It was love at first sight for Terry Terry. From the moment he set eyes on Sam, the juvenile delinquent chocolate Labrador with a bad reputation, Mrs Terry knew the six stone bundle of almost feral fun was coming home with them.
He took a bit of settling in. Brought home two weeks before Christmas 2006, one of his first acts was to take Whistling Santa, a gnome-like animatronic Terry delighted in bringing out each year, into his jaws and destroying him. He didn’t confine his biting to inanimate objects either and nipped me on the top of the head on Christmas morning before giving Mrs Terry a nosebleed.
But with love, patience, and after whipping his (enormous) balls off, Sam calmed down and became the best dog I’ve ever known and certainly one who could be trusted alone in the house for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve.
Until last year.
Mrs Terry and I had been down the Asda getting a few last minute bits. Philly was boozing somewhere (probably) and Terry was at work. We came back to a house in darkness and, when we opened the front door, a very sheepish looking Sam.
“Mum,” I said, striding over the threshold, “The house smells a bit of… turd.”
“That’s just the way the dog smells, sweetheart,” trilled Mrs T, whisking past me with the bags unconcernedly.
I took her at her word, while making a mental note to bath the dog, and started to put the shopping away as Mrs T went upstairs on an innocent present-hiding trip. All was calm, until… “Sweetheart,” came a quavery voice, “Can you come upstairs please?”
Philly Terry’s bedroom looked like the scene of a dirty protest. There was dog turd on the sheets, dog turd smeared down the wall and dog turd on the windowsill. There was turd on the skirting board, turd on the curtains and turd on the valance. It was on the pillows, on Philly’s clothes and squashed into the carpet.
Somebody had been a very bad dog indeed.
Mrs Terry binned, bleached and bathed everything, including Sam who had turd smeared on his head and in his belly fur and, even when clean, was in Christmas disgrace.
He was confined to his basket and was not allowed any bananas (his favourite treat) for the foreseeable future and Christmas in Terry Towers began under a heavy cloud.
Until… On Christmas Day Linda-next-door came knocking to tell us what she had seen the evening before. She was sorting out washing in the back garden when she looked up to see Sam, about to leap out of Philly’s (first floor) bedroom window! She shouted at him to stay, then raced around the front of the house and bellowed at him through the letter box to get away from the window. Mrs Terry thinks this must have been the point at which Sam first “let go” and fell off Philly’s bed, smearing his doings into the wallpaper as he went.
It turns out that Philly’s was the only window open in the house and, desperate for the toilet, Sam had found the only means of getting out of the semi and was prepared to make a suicidal leap rather than sully Terry Towers.
Mrs Terry seriously believes that Linda-next-door saved the dog’s life by shouting at him as he was poised to spring onto the concrete patio metres below. Although his life meant the death of Philly Terry’s sheets when Sam did his business all over them, everyone thought this was a fair exchange.
So, Sam went from being the dog that ruined Christmas to the dog who saved Christmas and was allowed to open his presents and everything. With each squeaky toy he pulled out of the wrapping he did a victory lap around the dining table, safe in the knowledge that his status as everyone’s secret favourite Terry was restored.
Terry Christmas from Santa Paws.
News just in: I snatched a couple of hours at Terry Towers last week as I’d been filming in Liverpool and thought I’d treat the olds to a surprise visit. I almost regret this after finding:
Dog weirdness number one: Sam has an advent calendar. I’m unsure if he’s allowed to open all the little windows himself or if he has help.
Dog weirdness number two: Sam has a pink wart on his nose but when I pointed it out both Terry Terry and Mrs Terry refused to acknowledge it exists. I suspect they’ve been colouring it in brown when expecting company. They’ve got form: Terry used to dye the old dog’s grey hairs with black shoe polish.