Daphne Ledward, Garden Planner, Gardener, Author and Broadcaster

Muffin's Blog

Mr Muffin goes to a Meet & Greet    by Mr Muffin

December 2009

For all you out there who might not know what a Meet and Greet is, I suppose I’d better enlighten you.   Meets and Greets are what we do in public places (amongst other things) to show everyone what kind, sweet, gentle, loving, uncomplicated, laid back, desirable, and, above all, modest hounds we are.  

At Meets and Greets we take along collecting tins for the ‘pore dogz owtside’ as Discit describes them in her e-mails, alias the Sanctuary dogs, who rely on such generosity while waiting for some unsuspecting persons to come along and offer them homes.

We also allow ourselves to be stoked, tickled, fed and otherwise experimented with by the general public.   We pretend we haven’t heard the questions before when we are asked, “Do they run fast?”, “Do they eat a lot?”, “How long do they live?”, and “Are they allowed treats?” “Are they retired?”, “Have they raced?”, “Are they old?”, “Do they like cats?” and even, on occasions, “Are they dogs?”

I’m going to prepare a list of standard questions and answers to give to John and Daff when they next subject us to the dreaded Meet and Greet so we don’t have to smile patronisingly every time we hear them.   For instance, to question number one, my answer would always be, “Yes, they all run fast but nobody runs as fast as me.”   About food –“No we don’t eat a lot – would you if all you got day after day was boring old biscuits with the occasional tin of sardines thrown in as a surprise?”

How long do we live – well, how long do you think you will live?   I intend to go on forever.   Are we allowed treats?   Well, to us, treats are like tips in restaurants; life would hold hardly any meaning without them.

Are we retired – not if we can help it; really smart greyhounds like me never work in the first place.

Have we raced – yes but only round our field, someone’s really decent lawn, or the beach.

Are we old?   Well, it’s like this – when we’re just born, we’re very young indeed, and every day we get a little bit older, till like me, we’re in our prime, or, like Sally, a bit over the hill, or, like some friends of mine, really, really crumbly.

Do we like cats?   Do you out there like cats?   Some of you will say you like do; some will say you can’t stand them at any price.   Naturally, it’s just the same with us.   Me – I like my friend Gordon, but I think it’s a cheek when other cats come into our garden, even though they don’t use it as a loo because Daff has crammed so much stuff into it there’s nowhere to go.

Anyway, I’m telling you this as we’ve just got back from a Meet and Greet.   Daff and her friend Auntie Cath dreamed this up at the Terrible Twins’ birthday party, and to me it was all a put up job, because Daff wanted to go to Baytree Nurseries and John won’t usually let her go if he can find a reason to stop her, because she always comes back with half the garden centre (hence the reason we never get cats asking us if there’s a toilet somewhere in the garden).

I’ve got to admit it was less boring than some we’ve been subjected to, because being just before Christmas at Baytree, there is a Grotto, and at weekends there is a very long queue to see Father Christmas.   Mr. Paddidog did his usual exhibitionist thing and dressed up as Santa Paws, thinking the queue would mistake him for the real Father Christmas, but he didn’t have any presents for the children, so most of them preferred to stay in the queue, even though they got very wet at times.   He did attract a lot of soppy “Ahhhs!” though.

This year we were joined by Auntie Cath and Uncle Darren and, first of all, Fleck, and then Flo.   Vixter couldn’t be bothered coming out, which was very sensible, as even with thick coats on, it was freezing.    We were quite near the children’s roundabout, and there was a lot of noise.   I don’t like noise; it makes me shake, which wasn’t a bad thing, because everyone kept coming up to me and saying, “Oh, look at the poor doggy, he must be really cold!” and giving me bits of doughnuts.   Actually, I was boiling and panting with all this shaking, and the spit kept dropping off the end of my tongue onto  a rather nice, fluffy bed that Auntie Cath and Uncle Darren had brought  for their dogs but which they didn’t want (after I had had a word with them) so we five shared it between us.   I was warned that if I made an issue about bed possession (which has been known in the past) I would go straight home, so I behaved myself – well, as long as the Morgan dogs didn’t contest ownership, there was nothing to make an issue about.

The real problem was that the Morgan dogs had raced, so when people asked, they seemed much more important than us five, even though I kept telling everyone that smart greyhounds never race.   I kept trying to draw attention to my poorly foot, but unless John walked me round and I did my best version of my limp, nobody realised that I was a poor cripple and needed extra fuss.   Maybe it was because I had a dirty face; somehow I always get my dinner all over my nose and Daff had forgotten to wash it off before we came out.   I do admit that that kind of thing can be a little off-putting.

The worst bit, though, was the way that Mr. Paddidog fawned all over Flo.   Admittedly, she looked better in a coat, because you couldn’t see all her embarrassing bare bits, but Mr. P. makes it so obvious that he fancies her.   I expect she thought he looked a prat in his Santa outfit, because she ignored him quite a lot, although I suppose they will be all over each other again the next time they get together down the Patch.

It was a long day as we started at 9.30 and the grown-ups didn’t start packing up till it was getting dark.   By this time, Santa Paws had gone to sleep in his outfit, and the twins were giving John and Daff pathetic looks about returning to the car, so we were loaded up while the tables were dismantled and stowed away.   It was lovely to snuggle down on our beds in the big car; there were times during the day when we thought we would never see them again.

Auntie Cath and Uncle Darren came back to our place to help count the money.   Auntie Cath had bought a big coffee and walnut sponge cake but only the grown-ups were allowed to have any, even though there was some left.    We all thought that was rather mean, especially as toxic Bluebell had gone the whole day without yelling, screaming, whistling and whining, which was a definite first for her, and reduced the tension so often felt amongst grown-ups at times like this, and Discit had overcome her shyness to survive a whole day without blowing a fuse.

We were, however, allowed into the sitting room unsupervised, while the grown-ups discussed grown-up issues round the dining table, like the open weekend next year and whether we should have chips or paninis, or both, and whether the stalls should be all dogs and horticulture, or whether we could have some jewellery as well (Daff’s idea, of course – the bling queen of south Lincolnshire).

It was a pity that John decided to show Auntie Cath and Uncle Darren the fireplace he once made.   Auntie Cath had taken off her boots at the door, and discovered by chance that there was a big, wet patch on the hearthrug.   I was rudely awakened from a deep sleep on the settee to be accused of the deed because I was the only one who hadn’t done a wee since arriving home, and everything went downhill from then, despite my protests.

So who did do a puddle on the rug?   Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

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