I say a group, but that’s a little bit too grand for who we are.
It would be more accurate to say that we’re just a bunch of dogs who like to hang out together. Not every day mind you, we all need our personal space and we all need a bit of time alone. That was one of Barry’s great strengths; utilising his time alone.
When we gathered together we would bring a problem to Barry and he would go away and think about it for a very long time. He never failed to come up with an answer. Sometimes we didn’t like the answer, but that wasn’t Barry’s fault.
Barry’s favourite place to do his thinking was in his master’s leather armchair. The leather armchair was heaps older than Barry and Barry felt that that gave him an edge.
“This armchair has wisdom stuffed right inside it,” Barry was heard to say. He said cool stuff like that all the time and if I had been born with opposable thumbs I would’ve written some of it down. Fortunately, I have a very good memory for a small black dog so I remember most of Barry’s wise sayings. Sometimes when we get together and Barry isn’t with us, the other dogs will ask me to quote something wise that Barry once said.
“Never leave your bone out in the rain.”
That was one of Barry’s.
It wasn’t earth-shatteringly wise but was still very good advice. No one likes a soggy bone and sometimes we need to be reminded how that bone got to be soggy in the first place.
“Always look behind you when you’re going on a long walk, you never know who might be following you.”
Before Barry said that one, many of us didn’t look behind us when we went on a long walk, but now you will not see a local dog cover more than 100 metres without taking a quick look behind him.
We call it ‘the Crazy Barry,’ and because of it no strange dog has ever been able to sneak up behind us.
It’s one of the things that makes us so strong.
Someone said that the Russian submarine fleet used to do something similar during the Cold War. But I’m pretty sure that Barry’s move was original.
When the local cats became a real problem we turned to Barry.
Usually, Barry would come up with an answer within a day or two, but this wasn’t just any problem, there were cats involved.
And anyone will tell you that cats just aren’t like anyone else.
They are inscrutable.
I don’t really know what that word means, but Barry said it, so it must mean something.
For about a week and a half, every dog in the area who wanted to look wise said ‘inscrutable’ as often as possible.
I wasn’t one of those dogs.
My human vocabulary is already larger than every other dog in the area with the exception of Barry.
So I have nothing to prove.
I credit my exceptional vocabulary to the fact that I am the dog of a writer, and everyone knows that words are a writer’s tool.
We went back to see Barry after a couple of days, but he said he had not worked out the ‘Cat Problem’.
In the end, it was almost a week and a half before Barry rejoined our group. He had been sitting in that big leather armchair thinking every day since we posed a problem.
Barry had endurance and perseverance, whatever that means.
We all gathered around and held our breath as Barry prepared to speak. You could’ve heard an owner banging a dog food tin 100 kilometres away, it was so quiet.
Barry turned to our collection of dogs, and with those big soulful eyes, he looked at each one of us before speaking.
“My friends you have posed the most difficult problem I have ever had to think upon. I considered many solutions but in the end I rejected them all. There is only one thing for it, we must enlist the help of the Mighty Tiddles.”
Naturally, being dogs, we had heard of the Mighty Tiddles, but none of us had ever seen her in person. Some said she had been dead for many years, and others said that her owners had taken her away, well out of our area. A couple of the crazy dogs said that she had sprouted wings and flown over the rainbow. We tolerate all views in our pack, even to the point of putting up with the concept of flying cats and rainbows. Everyone knows that rainbows aren’t real.
A meeting was immediately held and I was elected to be the dog who would go and ask the Mighty Tiddles if she would help us with our problem.
This was to be the most dangerous adventure I had ever embarked upon.
I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say there were rivers, sharp rocks and strange smelling milk cartons, all of which stood between me and the Mighty Tiddles.
The pack had faith in me, Barry had faith in me, and I was not going to let them down.
After three days of torturous travelling, I stood before our group and introduced the Mighty Tiddles.
Her first words to the group were, “I understand you have a problem with the local cat population.”
We agreed that we did indeed have a problem.
“If you wish to regain control of this area from the cats, you must do exactly what I say, no more, no less.”
We were all impressed with her no-nonsense attitude, and the fact that she hadn’t scratched anybody.
“Go forth into your town and seek out anything that is small and shiny. Gather these things together and bring them here.”
When the work was done there was a huge pile of shiny objects and we stood back and admired our work.
The Mighty Tiddles told us to place these objects in very specific places. No more than 3 metres from a cat door; no more than 2 metres from a front gate, and so it went, very specific instructions.
We had gone to great pains to get the Mighty Tiddles to come, so we would have been foolish to ignore her advice.
I took the Mighty Tiddles back to where she had come from and returned to my friends to find out if our efforts had been successful.
I didn’t even need to ask because every dog I met had a smile on his or her face.
The local cats were completely confused by all the small shiny things, and to this day they are well under control.
There was some talk in the group about erecting some kind of statue or monument to the Mighty Tiddles, but this was rejected because we felt it would eat into our sleeping time.
Someone suggested that we should reward Barry for his wise counsel so we organised a raid on the local butcher shop.
There were some minor injuries, but I manage to get away with a leg of lamb.
Barry was very appreciative.
He said he would not thank us straight away, but instead he would think about it for a while and deliver his thank you at a later date.
He did and it was magnificent.
Barry continues to think in his big leather armchair and we continue to bring him problems to be solved.
Barry never lets us down, but we have never had to solve such a serious problem as the time when the cats got out of control.