise it.

– What’s ‘antagonise’?

– Annoy.

– What are we going to do? my mother demanded. There’s a mad dog prowling around our garden.

– We should call the police, my brother said. They’ll get rid of it.

– There’s no need for that, my father said. Let’s not be hasty. There’s no need to bother the busy police with such a little matter. I’ll deal with it.

He went into the cupboard under the stairs and emerged wearing a pair of heavy-duty work gloves and carrying an old and battered walking stick.

– Right. I’ll be back before you can say one hundred and one dalmations.

– One hundred and one dalmations, my sister said, but my father was gone – out of the door and along the path, towards the mad dog.

The dog didn’t see him immediately – it was too far into mad land or wherever it was to notice him. When it did finally notice him, it froze into immobility for at least a minute as its befuddled brain attempted to process the information.

Then it crouched down, hackles raised, eyes rolling, and growled ferociously.

My father dug the tip of the stick into the ground, leaving it standing there like a solitary wicket. He took a step towards the demented dog.

The demented dog growled and took a step back.

My father leapt through the air and landed on the dog. It yelped and struggled. My father gripped it around the neck. I wasn’t sure what he was trying to do. It looked like he was wrestling a giant four-legged ginger spider.

The dog was wriggling and struggling to get free.

– Keep still, you flaming mutt, my father yelled.

But the dog didn’t want to keep still. It broke free and ran towards the fence, and then realised there was no escape. It skidded to a halt under an apple tree and turned to face my father, who was back on his feet and advancing on it.

The dog started barking.

– Shut up! my father shouted, brandishing the stick.

The dog’s eyes focussed and its gaze followed the waving stick.

My father must have noticed where its attention was, because he changed his tone and posture. He went into a throw-the-stick stance. The dog was suddenly very alert.

– Fetch it then, you festering fleabag, my father said, his tone friendly and playful.

And he threw the stick down the garden.

The afghan spun around and streaked after the stick – and crashed head-first into the trunk of the apple tree. It clearly hadn’t seen the tree, even though it had been less than a foot away.

The impact knocked the dog off its feet. It lay on the grass and didn’t move.

My father moved fast – he unbolted the back gate that led out onto the playing field; he crossed the garden, grabbed hold of the steering rope of my brother’s wooden go kart and pulled it over to the supine dog. He then lifted the dog onto the go kart and pulled it out through the gate; he unceremoniously dumped the dog in the field, pulled the go kart back into the garden, closed and bolted the gate and put the go kart back where he’d got it from.

It had all taken less than three minutes.

My mother opened the back door and went out. The rest of us followed.

– That was very clever of you, my mother said to my father.

My father shrugged nonchalantly, but it was obvious he was pleased.

– Will it come back? my sister asked.

– Only if it can leap a six foot fence, my father said, which it can’t, he added, on seeing my sister look fearfully at the garden fence.

We heard a dull thud and a scrabbling sound, followed by growling, whining and barking – all combined into one awful cacophony.

And then the afghan’s head appeared at the top of the fence – and then disappeared.

– It’s trying to jump over the fence, my sister said in alarm.

The dog looked over the fence at us as it leapt in the air again. I was sure it wouldn’t be able to leap a six foot fence, but I wondered if the dog knew that.

– If you all go back inside the house, my father said, I think I can get rid of it.

– Why do we have to go indoors? my brother asked.

– Mainly because that flaming dog homes in on sounds and noises, especially talking. And when I come back I need to dash straight into the house and I need to know you’re all already inside.

My brother nodded.

– I just wondered.

My father waited. I walked towards the house. My brother, sister and mother followed.

Once we were inside and the door was closed, my father walked to the bottom of the garden, retrieved the stick and walked over to the fence. He waved the stick around until he’d got the dog’s attention, then he threw the stick across the field.

– I’ll make us all drinks, my mother said softly, but she didn’t move from the window.

I went upstairs and looked out of a bedroom window.

The dog was almost at the other end of the field. It was charging along, looking up at the sky, gazing at nothing in particular; its gait a bit unusual, a bit lop-sided. But it was no longer trying to jump over our fence.

I went downstairs and told my father.

He nodded.

– They’re sometimes known as sightdogs, he said. It’s a bit ironic considering that one wasn’t able to see a tree.

– Aren’t they a bit highly strung? my mother asked.

– That one probably should be, my father said.





My Father's Garden: Mad Dog

Copyright © R J Dent (2014)




Submitted: April 30, 2016

© Copyright 2021 R J Dent. All rights reserved.

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