Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Frances Burscough: I came back from hols with a sausage dog!

'Out came the sausages and she popped one into my mouth'

Frances Burscough

As you may recall from last week’s column, I’ve been away in England for a few days visiting my dad.

I decided to bring my dog Bailey with me and so we took the Stena Ferry to Birkenhead which has new facilities on board for pet owners.

Bailey isn’t like other dogs; he keeps a diary. This is what he wrote of the experience:

I knew something was afoot when I saw the sausages. Cocktail sausages, to be precise, shop-bought, ready to eat and sitting in a shopping bag in the hall.

In our house that means only one thing: we’re going somewhere and it ain’t gonna be pleasant.

Now, as much as I love shop-bought, pre-cooked cocktail sausages, the sight of them fills me with dread and with good reason. In the past they’ve been my only solace at heinous places such as the vets, the dog kennels and the grooming parlour. One particular event ... at the vets ... well, I can’t even bear to think about it. But let’s just say I’ve never been the same dog since.

You see, she uses them to stop me from barking or to distract me when something horrible is about to happen. Every time I begin to growl, a sausage appears in her grubby paws as a kind of incentive/reward for keeping quiet.

But what she doesn’t realise is that over time I’ve come to associate cocktail sausages with anger, misery, deception, abandonment. Animal association instinct: it got me where I am today — but she’s obviously never even heard of it.

Pavlov’s dogs ring any bells? Nope? Such a blonde!

Consequently sausages are a sore point ... but I still eat them. It’d be rude not to.

So anyway last week the sausages appeared by the front door and I duly braced myself. Then on went the lead and somehow I knew it didn’t mean walkies.

However, to cut a long story short, it wasn’t the vets or any of the other hell-holes I’ve mentioned. Au contraire! It was a ferry and we were actually going on holiday. Hooray! What a relief!

I even got my own cabin too. Well ... I say “cabin” but it was a glorified kennel really. But it had heating and fresh water bowls and even food if we got peckish. There were other dogs there, too, all mak

ing the same trip across the sea to England. One was a German Shepherd, so I didn’t understand him, but we communicated by sniffing; another was a Beagle whom I nicknamed Snoopy (for obvious reasons). The other cabin had two Shih Tzu puppies in them. They were really cute, but the name described them perfectly because they were not house trained, so we gave them a wide berth.

So, eventually we set sail and I was so excited I started to bark like an eejit. Then, of course, she appeared within minutes, because the passenger lounge was right next door and I have a very distinctive bark, what with my Bangor accent and all! Right on cue, out came the sausages and she popped one into my mouth to make me shut up. All well and good. Order was restored, as they say.

But what happened next I’ll never forget. When she saw the other dogs, looking at her pleadingly, she started to give them sausages too. MY sausages! There she was, handing them out to complete strangers, pushing them through the bars into their greedy chops like there was no tomorrow!

Of course, they wolfed them down; why wouldn’t they? That bloody Kraut had at least ten, one after another, whilst I sat there and watched, helplessly.

Well, I was determined to do something before those sausages — the sausages that I had worked tirelessly for; the sausages that I deserved; the sausages that I’d earned over ten years of unconditional love, loyalty and obedience — were gone within a twinkling of an eye.

So I began to bark like I’d never barked before! So help me God I barked so loud and so long that I could be heard on both sides of the Irish Sea! Great unbridled, preternatural, liberating howls from the very depths of my soul, the like of which haven't been heard since Steve the Siberian Huskie auditioned for Call of the Wild! And the only thing that shut me up? When she relinquished the entire remaining packet, directly into my dog bowl.

I’m talking twenty sausages at least. Back. Of. The. Net.

What a result! What a journey! And the great thing was, I got to do it all again on the way home, five days later. And that time I didn’t shut up until I got the whole packet all to myself, before we’d even left port.

I’m desperate to know Raquel’s beauty secret

Blimey O’Reilly — did anyone see the pictures of Raquel Welch taken this week on a Beverly Hills red carpet?

That woman is absolutely incredible! How does she do it? All you women of the blue-rinse brigade take note.

She’s 73 and yet she looks like a woman less than half her age, with the same perfect hour-glass figure, flawless skin and incredible bone structure she had when she first hit the headlines as a movie starlet in the early Sixties.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she could still fit into that infamous deerskin bikini she wore in the film One Million Years BC and then instantly became one of the most desirable woman on the planet.

Whatever it is that she’s been having, count me in, even if it means bathing in ass’s milk and eating raw eggs every day. I want to look as good as that when I’m a great-grandma too!

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