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Pugs & Kisses.

Or, (on a day like this, i.e. sunny one minute; dark and pissing down the next, why not stay indoors, sit at the desk and share some) assorted encounters with dogs remembered.

I was about 7 or 8 years old and I was walking by my Granny's house in Central Avenue, Pinner. Out of nowhere it seemed, an enormous black dog jumped up onto me. I was so frightened - it was about twice the size of me, and had very white sharp looking, BIG teeth, and slobby gob dripping goober, at least that's what it seemed like to me. I must have turned my back screaming, because that is the enduring memory. I was scared stiff of all dogs, especially big black Alsatians, or German Shepherd Dogs, or whatever the correct nomenclature (I've been waiting an age to use that word; I do hope it is appropriate.) is these days. That's right, scared stiff of them for years.

So, it was with a degree of trepidation that I named the small white puppy, which arrived at Xmas in 1974, or thereabouts. Having been deep in reading James Clavell's Shogun, I was very much taken with the concept of Bushido. Accordingly, the dog was named Samurai; immediately, that name was shortened as was inevitable, to Sam. The name Samurai only to be taken out and put on display, like the best cutlery, for the benefit of honoured guests, and on official occasions, both of which, seemed few and far between in our household.

Apparently teased and maltreated by the cruelly sadistic bully of a foreman, who headed the building crew which constructed our loft conversion the following summer, Sam developed and insecurity and from thence a mean streak which would characterize him for the rest of his life. It is true, I did get bit - on more than one occasion.

In the spring of 1989 my very good friend Nick Wood went over to spend some time in Tokyo, with a view to setting up a music production company there. nick had been living in Chelsea, and he asked me the question: would I take in and look after his Wheaton Terrier - named Angus (Angy, and even Angry! - which was the more appropriate case) for a week, at mine and Yassy's house at World's End. A question to which I foolishly agreed.

So there I was, taking an extremely energetic, and what turned out to be, a strong, feisty and at times unhinged, dog for daily walks down the King's Road. It seemed as though, unlike all the other dogs walking, this one, the aforementioned Angus "The Brave", managed to get into a scrap with every dog, whether it be large, small, docile, or proud, that we passed. I am talking - full on bristling back; barking, teeth bared; drooling, snapping; me heaving on the choker lead because it really has gone off here; out and out dog violence. It would only be days later, upon her return from a NYC modelling trip, that erstwhile dog whisperess, Yasmin Le Bon, pointed out that Angus "The Sexually Frustrated" was actually trying to mount and shag each and every of God's creatures he came across, myself included.

I do remember one particularly curious case of the dog in the daytime, when we were out - that is my goodself and Angus "The Psychotic"- in the little sunken flower park by the St Thomas Moore statue, just off Cheyne Walk. The howling lunatic dog I was walking, got into one of his usual stand-offs, and subsequently after a brief flurry and a lot of growling, managed to get a grip on the lower jaw of a West Highland Terrier, who happened to be passing by with his, now terrified, owner . I picked up Angus by the rear legs in a vain attempt to separate the dogs, but Angus and the innocent bystander dog were locked together in some sort of canine death grip. I pulled up and back, swung around, then suddenly both dogs were airborne, and it seemed as though I was swinging the three of us, i.e. me, plus the Wheaton, plus the West Highland Terrier - trailing lead and all, round and around; like some mad threesome in an insane country dance, to the far-off tune of the Westie's geriatric owner wailing "Noooo, you 'orrible pair! Put down my Arthur."

I was staying with our, then manager, Allen Kovac, at his house on Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills. He and his wife Amy had got a little fluffy puppy for their son. It was a 6 month old Yorkshire Terrier, and they'd named it, wait for it ... Kisses! Being the kind and helpful chap that I am, on the day I arrived, I offered to take that doggy on a daily walk. So, starting on a Tuesday we went up the hill. Now I had just been at a week long detox and health slog in the Santa Monica mountains, at a yoga and hiking retreat called "The Ashram". And I had got used to doing things like, for example, a 17 mile, uphill mostly, hike, on roads which had been given names like "The Bulldog" trail, and "Heartbreak Hill" I think you can tell what my idea of a pleasant walk was, at that point.

So we've been going up some Beverly hill or other for about an hour; me striding away, whistling "I love to go a-wandering ...", lead in my hand, and trotting along behind me, or so I thought, was the pup that dare not speak its name. Next thing I know, there's a siren whoop, and lights flashing, and Beverly Hills cop winds down his car window, leans out and says to me "Excuse me Sir, your animal appears to have just died!" So I turn around and instead of a fluffy little pup gambolling happily along, there lying still in the road, is what looks like a dusty old toupee (how appropriate in that part of the world) which has been dragged for miles at the end of the lead.

"OK officer, don't worry I'll deal with it!" I abruptly yelped. Shit! I thought; vaguely aware of a sort of ... muffled sniggering sound, which was emanating from the police cruiser as it cruised off.
"Kisses" had not, it turned out, actually croaked. However, I had severely knackered the poorly named pooch, and on arriving home in the crook of my left arm, it promptly lay down by it's water bowl, and was unable to move of its own volition for three days.

Shortly after that I had to leave California.

And finally, - the definition of the phrase ... "You lucky pugs"

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Here endeth Simon LeBlog the ... whatever number it is.

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