Buster's Diaries: The True Story of a Dog and His Man

Buster's Diaries: The True Story of a Dog and His Man by Roy Hattersley

Book: Buster's Diaries: The True Story of a Dog and His Man by Roy Hattersley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Roy Hattersley
1997—Derbyshire
    In the afternoon we went into the village of Bakewell to get more sawdust balls—“for dogs with a tendency to put on weight.”
     I was not allowed into the pet shop. When the Man came out, instead of complaining about how much I cost to keep, as I had
     expected, he said, “Buster, you’ll never believe what I’ve just seen. There is a dog in there which is almost as tall asBarley and even heavier.” He looked so surprised that I believed him.
    Barley is the Irish wolfhound in our village. He is so big that he can lean his elbows on a six-foot wall. As far as I know
     he has never jumped over it. I can jump over any wall I can lean my elbows on. Barley is, no doubt, too big to be athletic.
     That is why I would not like to be in his collar.
    I would not like to be the big dog at Bakewell either. If what the Man says is true, he sits in a little room of his own and
     never moves. This is not because the pet-shop owner is unkind. It is because the dog, which is called Tchaikovsky, is only
     a puppy (fourteen months old) and his legs are not strong enough to bear his weight. He weighs fourteen and a half stones,
     and in a year, will weigh sixteen. By then, his legs will be strong enough for him to go on walks.
    Tchaikovsky is a Saint Bernard, which means he has bloodshot eyes and several double chins. When the pet-shop owner came out
     to the car with a sack of sawdust balls, the Man asked him, “When Tchaikovsky grows up, will he have a brandy barrel hanging
     from his neck?” The pet-shop owner said, “Everybody asks that,” and the Man stopped smiling.
Realization June 10, 1997—London
    We have changed the route by which we go to the park in the mornings. We still go past the offices of the Transport and General
     Workers” Union and he still says when I stop near the wall, “Go on, Buster. You do that to them, like they did it to me in
     1976, during the Winter of Discontent.” But we do not turn left between the two pubs with the tubs of flowers outside their
     doors. The Man has read in the
Evening Standard
diary that the pub owners are angry with me, and he does not want to meet them face to face.
    On warm nights the pub owners’ customers stand outside the pubs on the pavement. As well as making it difficult for people
     to walk past, they waste bits of perfectly good food by pushing it into the soil in the flower tubs. Naturally, when I walk
     past, I want to dig it up and eat it. Unfortunately, it is impossible to dig up the food without digging up the flowers. “I
     don’t know how you do it so quickly,” the Man said to me. He sounded really proud of me.
June 18, 1997
    I have discovered a new way to frighten the Man. It is called mad running. Mad running should not be confused with pointless
     running, at which I have been adept for some time. Mad running is more frenzied. Mad running is only possible when he and
     I are joined together by the long lead. This is how I do it. I walk demurely for some time. Then I suddenly set off at full
     speed and keep going until (this is a joke!) I am at the end of my tether. Then, without slowing down, I run round him in
     circles. This requires him a) quickly to change the lead from hand to hand, b) to rotate until he is dizzy, or c) to allow
     the lead to wind round him like cotton round a bobbin.
    Whichever he chooses, he is pretty confused for a while. Before he has time to recover, I turn in from the circle, charge
     at him as fast as I can go, and leap in the air just before we collide. Sometimes I hit him, sometimes I don’t. At first,
     he thought I had gone crazy. He pulled on the lead until he caught me and then began to calm me down by rubbing behind my
     ears and scratching my tummy Sometimes he sinks to his knees on the wet grass so as to calm me better. Calmingalways included giving me a biscuit. I was sorry when he decided that it wasn’t rabies after all.
    Really, he ought to be flattered. I am treating him like another

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