Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
For God hath made them so.
Divine Songs for Children (1715) ‘Against Quarrelling’, Isaac Watts
It is lovely to buy a puppy. Yet the day we bought Bailey I had a foreboding.
It was a sunny June afternoon, blue and yellow. My husband was determinedly cheerful but the gears of the jeep kept jamming and his new mustard corduroys were chafing and making him hot.
‘Sorry about the chaos,’ she boomed. ‘I’ve had two litters and weeks and weeks of wet-nursing.’ She settled the baby back with its mother, who seemed indifferent, and marched us round to a secure yard where the three advertised puppies were romping.
I sat down on the gravel and after a while they incorporated me in their games, along with the rope and the plastic plant pot, jumping over my knees and chewing the strap of my bag. Later I discovered that if I had remained standing aloof Mrs Wellington-Bird would not have sold us a puppy at all. She gave me a sharp look as she poured out three glasses of dilute orange cordial.
‘You don’t realise it, but you’ve been watched,’ she said. ‘My spies have been reporting back to me on all our new families. I have to be sure my grandchildren are going to happy homes.’
One puppy was pulling hard at the hem of Richard’s cords but still he kept smiling and making conversation. I sat back and prepared to enjoy the luxury of choosing.
‘Which one shall we have?’ Richard said, managing to transfer the puppy from his trousers to his thumb. I could see that it was nipping him sharply. The puppies were plump and surprisingly big, especially after just seeing the mouse-puppy from the new litter.
‘Oh, there is no choice, I’m afraid,’ said Mrs Wellington-Bird. ‘Those two are bitches and all the other dogs have been taken. Not to worry; he seems to have taken to you.’
On the drive back I held the puppy in my lap and it made a rhythmic nuzzling all the way home. I closed my eyes and the warmth and little movements felt oddly comforting after weeks of wondering how my husband is planning to murder me. When I opened them I found it had bitten right through the seat belt.
The story begins with Dogs Delight 1. Dogs Delight is now available on Kindle at