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Chapter Twenty-three


By September of that year, Misty was six months old and was maturing into a very pretty dog indeed. She didn’t have the same height and length of limb that Izzy had possessed at that age, developing a cobbier, more robust outline than her older counterpart. Her coat had maintained its rich red-brown shade, and the characteristic jet black stripes that so typifies brindle dogs complemented her colouring beautifully. She continued to charm and delight us with her quiet and serene approach to life.


On that memorable day, we had been enjoying a session in the garden whilst Paul was out at work. Izzy and Misty had indulged themselves in several play sessions and were now comfortably asleep on one of their blankets enjoying the warmth of the late autumn sun. I had taken advantage of the fact that they were resting quietly and had started to mow the lawn. I had become so absorbed in my task that I had completely forgotten about them and hadn’t noticed that Izzy had stirred and had subsequently decided that she wanted to engage Misty in a little game of hide and seek. I can only assume that she had nudged Misty awake and, whilst Misty was getting to her feet, Izzy had snuck away and was currently lying in wait behind a nearby evergreen bush.


I was completely oblivious to these goings-on and continued mowing. I moved, unknowingly, towards Izzy’s hiding place and stopped just in front of where she was standing in order to remove the full grass box from the mower. I bent forwards to unclip the box, and before I knew it Izzy had suddenly leapt out from behind the bush and had hurled herself straight at me, seemingly mistaking me for Misty. I vaguely remember hearing a sharp crack as the very solid bones of Izzy’s skull made contact with the underside of my chin. This was rapidly followed by a sharp flash of pain and then my world went suddenly black.


I awoke, in what I presume was a relatively short time later, to find myself lying sprawled out on my back in the middle of the freshly cut lawn. I looked up somewhat groggily and was horrified to see Izzy standing directly over me, the still live electric cable of the lawnmower clamped firmly between her jaws, chewing vigorously and with great enthusiasm. Misty was sitting nearby looking at me in a very quizzical manner, head tilted to one side as if trying to figure out why I had suddenly crashed to the ground.


Trying to suppress a shriek of dismay lest I inadvertently increased Izzy’s already energetic chewing, I scrambled to my feet and gingerly extracted the cable from between her teeth. Izzy was completely unperturbed by this bizarre sequence of events and bounded away, straight over to Misty, who had maintained her sitting position throughout, and bowled her over. They then proceeded to have a friendly wrestling match whilst I staggered off indoors, massaging my very sore chin.


I spent the remainder of that afternoon lying on the settee feeling very sorry for myself, with a bag of frozen peas clutched to the underside of my chin in an attempt to reduce the painful swelling that was developing in the lower portion of my face.


Paul came home from work later on and found me dozing, bag of peas still resting precariously under my chin. By this time, Izzy and Misty had finally managed to wear each other out and had joined me on the settee, one laid out on either side of me, creating the perfect picture of calm and order. Paul listened sympathetically to my tale of woe and fussed around me, plumping up the cushion that I was resting my head upon, offering to replace my rapidly defrosting  peas with another bag of frozen goods, and trying desperately hard to  convince me that my chin hadn’t become horribly swollen when deep  down I knew it had. He then bustled off into the kitchen to make me a cup of tea. I could hear him clattering about and at the same time I could also make out the barely perceptible sound of laughter.


Slowly and painfully I got up and shuffled into the kitchen. By this time, Paul was now slumped against the side of one of our kitchen cupboards attempting to smother his giggles by burying his face in his hands. From where I stood in the doorway I could also see the tears that were trickling down his face as he tried desperately hard to choke back the laughter that was bubbling forth. From behind me I could feel a slight pressure on the back of my legs as a cold wet nose gently nudged at me. I turned and looked down to see Izzy looking up at me beseechingly as if offering an apology for her misdemeanor. Injured party that I was, I still couldn’t help but smile. As far as bizarre accidents go, I suppose it ranked quite highly in the list of more unusual occurrences, and admittedly there was more than a subtle hint of humour behind the tale. I continued to suffer the consequences of that unfortunate encounter for almost a full week afterwards, having to carry out my day-to-day activities with a very bruised and swollen chin, much to the amusement of my friends and colleagues. To add further insult to injury, the resultant bruise required some fairly skillful applications of make-up to avoid it looking like I had developed a five o’clock shadow.


I would like to say that this was the only time that I came a cropper whilst inadvertently getting in the way of Izzy and Misty as they played, but sadly it wasn’t. They had a tendency to be completely oblivious to anyone and anything as they entertained one another, and both Paul and I suffered many knocks and bumps when we accidentally got caught in their crossfire. But we bore them graciously and always tried to see the funny side of it—and after all, why shouldn’t we? It was all part of the rough and tumble of owning a pair of playful dogs who were so clearly thriving in each other’s company, and was a small price to pay as far as we were concerned.


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