It was a neap tide, so even at high water T and the Chihuahuas could walk along the beach without getting their feet wet. The high tide line was always fascinating to the diminutive pseudo-dogs just as it was to the Turnstones, but having instinctively snapped up a sandhopper once, Ajax, and for that matter Alfie, was not keen to repeat the experience.
‘All salt and scales,’ Ajax said, ‘I don’t know how those birds eat them.’
There were other treasures. T once found a battered Maria Teresa piece-of-eight, but he was sure it was a nineteenth century minting. Still, keep on mooching, sniffing, looking … until there came an involuntary yelp from Alfie.
‘I’ve hurt my back foot’, he signalled. He had stood on a badly twisted beer can, hidden under seaweed and scraps of nylon netting.
T staunched the blood with clean tissues then picked up what people thought was his pet and made for the vet at the pet shop.
‘I’ll have to stitch his pad,’ said the vet. ‘He’ll need a local anæsthetic.’ She swabbed and sutured and bandaged, T holding Alfie’s paw and sweating beneath the lamp. ‘Keep the foot dry and we’ll have a look at it on the 20th.’
T here they were again on the appointed day. As she cut the dressing away, the vet exclaimed at the state of Alfie’s foot. ‘A remarkable recovery! What have you been eating, Alfie?’
While Alfie understood the question perfectly well, he could not break the Ossyrian discipline of earthly silence to tell her that T had accidentally bought a large sack of the StarStud Breeders’ Mix edition of their usual food. And he did not want to draw T’s attention to the mistake.
T’s reply to the vet reassured Alfie. ‘Just the usual Kanine Krunchies. And the odd whitebait and chips from Peter’s Fish Factory.’
‘Well he looks perfectly healthy to me. Not too much crunchy batter though. We don’t want you like those obese cocker spaniels that die before their time.’
‘No chance of that,’ beamed the 5,027 earth-years old Alfie.